As we’ve mentioned before, the success of any direct mail marketing campaign depends primarily on the mail list. Studies have shown that at least 60% of the response rate can be attributed to the mail list, while only about 20% each is attributable to the offer and the appearance of the mail piece. Given the importance of a mailing list, we recommend that all our customers understand the basics in order to make the best use of any list – internally-generated or purchased.
Thoughtful use of the earth’s resources and protection of the environment may seem like an odd topic for a newsletter written by a printer. After all, printing requires paper, and the paper industry has been criticized for destruction of forests, water pollution, and other anti-environment actions. Printed advertising mail is portrayed as a nuisance to those who receive it and cited for adding to landfills. Even e-mail messages are critical of print – you may have seen this tag line as part of an e-mail signature: Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.
Is printing really the environmental evil its critics assert? Should businesses and individuals adopt a policy of eliminating hard copies of documents and using only e-mail and digital media for sales and marketing outreach? Or are there other considerations that will allow businesses and organizations to continue to use printing and still be good environmental stewards?
Graphic images – such as photographs, illustrations, drawings, logos, and clip art – are a great addition to any printed piece. When combined with text, images measurably increase reader comprehension, retention, and interest when compared to text only.
In printing and publishing, graphic images are two-dimensional (2D), while on the web images can be two- or three-dimensional (3D) or multimedia.
There are two ways to form graphic images: pixel by pixel in a grid (called a bitmap or raster image) or mathematically from geometric objects such as points, lines, curves, and polygons (called vector images). Digital photographs and all images that have been scanned are bitmap images; vector images originate primarily from illustrations or drawing software programs or from plotters used in technical drawing.
When is it time to consider a redesign of your company’s advertising material? Some may answer, “when its effectiveness drops,” or “when the competition does,” or “when we hire a new marketing director.” We agree that these are good reasons, but we also would add that periodic redesign should be part of your regular advertising cycle. A good redesign will refresh your ads and renew them for your loyal customers and your prospects alike.
Signs That a Redesign May be Needed
Your company’s advertising material may need a redesign if any of these conditions exist:
- It has been more than five years since you first developed the advertising material.
- Your company today is much different than it was when the advertising material was developed.
- The target audience for your product or service has changed since the advertising material was developed.
Your advertising material may also show signs of aging in the selection of typeface, the layout, or the color palette.
An interesting and perhaps unanticipated result of the growth in social media for marketing is an increased need for good writing skills. Blogs, drip marketing, opt-in electronic newsletters, and other “new media” require both useful content and good writing to attract and keep readers.
The elements of good writing are simple: grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. By mastering the rules and conventions, you will make your writing easier to understand and more enjoyable to your readers.
Except for deciding about color, you probably haven’t given much thought to the ink or toner that creates the image on your printed piece. Yet there are some technical facts about each one that have an effect on the finished look of your document. When you are placing your order, be sure to let us know whether you have a special need such as heat resistance (because the printed sheet will be going through a laser printer or copier) or resistance to fading.
As printers, we love paper. Paper adds a design element, influences the impression, and contributes to the overall appeal of a printed piece. Paper is also a critical variable in how well a job runs on press, in a high-speed copier or digital printer, or through the laser printer on your desktop.
For most printing jobs, there is a paper whose characteristics are best for the application. For example, if the printed piece is a trifold brochure, a sheet with good folding characteristics will be best. If the piece has significant ink coverage, then a paper with superior ink holdout will perform best.
It is our job to guide you through the many possibilities to match the paper to your printing project. This will be easier if you understand how the characteristics of paper affect the appropriateness for a specific printed piece.
If you’ve been reading our most recent newsletters, you’ll notice a theme – that traditional direct mail, email, and social media work best together. All have their places in a marketer’s tool kit, they do not cancel the need for the others, and they may even work symbiotically as when a post card is sent offering a premium if the recipient provides an e-mail address or likes a social media site.
Some Audiences Prefer Traditional Direct Mail
While we acknowledge the growing importance of email and web-based communication to reach customers and prospects, computers and mobile wireless devices like smartphones cannot by themselves reach everyone in a business or organization’s target market. That could change as the use of mobile wireless devices spreads (which is happening rapidly), but until that time, traditional direct mail still has a valuable place as a marketing tool.
Traditional direct mail is a good choice for some audiences (such as an older demographic whose adoption of web-based communications may be lagging younger audiences) and for anyone who clearly states a preference for direct mail.
Traditional direct mail is also a good choice for businesses and organizations whose target audience is local. Sustaining membership campaigns, fundraisers, and financial support appeals by community-based non-profits are good examples where outreach by traditional direct mail to the homes of donors is likely to outperform email or web-based appeal.
Anticipating the addition of, or even the switch to web-based communication, businesses and organizations are collecting e-mail addresses and starting permission-based newsletters and blogs. But until that task is complete, traditional direct mail could be the only way to reach a customer or prospect.
There is one department in our printing company that you don’t often hear about… our bindery. This is where we take printed sheets to finish the job. There are often many small operations that need to be completed just before the job is ready to be delivered. Even though they are frequently rather small and seemingly insignificant operations, together they combine to insure that the final product has a very professional appearance.
The bindery in our company is where we create the final product from flat press sheets; products like a folded brochure, a booklet, a pad, a numbered invoice, pages with holes ready for a ring binder, a spiral bound manual, or a ticket with perforations to make a tear-off stub. The bindery is where we trim business cards to final size and trim the edges of booklets to make them even. It’s where we apply the glue that makes individual sheets of carbonless paper into a set. It’s also here that we package the order and do the final quality control check. So even though we rarely mention the bindery when talking to you about a project, it is a very important part of the printing process.
In the past, all sales and marketing materials were printed. Later, the Internet added new ways to reach customers and prospects, and later still provided a way to interact with them, sometimes in real time. Over time, Internet-based marketing replaced some printed materials, enhanced others, and also provided new marketing tools.
Despite the popularity and success of these new marketing techniques, there remain some basic printed items that all businesses need:
• The corporate identity package consisting of 1) business cards, 2) letterheads & envelopes, 3) note paper, 4) mailing labels, and
• Sales material consisting of 5) a company brochure, 6) note pads, and 7) a direct mail piece.