Special Report: Paper and Production
June 1, 2007

This special report bears the moniker of “Printing and Production,” but in all honesty, it’s missing a third “P” for postal. Every discussion of direct mail production for this editorial section either started with or came around to the topic of the recently implemented rate case and the way it’s affecting campaigns. Given some of the drastic changes to postage based on shape, marketers and their mailing services partners have good reason to zero in on these developments. But not every marketer is heading for the online hills or abandoning large-format controls in favor of letter-size mail. In this report’s main story, “Driving Innovation,” freelance

Straight Talk: The New Green
June 1, 2007

Increasing numbers of investors, regulators and customers want the so-called triple bottom line (environmental, social and financial) that factors in corporate responsibility, natural resource conservation and climate change. “Call it the New Green,” says Don Carli, senior research fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Communication (ISC), a nonprofit group that promotes environmentally responsible practices for the printing, publishing and packaging industries. Here’s a small part of my recent eye-opening chat with Carli, a former strategic planner within these industries. To read the entire interview transcript, go to EB: What got you interested in the topic of sustainable printing? DC: It grew out of

The Increasingly Green Paper Trail
April 11, 2007

One year ago, almost to the day, TM Tipline published a Q&A entitled “Derek Smith on Direct Mail and the Environment.” As a former CEO of a major paper, printing and packaging group in South Africa and now a Washington, D.C.-based consultant whose mission is to bring environmental reform to the paper, printing and graphic design industries (, Smith noted some improvement in the industry’s environmental performance, but was also painfully aware that much work remained to be done. Here’s an update, with some growing problems alongside some signs of hope. Old Problems in Some New Places The nonprofit Natural Resources

Digital Print Lives Up to Its Promises
March 1, 2007

A mere decade ago, digital printing was seen as a luxury buy for direct mailers—used only for ultra short-run campaigns that perhaps didn’t require a high level of output quality. Back then, several barriers stood between the direct marketer and digital print—print quality, cost-per-impression, color-matching capabilities, and limited media compatibility. Today, these barriers have all but been removed, enabling direct marketers to finally capitalize on the promise of digital print. Quality: Still King Most digital print manufacturers contend that the quality of their printing systems’ output has greatly improved in recent years. That’s certainly measurable in print resolution. “When digital printing first

A Step-by-step Approach to Variable Data Printing
February 21, 2007

Taking the plunge into using variable data printing, or VDP as it’s called in the industry, can be a daunting step, even for the most aggressive of marketing organizations. To create successful variable data mailings, you need to be ultra-confident in the accuracy of your database in addition to being able to handle the usual aspects of developing a mailing—compelling copy, creative and offer. But with increased effort required to properly leverage VDP comes the potential for an increased payoff. Keith Goodman, vice president of corporate solutions at Modern Postcard, a full-service provider of postcard products and services in Carlsbad, Calif., explained some of the

Six Ways to Keep the Yikes! Out of the Postal Rate Hike
December 6, 2006

With the sting of one postal rate increase in recent memory and another looming on the horizon, the mailstream can be a pretty expensive place to do business. But the upcoming postal rate hike does not have to be as painful as it looks—if you take the time to explore the many ways you can trim costs from your direct mail program, particularly by taking advantage of the many workshare and automation discounts the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has, or will have with this new rate case, in place. Here’s a look at just a few of the tactics you can try. • Scrub those

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

Three Ways to Increase Holiday Online Conversion Rates
November 8, 2006

’Tis the season to be shopping … is your Web site ready for the fourth quarter holiday rush? In its recent whitepaper, Holiday Sales Tune-up, e-commerce retail technology firm MarketLive reports that the winter season typically represents 20 percent of retail sales. This presents a great opportunity for Web merchants who pay close attention to their customers’ needs because, as MarketLive points out, “When you help holiday shoppers save time and find the right gifts, you’ll strengthen a relationship that will pay off well past New Year’s Day.” What’s more, the report suggests big-budget Web site overhauls are unnecessary to give customers a positive

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 New Vanguard
September 9, 2006

Every industry has its luminaries—pioneers whose names become synonymous with the techniques or products they developed. Ed Burnett, Ralph Lane Polk II, Richard Benson, John Caples, Leon L. Bean, Lillian Vernon, Jeff Bezos and, of course, Lester Wunderman come to mind. But not every trailblazer operates in the white-hot spotlight. Many conduct brilliant work day after day for their companies in relative anonymity. That is, until Target Marketing decided to nose around and find those professionals who are setting new standards for direct marketing performance. With the help of our Editorial Advisory Board and other key industry figures, we’ve selected eight exceptional direct marketers who