Marketing is not for the weary as the country re-opens during this unprecedented time. The marketers who will prevail are those who make measured, educated choices. Meanwhile, right now, there is an opportunity like never before to uniquely engage your customers through their mailbox.
You are likely considering starting small and scaling up as regions and states return to varying levels of business activity. There are many unknowns, making planning challenging. We have a lot to get right:
- Scaling up as regions re-open
- Being prepared to pivot quickly if some regions revert back
- Squeezing the greatest returns out of each marketing dollar
- Consistently maintaining brand standards
- Meeting the dire need to generate revenue
- Likely managing the program remotely
When it comes to direct mail, it is possible to ensure stability and the value of your marketing investment by being educated about what happens behind the scenes. You want to be sure your vendors have financial longevity, and that they can help stabilize your marketing investments in this strange and new environment.
Here’s how to ensure a safe performance-driven direct mail re-engagement that delights your customers and gives you a leg up on your competitors.
1. Require a vendor that can scale as your volume changes.
Once you understand how direct mail production scales across print platforms, you’ll know what to ask providers to ensure they can be flexible with your growing, and potentially unpredictable, mail volumes.
Most direct mail printers specialize in one or two manufacturing methodologies among sheet-fed, digital, and web inline printing. Web inline is the platform that provides enhanced creativity and improved cycle time in support of large (national) direct mail programs. At SG360°, we specialize in all three manufacturing methodologies, plus offer extensive off-press finishing options to enhance performance and maximize ROI. Ted Gaillard, SG360°’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing elaborates:
The benefit to our clients of having that flexibility is that whether they are producing 5,000 pieces, 500,000 pieces, or 50 million pieces, they can use the same creative and format, and they can do it cost-effectively at each quantity. We are never forced to fit a square peg into a round hole.
2. Maximize return on investment.
In order to ensure you stretch your limited marketing resources for the greatest return, ask your partners what press platforms they offer.
The combination of finishing coupled with sheet-fed and digital platforms enables replication in smaller volumes what a web inline platform can produce in larger quantities. For example, with the capabilities at SG360°, we have multiple ways we can manufacture most direct mail production projects. So, our clients get the benefit of the least costly and most efficient of the methodologies.
Also, be sure your vendor has the resources to guide you on which formats will be most cost-effective for your project, and how to optimize postage costs.
Ease and efficiency
Time is money. Choosing one manufacturer that can grow, contract, and pivot with you will save you a significant amount of time and hassle. Needing to staff multiple vendors in order to scale your program means quite a bit more work for your team. No one needs an extra headache right now, and the inefficiency and wasted labor is a cost most organizations cannot afford. Likewise, working with a single customer service team no matter the volume will make your rollout dramatically easier.
3. Consistently maintain brand standards.
Your direct mail distributor’s infrastructure determines their ability to
seamlessly move your creative assets across a variety of paper stocks, printing equipment, and finishing types. There are two characteristics your print solution must have in order to ensure brand consistency across varying quantities and presses.
- The ability to handle your entire program rollout using the same creative assets, not matter the quantity
- G7® Master Qualification – This qualification is not earned easily, as it strictly requires that regardless of stock or other factors, printed colors will match when produced across any of their production platforms.
4. Ensure the stability of your investment.
Since many companies are struggling right now, be sure to dig into the status of the various functions of your direct mail partner. We are grateful at SG360° to be deemed an essential business due to several of the industries we serve. That left us with enough demand during COVID-19 to keep all of our facilities open and all of our platforms and services available. Be sure your direct mail partner is stable during this environment, and is fully available now and will be in six or nine months.
Further, if you suddenly need to scale back quantities, be sure your partner can cost-effectively pivot platforms and still meet desired mail dates. For this, the infrastructure features described above mean the provider can pivot quickly with last-minute changes to messaging or quantities. Likewise, if there’s a resurgence of pent up marketing communications demand, the provider can also accommodate you as you grow volume quickly.
Be empowered! For further education, contact us.