All posts by Alex Gorges

5 Terrific Fonts To Transform Your Envelope

By | Creative Services | No Comments

I remember a heated philosophy discussion in college. The topic was beauty, and as budding philosophers we had to convince one another of our opinions. We debated the perennial question: is beauty in “the eye of the beholder?” We never concluded our discussion (pretty normal for philosophy) but it made me think.

When I was planning this blog, I recalled this debate with my fellow students. No, I still haven’t arrived at any conclusion, but I have come to a different but similar one. When you’re doing direct mail, it’s not beauty that’s in the eye of the beholder. It’s appeal. And the more appeal you can create with your envelope fonts, the better the open-rate for your mailers, translating to more profit.

If you want to add energy to your envelope, charge it with a new font. You might find that one font works better than others. And often, it’s fonts you might not expect. We’ve tested many envelope fonts, and these five fonts all have high open rates. But it’s for different reasons. So let’s look at five different fonts and see what makes them special and appealing to the eye.

envelope fonts

If you want to proclaim rather than tell your message, choose Impact. It does what its name implies—it has an impact! If you’re sending a #10 envelope and want to tease your customer about the contents with a teaser, use this font to do so. “Your Free Gift Inside.” (And for sales copy, try using this font for your headlines to snatch their attention.) It’s a font that stops your readers, grabs them by the lapels, and forces them to read. It’s like when Gandalf slammed his staff into the bridge to stop the smoldering Balrog—YOU SHALL NOT PASS! It’s got that effect.

Next we have Copy Doodles Brad. This is a handwritten font that resembles a harried or flustered person.  It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s ugly. But that’s not the point — and that’s why it’s effective. It’s such a hideous font that your customers will have a difficult time distinguishing it from a real person’s. So when to use this font? Use it only for marketing. It’s not meant for professional or business transactions (for that we recommend Arial or Calibri). Second, be sure it appeals to your customer. If you’re sending a marketing piece to doctors or engineers, you’ll have a difficult time selling your services with this font. Finally, be sure this font meshes with your industry. If you run a funeral home, don’t use this font. You get the point.

Now if Copy Doodles Brad is 100% informal, then Edwardian Script is 100% formal. This is one of the fanciest, most elegant fonts you can use. It harkens us back to the idyllic time of Jane

 Austen and Henry James. When should you use it? On invitations. Especially invitations to a wedding and other important events. For marketing, use it for an event you’re hosting—like a conference with an important guest speaker or for a swanky auction. It’s classic and timeless, and it’s sure to give the appeal of importance.

Arial. When Google launched Google Docs nearly a decade ago, they chose Arial as their default font. And for good reason. Arial is simple, straightforward, and easy to read. It doesn’t contain the dynamite of impact, but that’s not its purpose. And now with Google’s success, Arial has become one of the most used fonts—up there with Microsoft’s beloved Times New Roman. And because it’s so popular, your readers will have an instant familiarity with it. They’ll appreciate your simple, no-nonsense approach.

Finally, Corradine. Here’s a font we love here at Handy Mailing Service. It’s a script font, but it’s not as “scripty” like Edwardian. It doesn’t contain the restricted, Victorian feel of Edwardian. Instead, it has the appearance of someone with methodical, cursive handwriting. It’s easy to read, and it’s clear. It’s best to use this font on pieces where you want people to think you hand wrote them an envelope. It has that power. Try it out. It’s pretty cool.

These are only five envelope fonts, but they’re thousands you can choose for your mailing. But for any font, choose one with these two factors in mind.

  1. It must be consistent with your message.
  2. Your audience must be receptive.

If you’re a doctor or a lawyer and you’re running ads for your service, a font like Arial might work best. Do not use CopyDoodles Brad. People will think it’s a joke. But if you want to market to your audience as a dear friend, try using a font like CopyDoodles Brad or Corradine. They work great for that.

Remember, keep your brand in mind and study your audience for the envelope fonts that best suits them.

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6 Things To Consider Before Sending A Print Newsletter

By | Mailing Services | No Comments

In the last blog post, I wrote about the factors you should consider before choosing an E-newsletter. In this blog post, I want to examine the factors of a print newsletter and whether to send one to your customers. I’ll start with the pros, the cons, and present my final thoughts at the end. The end might surprise you!

The Pros Of A Print Newsletter

Pro #1: It’s tangible. I love my Amazon Kindle. It stores thousands of books, lets me read in the dark, and each page is crisp. But I miss real books: the smooth page, using my thumb and forefinger to turn from one page to the next. Real books engage my senses and involve me at a deeper level.

It’s the same for print newsletters. Like books, you flip through pages to read the content. And you can’t beat the way they feel in the hand. Plus, with all the different paper types available today, you can get really creative with your newsletters.

Pro #2: Less competition. How many emails did you have in your inbox this morning? Over ten? I bet so. And that’s nothing compared to what many others receive. Combine personal with professional email, and you create a recipe for chaos. Your E-newsletter enters that maelstrom and mixes with a jumble of other emails. What are the chances your customer will read your E-newsletter?

Compare that with direct mail. I receive three or four mail pieces a day. Then, I pull them from the mailbox, sift through them, read the ones that interest me, and the others I toss them into the waste bin. I don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed like I do with email. At that moment, each piece has my sole focus for at least a few seconds.

Pro #3: Perceived value. Everyone knows email is cheap. So when your customer receives your E-newsletter, will they believe you’re cheap or they’re not worth sending a print newsletter to? It’s something to think about. Because while it’s convenient and affordable to send E-newsletters the upfront cost of a print newsletter might lead to higher sales in the end.

print newsletter

Click on this image to view our April newsletter!

 

The Cons Of A Print Newsletter

Con #1: Cost. Print newsletters cost more. Not only do you need to hire a graphic designer to design them or a copywriter to write them, but you have to pay for the print and mailing. Doing this monthly can get pricey.

That said — while the print newsletter does have a high upfront cost, in the long run it might not matter. What’s important is to look at the benefit of sending a print newsletter as a whole. If it’s converting more leads, then you might make enough profit to offset the cost of printing and delivery.

Con #2: Delivery speed. The print newsletter must travel to its target by good ol’ direct mail, which can take up to 10 days to deliver, depending on the postage attached. If you send your newsletter with plenty of time to deliver, then there’s no issue. But if you’re delayed in designing or writing your newsletter, you can’t afford it to take half a month to finally mail.

Con #3: No linking and tracking. You aren’t able to embed links to other content or track customer engagement.  While, you can see they’ve mailed, you can’t track metrics like words read, links clicked, and how long. You also can’t link a call to action, which might decrease the chance to turn leads into sales.

So what do you think? Is a print newsletter or E-newsletter better for your business? If you want my opinion – send both! This way you’ll reach all your customers, no matter where they are. In fact, take it a step further. Once you complete your newsletter, create social media posts with links to your newsletter. The more you share the better.

 

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5 Factors Of E-Newsletters You Need To Know

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

As much as we complain about email, it’s one the greatest inventions of the modern age. The ability to send and receive a letter through the web is a triumph of the times. And while I hate opening my personal inbox and seeing 30-40 emails a day, I’m thankful for the technology.

If you’re not doing so already, you should email a monthly e-newsletter to your customers in addition to a print newsletter. The monthly newsletter keeps them engaged with your company while giving you ample opportunity to sell products and services to your customers. It’s also the best way for you to distribute important (and fun) information.

The E-newsletter (aptly named because you send it through an email) has a list of pros that make it a great option for distributing news and updates for your company. Let’s take a look at some.

monthly e-newsletter

The Pros of E-Newsletters

Pro #1: Cost. You can create, produce, and send with less money than a print newsletter. Apart from the cost of writing and designing the newsletter, you don’t need to pay a lot to send them. Once you design your first newsletter, you only need to plug in the new content each month. And since you’ll send an email, you don’t need to worry about the cost and time of production.

Pro #2: Speed of Delivery. Another pro of E-newsletters is that delivery is instant. Once you’ve written and designed the newsletter, load your email list and hit send. Can it get any easier than that? Also, you can set up delayed delivery and other cool features that make sending newsletters even more effective. So what’s the easiest way to start sending them? Here’s a few websites that make sending e-newsletters a breeze: Campayn, Constant Contact, and MailChimp.

Pro #3: Hyperlinks and Calls to Action. Another great benefit of E-Newsletters is the ability to embed hyperlinks and calls to action within the newsletter. Within any given month, you can link articles or calls to action within the newsletter to give your customers a deeper engagement with your company. And from well-designed software, this process has become intuitive. You give your customers an easy, direct path to a buying decision. Because of this, the odds are much higher that they act on what they’re reading, compared to having to go online if they receive something in print.

These three benefits alone might cause you to consider this option, but a monthly E-newsletter is not without their problems. Let’s look at three of them.

The Cons of E-Newsletters

Con #1: It’s mixed with other emails. There’s a common phrase called “junk mail” that refers to the type of marketing pieces we toss in the trash. Most people think of direct mail when they hear this phrase. But if you think there’s a lot of junk direct mail, consider the amount junk email. The amount of junk email we receive on a daily basis outweighs junk direct mail by 10 fold. And if customers won’t read a direct mail newsletter, what are the chances they’ll read an email newsletter?

Con #2: Little assurance of delivery. While you can have confidence your newsletter will deliver in a timely manner, the same cannot be said about the assurance of delivery. How is this possible? How can something deliver quickly but not really deliver at all? The reason? Spam. It filters emails based on a number of various factors. And while it may deliver, your customer might not open it, let alone read it. There’s already a small open chance when it goes into the inbox, and spam only decreases those chances.

In an upcoming blog, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of a print newsletter. And then we’ll compare and contrast the monthly E-newsletter with the print newsletter, to help you decide the best fit for your business.

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Two Killer Strategies To Personalize Your Mail Piece

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A few weeks ago, I hired a guy to come out and build me a privacy fence. When he finished, he invited me to the backyard for a final inspection. Walking back there, I recalled something I said to him during the estimate. “Jason, more than anything else, I want you to build this privacy fence straight across the top.” He remembered what I said – because my fence is straight. And I don’t mean just straight. I mean razor-blade straight. He went above and beyond my expectations. It feels like Jason listened to me because he personalized my fence the way I wanted.

privacy-fence

Personalize Your Mail Piece

In a similar way, you should think about personalizing your mail piece as much as possible to drive traffic and increase sales. Let’s take a look at two of the ways you can personalize your mail piece.

  1. Include personal fields from your list in your letter
  2. Send different offers to different types of customers

Personal Fields In The List

Let’s start with personal fields in the list because they’re the primary way to transform a mail piece from generic junk mail to personal letter. And the more you personalize your mail piece, the more you’ll drive leads and increase sales.

It’s spring time and you’re an HVAC company wanting to mail to locals. You ask your mail house to give you a list of prospects in the surrounding area. You write your sales letter, create the enticing offer, and now, you’re almost ready to mail.

But you hesitate. In the past you’ve written generic sales letters, and you haven’t received much business. You want to try something different, but you don’t know where to start. Let’s see what we can do.

We can start with the salutation. Instead of using “Dear Friend” or “Dear Neighbor,” let’s use “Dear First Name.” This way your prospect will feel like you’re addressing just him, and he won’t feel like a victim of a mass-mailing campaign.

Next, look for some other fields in your list you can use. How about the “city” field? In the next paragraph alter your copy to add in a “city” field. Say something like, “In Wichita, we only have 5 more appointments we can book this week, so please call now to reserve your spot.” Not only do you include their name but also their city. It’s becoming more and more personal.

But let’s go even further. If you have a customer list, you can really take your sales letter personalization to the next level. Let’s include a unique field. You probably have a lot of information about each customer such as: years of service for, lifetime customer value, dollars spent in the last year, and so on. Find a creative way to place that in your sales letter. Say something like this: “Last year, Mike, you spent $250 dollars as a member of our quarterly check up program, so this year we’re offering to you – for a limited time – a program renewal for only $199.”

Remember, the more personal data you can include in your letter, the more personal your letter will become. Include as much as you can without going overboard with too much data.

Send Different Offers

The second way to use personalization is to segment your list according to the offers you want each person to receive. As mentioned before, this is where a customer list can become very advantageous when incorporating personalized data with each customer.

Here’s an example of what that could look like. You’re rolling out a big time “Memorial Day Extravaganza Sale” and you want to send out a postcard to your customer list. First, divide your list into three different categories based on dollars spent in the last year. Second, create three different levels of offers you’re wanting to give away during this sale. Third, assign an offer to each category by filling in the corresponding field in your list.

Now when you print that postcard, using the variable field in the list, recipients from category “A” will receive offer “A.” And recipients in category “B” will receive offer “B,” and this will continue with category C. So what may this look like in your campaign?

This could mean your bottom feeders, who didn’t top $500 on the year, would only receive 10% off, but your big spenders of over $2,500 on the year would receive 25% off. The beauty in this is that you can completely customize and create as many different offers and levels as you’d like. All you need to do is make sure the offers match up with the recipients in your list.

Well, I hope you can find ways to personalize your mail piece in your next campaign. Remember, try to include personal fields or send different offers.

personalized printing

4 Questions You Have To Answer Before Mailing An Envelope

By | Mailing Services | No Comments

Whenever I’m drawn in by a book’s flashy cover or edgy title, my mind hearkens back to my grade school librarian, Mrs. Gabriel: “Alex, don’t judge a book by its cover.” She was right – the best books often have the worst covers or titles. But while her advice works in the book world, it does not apply to direct mail.  

In direct mail, the people receiving your mail pieces ARE judging. And the covers aren’t cardboard rectangular covers. They’re envelopes –  the “covers” of your direct mail piece.

Your envelope is like the first sentence of a book. The whole message hinges on that first sight. Your envelope might contain sales dynamite inside, but it’ll never detonate if your customer doesn’t open it. So spend ample time crafting each part and parcel.

Here are four questions to consider before mailing an envelope:
  1. Do you want to use a stamp or permit?
  2. What kind of font do you want to use?
  3. Will it have teaser copy to entice the reader to open it?
  4. What size do you want it to be?

Stamp or Permit?

We’ve found that when mailing an envelope, using a stamp has a better open-rate than a permit. Stamps are warm and welcoming; permits are cold and corporate. Do you want to be in the ranks of banks, mortgage lenders, and utility companies? Probably not, right? If you want to sell your product or service, choose a stamp.

Now, choosing what kind of stamp … that takes more thought. Is there a stamp consistent with your brand? Do you want to appear professional? Do you want to present yourself as a friend? Are you a non-profit company looking for donations? What kind of postage rate do you want to mail at? These are some questions to consider when deciding. The USPS offers a variety of stamps. You’re sure to find one or two that fits your brand. Oh, and here’s a pro tip: place the stamp on slightly crooked. It’s more human. We’ve done this for customers, and while it requires a little more time and setup, it’s worth it.

The Font

After you decide on a stamp, select a font that stays consistent with the message you are trying to send. If your tone is more formal, then choose one that gives that appearance. But if you are trying to imitate a personal letter, then definitely choose a handwritten font. Modern technology has blessed us with a plethora of handwritten fonts that can be applied using machine. You can choose an elegant font like the ones on many envelopes for weddings invitations. Or you can choose a font that resembles the signature of a harried doctor. There are even fonts that resemble the scribblings of children. And like the stamp, you can rotate the address block at a slight angle to make the envelope feel more human.

mailing an envelope

Example of an envelope with a handwritten font, teaser copy and a stamp.

Teaser Copy

You may want to consider using teaser copy for your envelope. This can persuade your customer to open your envelope. We’ve seen thousands of different teasers over the years, and our customers continue to use them with success. Don’t overdo it though.  If you present teaser inconsistent with your sales piece, you risk losing the recipient’s trust, which will kill the whole sale. Use teasers that persuade them to open, but also present an honest message about the contents inside. And try using variable data in the teaser like, “Hey, Dave, check this out!” The more personal the teaser, the higher the chance for a better open rate.

Size

The size of the envelope matters. Bigger is often better; these types of envelopes are easier to notice, and they’ll stand out among the other mail. We’ve even used FedEx envelopes before to market our company, and we encourage our customers do the same. They work, because governments and banks often send their documents in this way. They do cost more, however, so calculate your potential return on investment carefully. On the other end of the spectrum, consider sending a really small envelope. Like the one you would receive a note card in from your grandma.

Just remember this, whatever you decide for the envelope needs to stay true to what message you are sending with your mail piece. Keeping a unified tone with your piece allows the reader to develop trust with you and your package. So when in doubt, always let that be the deciding factor for your decision.

There’s more that can be said about mailing an envelope, so subscribe to our blog to make sure you don’t miss another post!

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Hand Inserting And What You Need To Know About It

By | Creative Services | No Comments

When I was younger, my life consisted of milking cows on my family’s dairy farm. Today, when I tell people I milked cows, I receive the same question over and over: did you milk the cows by hand? I usually smile and say no and tell the person that no one’s done that for a long time. Modern technology has replaced much of the hand work in extracting milk. Besides, the process would be tedious and time-consuming. Thank goodness someone invented a machine to automate all of that. This causes me to reflect on another process that’s tedious and time-consuming: hand inserting.

What is Hand Inserting?

Hand inserting is when we insert – literally by hand –  personalized letters or mail pieces, as well as tangible items into envelopes. This service enables us to insert multiple classes of items that cannot otherwise be inserted by machine.

We provide this service so our customers can market their services and products more effectively. Often when we speak to new clients, they are shocked that we still match insert personalized letters by hand. How archaic, they say! If you’re one of the shocked, allow me to explain this process called hand inserting, the two types of mail pieces we hand insert, and why we still provide it in this age of automation.

hand inserting

What Can You Hand Insert?

First, we hand insert all personalized letters or mail pieces. If you want to mail a letter with “Dear Jack” for the salutation, we’ll match the name “Jack” to the envelope with his corresponding address. It’s much the same when you write a letter to a friend. You write the letter, fold it, and then slide it into an envelope with your friend’s address. But here, we do this for thousands of letters. Because we have a fully developed system for this, we are able to do this in an efficient way to maximize your profit. Plus, we always check to see the actual name going into the envelope so we can ensure complete accuracy. There’s little worse than your customer receiving a letter in the mail addressed to another person.

Second, we insert lumpy items. Lumpy items are tangible things like paper clips, boomerangs, compasses, and plastic trash cans. The reason our clients love this service is because their consumers are more likely to open an envelope that’s bulging. When you see an envelope with an item in it, your curiosity demands that you open it.

We take pride in offering you a wide variety of mailing services to give you the most effective tools possible for your mailing. The ability to hand insert efficiently, and accurately is a valuable service that you can take advantage of. Since this is available for you, I encourage you to find ways to personalize your next piece and I think you’ll realize how much it will boost the selling power of your piece. If you’re interested in learning more or sending a mailer that requires hand inserting, give us a call today. We’ll be happy to help!

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What Are Bleeds And Why Are They Important?

By | Printing | No Comments

Let me walk you through a conversation that happens quite often between a customer service representative and a customer…

CSR: “Hello, how may I help you?”

Customer: “Yes, hi! I would like to print some postcards for a mailing and need to get a price.”

CSR: “That’s great! I can help you with that! Let me ask you a few questions so I can get an idea of what you want. What’s the total quantity of the job?”

Customer: “2,000 postcards.”

CSR: “Will the postcards be printed on both sides?”

Customer: “Yes, I would like my card to be printed on both sides.”

CSR: “Does it bleed?”
Customer: I imagine the customer at this moment furrowing his brow or scratching his head and, saying, “ Bleed … uh … what … I’m not sure … I have no idea… what are bleeds!?”

This is normal. You are not alone. Few people understand what bleeds are and why they’re important.  But don’t worry, it’s not your fault. We in the mailing industry haven’t done a good job in explaining this concept. So let’s get down to business.

What are bleeds?

 

What are bleeds? A bleed is any artwork  – such as an image or color –  that touches the edge of a printed piece. It literally looks like it “bleeds” over. Think of an infinity pool, where the water runs to the pool’s edge, and you’ll have a good idea of what I’m talking about.

Here are two examples that also might help:

  • You have a postcard covered in a solid color other than white
  • You have a background picture that takes up the entire card.

Why are bleeds important?

 

To cut to the chase, here’s why bleeds are important: If you don’t add bleeds to your artwork, it will be printed with a thin white box around the outside edge regardless of what your artwork looks like. It will simply not be able to print your color all the way to the edge of the piece, reducing the appearance and appeal it brings in.

So to make your piece bleed, you need to setup your initial artwork bigger than its final size because printers cannot print edge to edge and add bleeds automatically. After we print the piece, we trim the extra off to give it the bleed effect with the color or background falling off the edge.

How do I set up bleeds on my artwork?

 

First, before you or your graphic designer begin designing, be sure to add an extra ⅛” to each side of your artboard. For example, if you want to print a 6” x 11” card, set your artboard size to 6.25” x 11.25.” In popular design programs like Adobe Indesign or Adobe Illustrator, there’s a box you can click and the software will add a bleed border for you. Just go to “File,” then “document setup,” then add .125 in. to each side. But if you don’t have access to these tools, just be sure to add that extra ⅛” before placing any text, images, or color.

Here’s what setting up bleeds will look like in Illustrator or InDesign.

what are bleeds

 

Second, keep everything inside the surrounding ⅛” border. Any art that goes outside the 6” x 11” border will be cut off when we trim. It’s especially important to keep all of your text within that original 6” x 11” border. One of the most common mistakes we see made is when someone stretches their entire artwork to the edge of the bleeds. You only need to stretch the background colors or images, not the text! However, if you do accidentally place something outside the border, we’ll tell you if we see a problem.

This is how your artwork should look like with bleeds set up correctly.

what are bleeds

 

Third, when you’re ready to send the artwork, remind your customer service rep that you want your piece to bleed. He or she will tell our print manager, who’ll then set up the piece to print in the correct format for bleeds.

I hope we were able to demystify one of the most commonly asked questions that we get from customers: what are bleeds?  If you have any confusion or need further clarification, don’t hesitate to contact us and one of our experts would be happy to chat with you.

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Is Direct Mail Dead?

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

Oh great… another blog post from a direct mail company saying people like receiving direct mail. Give me a break – It’s the age of email and smartphones. Direct mail is dead. And dead it will stay!

I get your skepticism. You’ve every right to be skeptical when mainstream news outlets say the same things: direct mail doesn’t work. Market online. Send emails. Strengthen your SEO. They suggest anything BUT direct mail.

Direct mail’s got a lot of haters. But is the hatred justified? We don’t think so. Our clients don’t think so. And the facts certainly don’t think so!

direct mail box

According to the Data and Marketing Association, the #1 hub for marketing statistics and information, direct mail is alive and well.  

According to their stats, direct mail has a better response rate than email, paid searches through search engines like Google and Bing, and social media. And not just by one or two percent. But four to five in almost every comparison.

For example, the household response rate for direct mail ranks number ONE at 5.1% whereas the other response to Google Clicks and email measures less than one percent

And we’ve all heard those “tech-savvy,” “digital-native” millennials only shop online or with their smartphones. But do they? Again according to the DMA, it simply isn’t true; the direct mail response rate for millennials is 12.4%! So… is direct mail dead?

So Why Does Direct Mail Work?

First, it slices through the clutter. It’s clean and simple. It’s not competing with hundreds of other marketing pieces. It’s dropped in the mailbox with four to five other mail pieces. But compare that with email – where the average person receives 10-20 marketing emails a day. There’s too much. Companies are bombarding us every day, and it’s causing our heads to burst. 

Second, it’s tangible. You can feel its texture and weight in your hands. It feels … well … it feels real. Contrast that with an email. Emails seem cheap. They lack substance. What does it say to your customers when you only contact them with an an email? I’d say not much.

Yes, we’re a direct mail company, but that’s not the reason we believe in direct mail. We believe in it because it works. And almost every direct mail marketer will say the same thing.

So if you’re looking to improve your marketing, mix in direct mail. There’s nothing wrong with sending emails, but compound your efforts with direct mail. The results might just turn you from hater to believer.

So what do you think? Is direct mail dead?

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