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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Blog Articles for PrintIndustry.com

Archive for March, 2021

Custom Printing: Kodak’s New Production Inkjet Press

Monday, March 29th, 2021

Photo purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

I’m not a gearhead. I don’t get excited about car specifications or even computer specifications, but when it comes to custom printing, I’m actually getting very excited about the developments in digital printing. In this arena, I do get pumped about equipment specs.

Why? Because I remember the 1990s, when inkjet printer output was garish. We had an inkjet printer in the design studio, but we used it only to give clients a general idea of how the printed product would look. Now, digital printing is running neck and neck with offset printing.

Back in the 1990s when I was buying commercial printing and managing the art and production unit of a nonprofit foundation, I first heard a printer say, “Quality, Price, Schedule. Choose any two.” Well this has changed a bit in the ensuing years. There’s a print book I found several years ago called Free, Perfect, and Now by Robert Rodin. I think this motto is closer to the demands of today’s print buyer, given the ability of digital printing to produce short runs of variable-data work immediately. Customers expect this now because it can actually happen. Maybe not always. But most of the time.

Background on the KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press

In this light I was pleased to read “An Interview with Randy Vandagriff, Senior VP of Print on the New KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press.” It’s a press release from Kodak dated 03/10/21, and it has a number of far-reaching implications.

To quote from the press release, “Offset print volumes are in decline, yet offset remains the benchmark for quality, speed, paper choice, and long runs. But offset cannot print variable content and struggles to economically print small quantities as press runs have become shorter and more targeted” (“An Interview with Randy Vandagriff, Senior VP of Print on the New KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press”).

This press release touches all the bases:

    1. Current shorter runs (and the need for some longer runs)

 

    1. Variable data capability

 

    1. Substrate (paper) flexibility (as it pertains to both overall image quality and the tactile differences between various papers)

 

    1. Speed (digital presses run much more slowly than offset presses)

 

  1. And, most importantly, quality. This means everything from the nuances of tone in photographs to ink holdout on printing paper to the breadth of the color gamut (or how many distinct colors a press can print).

Hitting all of these targets at once has been difficult. Quality of digital output hasn’t matched offset quality. Some digital inkjet presses can’t print on glossy paper. Others can print on glossy paper but the inks are expensive and the process slows down the press (making digital even slower when compared to offset).

Kodak’s Answer: The KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press

So this is what Kodak has developed in response to client needs: the KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press, a digital inkjet press that runs at “production” speeds (which means the technology is gradually becoming fast enough to compete with offset printing). Moreover, as the speed increases, the point at which it becomes economically prudent to switch from digital to offset moves to longer press runs. In short, that means digital is becoming competitive with offset in terms of quality and speed, allowing printers to opt for digital technology (for its variable data capability, for instance) for longer press runs than heretofore.

To quote again from the press release: “In order to close the gap, we designed and built a revolutionary new inkjet press that offers offset quality at a speed of 500 fpm, (150 mpm), can print on glossy papers with high ink coverage at top speed, and achieves a higher run-length cross-over with offset for low cost production” (“An Interview with Randy Vandagriff, Senior VP of Print on the New KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press”).

This quote addresses one feature I had not mentioned above: heavy ink coverage. If you’re printing heavy solids on a marketing piece, for instance, you want the ink to dry quickly and sit up on top of the paper’s surface. This involves not only the printing equipment technology but also the ink formulation, the paper choices, and the ink drying technology.

Heavy (and perfectly even) coverage of solid inks has been one of the more important attributes setting offset print quality above digital print quality, as well as the source of many past digital printing limitations. Kodak has addressed all of these issues with the new KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press.

Kodak’s new press includes special drying units to cure the ink at production speeds. Kodak’s Ultrastream Inkjet Technology allows for 200 lpi image screening and press speeds of up to 500 fpm with high ink coverage on coated papers.

At the same time, Kodak has improved the inkjet printing process, allowing for smaller inkjet drops, less random spraying around these inkjet dots, higher image resolution (600 dpi x 1800 dpi), thinner ink films provided by the nanoparticulate, water-based inks, and a wider color gamut (able to match 93 percent of PMS colors, which is particularly useful for printing corporate brand colors), all with superior ink drying capability.

In addition to these advances, the precision of Ultrastream Inkjet Technology allows for thinner, straighter lines, crisp details in type and images, consistency from press run to press run—all with a single array of print heads (which allows for much faster print speeds than prior technology).

The faster drying capability allows for thicker ink films (heavy coverage) on glossy printing stocks, which are capable of drying quickly and thus speeding up the entire print production process (and making the process even more competitive with offset commercial printing).

Kodak’s drying system involves infrared technology to dry the low-humectant inks. (To explain this term, “A humectant is a molecule that holds on to water and can prevent evaporative loss from the nozzle. As a result, they are important for nozzle health”–from “Inkjet Ink and its Important Additives,” by Mark Bale, 10/19/18, published on www.inkjetinsight.com.) This allows for faster drying, a quicker overall production process, and heavier ink coatings.

The KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press allows for up to a 20.5” image area, placing the technology in direct competition with B1- and B2-format offset printing press sheets. Larger press sheets (than the older digital inkjet technology could accommodate) yield larger press signatures, fewer press runs, and, again, overall faster throughput. What this sheet size capability also means is that printers can use their current post-press finishing equipment to more easily and quickly cut, fold, and bind the commercial printing press sheets.

Flexibility with paper substrate choices is another benefit. The equipment can print on standard inkjet substrates and, using inline pre-coating equipment, the KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520 can print on standard offset printing press sheets as well. All of this allows printers to keep their paper costs down when using the KODAK PROSPER ULTRA 520.

Finally, using Kodak’s Intelligent Print System allows printers to constantly monitor color fidelity and consistency as well as to ensure accurate back-to-back registration of inks (positioning of images on both sides of the press sheet), thus minimizing paper waste.

What You Can Learn from This Press Release

Granted, this is just one press release from Kodak. It will be fascinating to see if the process lives up to the promises. But I am very encouraged, based on Kodak’s reputation for the highest quality output. Also, I’m seeing the physical proof on a regular basis. Inkjet commercial printing quality is getting better and better, as are its speed and cost. Now, with paper size increasing and coated papers available, I think inkjet is the wave of the future, possibly even more so than electrophotography (laser printing).

Granted, I’m also seeing good things in the realm of offset custom printing, including quicker make-ready technologies and automated quality control that allow for cost-effective short press runs. So offset printing is moving toward convergence with digital printing as well. And it’s still great for long-run print work of static (non-variable-data) commercial printing.

So the upshot is that you should read everything you can get your hands on, online, about digital commercial printing (sheetfed inkjet, web-fed production inkjet, large-format inkjet, nanography, laser printing). Everything. Don’t get left behind. This is revolutionary in scope.

Digital Technology Makes Cheap Flyer Printing Possible

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

The most attractive and crisp way of describing a business and its products is through a flyer. Although it may seem easy, there is a lot of effort that goes into conceptualizing the design, font, and color of such a flyer. To make the plan visible on paper, it is important for the designing company to get in touch with a cheap flyer printing company. Printing is a large cost since flyers have to be printed in large numbers, which is why it makes sense to outsource the job.

Digital Print Technology is Available

Cheap flyer printing has been made possible due to the availability of digital print technology. Through this technology, a variety of digital images can be printed on different types of media substrates. The digital files can be sent directly to the digital printing press for images on photo paper, fabric, canvas, paper, and more substrates.

One Company to Contact

Now clients have to contact a single print coordinator to get print jobs done by one or more vendors. This has been made possible due to technology, and the coordinator ensures that the job is done at the most reasonable price. Although this opportunity may not be available everywhere, it is most convenient to get the job done, without too many fusses. It gives the client a chance to interact with print companies anywhere in the world.

Placing Bids

Based on the requirement of a client, different print companies place bids. The client goes through the bids that are shown by the print coordinator and chooses the most suitable one. The coordinator’s ensures that all deliverables agreed upon by both parties are completed within the set timeframe.

Things to Remember About Flyers

Businesses can benefit the most from flyers in the following ways:

  • Flyers must have the right kind of images that are relevant to the promotion. Good print quality always creates a positive impact on target customers
  • Flyers must have the brand logo, which will help to identify products and services, as well as for brand recall
  • Copywriters play major roles to ensure that no grammatical errors are present in the final text.

Flyers are meant to market businesses to people on the move, or the ones who have very little time. They are always displayed over one or two pages, one in most cases. Any customer looking for related products or services is likely to come across them, which is why they are often sent with newspapers. Good pictures and pinpointed text also help grab attention. The print design company has to come up with a design that is in tune with the requirements of the target audience.

Contact Reliable Companies

There may be a lot of companies in the market that are able to provide print services, but clients must remember to choose the reputed ones. More information about reputation can be obtained either through personal references or through the Internet. Rather than getting a shoddy job done, it is a better idea to wait for a little longer and find a suitable company.

Commercial Printing: The Trials of eBook Production

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

Photo purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

I grew up with pencils, pens, and paper. I didn’t have my first computer until my late twenties. So everything I read from my childhood up through my college education, I read on paper. I’m comfortable with books. I like them, how they feel and smell, and the fact that I can easily tell, by feel, how much I’ve read and how much of the print book I have left to read.

With that in mind, I meet weekly by phone with a print book designer who is married to my best friend from college. For one of their clients (a publishing team that also happens to be one of my print brokering clients), my college friend lays out the print books in InDesign, and her husband produces corresponding eBooks.

So print books and eBooks seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Since I meet with the eBook designer (my college friend’s husband) each week, I often hear stories about his trials and tribulations in creating the eBooks (which he produces in InDesign, presumably by altering his wife’s initial print book files).

Noting that eBooks no longer seem to be cannibalizing print book sales (any more than TV eliminated radio in the 1950s), and in the context of these weekly phone meetings about eBook production challenges, I became interested and did some research on eBooks this week.

I found some of the individual attributes of eBooks, discovered another article addressing the benefits of eBooks, and I have the most recent distillation of my colleague’s challenges in eBook production to share with you.

General Challenges of eBook Production

Much of what my associate finds frustrating about eBook creation has to do with the variability (or let’s call it changeability) of the presentation. This is reflected in the following:

  1. There are any number of hardware platforms (like the Nook, Kindle, and such) and eBook readers (the software that actually makes the text readable, separate from the hardware). What you see on your reading device depends on both the hardware and the software you have.
  2. There are any number of eBook readers and therefore eBook formats (such as EPUB, Kindle, Mobipocket). It looks like Wikipedia lists at least 29 separate formats. Many have different goals and features, but all of them together reflect an overall lack of standardization.
  3. Individual users can alter the font and size of type on their individual hardware platforms with their individual eBook reader software packages. So most of the word wraps and design elements are subject to change.

Because of this, various anomalies occur. And because of this, I have always encouraged my associate to test the eBooks that accompany his wife’s print books on multiple computer platforms and eBook software packages.

It sounds like a major headache, and it is.

Fortunately, my associate has two weapons in his arsenal. He has software that checks eBooks for flaws (sort of like “preflight” software but for eBooks rather than for commercial printing). He also has access to the client’s marketing manager, who is very familiar with eBooks. If the manager doesn’t complain about a particular eBook, that’s a good sign. (No news is good news.)

What Specific Problems Arise?

Over the past several years my associate has described the following problems in creating eBooks. Keep in mind that since the eBooks accompany his wife’s print books for this particular publisher, there needs to be brand consistency (i.e., cross-platform consistency of design) between the print book and the eBook.

In most cases the designs are simple for both the print version and the eBook. These are either poetry books or books of fiction. Both are created from InDesign files. (You can export InDesign files in various eBook formats compatible with the various eBook readers.) So both versions depend on simple text for various sections (front matter, interior text chapters sometimes with photos, divider pages with screens or large type, and such). In many cases chapters also begin with large initial capitals.

If you were to look at the eBooks as a computer programmer rather than as a designer, you would see that the books contain the following: lengths of threaded (connected) copy and images (initial caps, photos, divider page art) that are locked to a certain position next to specific blocks of type. Although the images must be “attached” to specific paragraphs, the individual hardware (like a Kindle) and eReader software can change the fonts and type sizes, as well as the text line endings (word wrap, hyphenation, etc.) and still present a functional book where all text, photos, and other art show up in the proper place.

Drop caps seem to be a challenge. Large type surprinted over a tint screen can be problemmatic. In these cases, creating the text and art as outlines rather than editable text and then locking them to a particular location within the text seem to yield good results.

One of the reasons these seem to be minimal problems (although not being able to fix an apparently simple computer problem can still be maddening) is that the print book design (the determinant of the eBooks design) is very simple. But in light of this realization, my associate recently advised a client against producing a multi-column cookbook, with images and sidebars, as an eBook.

A Global Solution

I, on the other hand, proposed another alternative, which you may want to consider if you produce both print books and eBooks. You can avoid problems with a complicated multi-column layout, particularly one that depends on facing pages for its design or on photos and artwork, by saving the file as a PDF. A PDF, which embeds images and fonts within the art file, will print on anything (a monitor or a laser printer). Nothing will move. No text will reflow. No photos, screens, or initial caps starting book sections will move somewhere other than where they were in the InDesign file. They will be forever attached to their relevant text passages. And you can still run a computer search for specific words (text strings).

However, a PDF of a multicolumn book will not take advantage of many of the features people look for in eBooks. More likely than not you will only see part of a page unless you reduce the page size, and in this case the page may be too small to read. You can’t increase the type size. So there are trade-offs. Pretty much your best bet is to print the pages and then read them like a print book.

So Why Do People Like eBooks?

I did some research online and found some reasons people like eBooks:

  1. If you’re a student used to carrying a heavy bookbag, you’ll be pleased to ditch the bookbag for a single eReader with all your books on its hard drive. This is easy on your back. And (depending on the reader), you can still highlight text and make notes in the books with the included software. All of this is good for reading comprehension.
  2. Nothing is better for searching for text than a computer. You don’t have to skim the print book. You can directly search for all references to “aardvarks,” for example.
  3. eBooks allow for multiple media streams. When you read a print book, you may find photos, sidebars, and charts that complement the story the book is telling. But with an eBook, you can also incorporate such additional enhancements as video and audio files or even AR (augmented reality). Appealing to multiple senses—and even introducing reader-interactive features, in which the reader can respond to the content–can improve comprehension and retention by readers of eBooks.
  4. Using hypertext links to websites (or other parts of the textbook) and other navigating features, an eBook can allow you to read in a more non-linear way if this suits your learning style. Instead of starting at the beginning and reading until you get to the end of the book (as you might do with a print book), you can jump around among related concepts in various parts of a book (like studying on the internet).
  5. When you buy a print book, it’s set in stone. It will never change. If the author wants to update the book, she or he has to revise, reprint, and sell it again. In contrast, you can download updated eBook files to an eReader immediately with no trouble.
  6. All of these enhancements are easy and therefore cheap to implement compared to an author’s compiling and then paying to print a new edition. Therefore, in the long run eBooks are usually cheaper than print books, even when the author or publisher has made a good profit.

What About Print Books?

As noted before, TV didn’t replace the radio. Each has its proper place. Personally I think the tactile qualities of a beloved print book cannot be eclipsed by the advantages noted above. Some things like unique paper coatings cannot be replicated online. But it does seem that for certain kinds of content, eBooks can be quite useful and affordable.

Wisdom is choosing the proper tool for a particular job.

Custom Printing: The Primal Power of Scented Direct Mail

Monday, March 15th, 2021

Photo purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

We used to call it “scratch-n-sniff” back in the day. It was probably back in the 1970s when I first discovered magazine ads that, when scratched, would release the aroma of perfume.

A number of years later, I read about one of John Waters’ films, Polyester. Moviegoers would receive scratch-n-sniff cards with sample scents to activate at key points in the film, adding to the overall sensory experience of the movie. He called this “Smell-O-Vision” or “Odorama.”

In both cases it is clear that the more physical senses you trigger in any virtual or real event or with any custom printing product, the more vivid the audience’s experience will be.

These days, with VR (virtual reality) headsets available even in the thrift stores my fiancee and I frequent, much of the novelty of John Waters’ Smell-O-Vision has been eclipsed. Once you put on a virtual reality headset (which I did for the first time a few years ago), you see that you can be completely transported from day-to-day reality into an alternate world by evoking internal (physical, mental, and emotional) responses.

And marketers have taken note.

Why Is It Effective?

Our sense of smell is even more powerful than our sense of hearing or sight. It brings back memories and evokes powerful emotions. It touches a very primitive part of our brain that is more involved with feelings and creativity than with logic.

That said, the more senses you can trigger (if you’re a marketer, a musician, or even someone telling a story to a friend), the more intense and realistic the experience will be for the audience. That’s why a Pop Art assemblage (perhaps with actual clocks, bicycle parts, or a mattress attached to the painter’s canvas) evokes a more visceral reaction than a flat painting of the same subject. You don’t expect it. And it engages the senses of both sight and touch (or at least imagined touch).

A savvy marketing executive can parlay this knowledge of brain functioning into an especially effective direct mail campaign or commercial printing piece. If she or he can tell a story about the product or service (let’s say a perfume) with emotionally charged language and images, and trigger the pre-rational part of the prospective buyer’s brain with scented items, the marketing initiative will be dramatically more effective.

Moreover, nothing intrigues a potential client like a “unique” direct mail piece. I receive almost 200 e-mails each day now, so I’m looking for any reason to delete each one quickly. In contrast, I get only a few direct mail pieces, and if one is especially unique, I’ll pay much closer attention to it. Think back, for instance, to the first time you opened a birthday card with a microchip that made it speak or sing to you. At the time, no one else had done anything like it. Because it was unique, it made an immediate impression.

Scented direct mail does the same thing. It not only touches the most primitive part of your brain, but it also makes a direct mail piece stand out and pique the reader’s interest.

How Does It Work?

This question addresses the physics and chemistry of scratch-n-sniff, Smell-O-Vision, and scented direct mail. How do manufacturers make this work?

First of all, the scent is created in the lab. This involves chemistry. If you have ever eaten a bag of jellybeans that mimic the taste of everything from watermelon to chocolate, you appreciate the marvels of science. (Also, keep in mind that the senses of taste and smell are closely related.)

The scented liquid created in the lab is then “microencapsulated.” This means that fragrance liquid is sealed inside tiny polymer cells (very tiny: from perhaps one micron to a hundred microns in size). The polymer cells protect the liquid fragrance until the time of its release. (One company I researched says the shelf life is 3 to 5 months or until activated; others say years or until activated.) And all that is needed to release the fragrance is to scratch the polymer.

How Might You Use This Technology?

If you’re selling perfume, you could always key specific scents to specific locations on your direct mail card. Or you can send follow-up direct mail pieces, each with a different signature scent.

In addition to the power of the scents and the uniqueness of the experience, such scratch-off fragrances act as an “engagement tool.” Your prospective clients interact with the direct mail piece, and this increases the chance of their “conversion” (which means clients will be more likely to contact you for more information or to buy your product or service).

But what if you’re selling gardening equipment? Perhaps you can simulate the smell of a freshly cut lawn.

If you’re selling new cars, you can even simulate the smell of a new automobile. Or you can simulate the smell of tires to encourage recipients to bring their cars in for scheduled maintenance.

You might even want to add a specific smell that shows what will happen if you don’t buy the product.

Whatever you choose, tying the smell (and the graphics the reader will see) to the message of the direct mail piece will increase its impact.

The final and most important step will be to note what you want the prospect to do. This might include visiting your website, using a cell phone to trigger a QR code on the direct mail piece, or returning a business reply mail card for more information or a sample product.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. You can include a scent in flyers, postcards, brochures, letters, or just about any other direct mail commercial printing piece.
  2. Scents can be included in the custom printing inks, paper coatings, or glues used to attach items within the mailing package.
  3. The US Post Office allows use of these custom printing inks and glues as long as the fragrance is not released during the delivery process. (The microencapsulation process mentioned above protects the scented ink, and many printers will also add a top coating to seal the ink.)
  4. Commercial printing suppliers can coat most papers to work with scented ink and glue products, so you have a lot of substrate flexibility in designing your direct mail piece.

The Takeaway

  1. Always think about the emotions you wish to elicit and what specific scents will trigger these emotions. Smells evoke emotions in the limbic region of the brain. They also bring back memories. They are extraordinarily powerful motivators.
  2. Consider your audience and what scents would be most evocative to them (and most pertinent to the message of your direct mail campaign).
  3. Think about the goal of your marketing campaign and what action you want your prospective buyers to take (more than likely this goal would be for them to visit your website).
  4. Then research commercial printing suppliers who do this kind of work. The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) website would be a great venue to find printers who can help you develop the scents you need.
  5. Then, as you would do in vetting any new printer, request samples of direct mail packages the custom printing vendors have created that incorporate fragrance into the printed products.

Business Success with Inexpensive Printing Companies

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

Every company has a one or more types of printing requirements, for which it may need to choose an external vendor. It is not always possible to get completely professional print quality in-house all the time. Therefore, time must be taken in choosing one of the inexpensive printing companies in the market. Not all of them may be present in the same country as the client.

Print Vendors

Using the Internet, companies can now locate agents as print vendors. These agents get in touch with suitably inexpensive printing companies in the market. Such companies have years of expertise in printing for different clients, allowing them to provide good quality products every time.

Delivery on Time

Time is always money in the case of any business. This is the reason why every printing assignment must be delivered on time. It allows client companies to depend on these printing agencies for their printing requirements, whether urgent or regular. Many times, a book launch is scheduled at the end of the month, for which printed copies of the same need to be rolled out in time. Yet another example of a timely delivery is a weekly magazine.

The message about delivery on time must be clearly received, which helps meet deadlines. A few days to edit unnecessary errors will also be handy.

Printing Builds Brands

Good quality print is responsible for moving forward in the journey towards brand building. All books and magazines maintain a certain print quality, which helps customers remember company names. Print quality is, in other words, very important for brand recall.

Not all magazines and newsletters are rolled out for the public. There are many which are meant to be consumed internally. Print quality helps employees remember the high standards maintained by their companies. Of course, this achievement would not be possible without the contribution of a print company.

The quality of print also shows how much a company cares for its customers, or employees. The quality-of-care promotes high quality printed results. Of course, print budget for a company is also an important parameter. A mixture between good quality and good price is what every client company looks at.

Type of Paper

The type of paper being selected for print is dependent on the kind of items displayed in magazines, or newspapers. This could either be information about products, services, or internal company news. As an example, if beauty, food, fashion, or any other lifestyle product is being showcased, gloss paper would be the best choice. The shine on glossy paper helps to add glamour. Compared to this, educational institutions can make use of uncoated paper.

Getting Customized Print

Today’s printing companies offer customers the chance to get customized prints. These are the prints which add a touch of personalization to a product, such as a T-shirt with a specific quote, a keychain with a message, or a mug with a person’s photo.  Online print companies make it possible to get:

  • Standees
  • Hologram stickers
  • Custom Books
  • Pamphlets and Flyers
  • Grocery bags
  • Leaflets
  • Car wraps

 

Commercial Printing: Direct Mail Is Alive and Well

Monday, March 8th, 2021

Photo purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to get my fill of email advertising. Since the onset of Covid, my daily allotment of email has risen from about 100 per day to close to 160 emails. Through this miasma, I have to search for relevant emails from clients as well as educational emails referencing commercial printing.

So going down to the mailbox each day and finding only a handful of letters and maybe a few direct mail pieces is a relief. Chances are, I’ll even skim most of the direct mail since it usually pertains to custom printing. Someone has been paying attention. They know what I do and don’t want to read, and the overall mail volume is manageable.

In light of this I recently read a handful of articles from Ironmark (https://imk.ironmarkusa.com) regarding the blessings (and prudent use of) direct mail in current times. You may want to look up these articles: “Direct Mail Drops: How Many and How Often Yield Best Results?” by Reid Broendel, 04/28/20; “Direct Mail: Stronger Than Ever in the Digital Age,” Blake Leppert, 11/03/20; “How to Raise Engagement with Super-Personalized Print Pieces,” Lynne Kingsley, 01/23/19; “Setting Up Variable Data Printing for Personalization Perfection,” Garner Leidy, 07/25/19; and “How to Get Extremely Targeted with Your Direct Mail Campaign,” Chris McCready, 08/02/19). Together with other direct mail articles on this website, Ironmark provides a great survey of why direct mail is effective in general, and how you can reap its benefits, particularly in a digital age.

Why Direct Mail Is So Effective

To paraphrase these articles from Ironmark, here are some observations:

  1. People love to get mail. It’s a break in their day, and it often promises something new and special.
  2. People love the tactile nature of direct mail, particularly when it takes advantage of interesting paper stocks, coatings, and other design elements that can’t be replicated online.
  3. People particularly like receiving mail directed specifically to them.
  4. According to market research, this is true for all recent generations, including Baby Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials, etc.
  5. If the mail directly addresses the interests (and past buying history) of recipients, you’ve got their attention.
  6. “Customers who receive a direct mail piece, on average, spend about 30 percent more than those who didn’t” (“Direct Mail: Stronger Than Ever in the Digital Age,” Blake Leppert, 11/03/20).
  7. People like direct mail because they can carry it around and read it anywhere, anytime (presumably because it doesn’t require an electronic reading device) (“Direct Mail: Stronger Than Ever in the Digital Age,” Blake Leppert, 11/03/20).
  8. “More than 60 percent of consumers who get catalogs in the mail visit the website of the business that sent it” (“Direct Mail: Stronger Than Ever in the Digital Age,” Blake Leppert, 11/03/20).

So learning about direct mail and deploying it to the benefit for your business is a prudent investment of time and money, both in terms of gaining new clients and holding onto the ones you already have. If you collect relevant demographic data (everything from names and addresses to personal shopping history and personal interests), direct mail will allow you to maintain a connection with your customers, keep them interested, and keep them updated regarding your new and current offerings.

What Works?

All of the Ironmark articles I read encouraged direct mail marketers to do the following to ensure success:

  1. Consider your goal. Is it to “thank clients for their purchases,” “welcome them to a select event,” “send a company update”? (Setting Up Variable Data Printing for Personalization Perfection,” Garner Leidy, 07/25/19).
  2. Collect good data. You may want to research CRM (customer relations management). CRM software helps you to target those prospective customers who may benefit from your product or service. At the same time, it filters out those who probably would not (based on your specifications fed into the CRM software). This way you don’t waste money sending direct mail pieces to those less likely to be interested.
  3. CRM software allows you to collect names and addresses of potential clients, as well as trace their interests, buying habits, and levels of education. Using variable data printing (a powerful feature of digital commercial printing that allows you to vary each direct mail item you print), you can speak directly to each current or potential client. People prefer to read direct mail that addresses them by name and provides information of interest to them.
  4. Include your prospect’s name numerous times in the direct mail piece.
  5. Ironmark’s articles (in particular, “Direct Mail: Stronger Than Ever in the Digital Age,” Blake Leppert, 11/03/20) encourage you to not forget current clients. Yes, go after new ones, but remember that it takes a lot less time and money to keep your current clients happy than to interest, qualify, and begin to work with new ones.
  6. Plan on sending out direct mail in batches (Ironmark suggests three separate “roll outs”). This is because repeated exposure to the same offer can have exponentially positive results. Sometimes, in fact, people need to see a message up to eleven times before they become interested in working with you.
  7. In particular, sending out direct mail in batches and then following up with emails, connections to PURLs (personal URLs), surveys, and such, can keep your brand “top of mind” (as the marketers say). Without becoming annoying, you want to keep as close a connection as possible with your clients and prospects. This allows you to cultivate more leads, attract new customers, keep current ones, and drive traffic to your website.
  8. If you want to follow the aforementioned rule of sending out direct mail in batches, “Direct Mail Drops: How Many and How Often Yield Best Results” suggests doing this at approximately 21-day intervals.
  9. Since digital commercial printing allows you to alter every single piece of direct mail you send, start with an awareness of your potential client (buyer persona) based on the demographic data you will have collected with your CRM software. (You may want to research “segmenting.”) Then, decide what portion of your direct mail piece will be static (common to all pieces) and what elements (name, address, past buying history, expressed interests, and such) you will want to directly personalize. Collect the InDesign files and address data files (and other variable data files), and share these with your custom printing supplier early in the process to determine the best way to prepare for the three, 21-day-apart direct mail roll-outs.
  10. Use new and old media in tandem. A thought-provoking direct mail piece that catches the interest of a prospect can send her/him to a website that will initiate a two-way exchange. The potential client can use a URL printed in the direct mail piece to link to a PURL, or scan a QR Code to link a special web page. There he or she can get more information on what you offer. It’s not about whether direct mail or online marketing is better. It’s about how you can use both to reinforce your marketing message. Projecting your brand across all channels (print, electronic, signage) can have a profound, synergistic effect.
  11. Incorporate into your direct mail campaigns those materials and processes that can’t be replicated in email marketing, such as special paper stocks, foil stamping, special paper coatings, die cutting, and such.
  12. Engage the reader’s intelligence. (This is called an “involvement device.”) This may include a contest or puzzle (as suggested by “How to Raise Engagement with Super-Personalized Print Pieces,” Lynne Kingsley, 01/23/19).

Applying these suggestions will significantly increase your response rates. Your goal is to have your direct mail piece land in front of your client, or prospective client, at the very moment they need it and are ready to receive and absorb its message.

The Takeaway

I’d like to leave you with three quotes from Ironmark’s articles that you may find interesting:

  1. “Accorrding to Infosys, 59 percent of shoppers who have experienced personalization believe it has a noticeable impact on purchasing” (“Setting Up Variable Data Printing for Personalization Perfection,” Garner Leidy, 07/25/19).
  2. “Ninety-one percent of customers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations” (“Setting Up Variable Data Printing for Personalization Perfection,” Garner Leidy, 07/25/19).
  3. “According to Forbes, ‘Companies who adopt data-driven marketing are more likely to have an advantage over the competition and increase profitability. In fact they are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year’” (“How to Get Extremely Targeted with Your Direct Mail Campaign,” Chris McCready, 08/02/19).

Why Businesses Require a Flyer Printing Company

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Small and colored documents like flyers are immensely helpful in marketing a business, despite the online boom. To get the flyers in order, it is necessary to get in touch with a reputed printing vendor. These days, many of these vendors have their own contacts with printing companies which allow them to provide high quality work at the best rates. Therefore, it would certainly be beneficial for a business to be in close touch with a flyer printing company.

Printing Integral for Several Businesses

There are a number of businesses for which printing flyers is absolutely essential. Therefore, they will need to get in touch with a top flyer printing company. Here’s a look at some of these businesses:

· Restaurants and Takeaways

· Institutions Offering Courses

· Schools

· Gyms and Fitness Centers

· Trade Shows

· Car Dealerships

· Media Kits

· Movie Halls

To create the best flyers, businesses need to hire printing companies with substantial years of experience in producing high quality flyers. Such flyers invariably have to be ordered in bulk, which means that the cost is also important.

Keeping Costs in Check

Making purchases in bulk automatically makes companies get bulk discounts, resulting in lower costs per unit. Flyers are either circulated in offices or in newspapers, which is why they are necessary in large numbers. Despite growth in the world of social media, there still is something special about a flyer or brochure that cannot be matched by the Internet- the touch and feel.

A customer who is able to touch and feel the print quality of a flyer will automatically form a certain impression of the business in question. Other than the print quality, it is also the written language being used on the flyer which makes a difference. Printing companies make use of certain color schemes to design flyers, which help customers understand brands better.

Tips for Designing Flyers

The tips mentioned below will help businesses get maximum benefits from flyers for their companies:

· Every flyer must compulsorily have a brand logo. Customers should never be left confused about the products or services being marketed to them.

· Colored images help to create greater impact as compared to B&W images

· Copywriters should use witty messages on the flyers that entice the customers to find out about the brand. Content should always be proof read to ensure that it is free from spelling errors.

Print Vendors Have the Resources

Print vendors coordinate printing activities with different companies around the world, thereby having the necessary resources to complete several print jobs. Multiple print companies will get into action to ensure that they get the job in hand. As soon as scope of work for the flyer is known, the print vendors will generate price quotes. The final printing companies will ensure that they provide work as a combination of price and quality.

Apart from flyers, the top printing companies all over the world can also print banners, bank cards, letterheads, magazines, car wraps, and billboards. With them handling the print jobs, businesses can concentrate on their expansion plans.

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