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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Brochure Printing and Large Format Printing: Mass Personalization

Not that long ago, when your custom printing supplier delivered your job, you received 500, 1,000, or 10,000 copies that were all the same. This is called “static printing,” since the output is fixed, rather than variable. It has served us well since Gutenberg invented movable type. However, direct mail companies that have sent the same brochure to all prospects have historically received about a three percent return. Only a few prospects have turned into clients. Part of this has been due to the generic nature of the printed direct mail. There was nothing personal to distinguish the printed pieces recipients found in their mailboxes.

What is personalization?

Over the last decade, mass production has turned into mass customization. Using digital printing technology, printing companies can tailor each individual item in a brochure printing, large format printing, postcard printing, or calendar printing press-run to a different recipient.

  • You can include different text or photos, depending on the demographics or psychographics of your intended audience.
  • You can digitally print addresses on the envelopes and begin the direct mail letter with a salutation including the prospect’s own name.
  • You can include a link to a special website aimed only at that one prospect.
  • You can even write the prospect’s name in the sand in a beach photo (using image personalization techniques).

Why now?

The short answer is that the technology has improved that much. The first inkjet and laser prints I saw in the 1990’s as an art director were ugly. Now custom printing produced on digital equipment rivals offset printing to all but the most technically astute (with a loupe and extensive printing knowledge).

What are the benefits of personalization?

Marketing is about getting the attention of potential clients. We are bombarded with thousands of images each day from custom printing products, from huge building wraps to business cards. We are only aware of a small number of them, and of this small number, we only remember a few.

Nothing is sweeter to the ears of a potential client than the sound of his or her name, and a personalized direct mail piece produced by someone who took the time to get your name, understand your interests and needs, and incorporate these into a custom printing piece just for you will be more likely to cut through the clutter in the mailbox. The technology now exists to do this in a polished manner, with quality printing and targeted address databases. You can offer a potential client relevant information that will educate as well as persuade, addressed directly to him or her.

Think of it as “mass personalization,” the 2011 version of a “mail merge” program.

What might you personalize?

With high-end digital laser presses (such as the HP Indigo) and sheetfed and roll-fed inkjet presses, your custom printing vendors can print personalized information on almost anything, but here’s a short list to get you started:

  • Your business printing service might be able to personalize the address information on an envelope in which you include an invitation to an event, noting a different consultation time for each potential client.
  • Your custom printing vendor may be able to include a person’s name on all twelve images of a yearly calendar. Using image personalization software, your printer can write the person’s name on a theater marquee, in the sand, or in vapor in the sky as though a skywriter had written the name using the exhaust of a jet.
  • Printing services that produce your direct mail may be able to write each prospect’s name on a vanity license plate attached to a Ferrari in a poster aimed at your high-end clientele.

The list goes on. The only limit is your imagination. Bring all of your printing companies into the direct mail design discussion early to ensure that the vendor you choose has the digital printing capabilities to make such projects a success.

2 Responses to “Brochure Printing and Large Format Printing: Mass Personalization”

  1. Wonderful submit, very informative. I am sure you have a great reader base already! I stumbled upon this, and I’ve found it helpful. Good job.


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