Finishing: The Difference Between Good and Great

Marketing specialists are not short on tips for boosting direct mail response rates: effective copywriting, targeted marketing, data mining, good list management, and so on. While these are crucial elements to any marketing campaign, don’t overlook the physical aspects of the printed piece itself.

One especially underutilized technique is the creative use of postpress or finishing options to add decorative enhancements to a printed piece. Let’s look at a few.

At minimum, you should consider the value of varnishes or coatings. These can be applied either during or after printing. They are used to protect or add gloss and sheen to make a printed piece “pop.”

  • Spot varnish can be added to certain portions of a printed piece, such as a particular image or bit of text, accenting those areas and providing contrast.
  • Aqueous coatings are water-based and more environmentally friendly than other varnishes and coatings. They can also be more expensive.
  • UV coatings add greater levels of sheen and protection than varnishes or aqueous coatings.

Varnishes and coatings are also available in a range of gloss levels.

More elaborate finishing techniques can make your printed piece even more eye-catching. Embossing, for example, uses dies to create raised (or “relief”) areas that make images or text literally pop out. Debossing creates depressed portions of a printed piece. Foils and specialty inks can be added to embossed regions to add even more special effects. Foil stamping applies metallic foils like gold or silver to the substrate, also going a long way toward highlighting text and images.

Just as you would rarely make a cake without considering icing and other decorative touches, so too shouldn’t you think of creating a printed product without considering the available finishing options. We can help you decide on the best options for your specific job.

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Writing a Better Sales Letter

You know your business offers first-class products and services, but how do you convince existing and prospective customers of that? When it comes to communicating your sales proposition, an effective sales letter is one of your best resources.

Here are some tips for turning your letter from good to great:

“What’s in it for me?” Recipients must be able to immediately recognize what specific benefits they will get by taking the actions instructed in your letter. Be specific and to the point. Focus on the recipients, not you or your company.

Establish credibility and trust. Back up your claims. Customer testimonials, success stories, and bulleted points are highly effective ways to achieve this.

Maximize visual impact. The use of colors and even shapes can help make your letter stand out from the numerous other pieces of mail your audience receives.

Warm it up. Ditch the stiff business jargon. Your letter should read like a personable, one-on-one conversation with the person reading it.

Build relationships. You want to sell products, but offer recipients meaningful information first. Communication based on value, not a hard sell, often leads to long-term sales relationships.

Call to action. At the end of the letter, tell recipients what you want them to do. Make a phone call? Sign up for a seminar? Prompt them to action. Making a time-sensitive offer will often increase response rates.

“P.S.” Read me! One of the most often read parts of a letter is the P.S. This is an excellent opportunity to reinforce your offer and increase your response rate.

Whether you’re sending out a mass mailing or just a single letter, measure your results after the letter goes out. Make small changes with each mailing you send, such as altering the call to action, the P.S., using case studies versus bulleted points, and so on. See how this affects results.

Happy mailing!