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

More Personalization, Less Money
April 19, 2006

When it comes to direct mail, there’s no denying that personalization works. And, in most cases, the more personalization you put in a package, the better. Nowhere is this more evident than in the commitment some mailers have to inline production and in the extra fees others are willing to pay for match mailings. But if the design limitations of inline aren’t for you, and the added hand work and cost of match mailings make multiple personalizations within a package cost prohibitive, you may want to try a drop-cut reply. This production technique allows a mailing to have a personalized letter and reply device

Manage Your Mail Costs
March 14, 2006

Good planning and collaboration with production partners can save you money Postage prices continue to increase, as does the pressure to improve profitability. Direct marketers who depend on traditional printed promotions as one of their most responsive channels are again looking for ways to increase sales and reduce costs. Here’s a look at some of the printing and production techniques available that help trim costs, as well as best practices that can help you take advantage of these techniques. Collaborate With Your Resources “Collaborate with your package designers and writers,” recommends Bill Christensen, a direct response creative and marketing

Outsource Solutions: Telemarketing
November 1, 2004

Effective Rep Selection The success of outbound telemarketing always has depended on the skills of the teleservices representative (TSR) placing the calls. With the do-not-call list hanging over direct marketers’ heads, now more than ever strong TSRs are vital to outbound programs. To ensure your program gets quality representation, teleservices experts advise you to pay close attention to the following aspects of your call center’s hiring, training and monitoring practices when conducting an RFP process. Hiring • What percentage of TSR applicants does the agency hire? If it hires 85 percent of the candidates who walk through the door, it probably is not focused

Outsource Solutions: Production
September 1, 2004

Vendor Coordination Checklist Working with a vendor that acts as your supply chain simplifies the direct mail production process. If it doesn’t, find another supplier! Sometimes, perhaps because of existing inventory or a transition in vendors, you find yourself working with multiple vendors to manufacture and mail your direct mail package. The following is a checklist that can ease the pain of managing multiple components through multiple vendors: • Current Specifications. Make sure you have current specifications from each vendor. A new piece of equipment or a new vendor may offer better quality, faster throughput and new format options, but it also

The Science of Insert Media Production
August 1, 2004

How to keep your costs in line The aspect of insert media that scares off many a curious direct marketer is the level of commitment needed to get optimal results. Not only must you test a variety of programs, creative approaches and offers to find winning combos, but you have to plan out your insertions so you can take advantage of production economies. Granted, media placement costs are higher than those associated with insert printing. But that does not mean you shouldn’t look to control your production expenditures. By giving some thought to format, paper, timing and distribution, you can open up a channel

Outsource Solutions: Catalog Production
June 1, 2004

Avoid Press Check Pitfalls When printing a catalog, the direct marketer and its print vendor ideally have the same goal: to create a quality product. But the realities of a vendor/client relationship are such that the printer also wants to perform the job quickly and economically—while the cataloger’s aim is to get the best printing, says Miriam O. Frawley, president of e-Diner Design & Marketing, a catalog agency in Highland Mills, NY. To help you hurdle the potential roadblocks to a successful press check, consider the following six pieces of time-tested advice. 1. Discuss your expectations with your printer ahead of time. Obviously, the

Outsource Solutions: Lettershops
May 1, 2004

The Proof Is in the Process Personalization can boost response to a direct mail campaign because of its ability to establish a connection with each member of the target audience. But it can have the opposite effect if errors in the data or its presentation mangle the message. One of the keys to executing a successful personalized direct mail campaign is working with your lettershop to create a proofing process that leaves no personalization element uninspected. The variety of proofing methods available to direct marketers can be confusing, says Sylvia Konkel, vice president of marketing at EU Services, a full-service mailing facility in Rockville, MD. That’s why