Trans-Promo Marketing – Communicate in a New "Old" Way

In case you’re not familiar with the term “trans-promo”, you’re not alone. A relatively new concept in mainstream marketing, the term was first coined in 2005, and was largely met with blank stares and puzzled expressions. In 2006, as the newest buzzword, trans-promo marketing – also called statement-based marketing – actually began to take shape. Now, in 2007, it has real-world appeal as more and more businesses take advantage of this “new” marketing tactic.

Trans-promo communication really isn’t that new. Credit card companies have been using it for years, albeit at a rather generic level. Now businesses of any size that send invoices or monthly statements to customers can implement it as a fine-tuned and targeted marketing vehicle.

The idea behind trans-promo is this: we all open our monthly bills or statements to review them, so why not include a compelling offer or promotion right on the document? The open rates of trans-promo vs. direct mail are much higher because the prospect doesn’t immediately identify it as “junk mail” and toss it in the can.

Trans-promo is not stuffing extra brochures or flyers into the envelope with a statement. Rather, the offers are printed directly on the statement itself where it has a much higher chance of being read, and they can be targeted directly to the prospect’s purchase patterns if so desired.

Although a relatively new tactic with not a lot of analytical data available, according to InfoTrends, 63% of consumers surveyed stated they would prefer receiving trans-promo statements than the traditional stuffers.

If you’re a company that issues regular, monthly statements or invoices, adding trans-promo communication to your marketing plan just may be a smart move.

There are three basic trans-promo ideas to be aware of: design, data and delivery.


To enhance the customer experience, good design and layout of the information are essential. The use of colour can aid in navigation of the document, while adding images or charts and bar graphs can help educate the recipient about their current relationship with your organization or other services you offer.

Of course, the stumbling block here is printing. Colour printing has traditionally been slow and expensive. Statement runs are usually done within narrow windows at a low cost – that is, fast and cheap. There are new printing technologies out there that address this problem, making it much faster and less costly for large print runs like statements, One solution I’m aware of has a 5 million image per month capacity.

If you want to implement trans-promo right away, the answer is to start adding the promotions using the technology available to you now. That may mean printing in black and white, but it’s a good start. Check with your IT folks or software provider on what tweaks can be made to your current statement or invoicing system templates. There may be some flexibility to change the layout, which will help you work around black and white limitations.


In order to target your promotions to your customer base, use the data you have about the customer, especially products or services they have purchased and/or are currently purchasing. This information will help you tailor promotions or special offers that are relevant to the customer and more likely to generate a positive response.

As your trans-promo marketing activities evolve, you may find that you need to gather more in-depth customer information and become more involved with data mining to present the offers in a more targeted fashion.


Delivery in this case doesn’t pertain to the mail service. Delivery for this purpose is providing value-added service targeted to each customer. For example, if you’re involved in financial planning, you could include investment tips, differentiating between those saving for a new home and those planning for retirement on a monthly statement. Communication companies could offer upgrades on calling plans based on the call history of the customer. Hard goods or hi-tech organizations could create trade-in programs where the customer receives an allowance toward their next purchase, or perhaps a model upgrade.

It’s important to recognize the reach and flexibility of trans-promo marketing. This technique is viable for all levels of customer communication and for any size of business. The trick is to implement what you can now based on the resources you have available, and build a more detailed plan into your marketing strategy to take full advantage of the opportunities at your doorstep.

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