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News Flash— Direct Mail and Print Not Dead

Technology isn’t killing direct mail… It’s making it more efficient, cheaper and adding new options to the game. So before you ring the bell to bring out your dead direct mail programs, take a step back, breathe and ask yourself: how can I take advantage of all this?

If you missed the DMAW Production Strategies Forum on June 19, you not only missed a tasty lunch but an eye-opening discussion about digital printing, personalization and mailshop innovations, postage costs, and USPS Informed Delivery. Here’s a quick recap.

Digital is making its mark in print and mail—and has been for many years now. If you haven’t heard about it or been told to take advantage, then it is time to crawl out from behind the rock, put down the hammer and chisel, and learn what digital can do for you and your client.

Don’t get me wrong; there is still room—and the need—for conventional printing. But, what if you need variable imaging, segmentation, envelope printing that avoids seams being seen through the print, or short run tests?

Digital printing provides a large blank canvas to create anything on, without the investment of making printing plates that might only be used one time. It can be used for envelopes, letters, buck slips, other inserts and even labels. Plus, digital web printing at the mailshop is becoming commonplace for personalization and variable printing.

Mailshops are innovating in other ways too. They are upgrading insert machines for bigger, better and faster production. The technology for inspection on the fly, like barcodes for match mailings, far exceed anything in the past. This is not commodity printing… This is taking your campaigns to the next level.

So we’re running faster, but what can be done about your biggest cost: postage?

Postage is the largest and least understood cost, but you already knew that. The good news? Apparently, USPS is actually out to help you.

Before you go back to your printer to negotiate a better price, check with USPS to make sure the size of your piece is efficient for mailing and to find what discounts you can benefit from. The #1 mistake is not meeting minimum dimensions/requirements. USPS provides price lists and specs to help better understand your mail piece.

And then there’s Informed Delivery. When I first heard about it, I thought: Great, another email telling me I have mail in my mailbox. But wait, there’s more. USPS not only can scan the mail and upload a color image to your account, but you also can enter a URL link that can be activated from your smart phone even before you get home. It’s like doing an email and traditional mail campaign at the exact same time…and it is a free service! Summary campaign reports are available as well.

In summary: Get with your printer, mailshop and postal professional. Plan, strategize and collaborate to take advantage of the best innovations to get your mail out on time and on budget.

Plus, the timing is perfect! You can see all these folks at Bridge and pick their brains. Go to the sessions, see the vendors in the Solutions Showcase, ask questions, and be informed. There is an art and science to all of this.

Alan Rich is the President of Nova Label Co., Inc. and can be reached at 301.386.4433.