Inside/Outside Ink-Jet Imaging Cuts Costs

Where would the direct marketing industry be without high-speed, versatile ink-jet imaging? Probably back to the days of paper labels and indiscriminate mass mailings. You can improve the effectiveness of your next self-mailer, booklet or catalog by using inside/outside ink-jet imaging technology.

Put some muscle behind your one-to-one direct marketing claims. Data-mining techniques offer direct marketers vast pools of relevant information about the purchasing habits, preferences and needs of virtually any target market audience. The first step is to find the right data. The second is to acquire knowledge of inside/outside ink-jet imaging technology. The third is to design appropriate personalized communications and promotional materials that make good use of both data and technology.

What’s Possible

Let’s start with the basics. For years, direct marketers have known that different people respond to different messages. One-size-fits-all, shotgun-style marketing methods don’t achieve high enough returns to justify high production costs. Inside/outside ink-jet imaging allows direct mailers to tailor their communications to address the needs, wants and desires of their target audiences. Start by including the recipient’s name, contact information and personalized message inside your self-mailing, saddle-stitched product.

Pre-Filled-Out Order Forms

Design your self-mailers, brochures and saddle-stitched catalogs with pre-filled-out, bounce-back vehicles such as tear-off business reply cards and order forms. Doing so will reduce the amount of response time needed. This is important because saving people as little as a few seconds can make a difference. Response rates will improve if fields such as name, address, account number are imaged on the business reply card or order form. Response center clerks will have less data entry and will be able to process more orders. In addition, illegible-handwriting problems should decrease, resulting in a higher percentage of responses that can be fulfilled.

Marketing Codes

Marketing codes have a variety of sales and marketing uses. Customers responding to promotional materials by telephone frequently are asked for a marketing code printed somewhere on the piece. These codes enable easy tracking of marketing effectiveness. Also, prices and special offers can be code driven and are easily changed as new marketing information becomes available.

Unique Offers

Inside/outside ink-jet imaging technology allows individual offers to be derived from information contained within individual recipient profiles. Different strings of text can be imaged based on factors such as previous purchasing habits, behaviors, credit history and geography. For example, if a bank is soliciting new customers as a purchase incentive, it may offer pocket calendars to people with historically low account balances but pocket watches to its most attractive prospects.

Different Telephone Numbers and Web Site Addresses

Offering different service levels to different target audiences is appropriate for some businesses. A good example of this type of customer segmentation occurs in the airline industry. The major airlines know how to enrich customer experiences based on an individual’s frequency of travel, degree of loyalty and profitability.

Among other benefits, frequent fliers can use nearly wait-free telephone numbers and may qualify for preferential check-in treatment. Think of your business. If different phone numbers and Web site addresses would make a difference, consider ink-jetting a variable message instead of printing a fixed message. This will reduce production costs and will increase your marketing flexibility.

Lower Postage

Properly designed inside/outside ink-jet imaging jobs achieve lower postal rates because of longer run lengths. If you consolidate multiple shorter runs into longer ones, your mailings will have more pieces per ZIP code, qualifying you for better postal rates. For example, consider a million-piece mailing in which your marketing messages are differentiated by ink-jetting. Instead of breaking up this job into smaller offset printed batches, keep the entire run continuous to increase the percentage of your mail that attains the low-cost five-digit U.S. Postal Service rate — 150-piece minimum per ZIP code. Since postage is typically the largest cost component of direct mail, send as many pieces as you can within the five-digit rate.

Here are some examples:

* Assume you are the marketing manager for a financial institution and you want to launch a new affinity credit card program targeted at alumni of several universities. The recipients who already have regular credit cards from you may get gold card upgrade offers. Existing customers without credit cards may get offers to transfer existing credit card balances to new cards. And nonmembers may receive low introductory rate offers. If properly designed, your marketing message can vary with inside/outside ink-jetting, avoiding separate print and mailing runs. This will enable less production time and cost and will maximize postal discounts.

* A statewide political party could send personalized saddle-stitched voters guides to likely voters, informing them about the records and platforms of candidates in their individual political districts. Again, if a job like this is designed as one run with variable information achieved through inside/outside ink-jet imaging, production and postal costs will be kept to a minimum.

Some Technical Tips

Most ink-jet imaging production lines have limitations regarding image size, placement and run direction. Here are some production tips:

* Ink-jet ink is best applied to porous, uncoated stock. With extra care and slower run speeds, it’s possible to apply ink-jet ink to coated paper, but at an increased cost. Solvent-based ink-jet ink has inherent problems, including toxicity and flammability. Water-based inks are preferred because they are less costly and safer.

* When planning your inside/outside ink-jet imaging job on a saddle-stitching line, keep all “inside” image areas running parallel to the spine. “Outside” imaging can be oriented in either direction.

* On saddle stitchers, keep variable images on the inside at least 3 inches from the spine.

* Saddle-stitched booklets should have no more than 18 lines of variable type. Keep these lines in three or fewer groupings of six lines or less. For example, an inside/outside-imaged booklet could contain 12 lines of variable copy on the outside and six lines on the inside, or vice versa. However, having nine lines on the outside and nine lines on the inside is incompatible with most standard imaging equipment. In general, there are fewer duplex imaging restrictions on non-saddle-stitched self-mailers.

Lower your production costs and improve your marketing results with cutting-edge, inside/outside ink-jet imaging technology. Combine creativity, a healthy dose of preplanning and multifunctional ink-jet imaging to yield terrific direct marketing results.

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