Category Archives: Printing

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.


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

What Are Bleeds And Why Are They Important?

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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.

personalized printing