Why Use a Traditional Lettershop?
Cost control issues beyond postage also are worth consideration. Look at what you're paying for all of your lettershop services, says Kelly Herman, direct marketing production director at Bernstein-Rein Advertising.
When doing projects for her direct mail clients, Herman tends to avoid one-stop shops. "Not all—but many—either really outsource one aspect or another (and don't necessarily disclose that to you) or are economically priced on one side and not the other. Therefore, you could end up paying more in the long run."
If you're considering a one-stop print shop vs. a lettershop, she recommends doing a cost comparison. "And don't be afraid to ask the one-stop shops to break out pricing on the print vs. the lettershop [portions of the job] for a true apples-to-apples comparison," Herman adds.
Lettershops often provide ancillary services. Of course, before turning over additional work to any vendor, determine if costs are comparable and be sure the quality is up to par.
Our experts suggest you ask whether your lettershop offers any of the following services:
>List services: especially merge/purge, CASS certification and postal presorting.
>Mailing services: arranging trucking to BMCs; helping you design your mailpiece to maximize postal discounts.
>Printing services: Johnston notes that some lettershops provide digital printing or variable black-and-white imaging on laser printers.
>Bindery capabilities: die cutting after imaging; fugitive glue. Keeping everything on the floor so that the direct mail product doesn't have to be sent out and returned to be mailed will limit the number of times the product is being transported and handled, Herman says.
>Print-on-demand capabilities: Herman explains, "This is the future of direct marketing—creating Web sites that allow selective creative options, ability to print as needed, and accessibility to mailing."
Ask many questions and do a good deal of research—the more you understand about printing and mailing, the better.