Once your direct mail campaign is planned and designed, there are still a whole host of decisions you can make to impact on cost effectiveness. From the print to the paper and postage, each small choice you make can add up, so we’re here to help you consider what’s best for your campaign.
Once your design is ready, one of three common printing processes is usually used for producing your artwork. Once again these can vary in cost and are suited to different types of project.
Print runs of over 1,000 copies are well suited to this popular printing process. The ink is transferred from plates which are made from the artwork you provide. The four colour process is used, creating the colour spectrum required from cyan, magenta, yellow and black.
With this process, print is produced directly from a design file rather than using plates. This makes every copy the same price, and is effective for smaller print runs. However, as more copies are printed using the offset lithography method, the cost per copy comes down. This means that when you hit certain numbers, one method becomes more cost effective than the other. As a guide, under 1,000 copies may be cheaper to produce with digital printing methods.
Web Off-Set Printing
This printing method is best suited to print runs in excess of 100,000 copies, so it’s worth looking in to if you’re working on a large scale project.
Cost Effective Paper Choices
When it comes to paper, there are plenty of aspects to consider before you book a print job. Once again, the decisions you make will impact on the price, feel and appearance of your finished direct mail piece. Make sure you’re aware of the following options, and discuss them with your chosen printer, requesting paper samples to help you choose if necessary.
Most direct material is printed on either gloss or matte paper. There are price and performance differences between the two, so it’s good to understand the key points of each paper type.
- Usually the cheapest option
- Provides a shiny look
- Helps colours to look vibrant
- Can pick up smudges, dust & finger-marks
- Often a slightly more expensive option
- Muted, can provide a luxury feel
- More resistant to fingerprints and smudges
If you’re trying to make your budget work as hard as possible, gloss paper might just offer everything you need for a suitable price. However, committing a little more budget for matte paper might help your project to stand out or create the appearance you’re looking for.
Paper Weight (Thickness)
As well as choosing the paper finish, you’ll also have to consider the weight or thickness that’s right for your project. In the UK, you’ll usually see paper described as a certain number gsm or ‘grams per square metre’. Keeping in mind that standard office paper is usually around 100gsm, you’ll probably want something heavier than that for a brochure or leaflet, whilst 100gsm might be just what you need for a direct mail letter campaign.
Paper weight is a really important decision, as it affects the way your finished item feels. Balancing a printed product that feels good quality with your budget constraints can be a tricky job. This useful article about the art of choosing the right paper provides some really helpful advice, as well as including some questions to ask yourself about your project to help you choose the paper that’s right for your campaign. This guide to paper weights for print brochures is also really helpful if you’re just getting used to what’s what in the paper world.
Whilst thinking about the cost effectiveness of your campaign and the feel of your product, you also need to weigh up the appearance. Whilst you might be happy with the cost and the feeling of a lighter paper weight, you want to be sure that your design won’t be spoilt by show-through. This is a problem that can happen when you select a paper that’s too thin for design elements; essentially larger blocks of dark colour can be seen through the page, which disrupts or sometimes obscures lighter areas on the other side of the paper. It’s best avoided by choosing a thicker paper.
Saving Your Budget With Paper Combinations
Don’t forget, if you’re mailing a brochure or leaflet, a paper combination could help you manage your budget. For example, a lightweight paper might be cost effective for inner pages, coupled with a higher gsm paper cover which lends a more robust feel to the overall piece as well as protecting it from tears and damage.
As well as the finish and weight of the paper, you will also need to consider where it comes from. Opting to use recycled paper isn’t only a smart choice for the environment, it can improve the way your recipients view your company too.
Many printers now have an individual FSC certification number to demonstrate that the paper they use is from sustainable sources, and their FSC logo can be included on your printed material. To encourage sustainable mail, postage discounts can be obtained when certain criteria are met, so it’s well worth considering the environment as the right choices can reduce your costs as well as the impact your project has on the environment.
Addressing and Data
Don’t forget to think ahead and consider where the recipient’s address and any relevant postage details will go. Once again, your needs will vary based on the direct mail format you selected, something we discussed in our previous blog post.
For example, building an address panel into a leaflet or brochure design that’s printed on robust paper can remove the need for poly-wrapping and adding separate address slips. These additional items would all add to the cost, so removing the need for them can help to make sure your campaign is as cost effective as possible.
Data cleansing can also play an important part in keeping your spend down. Although you need to pay for data cleansing services, knowing your data is up to date helps you to avoid wasting your budget on sending your campaign to incorrect, incomplete or irrelevant addresses.
Getting the right postage deal for your direct mail campaign can help you to make savings across the whole campaign. Here at Citipost Mail we’re experts in providing a smooth, professional and cost-effective solution to your needs. Depending on the volume of your mailing, different services can work out as a more cost effective solution for you.
We offer both sorted mail and unsorted mail services, providing the most cost effective solution for the size of your mailing and can also offer additional discounts for either Advertising Mail, Responsible Mail and also for machinable ready mail pieces. Additional discounts can be gained by complying to Mailmark or OCR criteria, so it’s well worth being aware of these criteria if you’re looking to make the most of your budget.
As an example if you are concerned about the environment and are producing your mail piece in an environmentally friendly manner, why not check if it complies to Responsible Mail potage discounts to save money on the postage whilst also supporting the environmental concerns around the use of paper. Check out our Advertising and Responsible Mail Quick Checklist – v1.0 on our website here.
Likewise, additional savings can be made on postage by utilising some machinable mail tariffs such as Mailmark and OCR, however its worth bearing in mind that these discounts can only be applied based on compliance to the Royal Mail guidelines for Mailmark and OCR. These guidelines include restrictions to the artwork on the outers, to allow for clearzones and adequate reading of either the barcode (for Mailmark) or the address zone itself (for OCR) accordingly. If you’re not sure about tackling this yourself, our expert consultants at Citipost Mail would be happy to discuss your next mailing to advise on the possibility to utilise any of these services to gain additional postal discounts, making your postage as cost effective as possible.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the weight of your direct mailer. Even if your mail piece is C5 in size, fitting neatly into the cost effective letter format, if it weighs over the 100g mark it will tip the mail piece into the threshold of a Large Letter. This means there will be additional postal costs so often Direct Mailers sending a C5 sized direct mail piece attempt to stay within this 100g threshold to reduce the overall postage cost.
When you’re planning a direct mail campaign, you can make decisions that save or splurge at every step of the way. The key to cost effectiveness is being aware of the finer details, saving where you can and spending where it really matters.
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