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VDP & Connecting to the Donor’s Values

Andrea Bentley Andrea Bentley Director of Supplier Relations

Variable Data Printing (VDP) is a form of digital printing that allows text, images, graphics, etc., for each donor’s mail piece, to be completely personalized for them. This personalization is all powered by data. For example, you can print a full program of brochures with the same basic layout (size, paper, etc.), but each individual brochure can have a different color scheme, data, and image(s) which relates personally to your donor. 

VDP allows you to customize an entire program of mailings using digital print technology, which you cannot do with traditional printing techniques. With traditional printing, you would typically print a base creative image and personalize the text around that. But with VDP, you can print thousands of unique mailings with personalized creative, giving you the ultimate flexibility in how you communicate with donors. The following are some of the customization options you have: 

  • Adding personalized text to static images. 
  • Versioning, where there may be differing amounts of customization for different markets, with text and images changing for groups of addresses based upon which segment of the market is being addressed.  
  • Full variability printing, where the text and images can be altered for each individual address.  

All variable data printing begins with a basic design that defines the general specifications of the mail piece that will be printed. Next, all variable fields (whether it be text, images, or color schemes) are identified for each donor. This is done by segmenting the data to identify who will receive what variable pieces, and this segmenting is done by coding the data. This allows the mailshop to process which variable items belong to which donor.  

The personalization that is involved in VDP is what sets it apart from other methods of printing and makes it so valuable. When you personalize your mail piece directly to the donor, you create a connection with this donor. The key is that the personalization must connect to what the donor values. The more you know about your donors, the more successful you can be in using VDP to speak to them individually. And through speaking to them as individuals, you will strengthen the donor relationship.

Personalization allows a company to relate, communicate, and possibly start a relationship with a prospective donor and to maintain a relationship with a current donor. Those relationships are what turns a one-time donor into a lifelong donor. 

Further, one of the best things about VDP is the multitude of benefits it grants you. The following are just some of the things you will gain when using VDP: 

  • Eliminates the need to print spoilage – this will benefit both your sustainability efforts and reduces cost as you are printing only what you need 
  • Increases the response rate and response time. Because personalization catches the attention of the consumer, the response rate of a mail campaign can increase. 
  • Shorter schedules as there are no need to move printed items from a printer to the mailshop 
  • No inventory management because you are using no inventory 
  • No additional freight charges because no material needs to be shipped  
  • Better time management due to ease of process  
  • Quicker recovery time when production mistakes happen 
  • Additional time for you to submit your art and copy as this process happens later in the schedule than traditional printing 
  • Printing on both sides of the paper (duplex printing) takes the same amount of time as printing on one side of the paper (simplex printing) 
  • Can print up to 4, colors at the same cost as you would to print just 1 color  

And perhaps the final thing you should know about VDP, is that you can use VDP on anything. For instance, you can do variable print member cards, labels, magnets, and much more. There are digital presses available for printing on different types of substrates. VDP is expanding, and you should be a part of it! Reach out to your PS contact if you have any questions about getting started with VDP for your program.

About the Author

Andrea Bentley
Andrea Bentley Director of Supplier Relations

Andrea, PS’ Director of Supplier Relations, has been serving
with PS since 2007. Andrea is from Leesburg, Virginia and she
enjoys spending time with her husband and her daughter,
Samantha. Andrea likes to read and walk, her favorite sports
team is the New York Giants, her favorite TV show is anything
on Bravo and she loves mail!
With over 27 years of experience in our industry, Andrea
empowers her team and provides opportunities each day. She
fosters a learning environment, defines clear expectations and
goes above and beyond to invest in success for PS.