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.

Source: PrintisBig.com
 
 

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.

USPS Stamps Have a New Feel – Textured Coatings & Thermochromic Ink

 

USPS Stamps: Textured Sports Stamps and Thermochromic Ink Eclipse Stamps

The USPS continues to excel with great design, print and marketing ideas in their innovative new postage stamps. Their newest releases take the plain printed stamp to a whole new experience level. They combine cool, engaging print techniques with a topical interest in current events and culture.

USPS Sports Stamps

In honor of the America’s favorite sports, the USPS chose the kick off of the U.S. Open golf championship to debut a series of stamps with an actual “feel.” The Have a Ball! Forever stamps are round, and honor the sports of baseball, basketball, football, golf, kickball, soccer, tennis, and volleyball. Each has a special textured coating to simulate the surface of each ball. You can feel the baseball’s stitching, the golf ball’s dimples, the tennis ball’s seams, raised panels on a soccer ball and volleyball, and the unique patterns of a football, basketball and kickball. For the philatelist, you can order first-day-of-issue postmarks and first-day covers here. On Twitter, follow the hashtag of #Haveaballstamps.

Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever Stamps

To top that creative print idea, the USPS will commemorate a rare total solar eclipse, which crosses the entire width of the continental United States on August 21, with the Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp. What makes this stamp as unique as the eclipse which it commemorates? The heat of your finger pressed onto the stamp will transform the image of the darkened moon blocking the sun into an image of the full moon. This is the first time the USPS has used thermochromic ink in printing stamps. This ink is vulnerable to UV light and, since it is a forever stamp, should not be exposed to direct sunlight to preserve the effect.  For collectors, you can also purchase a special envelope to help protect the stamp pane. On Twitter, follow the hashtag #EclipseStamps.

Remember, the USPS receives no tax dollars for operating expenses. They fund their operations through the sale of postage, products and services.

Using an actual stamp – as opposed to a permit imprint –helps to boost “open rates” for direct mail marketing, providing a personal touch. For a specially targeted mailing of limited size, these textured and innovative forever stamps might prove eye-catching enough to pay for themselves in improved response.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. 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 environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

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.

NCOALink and CASS Processing: Get Your Data Back After Each Direct Mailing

Man receiving mail

Direct mail marketing works. It is a powerful driver of sales and success for businesses large and small. Yet because postal rules are confusing and the procedures are time consuming to follow, we normally pay a professional – often our printer – to handle all those mail headaches. What we overlook is the very important step of getting our “corrected” mail list back from the service provider! Your data, in order to qualify for bulk mail discounts, has been “corrected” – improved, standardized, updated – complete with additional reports on the remaining faulty addresses. After each mailing, you will want to reintegrate this corrected data into your database – otherwise you continue to pay for postage and printing that never reaches your target.

Some Eye-Opening Stats on UAA Mail

UAA: Undeliverable As Addressed – for mailers, this equates to throwing money down the drain. Mail lists generally contain many errors and misinformation that make an address undeliverable – typos, nonstandard abbreviations, redundant and incomplete address information, data entered into the wrong fields, even just plain incorrect delivery addresses. Also, people and businesses frequently move, leaving mailers with out of date contact info. Consider the following stats:

  • As much as 25% of your database will deteriorate after one year, according to HubSpot. People move, change email addresses, change jobs….and if you are still trying to reach them with the old contact information in your database, you are wasting money.
  • In 2013, 6.8 billion mailpieces (or 4.3% of those processed by the USPS) were deemed UAA. (source: Mailing Systems Techonology)
  • UAA mail costs direct mail marketers over $6 billion each year. (source: Mailing Systems Techonology)

The Easy Fix… and You’ve Already Paid For It!

When you pay your service provider to mail your marketing pieces, you are paying them to check and correct your data against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database, and – as far as is possible – to standardize and “fix” any errors in the addresses. In order to receive discounted bulk mail rates, this must be done and certified within 180 days of the mail date (90 days for Carrier Route discounts). The USPS doesn’t want undeliverable mail in their system any more than you want to pay for postage that yields no return.

Sample of Corrected AddressIf you do not receive your “corrected” data back from your service provider after all this work, your database retains all the original errors and the process gets repeated on your next mailing – only now the addresses are older and more likely to have already been dropped from the NCOA resource. With each repetition, more addresses “deteriorate” and become UAA, costing you more money and a decreased response rate. Why pay for this mail list “cleaning” and they toss it away after one use?

NCOAlink and CASS processing will standardize all abbreviations, misspellings and update any registered Change of Address moves on file with the USPS. For the addresses still identified as UAA, NCOA processing will provide reports detailing the reason each address was rejected, as well as a listing of all changes that were made. You can use this information to research and correct your UAA entries, or just delete them entirely. The key is to reintegrate the newly corrected data back into your system.

 

What happens to the database you hand your mailer?

Below is some more general information about the details of NCOA processing. This is the part most of us are glad to pay someone else to handle.

Your data, when creating a VDP or variable data printed mailing, may include many fields of information in addition to those necessary for mailing: age, email, income brackets, customer numbers, amounts due, subscription information, and on and on. That data – necessary for the VDP mailpiece – travels along untouched with your mail list during NCOALink certification. In order to receive discounted bulk mail rates, your mailer processes your data through NCOALink (which includes CASS, DPV, LACSLink, and SuiteLink).

National Change of Address (NCOALink) is the database of everyone in the US who has filed a Change of Address with the US postal service. Access to it is licensed to service providers and made available to mailers so they can keep up with individuals and companies at their permanent addresses. If your best customer moved from New York to Los Angeles, this is how you stay in touch with them without interruption. The NCOALink process also includes:

USPS CASS Report Form 3553CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) processing will correct and standardize addresses. It will also add missing address information, such as ZIP codes, cities, and states to ensure the address is complete. Starting with 2007 Cycle L, CASS software will also perform delivery point validation to verify whether or not an address is a deliverable address and check against the USPS Locatable Address Conversion System to update addresses that have been renamed or renumbered. Also, Error codes are offered to help you understand what might be missing or incorrect with your addresses that do not + 4 code.

DSF2 processing relays delivery point information received from mail carriers. It includes DPV® (Delivery Point Validation), LACSLink® (Locatable Address Conversion System), and SuiteLink® processing.  Together, these identify vacant, residential, business or seasonal address information, increasing the deliverability of your mailpieces and allowing mailers to more accurately target who receives a mailpiece.

Your service provider will be happy to return your NCOALink and CASS certified mail list to you as either a DBF or Excel compatible text file for reintegration into your database. Many of the newly created fields in your data are necessary for USPS processing and Intelligent Mail Barcode creation – these can be deleted by you without any problem, or you can request that your service provider return to you a file with only the fields you originally exported in your mail list.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. 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 environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

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.

Turn to Your Printer for Multimedia Marketing Support

Embroidery, wide format printing, and more

 

Printing businesses have expanded their services far beyond just printing on paper. Product lines include design services, integrated marketing and direct mail, promotional products and the production of marketing materials as diverse as wide format signage and embroidered or screen printed clothing. In other words, your printer is now your marketing specialist.

Printers Deliver Customer-Friendly Online Tools

Original Apple Computer Co. logoDigital technology arrived early in the print world with desktop publishing, photo editing, and graphics technology revolutionizing the business throughout the ’80s and ’90s. Back in the early days of email, printers were among the first to seize upon that technology to deliver goods (in this case, printing proofs) to customers as soon as they were available. No more driving downtown, finding parking, and hoping the client was available to look over proofs so the job could go ahead.

Clients, too, loved the new email services. So it was no surprise that once the web took off, printers quickly created websites to serve their customers even more quickly. Now they can upload files to print, preview them and place the order. By 2007, an industry report from First Research predicted that by 2010, 30 percent of all print jobs would have to be completed within a day. Short run, digital printing now fills that demand.

Today, printers offer online tools to help customers create and order their own marketing. Many offer professional design services or templates customers can use to create their projects. Customers can review the designs, approve and send them to production right away — all in a single online visit. (They can also save their work for later review.) Local printers will deliver the goods directly to the doorstep or business office, as well as providing technical and marketing advice for planning an overall marketing strategy for businesses both large and small. According to the Xerox blog, printers whose businesses grew by 10 percent or more in 2013 attributed some of it to web-based services.

Eco-Friendly Printing Pays

Printers have embraced green technology and sustainable business practices. The print industry has long been a leader in recycling and sustainable business practices. Soy ink (long a requirement for many federal government contract bids), water solvent inks, and the use of paper products endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and other agencies give customers the satisfaction of knowing their print marketing is eco-friendly. Many customers choose to brand their print with this commitment to environmental stewardship as a part of their marketing outreach. In turn they can promote their good corporate citizenship through social media on outlets like LinkedIn, a leading site for business marketing and information. LinkedIn is a great place to post important business news and updates for clients and your industry, as exemplified by LifeLock.

More Products Than Ever Can Be Print-Personalized

It used to be that printing T-shirts was an expensive undertaking that required a minimum number of shirts to print. Digital technology makes it possible to affordably print even a single T-shirt. While the technology may not quite be the same quality as a silk-screened shirt, it’s pretty darn close and with proper laundering, digitally printed images can last nearly as long as a silk screen.

Custom EmbroideryEmbroidery is a great way to create custom branded clothing, uniforms, hats, bags, and many other items that will put your name and logo directly into people’s lives. Outfit your staff with branded print wear, or create items to sell or even give away to clients. They will become your own team of mobile advertising!

Mugs and other personal gift items are also fair game for personalization thanks to sublimation dye printing, a great way full service printers have diversified their printing businesses, says the industry news site MyPrintResource.com. A sublimation printer can print on anything made from a polymer base or polyester, which covers a lot of ground from Christmas ornaments to sports equipment to phone cases. The selection is huge, and you can browse an online catalog to find exactly the right promotional product to brand for your unique marketing plan.

Graphic Display BannersWide-format printing creates posters, banners, POP displays, bus signs, indoor and outdoor signage, trade show booths, and other large printed material.  Your printer will help you design and customize these items with your own logo, colors, photography and graphics for exactly the impact you want. Xerox predicts wide format printing will grow 65 percent each year through 2017.

Years of experience also empower a full service printer to advise you on ideas that work and that meet your individual budget. Best of all – this marketing expertise is yours FREE OF CHARGE! Where else can you find that kind of deal? If you have the right printer, you already have a highly trained marketing consultant who knows print, branding, direct mail, web strategies, social media and has years of experience in both high and low tech marketing approaches that work for businesses just like yours. The most assuring part of this partnership for you is that the print/communications company only succeeds when your marketing succeeds! Start taking advantage of this asset – the print industry itself has had to reinvent itself in this new high tech economy. They know what works. Meet with a printer today to find one who can offer you the full range of marketing options that today’s competitive and creative markets demand.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. 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 environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

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.

EDDM – Is Every Door Direct Mail Right For You?

EVery Door Direct Mail Simplified

The USPS direct mail program called Every Door Direct Mail, begun in 2011, makes saturation mailing affordable for small businesses. Offer coupons, publicize events, send thanks, announce sales or online promotions, and discover new customers from areas you target – all at the lowest price ever.  However, as with all things postal, you may also encounter a few potentially confusing rules and paperwork. Read on for a little clarification…

What is Every Door Direct Mail?

EDDM is a USPS program that seeks to make direct mail easier and less costly for small businesses. Using EDDM Retail, you send your mailpiece without a list of addresses or a permit to every address in targeted areas (carrier routes) which you select. Each printed mailpiece will be exactly the same (i.e., no cost for variable data addressing, no individualized addresses). Customers go online and use the USPS EDDM Retail program to select carrier routes and generate necessary paperwork. Of course this saturation mailing has some limitations: you can only mail 5,000 pieces per mailer per day, your piece must meet the specs for a standard machinable flat, your piece must be printed with the correct EDDM indicia, and you must bring the mail physically to the Post Office that services the carrier routes you chose. Also you must fill out the requisite postal forms and labeling, as well as follow bundling and packaging requirements. You can read more online at usps.com/everydoordirectmail.

What is the Difference between EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU?

BMEU stands for Business Mail Entry Unit. EDDM BMEU allows larger businesses who already maintain a mailer’s permit for payment and tracking of their direct mail to use their permit and to drop off their EDDM to the Business Mail Entry Unit. With this method, mailers are not limited to 5000 pieces per day and the rules for what type of mailpiece qualify are more flexible.

While you can go it alone with the Post Office online, EDDM may be a daunting task for anyone new to bulk mail. (You can check out details of the USPS program online here.) The USPS has posted an in-depth video presentation on the EDDM service. We have broken the video into two parts and you can watch them by clicking the video links:

Every Day Direct Mail Video 1
Watch the EDDM video part one

Every Day Direct Mail Video 2
Watch the EDDM video part two

What are the Benefits of Every Door Direct Mail?

Every Door Direct Mail service lets your business send advertising without the need of an address list or the cost of addressing. The USPS rate for EDDM averages $0.175 per piece! A letter carrier delivers your piece along with the day’s mail to every address on the routes you choose. EDDM allow you to:

  • TARGET every address
  • REDUCE production costs
  • SIMPLIFY the mailing process

Discover the Possibilities…

  • Invite customers to a Grand Opening or Open House
  • Offer timely coupons or promotions
  • Announce events & sales
  • Publicize your participation in community events
  • Highlight your hours of operation, new services,
  • menu, mission statement or products
  • Emphasize your location and enhance your brand
  • Thank customers for their patronage

EDDM helps retailers and service-based businesses reach their local target customers – a good fit for the following:

auto dealers and repair shops  •  restaurants  •  pharmacies
clothing stores  •  furniture dealers  •  flower shops
coffee shops  •  bakeries  •  attorneys  •  schools  •  real estate firms
health-care professionals & practices  •  dry cleaners  •  home-improvement companies

Downside?

EDDM paperwork
There’s always paperwork involved!

Perfect for some businesses and some direct mail objectives, EDDM is not always the smartest option for everyone. Why? In general, targeted direct mailings – where you “edit” your mailing list for various factors such as age, income, and lifestyle of the folks you want to reach – produce greater results and therefore greater profits. Consider these situations: if you are a restaurant and want to get coupons out into the hands of locals who pass by your place daily and are the most likely to stop in, EDDM saturation mailing could be your smartest approach. But if you are a business selling products specifically for the elderly or homebound, sending mailpieces to every address in a neighborhood could be a waste of your investment. A targeted mailing to only elderly or disabled residents in a wider area would yield more positive results.

Best advice?

Talk to your printer about which mailing strategies will work best with your budget and your direct mail goals. Rely on their experience with the USPS and with integrated marketing to make your life a little easier… and more affordable.

Contact us at ImageSmith to get started with Every Door Direct Mail today. You choose, through the USPS site, exactly the areas you wish to saturate with your mailing and we’ll handle all the paperwork, packaging and regulations. No mail list, no hassle, and – if you decide to take advantage of EDDM BMEU – no need to apply for a postage permit, you can use ours at no added cost.

 

ImageBlog’s 2013 Print and Design Year in Review

ImageBlog 2013

End of the year reflection time – which means of course a Top 10 list, right? Imageblog is our online newstand of conjecture, knowledge, experience and opinion about the world of print, design, marketing, technology and sustainability. Looking back at 2013, it was a year of growth. We were excited to feature our first guest blog authors, and hope to bring you more of that in the future. Below are articles we featured in 2013 that covered events unique to this year – changes, updates, memorials, anniversaries, and historic firsts. This list hopefully highlights some of the unique events of the past year:

  1. USPS Issues First-Ever Global Forever Stamp
    Just like the popular domestic first class mail Forever stamps, the USPS began offering a Forever stamp for international mail in February of 2013. For $1.10, you can send a one ounce letter anywhere in the world. The great circular design of the stamp is eye-catching and popular with philatelists.
  2. Boston Magazine Cover Highlights the Power of Print with a Moving Tribute
    After the tragic terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon in April, many newsstand covers featured stunning and moving photography and design memorializing that day. One we liked the best for its design, color and ability to capture the personal side of such an event without capitalizing on any tragic images, was Boston Magazine’s image of the shoes of actual Boston marathon runners forming a heart. Even better, proceeds from the sale of an accompanying poster go to benefit the One Fund–Boston, which has raised millions to help those affected by the attack.
  3. “Pencil to Pixel” Exhibit a Great Success Gill Sans Italic, original pencil and ink drawings
    British firm Monotype’s “Pencil to Pixel” exhibit in New York provided a museum setting exhibition for typography lovers in May of 2013, following an initial run in London in 2012. The rich show highlighted the craftsmanship and design behind well-known typefaces of the past and present.
  4. Coke Gets Personal with VDP and Integrated Marketing
    Variable Data Printing (VDP) and Integrated Marketing techniques continued this year to bolster the power and profitability of print advertising in an increasingly digital age. Coke experimented with personalized bottles in some foreign markets, as consumers begin to notice and expect individualized content in all forms of marketing.
  5. TCM in the Spotlight with Awesome Graphic Design
    ImageBlog took a look at the great graphic design work produced over at Turner Classic Movies on their website, on air productions, print materials and marketing collateral. Nothing’s more inspiring than great design and TCM and the charles s. anderson design co. are doing a world class job.
  6. 20 Years On: Newsweek Prophetic 1993 Vision of the Future Cover story on Interactive Technology from Newsweek
    A 1993 cover story from Newsweek offered a surprisingly accurate look ahead to today, contemplating the coming “interactivity” in the world of marketing and the resulting ethical dilemmas that might arise. An interesting read, but perhaps the most interesting part is that Newsweek did not foresee their own 2013 about face: first halting print production in favor of an online-only version at the end of 2012, then reversing course and planning a return to weekly print in 2014.
  7. 1931 Frankenstein Poster Sets World Record
    The only confirmed known insert poster of the 1931 Universal movie “Frankenstein” sold for over $262,000 dollars – over 5 times the estimated amount. Print is valuable!
  8. New Help for an Old Question: What is that Font?
    As just one example of the innovative ways technology is providing great solutions, we highlighted three online sites that help solve a problem designers and prepress departments have always struggled with – identifying a mystery font! Sooner or later, you’ll have the same problem and here are some great online resources.
  9. The World’s Most Expensive Printed Book is Sold Digital Bay Psalm Book
    The Bay Psalm Book now holds two world records: it is the first book printed in British North America and now the most expensive as well, having sold at auction for over $14 million! You can peruse the book yourself with the digital copy that is now available online for free, courtesy of the Old South Church in Boston.
  10. Cyber Monday: an Ongoing Evolution
    The busiest online shopping day of the year, Cyber Monday continues to evolve as  technology and social media change. Small players are now part of the game and the line between brick & mortar stores and their online enterprises gets blurrier. This day is a phenomenon that surely represents trends that will continue to define the changes in print and marketing in the year ahead.

Here’s hoping you will find some interesting topics in our list, or some useful information about print, design and marketing for the year ahead. Thank you for stopping by!

 

 

Rely on your printer for advice and direction with all your marketing needs. 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 marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Blow-In Some Creative Direct Mail Ideas: What Catches Your Eye?

blow-in and bind-in insert cards for direct mail

Blow-ins and Bind-ins: ever thought about why those insert cards in your direct mail work? If they didn’t, they would not be showered with so many. “Blow-in” cards (as bindery machines blow the inserts into the printed pieces during manufacture) are most famously successful for magazines and newspapers to advertise their subscription offers. Their size makes them perfect as business reply mail, coupons for in-store and online sales, or to call out special offer from within the larger print piece. “Bind-in” cards stay attached to the piece, usually with a perforation to allow removal.

Normally inserts prove bothersome by falling out inconveniently and making me stoop to pick them up, or as I browse the rest of the magazine or catalog I am trying to keep them from falling out again. Bind-in cards annoyingly cover up part of the page that I want to see. These “aggravations” are in fact part of the reason insert cards work for marketing – they force us to stop and potentially, in those extra precious seconds, notice the name or information on the card.

direct mail advertising insert cards

I recently received a catalog from Pier 1 imports, and while several blow-in cards came falling out, the one above caught my attention above the others – and prompted me to think about why. It is actually a bind-in card, but three things, in retrospect, stood out enough to make me stop and look at it, flip it over and see what it was about:

  • The design: specifically the colors. Like the type, they are loud but pleasing. The designer knew the visual had to stand out in front of a busy page full of advertised merchandise, and this design does.
  • The die cut: that icy pitcher of tart lemonade looks like it could almost be lifted off the page. Maybe I was thirsty at the time, but it made me take notice, and the outlined shape caught my eye over all the other rectangular inserts, which I totally ignored.
  • The anonymity: If the front of this card had the company logo emblazoned on it, I think my initial reaction would have been to assume I already knew what it was pushing and need not look any further. Because it looked more like a big flavorful offer for lemonade, I flipped it over and saw an offer for $50 off a purchase at Pier 1. Good marketing.

When you are planning your print marketing, take a few minutes to think about the ways direct mail or other advertising has influenced you, caught your eye, or directed your behavior. Pick up your stack of mail today and notice which piece attracts your notice the most – then try to state three reasons that particular item got your attention while others were bypassed. Learning to incorporate those sound and creative ideas into your own promotions can make your marketing dollars do a lot more work for you. Creativity will get you noticed.

 

 

Printers understand communication and design. 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.

Die cutting: Creative Finishing Ideas Add Power to Print

folded die cut self-mailer

Even a simple die cut can transform a bland self-mailer into a powerful marketing piece. Creative die cutting highlights the 3D nature of print – its tactile and functional nature. It also grabs attention and makes a marketing piece stand out from a stack of generic mail pieces.

The finished shape of a die cut print piece can serve an aesthetic purpose, such as making an image pop off the page or highlighting either text or a specific object. It can also provide functionality; for example, the slots in some folders which hold business cards or the curved and angled flaps on a folder which fit together as a means of closure for the piece. Another practical function for die cutting is a “pre-punched” card that is still affixed into the sheet of paper by a few, small uncut areas but can easily be popped out by the recipient to use the piece as a coupon, membership card, etc.

die cut rounded corner print pieces
Even the simplicity of a die cut rounded corner makes a print piece unique.

As a general rule, offset and digital printing (other than web-fed presses) is done on precut, rectangular pieces of paper. A special die cut press is used to trim or shape the pieces further. Think of this as similar to a cookie cutter. A die is made of metal and adjusted onto the die press at the right amount of pressure. Printed sheets are then fed into the machine and the die will both cut and/or score each sheet, leaving small attachment areas so that the finished pieces do not separate and fall down into the press. The unused portion is then scraped or weeded out and recycled, leaving the finished shaped piece.

die cut printed pieces

 

All “shaped” pieces of printed paper have been die cut by this or a similar method: envelopes with a curved flap, folders with slots for holding a buisness card or insert, and anything with rounded edges are all examples of die cut print pieces. You can creatively design your die cut to work in most any shape. Of course, the extra process adds cost to your print project, and a very complex die will cost more than one as simple as a rounded corner or curved shape.

One hint: paper manufacuturers often provide printers with sample books of their materials, showing off their products through creative, eye-catching print. These sample books and other marketing pieces often include examples of die cutting. Ask your printer to share some of these with you, or for samples of their own die cut projects. You can get a lot of inspiration from holding and inspecting the paper yourself, and perhaps it will get you excited about new options for your next print project.

Paper manufacture samples of die cutting

 

Rely on your printer for advice, inspiration and direction on your integrated marketing options. They should be able to answer all your questions – 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.

Your Integrated Marketing Plan Needs Direct Mail

Combining direct mail with digital communication for increased ROI

Over at PrintisBig.com, you will find some eye-opening statistics about the print industry, and specifically about the power of direct mail – yes, good old-fashined direct mail, even in a digital age. While I would attribute part of the continued effectiveness of direct mail campaigns for marketing to their integration with other online and offline marketing methods, it looks like the preference of consumers for the physical nature of printed matter still pays off in increased conversion rates and marketing ROI. Also, small companies and non-profits are reaping the benefits of VDP personalization in increasingly targeted campaigns that drive up response rates as their database management matures. A couple of the stats from PrintisBig:

  • Since 2004, direct mail marketing response rates are UP 14%, while email marketing response rates are DOWN 57%.

  • In 2010, US companies increased sales through direct marketing to the tune of $702 billion.

  • Advertisers in the US spend $167 per person on direct mail, earning $2,095 worth of goods sold. That’s a 1,300% return on investment.

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

Source: PrintisBig.com

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.

New Global Forever Stamp from the USPS: Great Design, Great Idea

the new forever stamp for international mail

Now the convenience for a Forever Stamp, like the ones we all use for domestic first class letters, is available for international mail. For $1.10, you can send a one ounce letter to any country in the world (or a 2 ounce letter to Canada), and these stamps may be used in the future no matter how much postage prices change. They may be purchased individually or in a sheet of 20 for $22.00.

The beautiful stamp was designed by Greg Breeding, art direction by William J. Gicker, and the composite satellite image of the earth was created by Leonello Calvetti. The unusual round shape is eyecatching and unique, a suitable fit for a stamp that has a unique function and carries its message around the world.

The USPS, which receives no tax dollars for operational expenses and funds itself through the sale of its products and services, is actively branching out in social media and marketing to its customers, especially stamp-collectors. Check them out on Facebook or Twitter @USPSStamps. For philatelists, or stamp collectors, the USPS has a great site called Beyond the Perf, showcasing upcoming stamps, first-day-of-issue events and other stamp-related news.