Thursday, December 20, 2012

5 Ways to Lower Expenses and Create Value for Direct Mail Campaigns

Contributor: Scott Kravitz, Sales and Marketing, Mount Vernon Printing

Over the last 25 years, the cost to mail a one-ounce letter has doubled, jumping from 22 cents to 44 cents per ounce. With additional increases pending and higher energy costs on the horizon, we can only expect this trend to continue.

What does this mean for direct mail marketers? Primarily, that rising postage costs will be a major factor dictating how we communicate with customers and prospects. Lucky for us, innovative solutions and cost-effective alternatives are countering those rate hikes and keeping the overall cost of direct mail in line with marketing budgets.

It’s important to recognize the overall goal of direct mail: to entice recipients to respond to a call for action.  With that in mind, here are five ways to lower expenses and create increased value for direct mail campaigns:

1. Select products and packaging that can be mailed as an automated flat.
This means that the U.S. Postal Service can automate the processing of these products, significantly reducing the postal rate per unit. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first is by selecting mailable, durable products that easily fit into traditional flat mailers and can withstand the wear and tear endured in the shipping process, including items such as USB drives, T-shirts or tote bags. The second option is to choose packaging innovations such as the CGX Flex Mailer®, which enables dimensional products to ship as automated flats.

The CGX Flex Mailer allows dimensional products to ship as
automated flats, to achieve postage savings.

2. Manage package tracking internally.
While UPS, FedEx and USPS premium delivery options trace the movement of specific packages throughout transit, the Posta Service’s Intelligent Mail® barcode (also known as IMB) can be printed directly onto packaging, enabling customers to manage the process themselves. Thanks to modern technology, what once required expensive infrastructures can now be executed at a much lower cost through your fulfillment provider.

 3. Watch your weight.
Apply those New Year’s resolutions to your promotional products’ packaging and watch the savings add up. One of the easiest ways to keep expenses down is to reduce the overall weight of your package. Next time you’re selecting products and direct mail content, keep the overall weight in mind. By reducing the weight of your mail by just one ounce, approximately the equivalent to the weight of 10 pennies, you can save 17 cents per mailing. Multiply this by 10,000 mailings and you’ve just saved $1,700.

4. Be flexible in terms of materials and production of packaging.
Before you choose the packaging for your next direct mail campaign, ask your provider if there is excess capacity in a specific line of products, or if they’re trying to get rid of a certain paper stock. Simple changes that don’t impact the end result you’re looking for can have a major effect on your ROI.

5. Personalize your mail.
Study after study shows that recipients are more likely to open relevant personalized mail. Customize your packaging in a way that targets individual consumers or prospects. While it may be more expensive on the front end, you might be surprised at the increase in response rates. This means you can send fewer mailings out for the same results.

Mount Vernon Printing is a Consolidated Graphics, Inc. company in Laurel, MD. For more information about Mount Vernon Printing, visit Contact Scott Kravitz at

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Maximum Security: keeping your data safe and secure

Maximum Graphics, a Consolidated Graphics company based in Minnesota, recently achieved SOC 2 compliance, assuring our customers that their data is safe and protected to the highest degree possible. Previously Maximum underwent SAS 70 compliance, and Its replacement, SOC 2, is part of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants(AICPA) Service Organization Control (SOC) reporting platform. While that may sound like a mouthful, the premise is simple: SOC 2-compliant companies ensure a heightened level of credibility for data management technology and cloud computing-related systems.

SOC 2 utilizes five “Trust Services Principles,” including:
  • Security: appropriate measures are taken to protect against unauthorized access
  • Availability: everything is up and running as promised
  • Processing Integrity: authorized processes are completed in a timely (and accurate) manner
  • Confidentiality: information tagged as “confidential” is protected as agreed upon
  • Privacy: personal data is treated as outlined in the company’s privacy notice and as mandated by the AICPA and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
SOC 2 compliance isn’t actually a certification; it’s an audit that provides complete validation of a company’s security measures, including operational, administrative and technology aspects. The company’s physical buildings and all of its resources, down to each individuals’ laptop, must be inspected to ensure the highest level of security possible.

Maximum is constantly upgrading its facility to maintain (and exceed) the requirements needed to uphold its SOC 2 compliance. “It’s an ongoing process that is a top priority here at Maximum Graphics, one that we focus on each and every week,” says Rob Nawfel, President of Maximum Graphics.

While Consolidated Graphics has always taken the extra step to ensure data security for its customers, even the Federal government is beginning to take note as it cracks down on oversight, specifically within industries, such as healthcare and finance, which deal with large amounts of highly sensitive data.

For more information on Maximum Graphics and SOC 2 compliance, please email