This week we highlight a mailer from GLS Companies in Brooklyn Park, MN. This is a great example of a creative self-mailer that fits within the realm of the newly created UPS self-mailer guidelines. Designed by Doug’s Creative in MN, this mailer presents as a postcard-sized booklet which opens sequentially in a “traveling snake” format. Each successive opening entices the reader with a snappy comment and then opens to reveal additional information. Very clever by both the designer and the printer!
Archive for the ‘Design and Type’ Category
This week we look at the Awesome Spiral Accordion Mailer – it’s a must see mailer! Design by CSG Creative in Alexandria, VA. and produced by ITP in Elizabethtown, PA. This 2-part direct mail piece features a post card and circular piece that fits inside a mylar envelope, mailed first class. The circular piece unfolds in a spiral accordion patterns which opens to reveal a rectangular piece. The color and design accentuate the fold which highlights the expert nature of this piece. Scored and hand-folded – the final product is worth the effort.
Take a look for yourself!
Years ago, I wrote about a study conducted by the Digital Printing Council on the lamination (or non-lamination) of direct mail and how the various toner-based presses fared in the mail stream. The topic is still around apparently, since it is kicking up quite a storm in one of the industry discussion groups.
The poster expressed frustration that the USPS had been “particularly cruel” to his non-laminated direct mail piece and was looking for advice on the best way to create scuff-resistant mail.
Here are a few interesting responses:
Well, being in the lamination business for 25 years, you know what I would suggest. Not sure what USPS did and not sure what type of DM you did, but coatings may still scuff. Lamination will certainly preserve the piece from tearing or the ink being scuffed. It will add to the cost, but so will coating or even bagging your piece.
(Chuck Thompson, Business Development Manager, Cosmo Films)
If you print digitally and mail, without coating or laminating, you will get scuffing and poor looking pieces. I see from your profile that you are from the manufacturing side of the industry. Welcome to the user side. Toner does not absorb into paper. It sits on top and is easily rubbed off by rollers . . . Next mailer, budget for coating or laminating or have it run on old fashioned offset lithography.
(Ed Keenan, Owner, Document Depot [NYC])
Ryan’s dilemma may create an interesting opportunity for him. DM users are always searching for ways to improve response. It is possible that film lamination could add visual impact that would do just that. For the next mailing try laminating half of the pieces, then mail using an A-B split (every other name receives the laminated piece). Code the labels, address, or response piece to show which lot generated every response. You may be surprised at improved results.
(Mike Burrows, President and Owner at Burrows Consulting, Inc., Washington D.C.)
Other suggestions included printing on synthetic substrates, using offline UV, and to keep costs down, using a lighter weight stock and laminating only on the messaging side and leaving the address side uncoated.
What was interesting was that, once the suggestions were proffered, they solicited responses from other group members who found that, at least from the technical side (not the marketing response side), it didn’t seem to matter whether the prints were laminated or not or printed on synthetic stocks or not. It’s so nice to have a consensus, isn’t it?
What’s your experience?
Creative direct mail can have a life far beyond the first recipient. In an Internet era, people go on Facebook and Reddit and Twitter to share the direct mail piece that turned their head. Here are some recent examples that I found particularly interesting, and that go to show that a little creativity can have a lasting effect in an increasingly digital world.
1. BMW “M-print”
I found this example extremely creative, in that it gave a new twist on variable print and personalization, as the car literally made thousands of unique impressions, and likely made exponentially more “impressions,” as 470,000 people have watched (on YouTube) the process that went into this direct mail campaign. Take a look:
Great campaign, great execution, and a lasting impression.
2. Mini (success from a glitch)
I found this earlier today on Reddit on the front page of “Funny,” and it shows that even in the face of a flub, there lies an opportunity. Take a look below, and see how a little creativity and humor can turn what could have felt like a disaster into having a customer that is “In on the joke.”
Included in the mailing was, you guessed it, a chocolate rose, a roll of duct tape and a can of Spam. Wonderful execution combined with a personal touch from a company that is known for being lighthearted. Goes to show that each individual mail piece you send has the ability to impact the recipient greatly and turn some bad PR into some great PR.
3. Griffiths, Gibson and Ramsay Productions (GGRP)
Possibly my all-time favorite example of creative direct mail (being an avid record collector and fan of intuitive design). GGRP Sound Studio mailed out a “make-your-own” phonograph player with a 45 rpm record. The recipient is enticed to build this working record-player and learns more about the business in the meantime.
This mailing reinforces the ideal that direct mail is most impactful when it becomes a keepsake, something that the recipient will refer back to in the future. Creative agencies were calling the Sound Studio asking if they had additional mailpieces to share!
Several members of our blog team have shared their recent “WOW” moments with print, such as Cineprint, Augmented Reality and a Lexus mailing that hit all the right “channels.” What is your Direct Mail story? What mailings stood out to you? Leave your comments below.
Editor’s Note: Keep up with all of Matt’s blogs at the SourceLink blog!
The recent USPS Folded Self-Mailer regulations mean big things for direct mailers – there are now more creative options available to the mailing industry. These new options capitalize on advances in technology and mail processing capabilities. If you are interested in learning more about these new regulations, you can click here to to read the summarized reference guide, which was created jointly by the USPS and mailing industry.
In this week’s 60 Second Super-Cool Fold of the Week we highlight a direct mail piece from American Express which is made possible through – you guessed it – these new Folded Self-Mailer regulations! In this piece, you’ll see an opening flap on the non-address side of the envelope used to highlight some of the most noteworthy information bits of the offer. The piece opens to reveal an additional self-contained pocket, glued on the sides, protecting smaller printed brochures, response card, and response envelope. This is a great example of a fully automated, inline finishing direct mail run that will stand out in your customers stack of mail, inviting them to open.
Enough from me – see for yourself!
In a recent Wall Street Journal, I read an article about Intel preparing to launch a paid Internet video service with set-top box, and a separate article about Comcast buying the remaining 49% of NBC/Universal that it did not already own, from General Electric Co. The Comcast story made the front page; the country’s largest cable company, a distributor of content, now fully owns and controls some content as well. The strategy behind this move may ultimately prove to be successful, or maybe not, but it seems logical. More interesting to me was the Intel story. How does this make sense?
A company that rarely markets to consumers enters a substantial field of competitors looking to transform the television watching experience, profitably, of course. There are the expected features, such as a programming interface that makes it much easier to find shows than existing guides on current set-top boxes from other providers. Intel’s set-top box, powered by Intel chips, then goes farther. It will include a high-def video camera and facial recognition technology to know who is watching the TV, and adjust programing appropriately. So Intel is taking its chips, and is venturing into new-product territory with their core technology as a part of it. Seems risky, but I get the connection.
These seemingly incongruous marriages got me thinking about our industry, and about any connections to be made to the hot “new” technology, 3D Printing. A challenge, though, is that 3D Printing has mostly really been 3D Manufacturing, referring to the layering of something that is generally not ink onto itself, and sometimes onto something else that is generally not paper. The term “3D Printing” already seems to have as many meanings as the term “Fulfillment”. Available right now, 3D printing devices include prototype makers and on-demand manufacturing devices for auto parts, prosthetics, and more. Jay Leno owns one to print some hard-to-find parts for his car collection. The vision for the not-too-distant future of 3D Printers range from life-saving, (medicines and organs), to, well, just goofy stuff. Some of the materials used in currently available 3D Printing devices are ABS plastic, epoxy resin, silver, titanium, steel, wax, and now . . . paper and ink. This got me back to thinking about our industry, where significant substrate, ink, and color knowledge resides.
An Ireland-based commercial 3D printer manufacturer, Mcor Technologies, has created the IRIS 3D printer. I learned about it through various reports that Staples intends to use it to offer 3D printing this year, starting in Belgium and the Netherlands. According to Mcor’s website the device cuts regular A4 office paper to form 0.1mm layers. Photo-realistic color printing of each sheet can be done in over a million colors, using CMYK, with resolutions of 5760 x 1440 x 508dpi using their color technology. Each printed sheet is then glued to the previous to form a “printed” object with a hardness similar to wood. The technician removes the surrounding support paper from the object.
Do those of you involved in a transition from black and white document printing to color, or from static color to production variable color, remember thinking at first that it would be a piece of cake; that running a high-volume roll-fed color inkjet printer would be just like the printer on your desktop, except, well, bigger? Strong knowledge of paper/substrates, ink and color are critical to shortening the learning curve on these new technology implementations, and many of us took advantage of and appreciated the training provided by our printer manufacturers.
Unquestionably, using ink and paper to create (fill in the blank) is a very new subset of 3D Printing. Can you see a market that can be served, or a product that would be valued by current or new customers, to augment your current offerings – perhaps point-of-sale pieces? Can the knowledge and experience of your staff, those who understand paper, and ink, and color, become a foundation for your company’s expansion and diversification? Can the color experts you have on your team designing for, or those running that wide-format inkjet printer, be able to apply these skills to new areas? The process you use for the assessment of and integration of new technologies is critically important, and should be rigorous and well-defined.
So, Intel has the chip in the set-top box for their video service; does your company have a core competency, or foundation for expansion or diversification into 3D Printing? Is it the right time for printers to start looking at 3D as part of a broader offering in the future? What are your thoughts?
At a Canon Oce webinar on January 23, InfoTrends Group Director Barbara Pellow presented “2013 Top 10 Trends for the Printing Industry.”
1. Digital Color is King. All bets are on digital color printing. InfoTrends research forecasts an increase from $29.6 to $39.5 billion in the retail value of U.S. digital color from 2011 through 2016.
2. Digital Wide Format Goes Mainstream. Digital wide format printing evolves into an key component of companies’ marketing strategies, and will continue its 7% CAGR from 2011 through 2016.
3. Inkjet Accelerates Migration from Offset to Digital. New inkjet solutions offer greater speed, quality, substrate flexibility, and finishing – as well as more competitive pricing. Major inkjet growth expected from books, direct mail, transpromo and brochure printing.
4. Enhanced Substrates Drive Digital. Digital presses support new, high margin substrates: rugged synthetics; pressure sensitive stocks; specialty media; pre-scored, ready-to-print dimensional stock; new photobook media, and others.
5. Web-to-Print Manages Marketing Supply Chains. Companies spend billions for producing, shipping, storing, and handling literature. PSPs will optimize the marketing supply chain – offering online print-on-demand collateral catalogues.
6. Content Reigns. Fifty-four percent of B2B firms increase spending on content marketing. PSP’s cultivate “thought leadership” offering content that educates, entertains and motivates.
7. Hyper-Personalization Drives Digital Print. 2013 is the “Year of Hyper-Personalization” – when marketing materials address more relevant, compelling needs of the consumer. Examples: mailers with personalized map directions and printed materials with PURLs linked to pre-approved applications.
8. Trigger-Based Marketing Meets Customer Preferences. Consumers expect real-time, two-way communications, through mobile devices, websites, and social media. PSPs customers will adopt marketing automation technology, e.g., from Market Sprocket, Hubspot, Orange Soda and Hootsuite.
9. Mobile Marketing Changes Communications. PSPs add mobile marketing solutions to the portfolio: mobile codes printed on packaging, POS, and brochures; “opt-in mobile messaging” to mobile devices; Augmented Reality – digital graphics coded onto physical objects – revealing information or entertainment via mobile devices.
10. Direct Mail and Social Media Converge. PSPs support customers with social media marketing tools from Ducky, Hootsuite, SpreadFast, and others. Campaigns integrating direct mail with social media lift responses for both.
And we are back with another Super Cool Fold of the Week!
This week’s fold comes from Penmor Lithographers in Lewiston, Maine. It is an innovative packet folder that was too interesting not to share! The tri-fold format folder has two big pockets allowing Penmor ample room to fill with print samples for promotional use. The cool part is in the third panel which holds three stacked inserts. It’s almost as if there are mini brochures built into the packet folder. The best part is how this area allows Penmor to draw customers’ attention to three key pieces of information that will not get lost amid other content in the first two pocket panels.
Watch the video to see exactly how Penmor created the final panel, complete with stoppers so as not to lose the inserts.
Direct mail is great. It has proven effectiveness, it’s tactile and it holds a certain sentimentality that cannot be matched. Video has been the hottest technology for years, and shows no signs of slowing down. It has been said that Direct Mail could suffer as a standalone marketing medium, but when made part of a multichannel strategy (through integration with email, social media or video), it actually can become stronger than the sum if its parts. Here are some ways to integrate video with Direct Mail:
QR linking directly to video
The most basic and inexpensive way to integrate video into your direct mail is through the use of QR codes. By creating a QR code that links to a YouTube video, you can create immediate conversions across channels, as the user in transported directly to your YouTube Channel or a custom landing page on their smartphone. Even better, if you work with a marketing provider that utilizes digital print and PURL technology, you can track and collect information as each user is whisked away to the land of your business video. Host these videos on your social media platforms, and that just adds one more facet to the Multichannel experience!
Die-cut postcards to “fill in the blanks”
Modern day print machinery can do amazing things. With the use of die-cutting on a postcard, video can literally “fill in the blank” of the removed portion. Direct the recipient to a simple YouTube URL or use a QR code to redirect the recipient, and have the user place the card on top. Voila! Instant tactile interaction with the mail piece and video combination. Think of creative ways to make the die-cut recess become part of the video. Video software becomes more inexpensive every year, and a little brainstorming can lead to an inexpensive campaign really producing a high-class touch!
Integrated video/picture utilizing translucent space
I’ll admit that I grabbed this idea from our blogger, Craig Blake, and his blog “Is Print Dead? Not According to Lexus!!” Cineprint technology is the branded name for this technology, and Sports Illustrated recently blew a number of minds with this advertisement:
As you can see, the branded technology can produce amazing results, and look for many marketers to use similar technologies (or homegrown versions of this technology) to really make mail pieces pop. Imagine your utility bill coming to life when placed on your iPad. Imagine a campus tour coming to life as the seasons change in front of the Admissions building. Imagine your spending habits graphed out live directly on your bank statement. Your imagination is the limit when a printed piece pairs with video elements that bring it to life.
Video on/in printed piece
A few years ago, Pepsi Max rolled out an advertisement in Entertainment weekly that literally had a video embedded into the magazine. The user chose from a variety of prerecorded options, and was able to interact with the magazine. This technology is getting less expensive every year, and with the benefit of behavioral and demographic data, this investment could be the right way to reel in that high-end real estate client or investor. When you utilize the data about your target audience, you can know your investment isn’t for naught. People know when you’ve put a lot of money and effort into your communications, and nothing has quite the “Wow!” factor that a video in a personalized mailing.
Augmented Reality is defined as: Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.
Direct mail will greatly benefit from AR applications in the coming years, as apps on a smartphoneare being developed at a rapid pace and at a reasonable cost to facilitate the use of printed images and AR. Several Higher Ed institutions are already using this technology to make personalized direct mail experiences, and with Google Glasses, websites will (likely) literally be able to be viewed from a mail piece. Landing pages, videos, graphics in 3D- the possibilities are literally endless, and so exciting. This technology is probably the most advanced of those discussed, but has great possibilities.
So there you have it, five ways you can integrate video into direct mail. These suggestions can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you choose. So to the naysayers: Direct Mail is not Dead, print isn’t passé: they are just in need of a multichannel spin, and what’s cooler than video?
In the spirit of the holidays, foldfactory.com is sharing a playlist of some of their favorite holiday solutions from their world-famous sample library. Watch “magic hands” videos of 16 inspired holiday card solutions.
People have been sending us cool holiday cards for years, and we thought it was time to start building a playlist of holiday solutions to help companies get noticed at this time of year. If you’re a printer or designer or paper company, there’s a lot of pressure to do something memorable at the holidays, and I hope the playlist grows and becomes a springboard for new ideas.
Of course, foldfactory is always looking to expand the sample collection as well. If you produced a holiday card that you’re proud of – this year or in the past – we’d love to add it to the playlist and share it with the world. We’re also always looking for interesting solutions for direct mail, marketing brochures, pocket folders, invitations, specialty folding, and even bound solutions that integrate interesting folding techniques. To submit samples to foldfactory.com, please visit http://foldfactory.com/contact.php for a mailing address.
This week, Trish shows us that any unique form or idea can be transformed into something mail-able… happy news for direct mailers everywhere! The piece is from Allied Printing Services, Inc. in Manchester, CT and was created for Hanover Insurance Group. This self-contained mailer pulls open to reveal a series of stacked classic tulip folds. Each panel features four stacked squares with a diagonal score which allows the two panels to collapse in. These pieces are somewhat labor intensive as they are all hand-folded, but we think the work pays off to create an impressive (mail-able) statement.
You can watch last week’s video here!
Finishing Web Inkjet Printing, Part 2
Last week we discussed the components that you need to put together a finishing line for a web-fed inkjet system. So now you have a good idea of what you need. But now you have to look at your own workflow, customer requirements, and need for flexibility, and decide whether this is to be an inline system, or broken up into sections. So the question becomes more strategic, and it is one only you can answer. The answer is that it depends on your product mix, your service level requirements, and your operator skills.
If you ask the printer manufacturers, they often would prefer that you separate the printing from the cutting and finishing. The reason is simple: Most inkjet systems will run with little downtime if they are kept running smoothly from roll-to-roll. All systems will suffer productivity losses if they are stopped and started while in production. Some will experience more downtime and waste than others (an analysis for a different day), but they all will be less productive if the systems are stopped and started in synch with the needs of finishing equipment. And this may be your best choice. But it also may not be.
By separating the finishing from the printing systems you get both productivity enhancements and detractions. The price you pay for separating the two processes is that you need more labor to handle the printed roll transfer between printing and finishing, you can experience more product waste due to roll damage and setup, and you can lose time in getting the first piece out the door. You can also increase your risk of wasting a specific recipient’s piece, if your product is personalized, causing more pieces to be reordered. You also have extra costs of an additional extra unwinder and rewinder.
What you gain by separating print from cut is also important to look at: You get an important buffer between the printer and the finishing system, which allows your most expensive component to be as productive as possible. If you have many different product sizes or types, you get the flexibility of using one of several different finishing lines depending on the product type, without a time-consuming mechanical changeover. Although specs are changing all the time, usually finishing lines can run faster than the print engines, allowing them to “catch up” to production if there was a mechanical maintenance item on them that needed to be replaced, like knives or other wear parts.
The reciprocal discussion can be made for keeping everything in line. You gain in less labor, faster first-product out-the door, lower chance of losing a piece or damaging part of a roll in the process. But you give up finishing flexibility, and if any part of the entire system goes down, the entire line gets shut down.
That decision gets more complex due to the growing sophistication of in-line finishing systems. One firm has been a pioneer in developing multi-capability in-line finishing, and can saddle-stitch, cold glue, or adhesive bind in-line with most continuous printers. A recent installation in Italy, in-line with a continuous web ink jet printer shows that it can be a great choice, under the right conditions. The finishing portion can divert printed sheets to either the saddle-stitcher, or the adhesive perfect binder based upon a sheet barcode. This might be the ultimate in in-line finishing.
All of these pros and cons to inline vs. near-line discussion can be quantified, and your specific “best configuration” really depends on the financial and service level requirement set. Here again is an area that an independent expert can become an invaluable resource in helping you determine how you should approach your new venture.
Finishing Web Inkjet Printing, Part 1
This is the first installment of a 2-part series on web inkjet finishing. This installment will cover the tactical considerations that need to be considered when building your finishing line, and the next installment will be the more strategic question of whether your system components should be in-line or near-line.
The thought of moving to high speed color inkjet printing is very seductive, with the availability of fully variable images, continuously improving quality, runs as short as quantity of one, and the nearly non-existent expense of make-ready, but there is a lot to analyze and decide after making a decision to do it.
After you decide on a printing technology and vendor, the next biggest consideration is finishing. High speed color inkjet printers are web fed, and there needs to be all of the cut/stack/fold/bind operations that any web printing process requires. But these processes are handled differently because of the differences in how digital print creates a finished piece as compared to traditional offset printing. As you are aware, the digital printing process prints one complete book or mailpiece at a time, minimizing or eliminating the need for collating. Depending on your end products, there are some strategic decisions to make, and some tactical ones, too.
The tactical decisions are the end-product-specific things that you need to finish your printed piece: Do you need to perforate, punch, stack, slit, slit-then-merge 2 or 3 webs, or fold? Your finishing vendor can determine the modules and accessories you need based on your product descriptions, and these selections are generally fairly straightforward.
Perfing/punching decisions are broken into two parts: Static punching and perforating usually gets placed before the first print engine. This is a device that allows you to create the tractor or pin-feed holes along the outside edges of the paper, and cross perfs at each page if you have legacy bursting/folding equipment that you need to use. Don’t forget the web cleaner so that chads and paper dust is minimized going into the print engine.
Dynamic punching and perfing can be triggered by either barcodes or other queue marks that are inserted in the margins by the print file and give you the flexibility of placing horizontal and vertical perforations, either partial or full width, on only selected pages.
Then you need to understand how you are going to bind. If you come from traditional printing, binding is a bit different in the digital world, since you can print an entire book or other document sequentially. As a result, little or no collation is necessary, except for getting covers on publications and books, or getting your printed stack into an envelope. So your standard pocket-style binders or inserters are generally not going to be suited for this new product stream. You will need to investigate binding devices that will handle the new product stream. Again, your binding equipment vendor can help you make this selection based on your end product. The considerations for digital print binding are much broader than they were just a few years ago, with choices that include stitching, perfect binding and even a cold-glue binding option.
Now that you have the right components and modules to finish your product, you need to decide whether they should all run as a single production line, allowing you to load roll paper in one end and out comes a finished book, mailpiece, or other product, or break the line up into two or more pieces. That issue we will discuss in the next installment.
Just us next week for Part 2 of this post!
In today’s business environment, marketing budgets are constantly under scrutiny while being challenged to demonstrate a clear ROI. Luckily, new technology and developments in the world of high-speed inkjet printing are helping to make this challenging task a bit easier through TransPromo communications. In its 2010 Household Diary Study, the U.S. Postal Service reported that U.S. households received more than 34 billion bills, statements, confirmations, requests for donations, and bills/confirmations for charitable organizations – in other words, transaction documents. That’s a lot of opportunities for companies to share their messages with the right crowd.
According to recent research from market research and consulting firm InfoTrends, as published in this newsletter article, TransPromo communications offer companies the opportunity to improve their customer communications by:
- Being personal and relevant – TransPromo software and printing technologies allows companies to individually target consumers which is proven to increase response rates.
- Channeling customer data into lifecycle marketing – TransPromo combined data with personalized message to target specific consumers based on past purchases or responses to previous offers.
- Allowing for multi-channel engagement – TransPromo direct mail campaigns can be easily incorporated into a cross-media strategy that weaves together customer communications on print, Web, e-mail, and mobile platforms.
- Providing a new revenue stream – Companies can now use TransPromo to sell the white space on statements and documents.
So when you think about your next marketing campaign… think about TransPromo.
Tune in for this week’s Super-Cool Fold of the Week… the Aquatic Iron Cross with Pocket and Wavy Accordion Insert. This fold comes from Finlay created for Mohegan Sun in CT for their 15th Anniversary. Words cannot do this fold justice, so watch the video below!