Friday, April 18, 2008

Personalized Printing Advice and Takeaways

Personalized printing with variable data and personal URLs is getting more and more popular, especially since the prices are coming down and the quality is going up.

As a result, we thought it would make for a good post today to recap an article that was in the DM News not too long ago called “Get Personal With Print Marketing”.

Four experts were asked for their advice on how to take advantage of personalized print marketing. What follows is a quick summary of all four.

1. John Foley’s Takeaway

Maintain a customized print conversation with your customers. Mr. Foley talks about integrated marketing and how effective it can be to set up a campaign that includes a personalized mailer, personal URLs and then a follow up mailer based on how they answered certain questions on the PURL.

2. Chris Ryan’s Takeaway

The right trigger techniques make for highly effective personalization programs. Mr. Ryan talks about using time-sensitive “trigger” mailings that coincide with specific periods in a person’s life. For example, sending home-related coupons to new homeowners, or sending an investment-related mailer to a newly retired couple.

3. John Berger’s Takeaway

Successful personalization relies on information used responsibly by marketers. Mr. Berger stresses the importance of marketers protecting the privacy of their customers. He says you want to use the information you collect on them to personalize your offers, but not so much so that the customer feels their privacy has been violated.

4. Anna Chagnon’s Takeaway

More marketers are integrating software with production work flow systems. Ms. Chagnon points out how variable data software makes personalization easier. You create one template if you wish for your mailers and all your campaigns are fueled by this one shell. She also mentions the growing popularity of Web-to-print storefronts.

5. Ballantine’s Takeaway

We think certain industries are prime candidates for personalized variable data printing and should definitely consider creating a test campaign if budgets allow. These industries - to name a few - include retail, hospitality and auto.

These types of industries generally collect a great deal of information about their customers and can thus personalize their mailings with pinpoint accuracy. And they also thrive on customer relationship-building…which relevant offers help cultivate.

We have one retail client that holds regular events with various “themes”. We send out weekly variable data self-mailers for them and the images on the mail piece correspond with the event that the customer attended.

The mailings are wildly successful for them.

*As published on The Ballantine Blog on April 17th, 2008

Wasteful printing starts at work

I admit it. I'm guilty of one of the most common office crimes out there -- hitting the print button more times than necessary.

And although I may be easing some of my guilt by throwing the paper in the recycle bin, I still have visions of chainsaws cutting down trees in some beautiful remote forest flashing through my head each time I toss a sheet away.

There is just something so comforting about having a document in physical paper form as opposed to just floating around in your e-mail inbox. Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but it gives me a sense of organization having everything printed and placed in folders where I can see them.

And then there's that sense of control. You can't file a computerized document or flip through it or highlight and write notes on it. And what if your computer crashes and you lose everything? You always have that dependable stack of paper neatly organized in a folder waiting for you to peruse.

I have learned I am not alone in my obsession with paper. In fact, some are worse than me.

Canadians are printing out 30 pages of documents a day and then promptly discarding nearly four out of 10 of those pages, according to a survey released last week by Leger Marketing and recently covered in the National Post.

This habit of waste and needless consumption seems to only apply to the workplace with 40 per cent reporting they were more environmentally conscious of recycling at home than at work. I can understand that. I don't even remember the last time I used the printer at home.

At the very least, these printer-happy people are experiencing the same sense of guilt as I am over their behavior. The survey found that this habit induced feelings of guilt in almost a third of respondents and more than three-quarters said they're concerned about the impact their paper-printing ways are having on the environment.

So why can't we stop?

It's because right now it's still socially acceptable. We can freely print off copy after copy with only our inner guilt to absorb. There needs to be more public pressure.

I remember in elementary school we were told to turn the tap off when we weren't using it and that wasting water was wrong. Today, letting the tap run while you brush your teeth is considered a sin.

The same type of public campaign has also pegged people who leave unnecessary lights on as wasteful. You wouldn't dare leave all the lights on in your home if you weren't there. What would the neighbors think? And companies know leaving the lights on in their office buildings overnight will almost guarantee public complaints. Being careless when it comes to conserving energy is officially frowned upon.

The same type of widespread disapproval needs to be applied to unnecessary printing of paper.

It has started to happen.

Some people now attach a signature at the bottom of their e-mails that reads "please don't print this e-mail unless it is absolutely necessary" accompanied by an image of a tree. Although that does get to me, it's obviously not enough, since I sometimes just swallow the guilt and print those e-mails, too.

We need to take it a step further. Every time you make a trip to the printer to pick up a 30-page document, you should expect to possibly endure dirty looks from your co-workers. The idea of printing excess paper should become so objectionable that you feel immediate shame and embarrassment if someone were to see the piles of it sitting on your desk.

This coming Earth Day, I plan to make a resolution to fight the urge to print and only succumb when truly necessary. If you are like me, I would encourage you to do the same. If you aren't like me, then I suggest you do your part by shunning your paper-wasting co-workers.

Or if you find that to be a little harsh perhaps just kindly mention they should think twice before hitting the print button.

Deirdre Healey is a local writer and communications specialist. Her column appears every other Thursday.

Originally published at by Deirdre Healey; April 17, 2008

Your Business Card is a Powerful Marketing Tool

WESTFIELD, N.J., -- A few years back, the standard business card had basic contact information printed in one color, usually black, on one side of plain vanilla paper stock, sometimes with two-color printing to kick it up a bit. Today you can easily print on both
sides of a BC in four-color process with a laminated, glossy finish. In regard to cost, it's about fifty dollars for 500 cards. This is a fraction of what it cost a few years ago. Now that's a bargain.

"BCs are becoming mini-brochures that can make a colorful impression. The second side can be just the logo if you are after an "I am very cool" effect, or you could print a mission statement if you want people to know what you stand for, and, at the very least, a short list of special things your company does. Whatever way you chose, you can captivate interest and provoke discussion. This is a great little marketing tool," according to John Howlett President of AvizaGroup an ROI consulting business specializing in advertising and marketing.

After you have grabbed their attention and jump started a conversation, you can deliver your elevator pitch, which is a salespersons dream. In the most optimistic view it might even circumvent the dreaded statement that ever business salesperson fears: "I didn't know your company does that".

The BC may appear to be a rather insignificant item. It is not. Especially if you believe first impressions are lasting impressions. Some people reading this article might say "give me a break, a business card as a marketing tool?" Think about how many times you found a BC, a month or more later, and had absolutely no recollection of who they are and what they do. How unfortunate for the person who handed you their card. They
missed the opportunity to leave a memorable message in a potential prospect's hand and mind.

Millions of dollars are spent every day to establish brand recognition in advertising, in pursuit of building a positive, memorable recall about your company, product or service. Want to improve your ROI in advertising? Take a good look at your not-so-silly little business card. You can start by re-thinking about it as a powerful marketing tool.

PRNewswire; April 17

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Printing Brochures and Postcards

If you are looking for an extremely powerful marketing tool look no further because brochures and postcards are considered the best way to maximize the impact of your messages. Brochures and postcards are used most frequently as a form of print communications medium.

When advertising with a full color information booklet you require a big budget. Not so with printing brochures and postcards. They have the same advertising affect but at a much lower cost. There are certain features you should be aware of for brochure and postcard printing before making your final decision.

There is a lot of versatility with brochures and postcards in both content and use. By changing the format they can be used as a booklet or a poster. Always remember that it is vital to make a powerful and lasting first impression.

Preparing the design is the first step in the printing process. The purpose of the brochure or postcard is to define why your product is better than others and by using this printing method you can accomplish that goal without lengthy, monotonous texts. Put emphasis on the unique and significant features of your product with crisp dialogue and captivating language.

Be sure to choose fonts and colors that look attractive and professional. What looks great on your monitor or the proof could be totally different from the completed printed copy due to the inherent limitations of the commercial printing processes. Your printer is a professional in this field with usually many years of experience. Be sure to have a consultation before finalizing the color scheme.

Of late, digital printing has solved many such problems associated with brochure and postcard printing. Now, you almost get the color you see on the monitor with much more versatile options. Another great advantage of digital printing is you can customize your brochures and postcards according to your needs.

The paper and any other material you select will depend on your requirements. If you are sending brochures and postcards by post the weight of the paper should not be too heavy. When speaking with your sales representative, always ask about the paper quality for your brochure or postcard. Using a thick, coated paper that is great for personalized business presentations can produce a more vibrant look and feel, for your brochure and postcard.

Using commercial printing processes like offset lithography will enable the printer to deliver a quality product when printing the brochure and postcard. Ask to see samples from the printer and check their references too. Post-finishing operations like varnishing or lamination would be an important process for adding the finishing touches to the printing of brochures and postcards.

Owing to the tough competition, the cost of printing is getting lower everyday. Find the right combination of design and print that fit your budget and can give you the best value for your money.

Originally published by: Jacques Di Salvia