Direct Mail

Mining for Creative Ideas
December 1, 2006

Anyone familiar with database marketing is aware of the cultural divide between creative types and data types. It’s as if the two groups speak a different language. While maximum response and ROI are shared goals, how the two groups go about understanding the audience to craft campaigns that achieve these goals often is completely different. Data analysis typically is targeted around one goal: selecting the “best” names, the names that will bring the highest response. Different audience segments may be selected, but in the end, a name either is selected or it’s not. The challenge is left for the creative specialists to fit the

The Great Postage Debate: Can it Really Pack a Punch?
December 1, 2006

Oh, the plight of poor, misunderstood postage. You certainly can’t send mail without it. In truth, an outer envelope looks rather bare with an empty upper-right-hand corner; yet, mailers seem to harbor mixed feelings over just how neutral this territory actually is. One camp regards postage as nothing more than an expenditure, perhaps part of a tertiary round of testing (at best) reserved for only the largest mailers with equally large budgets. Others raise postage out of the confines of inconsequence and deem it an integral part of creative development. Caroline Zimmermann, president and CEO of The Zimmermann Agency, even goes so far

Branded for Response
November 9, 2006

One of the challenges in marketing to a large customer base for a particular product is that the file is comprised of many different segments, with each group possessing different characteristics and reasons for buying your goods. But what if your product comes in a couple versions plus offers an annual upgrade option? That’s the case for business management software company Sage Software, and its contact management product, ACT! According to Ian Oxman, vice president of direct marketing, more than 1 million people have purchased one of the two primary ACT! models: standard or premium. The customer base also is segmented by the version purchased;

Achieve Relevancy and Resonance with Personalization
November 8, 2006

The undisputed, attention-getting power of personalization has been bottled and sold by marketers for quite some time, and as new technologies take center stage, it grows ever more potent. As direct mailers move beyond the moniker-laden postscript and salutation, today’s marketing message is defined by more customer-specific communication. James Michelson—a principal at marketing and technology firm JFM Concepts—maintains, “The key to personalization is more than just the name. It’s everything that corresponds to that person’s demographic.” Such targeted information can include where a prospect lives, what kind of car they drive, even their past experiences—and it’s being used to great success in direct mail

Aperture’s Dana Cowsert on Tried-and-True Direct Mail Practices
November 1, 2006

Dana Cowsert, marketing director of quarterly fine art photography magazine Aperture, faces a rare duet of challenges: Not only does she have to sell a “niche of a niche” publication in an economy that is increasingly difficult for traditional publishers, but she also has to do it on a nonprofit budget. (Aperture is published by Aperture Foundation, a not-for-profit founded by, among others, Ansel Adams and Minor White.) Here, Cowsert reflects on how some tried-and-true direct mail practices and a hands-on approach to problem solving have helped her keep Aperture’s mail program in focus. TG: Tell us a little about your direct mail program. DC: Direct mail

Famous Last Words: Shooting Ourselves in the Foot (Again)
November 1, 2006

A number of years ago, a bunch of direct mail writers were kicking around the idea of giving each other awards for creativity. They came up with the Caples Awards, named for the legendary John Caples (1900-1990), author of the classic “Tested Advertising Methods,” and the iconic headline, “They Laughed When I Sat Down At the Piano, But When I Started to Play!—” Having a soft spot in his heart for direct marketing writers, Caples OKed the use of his name for the awards. In the old days, the Caples Awards were funky and fun—a shoestring operation to which the freelance community contributed time creating calls

The 19th Annual Gold Ink Awards
November 1, 2006

The 19th Annual Gold Ink Awards banquet, honoring excellence in the printing industry, was held on Oct. 16 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The winners, selected from more than 1,500 entries in nearly 50 categories, represent the very best work from printing professionals throughout North America. The prestige and excellence associated with the Gold Ink Award usually results in new business for the winners, explains Maggie Pajak, director of marketing and trade shows for the Publishing Media Group at North American Publishing Co., the awards’ sponsor and Target Marketing’s parent company. This year in the Direct Mail Packages category, Strine Printing Co. took the gold

10 Creative Ways to Go In-line
November 1, 2006

In-line finishing is like in-line skating in that it satisfies a primal urge: the need for speed. In-line finishing also has the “cool factor,” like in-line skating. And in-line printers get to wear those cool clothes, too. But what is in-line finishing exactly, and what are the best ways to use it? In-line finishing condenses the web printing process, the bindery process and the lettershop process into one continuous operation. One or more webs—or rolls of paper—are printed, cut, folded and addressed in a single step. And a wide variety of creative options are available to embellish the printed piece, as I’ll mention later. The advantages

The Wonders of White Mail
November 1, 2006

When I’m teaching a workshop and use the term white mail, I get blank looks from about half the group. They are unfamiliar with the term. White mail is unsolicited correspondence from your customers. While I don’t know this for a fact, I assume white mail got its name from the plain “white” envelope it arrives in—rather than a printed reply envelope provided by you, the marketer. I once was an official reader of white mail for the personalized Christmas card program at Walter Drake, a multichannel marketer of household merchandise and gift items. So, I know from experience the enclosed message can be anything