My third interview was with Skip Henk, President & CEO of Xplor International, a 33 year not for profit trade association for the digital document and customer communication industry. Xplor has 8000+ members around the world that represent over 2100 companies. You can visit Xplor at http://www.xplor.org/

Hyperpersonalization and the Fine Line

As President of a global print organization, it stands to reason that Skip knows a little bit about the printed piece. He began by noting that in 2013, there was more and more effort to create a “1 to 1 virtual relationship” with customers and prospects. Companies are placing value on a heightened respect for the recipient. The customer is in control of the medium, and essentially, the message. This trend will continue into 2014, as companies become more and more attuned to utilizing technology and changes in human behavior to communicate. The result will be a lower volume of output, lower costs, higher return and happier customers and prospects. Marketers must, however, walk the fine line between “hyperpersonalization” and be acutely aware of not getting “too personal.”

In 2014, expect a continuation of companies trying to embrace new technology and processes, but struggling to determine both their applicability and ROI in their customer communication strategy. They will either have to “take a leap of faith or sit on the sidelines,” waiting for more evidence of success. It is the difference between leading and following. Winning and losing. This stands to be especially true for augmented reality and mobile applications, both hot items at the moment.

Augmented Reality 

Augmented reality (AR) is not new but certainly not yet widely embraced. It has the potential for creating a mini-revival of print, as people discover more and more applications of the technology. Smartphones with AR capable apps (and perhaps eventually native capabilities) will not only enhance daily life, but will GREATLY enhance print, as a tangible piece to interact with a smartphone or tablet is the ideal medium. If you have a smartphone, you might have already used augmented reality applications, whether through the Yelp app to determine restaurants around you, or used the Star Chart app to determine constellations. These applications make the AR experience seamless, and as marketers figure out to better capitalize on augmented reality in 2014, expect the implementation to cross over to print in a big way.

Humans are the “Game Changers”

The true game changer in 2014 is human behavior and how we embrace, utilize and optimize the use of technology. Will people continue to add more communication channels and bombard themselves with more information and content or do they become human sorting machines protecting the 5-15 second segments of time that they allocate to take in new information? Do enhancements to print, like augmented reality, make going to the mailbox fun again? Do mobile apps become the prevailing channel with their opt-in and push information format? It will be the people that we market to that are the game changers.  We need to put ourselves in their shoes and think: “it’s all about me.”