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An industry white paper

From the desk of

Jacques Mirodatos

Transpromo hasn't happened -

will it ever?

Placing marketing messages on transactional documents has been a widely discussed industry
subject for well over 10 years. Yet few transactional documents can truly be classified as
having adopted a true Transpromo approach. This document discusses the subject and offers
insight into why it has been slow to take hold.

Nirva Systems UK – October 2008

TransPromo hasn’t happened, will it ever?

Despite all the hype about TransPromo, there are in fact few European success stories
featuring the latest buzzword. Naturally, this is not the first time that new concepts fall short
of their early promise and fail to generate significant benefits, despite widespread attempts at
proving otherwise. But why hasn't TransPromo taken hold?

We have all followed other sharp hype-curved trends before. Take XML for instance: it was
supposed to solve all data related issues and allow data interoperability across the board. But
of course, that never happened quite that way. You may also remember Data Mining, the un-
glamorous task of filtering data to find golden nuggets; it was re-branded as Business
Intelligence, subsequently re-invented as Knowledge Management, then re-heated and served
as Knowledge Discovery. The specialists will argue that these concepts have certain
differences but they are not noticeable to the untrained eye.

A decade ago, when CRM became the next Big Thing, every single piece of technology,
software or services was repositioned as a CRM critical component. Since businesses make
money through customers, anything that serves the business eventually serves the customer,
and companies are always very quick to jump on the next buzzword bandwagon.

TransPromo – or the art of inserting promotional material in transactional documents - has

followed the same flight path. It has been frequently revisited over the last decade as well –
although the term is new, the concept isn’t. Fifteen years ago, the first generation of document
composition tools received add-ons that allowed, in theory, non technical staff members to
include targeted, personalised messages on transactional documents (bills, invoices,
statements, etc.). Ten years ago, second generation tools included a simplified way of
controlling targeted message content and arranging it in marketing campaigns. What had
earlier been branded “The Right Message for the Right Person at the Right Time” became
“Campaign Management” and “CRM applications”, still promising to insert marketing
content in the invaluable transactional document. But as with the other technologies,
Transpromo hasn't taken hold in the European market.

When the data processing industry started merging with the more traditional non variable
printing world, colour became a realistic option to further support these messaging facilities.
Additional steps were taken to lure the marketing users to adopt those wonderful, all-
promising TransPromo tools, by integrating traditional desktop publishing tools with the
industrial components used by the IT department. Yet again, things still didn't seem to take

We have the tools, we have the technology, we have low cost printers that produce high
quality colour output and yet, TransPromo is not happening. Whether we name it One-to-One
Marketing, Marketing Messages or Campaign Management, the concept has produced
minimal results and it is not the re-branding of these techniques under the TransPromo banner
that will make them successful.

The real issues hampering successful TransPromo have been around for a long time and
unless significant effort is invested in resolving these items, TransPromo will continue to
1. First and foremost, the quality and validity of the data stored in the heart of the
corporate repositories is not guaranteed. Thus corporate confidence in delivering the
right, targeted message, is limited. White space is used to manage simple generic
messages which, if slightly inappropriate will not offend.
2. The second issue resides in the creation of message content (text, images, inclusion of
variable data, etc.). When a new offer is identified by a line of business, it is not an
easy task to come up with the supporting material and guarantee its compliance with
legal, finance and technical departments, let alone shaping the IT tools to support new
customer product or segments. Adding an interaction step with IT to ensure
compatibility with the transactional document is not a welcome effort.
3. The third issue is speed, or time to market. With a growing array of technologies
available, it is not easy to identify the best tools available and then liaise with the
technical departments to outline the necessary requirements to develop the solution
needed. And despite the powerful technology available, rare is the case where the new
content marries seamlessly with the existing solutions.
4. The fourth issue is strategic. Without business sponsorship and control, which
understands the issues and challenges facing both the message creators and the
document producers, these two parties will continue working in their own silos.

The heart of the challenge is that despite the power of the tools available, the message creators
do live in a different business world from the transactional document producers. TransPromo
is a valuable concept and the technology to support it is available. However, the business
processes must all fall under the control of a common owner for it to deliver on its promise.

Interactive and on-demand documents, placed under total control of the end users can deliver
promotional messages in a far more effective manner than the batch systems. Customer facing
representatives (front office, call centres or agents, for instance) are ideally placed to create,
tailor and include promotional material in their business documents using the detailed
knowledge they have of that particular customer situation.

The TransPromo revolution, which is yet to come, requires a deeper involvement of the end
user, which in turn, involves an organisational rethink within large corporate entities.

If you are interested in debating this subject further please feel free to contact
the author – Jacques Mirodatos.

Jacques is presently the Technical Director of Nirva Systems UK Ltd. Jacques has more than
20 years experience in the document space as a technical director and industry evangelist. He
has held senior technical positions at numerous specialist companies in the document space
including Astron (prior to its acquisition by RRD), edotech and Lasercom. He has also sat on
advisory panels with various composition vendors, most notably Metavante and Exstream.
Jacques' numerous roles have included consultancy, analysis, architectural design and project
management. Jacques possesses a rare capacity to bridge the communications gap between
technology and business requirements making him a sought after analyst as well as a speaker
at international seminars and conferences.

In addition to his role as Technical Director of Nirva Systems UK Ltd, Jacques is the Chief
Architect for the Nirva set of products.

Please feel free to contact Jacques on: or +44 7902 923 774