Printers.. Are you selling direct mail to your clients?

Are you tired of being treated as a quoting fodder against your competition? Many printers that I speak with tell me that a fair amount of their day is spent quoting work where they know that the customer is shopping prices against another printer or other printers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it wasn’t always down to that. One of my jobs is to help you see how you can achieve this using digital printing technology.

One of the greatest areas of growth in print believe it or not is in the area of direct mail.

Yes, most of your customers are probably sending what they used to print by email. You probably do it too. I know I send a lot more email than I do send print. However, I never send an email that is a marketing piece without making sure that I have a physical mail piece to arrive either before or as the email arrives.

You see, mail cuts through more than anything else.

I’ve just read another great article which inspired todays Blog from Margie Danas website (Print Buyers International) about the benefits of using mail to be more effective and it supports what many of us know to be true. If you want to get results with your direct marketing you cannot ignore using mail to get through to your potential clients.

Every day I receive over 100 emails, it is impossible for me to read them all, even with the high level of connectivity I have – iphone, ipad and computer – I have to filter things out. This means I probably do miss a lot of really relevant and valuable pieces of information. But the reality is I simply don’t have time to process all of it – nor do I want to.

I receive on average about 2 mail pieces per day (forget about junk mail – if it isn’t addressed to me it gets sorted over the bin and most just goes straight in). Of those direct mail pieces I read them all, they get to me.

It’s exactly the same for your clients potential customers…. and you have the ability to help them.

Another great benefit of having a digital production print system in a printing business is that you can produce high quality, high relevance mail pieces for your clients. Don’t just think letters, although there is nothing wrong with this, think postcards, coupons, vouchers, flyers, cards etc etc. Every one of these items can be personalised with relevent data including of course the name and delivery details but pertinent information that is going to grab the attention of the intended recipient.

Karen McCormick over at Fulfilment Express in MA USA has a list of 7 ways that direct mail packs a punch.

1. It is intrusive – it gets delivered every working day direct to your clients home or place of work, it doesn’t get filtered out by a corporate filter, in Australia it is a federal offence to open someone elses mail, so nobody does. The mail piece is opened by your intended recipient.

2. Tactile – You cant hold an email, sure you can print it and then hold it, but with some creativity on your part you can create mail pieces that extend into the world of 3 dimensions, things that people retain.

3. Targetted – With simple data management tools you can offer your clients the ability to produce different versions of mail pieces for different market segments or clients. It’s really hard to do this with email.

4. Variety – It doesn’t always have to be an A4 in a letter fold, if you have die cutting and folding systems the opportunities for a creative fresh approach are almost limitless. if you don’t there are hundreds of printers around that you can outsource that part of the work to. Build more value into your relationship with your clients – it will come back to you tenfold.

5. Measureable – Start using the technology that you have, QR codes, coupons, PURLS all give you an ability to track response. Knowing how a piece performs allows you to guide your clients into better results. Of course giving your clients better results probably means a better more profitable realtionship, don’t you think?

6. Personalised – If you haven’t gotten on board with variable data it really is time to do it. It is the 21st Century, stop trying to do things the way we did 30 years ago. Variable data (when done correctly) will generate more print for you than anything else. It gives you more control in the relationship with your clients and it delivers incredible profitable results for them and for you. I don’t understand why any printer in 2012 is not using Variable Data Print. Wake up.

7. Effective – Of course to be effective you need to have a strategy, you need to be working closely with your client to understand their business objectives and to guide them in how to get the best result. All of the printers that I know who are incredibly profitable and successful use these 7 tactics every day. They help their clients to be really effective in their direct marketing activities. They are seen by their clients as experts across the range of skills required, not just as printers for a cheap price. If you have designers on staff, have digital print capabilities and are prepared to work with your customers you can do this.

Direct mail doesn’t have to be boring, embrace this idea and you will create a very profitable business stream, one that will be enduring and will grow.

Remember, most printers out there don’t do this. Their day consists of printing jobs that come in from designers, brokers and direct clients and then sending them out. Imagine the difference to your business relationship if you were helping your clients to be really effective and more profitable. Do you think they will still shop you on price, of course not, you’re bringing real value to the table for a change.

Hot Tip: Eat your own cooking. Do this for your own business first. I’m sure you will have inactive accounts, create a direct mail piece to these clients with an offer to come back. Use your creativity to develop a piece that will stand out and get results, make sure you measure the results. How many you sent, what number responded and what was the sales value. Don’t be a one hit wonder. Design your campain as 3 seperate pieces and track each pieces results.

If you want discuss this in more detail with me you can contact me at



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