Print and Direct Mail Still Drive Integrated Marketing

Direct Mail Works

Just like fashion or the weather, trends in marketing tend to be cyclical – a decade or more ago the old chorus of “Print is Dead” was being sung by many in marketing looking toward the future. The excitement over the power of email, big data, social media, and online advertising worked to diminish an appreciation of the usefulness of paper, printing, and direct mail. And just like the weather, that excitement has been tempered over time with the realization that a mix of all these marketing tools will always be the most effective – and that print/direct mail has unique properties that can drive customer decision-making in ways a phone or laptop screen never will.

The nice part about this for the small business is that this holds true for their local outreach just as much as for the huge corporate players or the tech-savvy, flashy startups with national campaigns.  A recent Vox article explored “Why so many hip startups advertise with snail mail.” They note the cyclical trends of marketing and that print is making a comeback (even among the hip!) due to a combination of rising digital pricing and oversaturation of email/digital ads. The Vox article hesitates to actually praise the time-tested value of print advertising too readily:

“Are mailers more effective than online advertising? That’s certainly up for debate. No company Vox spoke with for this story would share numbers that compared the response rate of mailers to digital advertising.” link


Luckily, we don’t really need them to share that in order to see how a multi-channel approach to marketing harnesses the power of both print and digital (and we can check with the DMA for that data). The exact mix of those two that will prove most cost effective and successful varies based on business size, budget, location, goals, etc.

In the non-profit world direct mail has consistently been a staple to fundraising and survival. Check out these stats:

  • Direct mail increases online donations by 40%.

  • In 2012, US companies generated incremental sales through direct marketing to the tune of $2.2 trillion.

  • Advertisers in the US spend $167 per person on direct mail, earning $2,095 worth of goods sold. That’s a 1,255% return on investment.

  • Non-profits gain 78% of their donations from direct mail.


Yes, direct mail requires an investment upfront that can be larger than digital, but the longevity, focus, and the physical qualities of print reap larger rewards with name retention, response rates and ultimately ROI. The Digital Marketing Association reports that their 2017 research shows:

“Once again, direct mail response rates rank stronger than digital channels, sometimes exponentially: at 5.1% for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists, mail response rates consistently exceed the 2% response rate of all digital channels combined.”

Rather than seeing an EITHER/OR situation between direct mail and new digital alternatives, embrace the opportunities of mobile marketing, qr codes, email, social media and website e-commerce as a whole new box of tools to get our your message and/or drive sales. To abandon print and it’s proven effectiveness in that transition will prove costly!

Rely on your printer for advice and direction with integrated marketing. They should be able to provide you with everything from encouragement along the way to complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing, online implmentation and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

5 Innovative Tech Tools for Small Business Owners


Tech Tools for small businesses

The advancement in digital communication technology tools has made it easier for companies to reach their target audiences and beyond, with small businesses and startups gaining the ability to impact the public at a minimal cost. While you may have a team of tech gurus, or may be one yourself, you’re still likely to be overwhelmed by the range of available technologies to help grow your business. From apps for your smart device to safe virtual file exchanging services, there are numerous tech tools designed for the small business owner on a tight budget. Here are five essential tech tools that every company like yours can benefit from.

Appy Pie

Mobile applications are a dominant force within every industry, leading many tech-savvy business owners to believe that signing on to the mobile app phenomenon is a must. Imploring the assistance of a mobile application may be unnecessary for the advancement of your company. And before you hire developers, or you attempt this endeavor yourself, don’t invest in an expensive mobile app before you investigate more affordable options. Appy Pie is a mobile app maker that allows individuals without much technical expertise to create custom apps for their businesses. It also provides small businesses with a test run before they spend money on a full mobile application. Ranging from $12 to $40 in price, this cloud-based service enables you to do everything from viewing your app stats through Google Analytics to helping you design and publish custom apps that your customers can download on iTunes and Google Play.


Promote your business with this app that enables you to construct a simple, one-page website detailing information about your business then sharing it with potential customers and clients through email or on social media. For less than $10 a month, users can create custom-made pitches based on their desired outcome, whether it be promoting a specific product/service or reaching out to a certain segment of your customer base. Crushpath sites are also viewable by anyone who searches for your company online, which helps you generate and keep track of leads even when you’re not actively promoting your business.


With customized business solutions for professionals in over 30 different industries, ShareFile offers companies solutions for transferring and sharing files safely and securely in a custom-branded, password-protected space. Send large files via email, arrange secure file transfers, and coordinate a collaborative arena for project-related files by using tools like the Virtual Data Room. ShareFile’s best attribute is that it can be used on smartphones and tablets on Apple iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows mobile applications. What’s more, ShareFile users can download and use these mobile apps for free.

small business tech tools

Maximize your social media presence with an app that will grab the public’s attention visually. With you can create unique slideshows and share them on popular social media sites. Simply choose your photos from your Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, or Google Images account, pick some theme music, add special effects, and then share your slideshow on your company’s social media pages. is a free and easy way to promote products and services and engage with customers and clients.


Create, manage, and track everything from sales documents to your company’s marketing strategy with this web-based proposal writing program. TinderBox helps keep your employees on the same page and provides you with the ability to streamline contracts, proposals, and other significant company documents in order to ensure that you’re sending a uniform message to clients and customers. You’ll be able to write, make edits, organize, approve, and disseminate your documents no matter where you are.

Author bio: Greg Richards is a tech blogger who writes posts on the latest news and reviews products in the industry.



ImageSmith is proud to be a printer in an exciting era of digital communication. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. They should also be able to work with you to solve any difficult prepress issues with your files. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Getting Ready for Big Data: Take a Look at Your Mail List

Mail Lists, Databases and Big Data

Our privacy is shrinking… or at least our concept of privacy is certainly evolving into something new in a world where just about everything we do, think, read, buy, eat, spend, or consume is digitally tracked. In such a world, your small business database of information on your customers is gold. It is not only how you stay in contact with clientele for invoicing, shipping, and marketing, but in the new world of “BIG DATA” it will increasingly define your profits and growth. Up until now, your data on each customer might be as straightforward as name, address and phone number or email. But as progress continues, you will be presented with the opportunity to gather FAR more data on individuals such as purchasing history, income, political and social affiliations, their avenues of consuming information and purchasing goods, their interests, dislikes, lifestyle and so on. Being able to organize, interpret and manipulate this data for more effective marketing will be at the core of your business’ success.

For now, even if your database is essentially a spreadsheet with customers and their contact information, spending the time to get all this information correct, organized, delimited and “usable” for various marketing efforts is time well spent. Standardization for every entry and every category of information is critical. If you have many folks all entering data into your system about customers or transactions, they all need to be doing so in the exact same way… the “rules” need to all be standardized so that, for instance Mary J. Sawyer, Mrs. MJ Sawyer, Ms. M. Jane Sawyer, Sawyer Mary J., and M. J. Sawyer are not all entered in your database like 5 different people! At a very basic level, that is an important first step.

We do mailings and variable data printing for many clients, and to receive what could be called “clean” data for a mailing is truly the exception rather than the rule. We have methods to “correct” and clean up data, but the sad part of that is usually clients do not want the “new”, corrected data back… so the errors continue to live and repeat in their database – a costly shame.

When you do a mailing, the USPS requires that the address information meet NCOA requirements. NCOA is the National Change of Address program that makes available to mailers the last 48 months of updated addresses where folks have moved or changed address. It flags duplicates and corrects out-of-date address information. Further sorting and certification software for mailing will standardize address spelling, zip codes, street numbers and other inaccurate information. But it is essential that once you have paid your printer or mailhouse to correct and use your database list for a mailing, that you recover that new information and reintegrate it into your database. It is the first step toward “cleaning house” and starting a good first step into the world of “big data” manipulation.

Be sure to ask your printer about how to best streamline the process of supplying your mailing list to them AS WELL AS them returning the corrected, updated list back for reintegration into your database. They will help you set up a routine that makes the file transfer flawless and easy. The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!


ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.