Gayl Curtiss

One piece of paper, a thousand ways to get it wrong. By Gayl Curtiss and Paul Ford How can something that feels so easy be so complex? Depending on your timelines, production limitations and sales strategy, the suggestion of using a "simple" self-mailer for a campaign could be a mirage that drags you into quite a few production, timing and strategy problems. The situation typically starts with a job that requires great response on a fast turn. Someone invariably suggests the self-mailer, because it's "just one piece of paper." The creative, printing, bindery and lettershop processes should take at least half the time

We all have our favorite mail manufacturers—those who have come through for us time after time. In order to maintain the successful track record of those key suppliers, you might have to protect them from bidding and producing a job that is not their core competency. They may come in cheaper than other suppliers, but only because they haven't grasped the scope of the job. In these cases, they often can't complete the project for the price quoted or in the time frame expected. I don't expect each of our mail manufacturers to do all jobs well. Each has its own specialization, and those

By Gayl Curtiss My staff and I put 896 direct mail projects out for bid last year. Yes, that's a lot. Despite the quantity, we didn't have any significant discrepancies between what we thought was covered in the RFP document and what the mail manufacturer quoted and ultimately produced. I think that's pretty darn good. On top of that, we didn't have any noteworthy discrepancies about what we were charged. So, no "oops, we forgot" surprises were passed on to our clients. Clients love that, and so do we. I've been doing this long enough (my staff thinks I carved my first direct

By Gayl Curtiss It's easy to find print production vendors. It's hard, however, to find good ones. Finding compatible, competent production suppliers is an ongoing challenge. Here are some tips I use when considering potential suppliers: Pricing: There are many exceptional production facilities with which to align yourself. The first thing I do is ask the prospective vendor to bid on some representative projects, and I compare its prices to what I have already paid. I refuse to a pay a premium for the "privilege" of working with any vendor. If its pricing seems to be in line, I plan a visit to

By Sharon R. Cole Answering the question of whether to go inline or offline when planning how to process mailings may seem simple. Particularly when thinking in terms of run size. It's fairly well known that it generally makes more sense to run jobs consisting of 250,000 pieces or more through inline, while it's more cost-effective to run smaller jobs conventionally. But there are other issues to consider before going inline. For instance, while marketers may not be overly satisfied with certain inline imaging or design issues, they may be swayed by its high level of personalization and cost advantages. Either way, understanding

Don't let mistakes eat up profits By Gayl Curtiss Here is a secret to increase your profits during tough times: Make the elimination of errors your No. 1 priority. With agencies barely making enough profits to survive, senior management has a choice to make: Ignore procedures and spend big bucks fixing screw-ups, or embrace procedures and drop much larger profits to the bottom line. Look at it this way: If you reduce errors, you'll increase the profitability of current clients, and in turn, cut down your dependence on new business development. In every agency there are two priority efforts going on at

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