How appealing is your Annual Appeal?

Thought I would share a story of how we helped one of our clients achieve their annual appeal goal. In past years, this client simply mailed a plain letter on their letterhead asking for a donation. Nothing fancy, no return envelope, no reply card, no color – just plain vanilla. Results were less than they hoped for and they did not achieve their goals.

We approached them and offered to sit down and discuss some other possible alternatives that could help them increase their donations. As a non-profit with a limited budget and staff we needed to maximize their efforts and show them how by investing a little more they could achieve their goal and increase the size of the donations.

First, we discussed the “List”. We talked about the importance of the list and how it could be improved. Who was on their mailing list, how accurate did they think it was and could it be scrubbed? They agreed to take some time and work on improving the list. Second, we showed them various samples of other non-profit appeal letters and discussed what might work for them. We decided to keep the letter format but add personalization and use both sides, we added some color to make it appealing, and put a perfed reply card at the bottom for them to use when replying. Levels of donations were included, as well as options to mail or donate online and most importantly an envelope to reply back. The reply envelope included text thanking them for their support and the outside window envelope included a message indicating that this was the Annual Appeal. Third, we mailed it presorted first class so the receipt would be timely and any bad addresses would be returned so the list could be updated for future use.

The results were vastly improved and they met their goal!  We work with many non-profits but the same techniques and solutions can be used in other markets and campaigns.

 

 

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Posted in Case Studies, Company News, Cross-Media Marketing, Digital, Personalized Printing, Print, Printing Tips | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t forget to KISS

Don’t forget to KISS   

I read lots of publications about marketing strategies, personalization and multi-touch cross media campaigns and if you have followed any of my previous posts you know I am a big believer in the cross-media approach.  Whenever you can target your audience in a variety of ways with multiple touches, cost efficiently your marketing dollars will yield better results.  Where I see the biggest problem is trying to get new initiatives off the ground.  I suggest getting new initiatives off the ground using the K.I.S.S method (Keep It Simple S.).  There are 3 main components to any initiative and adjustments can be made along the way.  Focus on a strong design, a good database and a rock solid offer.  If you meet these 3 components you are 95% ready to jump into the world of cross-media and with the right guidance the results will follow.

 

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Posted in Cross-Media Marketing, Digital, Personalized Printing, Print, Printing Tips, Saving Money in Print | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Print or not to Print

Print or not to Print seems to be the question on the minds of many these days, but there is no black and white answer to that question. Being a printer my answer would have to be Print with out question, but I am also a technology geek and the digital offerings of e-books & digital publications are very cool. As a consumer and an avid magazine and comic collector for many years, having a tangible piece of material is essential. You could collect digital comic books but there really is no way to showcase them and where is the collectible value.

The magazines that can afford to have their subscriptions delivered to you on your tablet or smart phone in seconds offer some very cool features printing just doesn’t have. On December 13, 2012 Newsweek magazine released it last printed issue and will be 100% digital for 2013. Not only can you read the articles, but also you can interact with the articles and watch videos link to pages while reading this publication. Pretty cool stuff, but I would much rather go to a newsstand and pick up a copy and read it the old fashion way. And if you don’t have a tablet or a smart phone, I guess they lose you as a customer.

So how do you choose, what is the right fit for you or your company? I think it is a combination of both, print for those of us that want to collect or just be old fashioned & slick and technical for those who have the technology to view it.

Either way I say PRINT!!

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Posted in Digital, e-Solutions, ebooks, Magazines, online books, Print, Printing Tips, Saving Money in Print | Leave a comment

Coating and Varnish

Coating questions always are coming up during the day. Should this job have varnish, aqueous coating, spot or overall, gloss, satin or matte? Well there are some options so let’s list them.

Standard Varnish and Coating options
Gloss Paper
Gloss Coating or Varnish – Will increase the gloss
Satin Coating or Varnish – Will maintain a similar gloss to the paper on most gloss papers
Silk/Dull Paper
Satin Coating or Varnish – Will increase the gloss of the paper and ink slightly
Matte Coating or Varnish – Will dull the ink and maintain the finish of the paper
Matte Paper
Matte Coating or Varnish – Will protect the print but not be visible (it’s level of protection may vary on the type of finish)

The above is a good basis for most jobs; some applications require a different effect and should always be discussed to achieve the expected finish.

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The File Fixers

Even though my prepress department is full of people with degrees in graphic design, only a small portion of our hours at the office is devoted to actual design work. We’ve chosen to work in the slightly less glamorous side of design known as prepress. And we love it. Each prepress operator in my group has a mac and a pc on their desk with all of current design apps loaded on them. We also have some heavy duty equipment in our arsenal, namely our PDF editors – Pitstop and Neo.

While the design world has trended toward online and digital media, some schools have dropped prepress from their graphic design curriculums. While that is great if someone only intends to build websites and products designed to be read by e-readers, it can make the transition to print challenging. That’s where prepress departments come in. Prepress operators know how to prepare files so they are print ready. Or how to take a non-print-ready file and do the necessary fixes that will allow it to print correctly.

Some of the tasks we perform regularly are: adding or extending bleed to files that don’t have them, adding crop marks, changing rgb or cmyk files to spot colors, resizing documents, adjusting panel sizes for folded pieces and more. In most cases, these adjustments are made in PDFs. There was a time when these changes required the native files, which added time to the job and pushed the print schedule out. Now with programs like Neo and Pitstop that’s often not necessary. So, the next time you have changes to a job and all you have is a PDF, give us a call – chances are we’ll be able to fix your file.

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Do you know your real costs when deciding to print!

It seems that when we look at the cost of a typical printing job most of the focus is on the actual “print” production cost, when in fact a recent study performed by Infotrends showed that on average only 30% of the total cost is actually the print. The majority of the cost involved in producing a printed document is in the design, collection of assets, edits, revisions, internal approvals and the distribution of the printed product. All of these labor intensive steps need to be calculated into the total cost of producing a document for either online use or for print. The most neglected area of cost consideration is the aftermath of the printed product, how will it be distributed, how will it be stored, who manages the inventory, what is done with left over product, etc. We will call all this soft cost the “print job management” or “PJM”. (Just what the world needs is another acronym). So when considering the cost involved in producing a document all the PJM costs must be included to realize the true financial impact for evaluating a return on your investment.

One clear way to mitigate the cost involved is simply not to produce the document at all. Well for those of us who have a true internal, customer request or marketing need to produce a document there is the solution of Print-On-Demand. POD (o.m.g. another acronym) can help to cut out much of the soft cost involved with PJM (Print Job Management). By creating a central web portal that houses your documents and allows for document editing, much of the PJM costs will be reduced. Picture in your mind all the steps involved with submitting files, proofing, editing, approving proofs, forwarding emails, securing print quantities, etc.  Now picture taking all those steps away or at least streamlining them into an efficient online work flow.  With online print ordering, online inventory management, data list uploads, tracking history, automated PDF proofing are just a few of the tools that will help to reduce that nasty PJM cost.

There has always been a trend to also justify the PJM costs by increasing print run length so there will sure to be documents left over for future use. Well we all know how that goes, they never get used and turn to waste (we have a warehouse of obsolete product to prove it). In a POD program that obsolete inventory rarely happens. You only print what you need with no waste, unless a field rep over orders for a trade show. So now think about the PJM again in relation to the print cost, what happened? The print cost is now actually a smaller part of the whole, but more importantly both expenses are down. The PJM cost is reduced by using an online POD portal and the print cost is also reduced as you will be printing smaller quantities only when needed.

All this food for thought does not apply to every situation but it does apply if you are using repetitive documents of any kind over and over. For the direct mailer who launches one or two large bulk mailings a year this logic does not apply.

So, if I leave you with anything it would be to be careful when evaluating “print” costs and be sure to calculate in all the “soft” costs needed to produce a document. I am sure that if you weigh in all the steps, time and labor you will find that the amount is significant and opens an area for cost reduction discussions.

 

 

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Posted in Saving Money in Print | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Not everyone thinks print is dead

In response to Elaine’s post about the value of print, it’s worth noting that not all people under 40 hate print. My daughter Emily actually wrote and presented an essay extolling the virtues of print for her freshman Speech class last year. In her speech she made several arguments against the use of e-readers, including the carbon footprint left behind by various tech devices. I suppose I should also mention that she is working on her Library Science degree.

She’s not the only 20-something who feels that way. In an interview on NPR on January 29th, Facebook Co-Founder and publisher of The New Republic Chris Hughes (29) had this to say about print, “We make money off of print. And in addition to that, I personally love print. I mean, I tend to read on my phone and my iPad, but on the weekends in particular, I love sitting down with a print magazine and going page by page. So, it makes business sense for us, and it also is something that I love. So we’re committed to print for the foreseeable future.”

So, don’t believe all the gloom and doom. There is definitely hope for paper and print. The best part is when you pick up a book or a magazine you know it won’t start going dim or stop working after 3 to 8 hours. No batteries required.

Read the full NPR interview with Chris Hughes here:

http://www.npr.org/2013/01/29/170523571/facebook-co-founder-chris-hughes-redesigns-new-republic

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“BFF”?, no “BBE” – Best Blogs Ever! Top 9 Tips

So you have been tasked with writing another corporate blog. Why not make it the “BBE” Best Blog Ever? Here’s some simple Top 9 tips for writing your BBE.

1. Make it brief – 1000 words or less.
2. Write in short snip-its of information.
3. Content should be useful and interesting. Your reader should benefit from the information.
4.  SEO – optimize your blog to be SEO friendly.
5. Prompt the reader to action – whether it’s to post a comment or direct the reader to another place.
6. Well written and easy to follow. Proof it! Proof for content, grammar, and ease of reading. Remember, you only have your readers attention for a few short minutes.
7. Format & Image
Keep a consisent format to your blog design and add an image if you can. Images can make a great impact but you don’t necessarily need one in every blog.
8. Name your blog. BBE – Best Blogs Ever have powerful headlines or names. It should be something that’s easily searchable and attracts the readers’ attention.
9. Have fun with your Blogging! Smile while writing it. It shows through your blog.

 

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The Value of Print

Just received an email this week from Michael Makin, the President and CEO of the Printing Industries of America, where he informs us that yet another major corporation- Google-  is bashing the print industry. Now, I personally love Google – it is my search engine of choice but come’on guys let’s play fair.

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Makin’s letter:
“Once again our industry is under attack, and this time it is from Google, which has launched an initiative titled “Go Paperless in 2013.” It is joined in this effort by a number of digital companies which clearly have a vested interest in a non-paper communications stream.
Needless to say we find such a proposal ridiculous and an insult to the almost one million Americans who owe their livelihood to our industry.
The primary raw material for printing is paper, which comes from trees, which are a renewable resource—so renewable that today our country has 20 percent more trees than it did on the first Earth Day, which was held more than 40 years ago.
Printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint—all other media require energy every time they are viewed. Electronic devices, which Google produces, for example, require the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non-renewable resources.”

Visit our Linkedin or Facebook page to read more on the Value of Print.

 

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Posted in Company News, Environmental | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Lose the Clock Tower

written by Jim Stiles, CEO

It is not uncommon for a school, with a well known image and look, to want to stay with the images and message they have used in the past. If the picture of the clock tower on campus has become the mainstay image then why change it up. If the past dozen mailings used the clock tower image then why can’t the new cross media campaign just repeat it as well? Have you ever heard the saying “What is the definition of insanity, doing the same thing and expecting a different result”. Unfortunately, I find that schools frequently fall into this trap. In today’s advertising world our readers are getting barraged with information and marketers must capture the reader’s attention in less than 6 seconds with a printed piece and 2 -3 seconds with a web landing page. So, is it possible that the old clock tower could be failing at the job?

Most marketing managers faced with this dilemma need to focus on what  the goal of the campaign is. If the goal is simply wider brand recognition then the clock tower may be just the thing. If the goal is to get attention and solicit response from the reader then the clock tower needs to be replaced with a great “Call to Action” and some very eye catching quick bullet point messaging. My point is, if you are going to experiment and test new marketing tools like a cross media campaign then you may want to think about dumping the old tag line and image for a new look with powerful content.

This is especially true when you integrate variable content and imagery into a campaign. Now the message and imagery can be tailored to the recipient’s personal interests. How powerful is that? So, next time let’s try to lose the clock tower and stay away from the school logo or crest centered on a direct mailer. Be creative! Be diverse!

 

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