Mining Value

“Imagine your ideal magazine.”

That’s the opening statement for a magazine called Mine. Published by Time, Inc, the premier issue arrived earlier this month. I’m not sure if it represents “a groundbreaking shift in the way magazines are made” but it certainly presents an interesting concept. Last month I visited timeinc.com/mine and selected five out of eight available magazine titles and answered a few seeming random questions like “Do you like to sing in the car?”

Based on my input, Time chose content from the five titles I selected and printed it in a magazine along with personalized ads from lone sponsor Lexus. Somehow my answers suggested to Lexus that I like personalized luggage and tooling around Chattanooga looking for spa resorts and their ads were tailored accordingly. While there were a few missteps with the launch, the idea of user-specific content, or mass personalization, is just the latest acknowledgement of how technology can enable customized responses to clients.

Tricycle clients will be attending the HD show in Las Vegas and later, NeoCon in Chicago. Tryk studio tools and sampling products will be part of the message of how they are incorporating environmentally friendly processes and increasing responsiveness to their own customers. But is the point really to reduce sampling costs for our clients and provide them with environmental talking points? A product truly personalized to me requires knowledge about me; the challenges I face and an understanding of the context in which I will experience the product. Specific information about me is combined with general information and maybe an insight or two. The result, if I’m lucky, is something I might barely notice because it lines up with what I’m already doing. Rather than forcing a radical change in behavior (me accommodating the product) it reinforces existing behavior (the product accommodating me) and presents rewards that move beyond my own experience (reduced use of resources, less waste).

Design is about timing—the trends of the moment and lasting style—the designer’s schedule and the client’s expectation of “Now.” New Tryk formats and changes to our Tryk Studio websites reflect what we learn from ongoing conversations with designers and salespeople. Faster response and more tailored products shorten the bridge between inspiration and execution. Benefits to sample budgets and less contribution to the waste stream are rewarding by-products of a system that has value during the design process as well as after.

Have we found the perfect mix of Tryk formats and services? Almost certainly not; the target is in constant motion. But by combining specific information about the people who use our products with what we understand about the environment in which they work, and an insight or two we’re confident we’re getting closer. A customized response is only half the picture; a response that adds value and reflects values completes the picture in a meaningful way.

While I’m not sure how I feel knowing the “2010 Lexus RX now comes with more Sujeel Taj” the growing tide of personalized content will, without a context of value, become just more background noise. Now to find that local spa resort.

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