Category Archives: Uncategorized

Paper 101: What Different Terms Actually Mean

When asked about the details of the paper stock you are choosing for a print project, do your eyes glaze over? Do terms like basis weight, points, and color cast sound like Greek to you? If so, here is a quick list of basic terms to help you better understand the process.

Basis weight is the weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of a paper at its basic size, or the size of the uncut sheet supplied to the printer. For example, the basic size of book paper is 25 x 38 inches, so a ream weighing 70 pounds would be 70-lb. paper. Sometimes metric is used: 70-lb. book paper is equivalent to 104 g/m2.

Cover, card, and other thick stocks are often specified in points, which refers to the thickness of the paper. This is often abbreviated “pt.”— for example, “8-pt. cover.” One point is 1/1000th of an inch, so an 8-pt. stock is 0.008 inches thick.

Paper grade refers to the end use of the paper. Bond is used for letters and documents, book paper is used for books, offset is used for offset printing, and so on. Digital presses generally have their own grades. Thicker grades include cover, bristol, tag, and index.

C1S and C2S refer to coatings. Paper is often coated during manufacture, which improves the reproduction of fine halftone screens and color fidelity. C1S means “coated one-side,” which is useful for labels, packaging, and other materials destined for single-sided printing. C2S means “coated two-sides” and is preferred for two-sided commercial printing.

Brightness refers to the percentage of light reflected from the sheet’s surface. Basic white copy paper has a 92 brightness. Brightness by component wavelength (red, green, or blue) is also determined, as paper can reflect different amounts of certain colors, imparting a color cast to a printed piece if you’re not careful.

Paper can bring life, texture, and beauty to your projects. Want to learn more about how different choices complement different projects? Let’s talk!

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5 Considerations for Creating Standout Mail Pieces

When we think about great direct mail results, we tend to think about the list, the message, and the call to action. However, things like the size, shape, and texture of the piece play a key role, too. Let’s look at five considerations for creating standout mail pieces.

  1. Trim size. If you want the lowest possible postage cost, go with a standard 3.5 x 5” postcard. Choosing a nonstandard size will cost more in postage, but it will make your postcard stand out. “Why is that one different?” the recipient wants to know. It might even be the first piece they pick up. What’s that worth?
  2. Weight. Consumers tend to associate the weight of the stock used in the mailing with the quality of the brand and, by extension, the product being marketed. Heavier weight stocks command respect and attention.
  3. Texture. In a sea of smooth envelopes, mailers with textured finishes get noticed. From high gloss and spot varnish to specialty processes, there are lots of options to choose from.
  4. Personalization. Even the use of someone’s name on the front of a card will engage the recipient more than a static card. This engagement might only last for an extra fraction of a second, but sometimes, that is all you need.
  5. Color. Why use a standard white background when you can pick from a range of vibrant colors? Use knock out type, graphics, and images on dynamic backgrounds to get your mailer to jump out of the box. If you carry in a sea of white envelopes and one bright red one, which one would you pick out first?

There are lots of ways to get your direct mailer to stand out from all of the others. Why not try something you have not tried before? You just might love the results!

 

 

Print in 5 Dimensions

One of the great things about direct mail is the many ways it engages the senses. This is something that cannot be replicated in the digital world and continues to make print an indispensible piece of the marketing puzzle. Here are 5 “dimensions” of print that you can use to engage and delight your audiences.

  1. Texture. Paper stock comes in many textures—from sleek coated stocks to classic cottons, linens, and laids to the raw, earthy feel of uncoated, unbleached stocks. Use texture to help tell your marketing story.
  2. Scent. Scent marketing is a growing industry that uses aroma as a subtle but highly effective marketing tool. Scents like coffee, cinnamon, and pine can be used to trigger emotion. When included inside the mailing envelope or direct mail piece, it can trigger positive associations and increase sales.
  3. Color. The use of color goes beyond ink on paper. Consider how colored envelopes and stocks can be used to make your message pop. Want to create a particularly dramatic effect? Consider the impact of white text and graphics on black stock. POW!
  4. Video. There are many ways to send recipients to video in a printed piece. You can use augmented reality (AR), QR Codes to mobile video, even embedded video screens in the piece itself. Print and video go great together.
  5. Dimension. Nothing stands out in the mailbox like a piece of dimensional mail. Whether it is a thick envelope, a beautifully printed box, or a pop-up cube, anything beyond the typical flat mailer draws immediate attention and shouts “OPEN ME!” Recipients can’t wait to see what’s inside.

Print isn’t just four-color ink on plain stock anymore. It offers a multi-sensory experience that excites and engages your audience. Which one of these sensory experiences would benefit your next marketing campaign?

Get More for Your Money

Consumers love to hear how they can get the most out of their money. It’s a great marketing tactic, and it’s no different when it comes to your marketing budget. Here are a few ways get the most bang for your buck.

  1. Use our “house” paper. Paper prices fluctuate often, so if you haven’t standardized on a specific paper, ask about less expensive options. If your piece doesn’t demand a specialty paper, opt to use our house paper. We purchase this paper in high volume, so it’s almost always the least expensive option.
  2. Print four-color in gang runs. The most expensive way to print four-color is for us to run the job by itself on the press. However, with a “gang run,” we run multiple jobs at the same time, then trim them down to size. This can be a great way to get excellent results for less money.
  3. Avoid bleeds. If color needs to go to the edge of the page, you can often get a similar effect less expensively by printing on colored paper. Without bleeds, your project might also require less paper or be able to be run on a smaller press.
  4. Clean and de-dupe. It’s not the most exciting job, but cleaning and de-duping your mailing list can drop your costs dramatically. With a clean list, you are only printing pieces that end up at their intended destinations. Thus, you aren’t sending multiple pieces to the same home or business.
  5. Try new formats. Just because you have always done a brochure for a particular promotion doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Experiment with a postcard or other format and see whether you get a better response rate. A little creativity can go a long way toward saving money.

Need more ideas? Let us brainstorm ways to help you get great results and the most from your budget.

Are You Selling for the Short- or Long-Term?

When you create personalized print communications for your customers, are you thinking about short-term selling or long-term relationships? While getting the quick sale feels great, the biggest profits come from long-term customers who provide recurring revenue over time. Here are five reasons to focus on recurring personalized print programs rather than “quick hit” campaigns:

  1. Building relationships.

Personalization, by definition, is personal and implies a relationship. To establish a relationship with your customers, you need to get to know them. No one-off campaign, no matter how successful, can do that.

  1. Learning more over time.

At the beginning of a campaign, you are making educated guesses about how your customers think and act. As they respond, you learn more about them. This allows you to modify your messaging, offers and calls to action to have the most impact over time.

  1. Making more money.

As you learn which campaign elements are most effective at motivating your customers, your campaigns will be more profitable. More refined campaigns translate into higher response rates, higher conversion rates, and increased ROI.

  1. Maximizing investment.

Setting up your first 1:1 print campaign requires an investment in time and money. By developing programs rather than one-off campaigns, your set-up costs are amortized over the life of the program. As costs become amortized, your ROI per campaign goes up.

  1. Not continually having re-prove program value.

Unless you are the president or owner of the company, chances are you had to work with a team of others to make the initial decision to deploy personalized print communications. Each time you run another campaign, you need to go through the entire process again. With programs, you have the freedom to refine and maximize your efforts without having to re-prove their value before each deployment.

So think long-term. Programs allow you to develop and refine your marketing strategy over time and take advantage of the value of relationship-building. One-off campaigns can produce great short-term results, but the deepest profits come from investing in your customers for the long term.

 

5 Reasons Print Stubbornly Refuses to Be Replaced

No matter how frequently marketing gurus prophesy the demise of print, and no matter how loudly and publicly they do it, print marketing remains the bedrock of any successful multichannel marketing program. Let’s look at five reasons why print is here to stay.

  1. It’s just prettier. It doesn’t matter how gorgeous your JPGs are; a beautifully printed piece will blow away your screen graphics every time.
  2. You can’t avoid it. When you communicate by email, recipients can’t see beyond the subject line until they open the message. With clear envelopes, windows, and exterior envelope printing, you start communicating your print message as soon as the piece arrives in the mailbox.
  3. Print is one of many touchpoints. Today’s complex marketing environment requires multiple touch points. According to the Online Marketing Institute, it takes six to eight marketing touches to generate a viable sales lead. Repetition is critical, and print is a critical channel in the mix.
  4. Print influences buying decisions. Marketers once thought that with the growth of e-commerce, printed catalogs would fade away. History indicates otherwise. Surveys find that consumers who receive printed catalogs are more likely (in one study, twice as likely) to make online purchases at the retailer’s website as those who do not.
  5. Consumers trust print more. Open your e-mail. How much junk email do you receive? Unless it comes from a known brand, people are skeptical of claims made by email alone. Print carries greater weight and authenticity than digital marketing. People continue to trust messages communicated in print.

Print remains irreplaceable in today’s “what’s in it for me?” world. While e-marketing is a necessary component in any multichannel marketing campaign, print carries benefits that online channels just can’t touch.

 

 

Best Practices in Personalized Marketing

If you want great marketing results, it’s important to personalize text, images, and other content based on what you know about the recipient. But just dropping in data-driven content doesn’t guarantee success. Sometimes other factors can dull your results. Maybe the offer is great, but the design is so uninteresting that nobody reads it. Or the headline is snappy and the design is great, but there is no incentive for people to respond.

Let’s look at three best practices that need to be the foundation of any personalized print campaign.

  • Traditional marketing rules apply. Even with personalized marketing, traditional rules hold firm. Ultimately, all of the elements — creative, message (including personalization), offer, segmentation, call to action, and incentive —need to come together to determine success.
  • Focus on relevance, not “personalization.” It doesn’t matter how “personalized” a document is. If it isn’t relevant, it is worthless. Take the shoe market. You don’t want to sell orthopedic shoes to teenagers. You can deck out the mailer with text messaging terms, pictures of X-Games, and use all the contemporary lingo, but it’s not a relevant message unless a teen needs to purchase a birthday present for grandpa.
  • Know your customers, then market to what you know. When the National Hockey League began 1:1 communication with its customers, it asked them to fill out a survey that indicated that 40% of the of NHL’s fan base lives outside their favorite team’s home market. That means these fans can’t easily go to games or access highlights. Imagine the opportunity for the league! So ask yourself, what don’t you know about your customers now that might allow you to create relevance in a more powerful way later? Do a customer mail or email survey. Use what you find out to speak directly to the needs and interests of your customers.

Investing in your marketing database and developing an intimate understanding of your customers takes time, dedicated resources, and manpower, but it is one of the most important investments you can make. Personalization is a powerful tool, but to get the big pay-off, it cannot work alone.