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

Get More Quality Out of Digital Printing
September 6, 2006

For years, most direct marketers looked at digital printing as offset’s low-quality cousin. But technological improvements and an industry-wide interest in one-to-one communication have driven digital into the spotlight. “Digital printing is definitely on the rise,” states Dr. Joseph Webb, a Ph.D. graduate of the NYU Center for Graphic Communications Management and Technology and founder of To back up this assertion, Webb cites a study released by the Commerce Department that shows digital printing business increased 28.3 percent from 1997 through 2004, while the print industry overall decreased by 2.7 percent. Because most of the talk about digital printing centers around highly personalized variable

Seven Ways to Trim Production Costs
September 6, 2006

When it comes to direct mail, everyone wants to find a way to get the same return on less investment. As one of the biggest expenditures in a direct mail campaign, production is a logical place to start. And it’s also one of the easiest, as there are a number of simple things any company can do to trim some of the fat out of its production budget. Here are a few ideas: • Use standard-size envelopes. With the right creative, #10s, 6˝ x 9˝ and the like have just as much mailbox impact as their custom counterparts, for a fraction of the price. To

The Skinny on Soy-based Inks
July 12, 2006

Even though they’ve only recently entered the spotlight, soy-based inks are not a new phenomenon. Inks made from vegetable oils were popular before the 1960s—primarily for newspapers—because of their environmental benefits. However, they were supplanted by cheaper and more cost-efficient petroleum-based inks, which proved costly to both workers’ health and the environment. But soy inks have made a comeback, being increasingly specified by environmentally conscious print buyers. In fact, as long ago as the late 1980s, soy inks for sheetfed presses began showing up on the market. But are they any good? What are the pros and cons of soy inks? Why Soy-based Inks? Petroleum-based solvents

Production and Paper Special Report: Success From Any Angle
June 1, 2006

About five years ago, Eric Bright first saw the Flapper™, a dimensional mail piece that unfolds and re-folds to present four different messaging panels. While Bright, senior director of consumer marketing at Franklin Covey, a provider of effectiveness training, productivity tools and assessment services based in Salt Lake City, thinks the mailer featured the Nickelodeon cartoon character SpongeBob Squarepants, he’s positive he and his colleagues couldn’t stop playing with the effort’s reconfigurable panels. So the team decided in the summer of 2001 to test a Flapper, a format that is patented by Intervisual Communications, a dimensional print and promotions company acquired this past March by

Production and Paper Special Report: Get Smart About Print
June 1, 2006

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

Production and Paper Special Report: Cycling Through Your Options
June 1, 2006

Consumers have become increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the companies from whom they buy, and the direct mail delivered to their doorstep is a conspicuous reminder of paper consumption. Fortunately, finding a suitable paper that contains post-consumer waste is possible for just about every direct mail application. However, identifying a supplier that can provide product at the desired cost and composition requires knowing where to look. Not Your Grandfather’s Recycled Paper “Any [direct mail] product can be made with recycled fiber” without losing quality, according to Brian Cummins, the product and value chain manager for publications at paper manufacturer Stora Enso. Cummins says

Driving Performance
June 1, 2006

When shopping for a new car, the choices are infinite: Nissan or Honda? Accord or Civic? Atomic Blue or Galaxy Gray? And don’t forget about all those extended warranties and factory options. The number of unique combinations, not to mention the odds of marketing the ones that will resonate with individual consumers, are mind-boggling. But that didn’t stop AutoNation, America’s largest dealer of new and used vehicles, from leveraging analytics and digital print technologies to create a variable content direct marketing program that consistently delivers customized and relevant communications. As a result of its innovations, AutoNation has doubled response rates and generated a return on

Recycled Papers: Don’t Forget the Chlorine
May 10, 2006

Recycled. Sustainable forest. Tree-free. Post-consumer content. Happily, direct marketers have a dizzying array of recycled paper options for their direct mail projects. But while much of the emphasis continues to focus on fiber sources, direct marketers interested in making a commitment to earth-friendly—and, increasingly, consumer-friendly—direct mail practices also should consider the processes used to create paper. In particular, the bleaching process produces harmful dioxin gases, even when taking post-consumer material and deinking it for reuse. The following terminology, as reported by San Francisco-based paper manufacturer New Leaf Paper on its Web site,, applies to papers that have been created without chlorine for bleaching,

Achieve Visual Effects With Coatings
May 3, 2006

To achieve special visual effects on direct mail pieces that not only create more eye-catching efforts, but help to more effectively communicate messages and boost overall response, consider applying various coatings at the finishing stage. According to Jeff Banks, technical manager, continuous improvement at Menasha, Wisc.-based Banta Corp., one technique that has gained popularity over the last few years is applying a textured coating to direct mail pieces. Using a polymer, rubberized plate and an ultraviolet coating, nearly any type of raised impression can be created on a mail piece—from faux, raised fingerprints to wood grains. Other special techniques available to mailers interested in developing high-end