This year there has been a lot of discussion, and even a task force assigned by the President, to review what the USPS charges to ship packages. This assessment has prompted the postal service to propose another price increase in the hopes of bringing in much-needed revenue, while still keeping them competitive. (Ouch.)
If the Postal Regulatory Commission approves it, the proposed increase will begin on January 27, 2019. And if it does go into effect, here is what you can expect both for yourself and your business:
- Proposed 3.9% increase on priority mail express
- Proposed 5.9% on priority mail
- 10% increase on first-class stamps
This comes in combination with proposed a 9.3% increase on service for packages weighing over one pound and a 12.3% increase on lighter packages.
With that said, now is the time for marketers to get busy planning their next direct mail campaign BEFORE the USPS price increase goes into effect early next year.
Since Mount Vernon has an in-house mail department, this topic is near and dear to our heart. Even with a postage hike, we’ll work with you to figure out the best ways to reduce your postage. Our customers’ mail projects are verified in-house and because of our industry expertise, we can offer all-in-one solutions, from consulting to printing to mailing. This means we can easily manage many different types of direct marketing campaigns.
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
Many of our customers are familiar with the quality of an offset press, but they sometimes question the quality when it comes to a digital press. So I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about our recent expansion of 4-color inkjet web capabilities – sure to capture your customer's attention like never before. Our new technology enables relevant messaging that drives results. Think next level inkjet web.
These new presses — Screen Truepress Jet520 HD and ZZ — feature:
- Four-color variable imaging at near offset print quality
- Ultra-fast RIPing of high-volume data
- The world’s smallest droplets
- Resolution of up to 1,200 dpi
Truepress Jet520HD High-Definition Inkjet Web Press
Accurately Reproduces Lines
The Truepress Jet520HD Press is so detailed that it brings color to life. What sets it apart is the unique printhead technology. It places the world’s smallest droplets of ink exactly where dots are required as the paper moves through the transfer system. The maximum resolution of 1,200 dpi provides detail smaller than .10 of a point. You might not know what that means, but I can assure you that it results in sharp, eye-catching finish without ink spread.
Really Fast, High-Volume Data
This press features an enhanced workflow system providing more production benefits:
- Automated job and color management
- In-RIP imposition, JDF communication and PDF/VT support
In a nutshell, even with high-volume variable data and high-resolution images, print quality can be maintained without compromising productivity.
Defect Detection Saves Time and Money
The JetInspection System performs a comprehensive, real-time inspection of variable images across all pages, with control coming directly from the operation panel. Using a camera to capture barcodes and optical character recognition fonts, it decodes and produces the inspection results. It also checks for missing dots, color variations and improperly output text.
Truepress Jet520ZZ Inkjet Web Press
If your project requires consistent high-quality and accuracy, then the Truepress Jet520ZZ is a solution that can print up to 190,000 colorful pages per hour.
Better, Precise Printing with Single-Pass Production
The unique single-pass multiple-head array allows extremely high printing precision. With short distances between the inkjet printheads, the colors, and the media, we can ensure exceptional color-to-color registration for your project.
Smoother Reproduction with Four-Tone Printing
The Truepress Jet520ZZ delivers cleaner, smoother printing due to its four tones per dot. Compared to the two tones common in standard high-speed inkjet printers.
Fastest Processing Speeds with Smart Variable Data
This inkjet press minimizes the RIP processing load delivering high productivity. A function built into the press automatically recognizes and assigns reusable elements to a background layer. This simply means no reRIPing, significantly improving processing speeds for large volumes of variable data, since only the altered portion needs to be RIPed.
These innovations are offering our customers personalized marketing campaigns with faster turnaround times and quality beyond ordinary high-speed inkjet printing.
One retailer increased its ROI by 14% after incorporating highly-targeted 4-color print into a campaign. Watch the video to see more.
If you want to know more about our newest additions and how they’ll produce your boldest direct mail campaigns yet, let’s get something on the calendar.
Through the years, as our industry has changed, our company has evolved to keep up with the technological advances. Specifically, we know the value in offering our clients a full host of marketing solutions that today’s companies demand.
With the help of our parent company RRD, we can help you optimize engagement with your customers: online, offline or even onsite. In addition to our usual print services, we offer solutions that drive results. Consider these three “i's” when planning your next campaign, regardless of the partner you choose (but hopefully it will be us!)
- Inspiration – Backed by our parent company, our content management and creative services offer consistent branding with tailored customer messaging. Mount Vernon has access to intelligent content libraries that are dynamic across multiple formats. We love telling meaningful stories to help your marketing inspire and create an emotional connection with your customers.
- Interaction – Highly targeted direct marketing that drives response is realized with our data-driven marketing approach and our cohesive channel execution across the customer experience.
- Insight – Our team harnesses data to promote sophisticated mining and to support predictive analytic techniques. We map customer journeys and uncover critical motivators through primary research. This is critical to reaching the right targets.
In a nutshell, we gather insights that drive inspiration and create meaningful interactions.
If you would like to create some meaningful interactions with customers and/or prospects, we are happy to help you take on that challenge. Contact me to learn more.
Photo by Garidy Sanders on Unsplash
Say it out loud - tangible. It’s a good word, right? I like things that are real and that I can touch (and no, it’s not just because of my industry). I know many others who agree with me, especially millennials. I know from firsthand experience because I have two of them. Maybe that’s why I praise direct mail so much. In a world of digital fatigue, my kids LOVE getting mail addressed to them.
Direct mail cannot be clicked away. It has a certain “shelf life.” And, it truly does fit into the omnichannel world. There are plenty of good examples of direct mail helping to integrate online marketing with offline. Consider using direct mail to point millennials to your social media channels or send them compelling offers.
Why? Because 82% of millennials sort their mail, determining what to keep – advertising mail, coupons, and promotional flyers – as opposed to only 76% of non-millennials, proving that direct mail is an important way to reach them, according to the study conducted by Summit Research and published by the USPS.
Millennial consumers have digital experiences that are dominated by a constant rotation of devices and screen time filled with commercial and editorial content, instant messages, alerts, pop-ups, and so on. If you are reading this blog, then you can probably also relate.
The easiest way to cut through the noise is to transform data and digital intent into tangible media delivered to their home. Your engagement will go up because people simply pay more attention to offers in the mail versus digital pop-up ads that flash before their eyes. As a matter of fact, digital ads are viewed as intrusive, but direct mail is not.
A reported 67% of millennials prefer to shop on e-commerce sites, often researching online before they buy no matter where they purchase. What’s more, millennials are emerging as heavy coupon users. Getting in front of them early in the research phase is key. So don’t skip paper in your quest to reach your audience.
No matter what the age of your target, the customer experience is key to great omnichannel marketing. Keep these pointers in mind while you are working on your tangible piece:
- Every customer is different. Give them convenience with multiple ways to respond to your offer for the best ROI.
- Keep the cadence for customers the same, independent of what channel they respond to by creating a workflow that accomplishes this.
- Ensure that your all of your touch points have a consistent look and feel and tie-in to each other.
- Personalize your marketing as much as possible for the best engagement.
We’ve come full circle and it is time to once again engage people in an environment free of distractions and noise. If you need pointers for designing your next direct mail or omnichannel campaign, we are here to help!
Until then, excuse me. I’ve got mail.
Photo by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash
2018 has been a good year for the print industry and we look forward to seeing where technology will take us in the coming years.
If you’re like me, then you probably know the GDP is up this year for both the U.S. and Europe. This means improved optimism for consumers and small businesses alike. This translates to growth for printers and suppliers as well.
You can see the positive growth reflected in this Global Trends Report by drupe, conducted earlier this year. They surveyed more than 700 printers, 40% of whom said they feel “good” to “positive” about their business. Even better, 56% of 200 suppliers in the survey felt the same way. Results were more optimistic than they have been in a long time.
When it comes to print trends, both high-speed production inkjet and electrophotography (a dry photocopying technique) have made quite an explosion. They are the most widespread processes in use today. When it comes to functional printing, digitalization has had the biggest growth, with 60% of respondents reporting that more than half of their business is due to digital print jobs.
So what does it all mean? For starters, it probably means unforeseen capital for investments for a lot of us!
Your first investment should be in inkjet technology, which has markedly evolved in the last two years to be able to do some impressive marketing by applying high-quality images on a range of rich substrates at high speeds. This gives marketers plenty of creative personalization options with savings for direct mail, packaging, labeling and 3-D printing.
For example, the Mount Vernon flex mailer project provided this well-known food manufacturer customer with an effective, low-cost packaging solution – producing 20,000 mail-ready product samples in just one day.
By now, most of us have experienced personalization either as a consumer or a marketer, and whether or not you think it is creepy or cool, it is here to stay! It is our job to make it powerful, and use it as an opportunity to mix digital and print, delivering the best experience for the end consumer. Inkjet printing makes this possible and it is a must if you want your print business to grow.
Our digital inkjet webs are running on a regular basis. I look forward to seeing what inkjet technology evolutions will deliver in the future. And if I can help you figure out how to utilize our web to maximize impacts with your clients, just send me a note.
Photo: Courtesy of Markus Spiske of Unsplash
Delivering a good product in a timely manner is a must in the print industry. So much of that equation depends on the people who literally deliver the finished physical product.
This is where Hugh Price comes in. Employed by Mount Vernon for 26 years, he is the main driver in our shop and spends most of his days on the road.
Here is where I’d like to brag a little. This is the seventh employee spotlight that I’ve written since we started them last fall. If you added up all of the years of experience these seven stellar employees have at Mount Vernon you would get more than 207 years! Let that sink in … that is commitment and knowledge that we really value. This is why I love to share their stories.
Hugh gets his greatest satisfaction from seeing and communicating with customers while he is making his many deliveries around the Baltimore and Washington D.C. regions. Even though he spends most of his days in traffic, he truly enjoys what he does. As you can probably imagine, delivery schedules are constantly changing but Hugh always finds a way to make it happen.
When I asked Hugh about his proudest moment at Mount Vernon, he smiled and responded that is was when he realized he had met his best friend for life. He has also made many other great friendships over the past 26 years. (Retaining hard-working employees who know and trust each other has always been important at Mount Vernon.)
Although the evolutions in the print industry certainly capture Hugh’s attention, he is happy that logistics have remained a constant and an important part of customer satisfaction.
Hugh has been married to his wife Kimberly for 21 years, and he enjoys spending time with his children, Hugh Jr. and Porche. In his spare time, he enjoys flying radio-controlled airplanes and watching the Oakland Raiders play football
We thank Hugh for his many great years of service – and for putting up with D.C. traffic!
Marketing and print campaigns, as we know them, have become more active experiences for consumers. Being a marketer in the information age means that you need to be prepared to offer customers an “experience,” and focus less on static and non-interactive (passive!) old-school methods.
The use of augmented and virtual reality is growing by leaps and bounds – predicted to be a trillion-dollar market – with expected revenues of $692 billion by 2025 according to Citi GPS.
Savvy marketers who provide consumers with an opportunity to augment their surroundings with a tailored experience that enhances their lives can expect to make a big impact and build loyalty. Done right, you can play a valuable role in your customers’ lives by helping them access information to products and services they need at the right time and the right place.
Retailer Ikea did this very well when it introduced the Place app last year, allowing customers to see exactly how furniture items would look and fit into their homes. That’s a pretty awesome way to provide value and convert sales.
I mentioned three cool ways to use AR in my June post, but I wanted to provide a deeper look into how customers can use AR combined with print.
AR elements can be added to your printed pieces, providing a cool new way to interact with postcards, business cards, catalogs, billboards, magazine advertising and more. Adding this element of interest means that the recipient may hang onto it longer and possibly even show it off.
AR in magazines:
The New Yorker Magazine provided readers with some fun by making their front and back covers come to life through the use of smartphone and tablet cameras. Readers were able to immerse themselves into the image, existing in the art itself, engaging them in a new way.
Print ads within the magazine can also be highly effective when they are combined with AR-powered apps. The creative possibilities of AR in magazine ads are truly unlimited and you can expect to see much more of that as the technology becomes more affordable. There is proof that AR significantly increases interaction. You should definitely consider this technology as you plan how to spend your marketing dollars next year.
AR through billboards and signs:
If budgets allow, go big! Volkswagen incorporated AR into their print marketing in a huge way. Billboards in Canada were used to tease the launch of the new Beetle by encouraging passers-by to download the app. Once that was complete, pointing the phone at the sign allowed them to see the new Beetle burst out of the billboard through their screen showing off the new car.
Bus shelters or train platforms are also popular places for advertising. Why not offer something fun to do while commuters are awaiting a ride. This tactic can turn a common poster or vehicle wrap into an unforgettable and entertaining experience.
Although this example is purely digital, it is too good not to be shared because it shows the power of AR. Pepsi Max used AR advertising at a bus shelter in London to shock and delight commuters. Unsuspecting victims who thought they were looking through regular glass (with a Pepsi Max logo) were surprised when they saw tigers coming toward them, alien ships in the sky, and octopus legs popping out of manholes. As you can imagine, consumer engagement was extremely high. That’s an unforgettable experience!
These examples show us that AR technology is on track to become even more seamless in the near future to combine our virtual and physical worlds. Marketers need to ensure they are prepared to take advantage of what AR can do, excite customers and propel their brands.
Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash
There are many different reasons why consumers choose one brand over another, but the more you can do to appeal to them on an emotional level, the better your chances of gaining loyal customers.
Here are four tips to help you positively impact a customer’s buying journey as they travel through the funnel.
1. Personalize Your Message – I can’t encourage that enough. No matter if your audience is in-store or online, the expectations of a personalized experience is becoming higher and higher with every touchpoint.
People love to see their own name in print or on a product. Coca-Cola does a great job of creating an emotional connection by personalizing – depending on what part of country you are from – their soda bottles and cans with your name or even your favorite sports team. Consumers like to feel as if something was made especially for them, and this example hits it out of park.
2. Provide Excellent Customer Service – 83% of consumers prefer dealing with a living, breathing human being when it comes to customer service issues, even on digital channels, says research from Accenture. Never forget that your customer support team is the front line of your company, and they have a large role in driving customer loyalty. More than half of the people surveyed say they have switched to a competitive brand due to a poor customer experience.
3. Help Protect the Environment – Taking a stand on environmental issues can not only help the planet, but also in getting a leg up on the competition. Consumers have been taking notice when companies engage in corporate responsibility that results in better business practices. In fact, consumers admittedly pay more for products and services delivered by brands that are committed to positive change in our environment. It’s a win-win for all.
Operating under the RR Donnelly umbrella, Mount Vernon has the support of making wise business choices to help sustain our environment. Just like our parent company, we strive to continuously improve global Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) performance. Our shared policies include protecting employees and the environment, whether it be reducing the quantity of emissions, developing opportunities for recycling and pollution prevention, or using paper and other resources more efficiently. Every day, we reduce, reuse and recycle in our printing facility.
4. Loyalty Programs are a Must – There is no doubt that loyalty programs affect shopping habits, no matter what you sell. If you want to ensure customers keep coming back, a well-designed loyalty program is one of the best ways to do that. The most successful programs include a point system, like airline miles or hotel points, where customers earn and redeem points in a repetitive manner.
Also, 93% of consumers agree that they are happy with loyalty programs when communications are relevant. Collect good data through sign-up forms that allow you to get to know your customer. Use this data to reach out during life events – a wedding, a new baby, or a birthday – with targeted direct mail campaigns.
Today’s ever-evolving environment for marketing communications can be convoluted and complex. For a good decade digital mediums were the hot marketing approach, but recent technology innovations – and an omnichannel marketing approach – show how digital + print can work together like two peas in a pod.
There are tons of studies out now (digital fatigue, millennials resonating best with print, etc.) on how marketers should take advantage of the unique experiences offered by both digital and print to successfully reach their audience. Ironically, the same programmatic automation that revolutionized the digital advertising industry has made its way into a channel that many said was left for dead. Yes, PRINT. These old and new school tactics are merging to create distribution, advertising, and other new opportunities for marketers.
If you haven’t tried cross-target programmatic marketing, I urge you to check it out because the targeting is very precise and the ROI will have you smiling. Programmatic ad buying alone is a hot topic with eMarketer forecasting that it will total upwards of $78 billion by 2019. But, here is what makes the cross-target programmatic marketing different, and work so well:
- Cross-targeting ties public IP addresses to real-world market segments
- Ad buys are not based on website cookies
- Your online ads will be delivered to only known recipients
- Offline and online cost per response will be lower than if they were executed individually
- This type of automated technology can even gather and analyze data and draw insights to improve your campaigns
This type of marketing is precise because we start with your customer files, scoring models, and other demographics keys that describe your best customers to create the segments. Then we link a physical mailing list, or target list, to consumer public IP addresses. After your audience is served up a digital ad, it gets followed up, usually within days, by a direct mail piece that has a strong call-to-action.
This is cool: The direct mail pieces can be dynamically rendered to include custom text, images and layouts based on your segmentation. So not only is the targeting precise, but it is personalized to the recipient. See why this can be so powerful?
So if you browsed online for a new slow cooker, and then a few days later received a coupon in the mail for that exact item, you may be inspired to actually buy that product. You can be sure that the cross-target programmatic marketing was behind that direct mail drop.
Want to learn more? Contact us and we’ll show you how our technology provides solutions that deliver impactful, relevant and personalized communications.
Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash.com
You’ve been hearing the terms VR and AR thrown around at the water cooler and probably mentioned in headlines quite a bit in the past year. Do you know the difference? And have you thought about using either one of these fairly new technologies in your marketing efforts? If not, you should and here is why.
Virtual reality (VR) means blocking out any visual sense of the real world and puts your audience in the middle of a new one – think of a VR headset. It is on track to be the next big wave in tech. Augmented Reality (considered to be a kind of VR) offers a nice blend of both the virtual and real worlds – think of the Pokemon GO app.
Simply put, Augmented Reality (AR) was created because it gives people the opportunity to experience extraordinary things that would be impossible otherwise, or very hard to achieve at the very least. So why not use it to do some good?
VR and AR, often combined with a social media channels, can open the door to exciting ways to encourage donations and grow non-profit organizations.
1) Using the VR experience to help children:
Pencils of Promise builds schools in developing countries. Their goal was to increase donations at an upcoming gala. Using a VR experience with headsets, they virtually took attendees to Ghana and showed them what it was like to attend school there, which in turn created an incomparable emotional connection that inspired higher donations. Watch it for yourself. Be sure to drag your mouse across the screen for the full picture.
- Pencils of Promise was able to raise $1.9 million at their gala, way more than anticipated.
- The video was viewed nearly two million times on their Facebook Page, greatly increasing awareness of their program.
2) Using AR and social media to watch a coral reef thrive or die:
Paper Triangles created a unique AR experience in conjunction with Los Angeles Industry Gallery, with the proceeds going to The Hydrous nonprofit. This exhibit used real-time tweets to either create or destroy a coral reef complete with swimming fish. Tweets containing hashtags like #recycling or #conservation made the reef thrive, while tweets with #coffee or #brunch created trash in the reef, destroying it. What do they have against coffee you might wonder?
Well, the goal wasn’t to call out food or our morning java as a culprit for destroying the oceans, but instead, it was designed to make people consider — on what — their online conversations are focused.
Paper Triangle says we “swim” in data every day, but we don’t always do something with it. This experiment not only raised money, but it also provided an opportunity to visualize data by experimenting with a new way to display the white noise of content and the endless information. Really cool, right?
3) Using just social media to celebrate heroes:
DoSomething.org used Snapchat to publish a series of snaps to promote their Everyday Superheroes campaign. “Snapchatters” were encouraged to send a card to someone who makes the world a better place. The experience begins with a story of Ricky looking for a special way to show his appreciation for Puppet Sloth. Step two: He is encouraged to download an Everyday Superheroes card and give it to his Puppet Sloth. Finally, Snapchat followers were enticed to be a part of the story and to join the campaign themselves by making a card to depict someone who is doing great work in their community as a superhero.
- DoSomething.org is staying top of mind with younger generations on their turf. (86% of Snapchat’s users are between 13 – 37 years old.)
- It reinforces DoSomething.org is a cool and creative brand.
- The organization increases its database as followers join the campaign.
- Exclusivity and urgency are leveraged since snaps disappear within 24 hours.
- Participants share the campaign with their friends – creatively.
Looking forward, VR is sure to play an even bigger role in our lives from everything to choosing the right furniture for our space to dramatically improving our healthcare. Now time to imagine what you can do with this fascinating technology! RRD is doing some really cool stuff with AR; let me know how we can help you along this journey.