Production and Paper Special Report: Get Smart About Print
Today, the word technology most often is used to refer to online innovations. In the search engine marketing sector, in particular, new solutions are rolled out almost monthly—if not weekly.
By comparison, “most of what’s happening in direct mail printing is evolutionary not revolutionary,” says Barry Bogle, vice president, imaged products at Quebecor World, a commercial print media services firm based in Montreal, Canada.
All the same, he notes, this incremental progress is significant in helping direct mail remain a cost-efficient activity for direct marketers. While few in the industry would dispute direct mail’s advantage as a strong one-to-one communication method, the rising costs associated with this channel threaten to reduce its benefit to direct marketers seeking greater ROI for their prospecting and retention efforts.
Let’s take a look at the obstacles marketers face in producing their direct mail campaigns, as well as those evolving technologies that promise to help make the most of marketers’ direct mail budgets.
Key Production Challenges
The most obvious challenges facing companies that use direct mail are increasing paper prices and postal rates. Dick Goldsmith, chairman of The Horah Group, a full-service direct marketing agency in New York, reports that a number of paper mills are shutting down their lines. “There’s tightness on uncoated text [stocks],” he states.
In addition, the USPS filed a proposed rate case last month that would mean an average rate increase of 8 percent to 9 percent for all mail classes. Companies that mail catalogs, magalogs and other types of flats are going to get hammered with increases in the double digits, says Goldsmith. The reason behind this bigger jump for flats is that, while the postal service is installing new flats-sorting machinery, it still finds the amount of work required to process flats is far greater than that needed for letter mail; these costs are being passed on to the marketer, he explains.