AccuLink and ColorLogic featured in InfoTrends 2014 Greeting Card Review
AccuLink and ColorLogic featured in InfoTrends 2014 Greeting Card Review
The Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA) selected Acculink as the Grand Award winner in the Most Differentiated Product for Client of the 2014 Peak Award. The PSDA PEAK Awards program recognizes excellence in the print industry by promoting projects that display innovation, excellent quality or produce great return on investment. Visit www.psda.org to learn more about the PEAK Awards program.
A sales management consultant to the insurance and financial industries competes with national publishers by customizing his sales activity planner books with his customer’s unique training tools. Some large accounts have thousands of sales people in the field while others may have only hundreds. Many clients receive custom books in quantities as low as 10 to over 8,000. Selling planners in various editions and quantities grew to be a logistical nightmare for his small staff and limited space. Compounding the problem was an antiquated e-commerce ordering portal that was capable of recording purchases but was not integrated with the print manufacturer.
AccuLink was well acquainted with SAM having produced planners for most of the explosive growth years. Acculink and SAM approached the solution as true partners whereby AccuLink coordinated a long-term strategy that included marketing strategy, logistics and financial controls.
AccuLink provided web design, copy writing and technical support in the redesign of the SAM website. All landing pages were recreated and linked logically to ease purchasing products sold by the SAM organization. AccuLink also constructed the e-commerce “orderXpress” portal for credit card enabled purchasing of SAM planners and other offerings. Not only is this site integrated with the AccuLink printing production facility but it also monitors inventory levels and tracks all shipments from the AccuLink fulfillment center.
The sales consultant avoided a costly move to a new warehouse office complex and significantly reduced the labor, time and turmoil associated with managing over 50,000 orders per year. In addition to reducing inventories with “just in time” printing services, the client has reduced delivery time and shipping expenses by 1/2. To calculate ROI one must take into account the ability to avoid the construction of a costly warehouse addition, dedicated employees for managing highly seasonal work and disruptions to normal business activities during the fall ordering season.
Having a fully automated and integrated system handling order creation through to fulfillment has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars per year!
Want proof that a combination of multi-channel marketing and personalization works? Take a look at the campaign produced by Regency Business Solutions for Paragon Commercial Bank. Working through AccuLink, Regency developed a three-stage, multi-channel campaign to help the bank promote its residential mortgages program.
As a commercial bank, Paragon’s rates are somewhat higher than traditional banks, but not limited by government regulations. This enables it to streamline the lending process and attract a more affluent clientele willing to pay a little more for a better lending experience.
“Paragon is used to dealing with businesses and private money where they can make jumbo loans [over $430,000] without meeting certain government criteria,” says Liz Herrera, creative marketing manager for Regency Office Products / Regency ROI. “This gives its customers lots of benefits in terms of closing costs and greatly reduces the hassle factor, a big deal to busy business owners.”
For this campaign, Paragon’s goal was to gain new mortgage loans (both second homes and new purchases), as well as refinances.
After several meetings with the client, Regency ROI recommended that to reach these customers, Paragon develop a three-part variable-data direct mail campaign combined with a personalized web page (PURL) and white paper. It then worked with AccuLink as its “behind the scenes” advisor to supply the infrastructure, production, and fulfillment services to execute the project.
The variable-data mailers would emphasize the streamlined service offered by Paragon (“Quick and Easy Second Home Loans!”) and feature a PURL where the recipient could provide their email address, answer a few questions, and download a free white paper. The second and third mailings went to non-responders and “sweetened the pot” with a free give-away contest.
The bank started with a purchased list of 5,000 names. Names were selected based on specific criteria in the Raleigh metropolitan area. For the second mailing, Paragon added its current clients to the list. For the third mailing, Paragon added its stockholders.
The first mailer was a four-color 11×17 sheet that folded down to a 5 ½ x 11 (like an oversized postcard). It was wafer-sealed and opened to a three-panel brochure. To grab attention, the mailer was high-gloss, UV coated—something recipients would notice in their mailbox. To encourage them to open it, the envelope contained a bulleted list emphasizing key benefits of using a commercial bank, including 30-day loan closings and hassle-free documentation.
Once the mailer was opened, the text spoke to the specific needs of this target audience and pitched Paragon’s in-house, niche lending program specializing in executive loans. The text was personalized by the recipient’s name and included a personalized URL that used as its incentive the white paper offer.
The white paper, “Financing in Today’s Market,” was written by Herrera’s team at Regency, and talked about why it is so difficult to get loans in today’s banking environment, even for those with excellent credit and income, and how Paragon could help.
PURL questions included address and name (matching respondents to the initial list), email, phone, and place for optional comments. There was a place to indicate whether they were interested in a loan for a business, second home, home refinance, or condo.
The second mailing was an Intelimailer™, which is a proprietary form of mailer produced by AccuLink. With the Intelimailer™, the envelope and inside letter are all printed in at one time, then the letter is folded down into an envelope in a single process. As with the first mailing, the Intelimailer™ was personalized by name and included a personalized URL.
The third mailing was an invitation-style A7 envelope with full-color static brochures insert and personalized note with personalized URL. Paragon also included the chance for respondents to win a golf package or a Keurig Brewer with six-month supply of beverages.
All of the mailings were done over a three-month period. The second mailing went out four weeks after the first, and due to the very high response, the third mailing was not sent until two months later.
Paragon was able to determine ROI by matching names of respondents back to the initial lists. Other response metrics were not available because of the number of tweaks the client made to the campaign over time.
The results speak for themselves. The campaign attracted high-quality leads that turned into borrowers and exceeded the bank’s goal by over 400%. The campaign also led to numerous referrals for both its residential loan program and commercial accounts, the opening of new checking accounts and equity lines, and even stock purchases…a nice bonus to the 1,432% ROI.
“Surprisingly, a lot of the prospects skipped visiting the PURL website, instead calling or emailing directly from the mailers,” says Herrera. “The best part was most of them were highly-qualified leads and Paragon was able to approve most of the loans. This saved considerable time for the mortgage broker, who was able to focus her efforts on leads that came to fruition. She was swamped for three months. We actually delayed the second mailing to give her time to catch up.”
An additional bonus has been the increased awareness of the range of services offered by the bank. “Paragon had current customers calling, saying, ‘I’ve been a client with you for years, but I didn’t know you had a residential mortgage program,” Herrera says.
The program was so successful that Paragon requested a fourth mailing for their branch in Charlotte, for which a new list was bought and included the clients from that area. It performed the same. “ROI was based on all costs, including their cost of doing business (the interest they pay on the money loaned, handling, etc.), so the ROI would actually be much higher if just the costs of the campaign had been included,” says Herrera.
What made the program so successful? Lindsay Gray, president of AccuLink, points to three factors:
Gray also pointed to the cooperative effort between client, distributor, and print manufacturer. “Pete Redondo [director of sales at Regency] and Liz Herrera worked very hard on their end to understand from the beginning what our capabilities were both in the design aspects as well as the soft technological services,” he explains. “It really is a partnership, and distributors need to listen to their manufacturing partners (as they did) so that campaigns are executed in a timely manner. I was impressed with the Regency team both from their copywriting and design input but also in their flexibility and willingness to work with our production schedule and advice.”
What should distributors take from the success of this project? According to Gray, it’s to know your goals, know the recipient base, and plan carefully.
“When distributors call me, they often start off with the request for the price for, say, 10,000 postcards,” he says. “I respond by asking, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’ I like to use the example of being at a cocktail party. As you are milling around, would you ask every person you met the same questions? Of course not. Other than Superbowl ads, how many marketers put a single ad out there to make a sale? What’s the chance of getting someone’s attention with one mailing? This is something Regency and Paragon understood.”
Gray also points to the success of the channel chosen by Paragon to carry its message—print. “Direct mail is one of the most viewed advertising medium since you are guaranteed to get a look,” he says. “There is no other medium that provides that.”
Marketing is undergoing a significant transformation. New devices, social networks, and mobile technologies have fragmented consumer communication channels in ways that would have boggled the mind just a decade ago. The “post-PC” reality is upon us and the marketer’s challenge is to find a way to create a communication strategy that gets results without alienating the audience.
Most of the marketing commentaries we hear today discuss the terms cross media marketing and multi-channel marketing as being interchangeable. The similarity is that both use more than one type of media as part of a campaign but, they are not the same.
Multi-channel campaigns use multiple channels to reach their audience allowing recipients to choose their desired media channel in which to respond. The messages conveyed tend to be similar in all channels used. Some marketers feel that the more touches in a campaign or the more channels they use to reach their audiences the more successful the campaign will be. When used properly, multi-channel campaigns are designed to measure the effectiveness of the campaign and to identify which media channels are preferred by their individual audience members.
Once this information is gathered and analyzed the next step is to develop and deploy a cross-media marketing campaign strategy. This is different from the multi-channel campaign strategy in that it is now known what the audience will respond to and which channels the audience is tuned in to. Marketers can now create campaigns that target their individual audience members on a personalized basis so they no longer appear to be clueless as to what the audiences’ preferences are.
Cross-media campaigns provide relevant content and a call to action in the preferred media simultaneously as part of an integrated campaign. The objective is to show concern and understanding for your customer’s needs; not to show them that you have no clue what platforms, devices or methods of engagement they prefer?
Marketing is still all about building relationships, and what better way is there to build a relationship than to start a conversation? Continuing to measure response and channel preference in these on-going conversations is what cross-media is all about.
There are many studies that proclaim which media channels that audiences prefer. Be careful. This assertion is usually biased by whichever channel the originator of the study is associated with. There is really only one way to determine the best media channels and message for your audience and that is to continually test and measure this yourself. One caveat, however, preferred media can and does change over time. Don’t just set it and forget it. Continue your analytics with every campaign and adjust as necessary.
Learn your audience’s preferences and measure the impact of each channel. Your efforts will be rewarded with higher response and conversions. You will be able to determine the best touch points required to get and keep your audience engaged without exhausting them with too many of the same messages.
Part of the value of being a print distributor is being able to offer solutions to even the most difficult marketing challenges. Historically, one of these challenges has been short-run embossing. The cost of dies and press set-up has made short runs and prototyping cost-prohibitive in most cases.
A relatively new process called Scodix provides the first true digital alternative to traditional embossing by using layered UV inks. Other “digital embossing” processes (such as those offered by HP and Kodak) use clear inks with a maximum height of 50 microns. The Scodix can reach a true embossing height of 250 microns.
Although there are several Scodix installations in the United States, the only provider of Scodix to the trade is AccuLink, which has trademarked its process 3dUV™. The process creates a multi-dimensional effect by allowing the designer to assign a fifth color in the design. The higher the desired effect, the higher percentage assigned. For maximum height, the designer can assign the layer a level of 100%. For a more subtle effect, he or she can use 5% to 35%.
“In addition to greater height, higher levels of UV treatments will give you a sharper, glossier effect, while lower levels will create something that look more like a matte background,” explains Lindsay Gray, Vice President of AccuLink. “In that regard, you can simulate blind embossing and even foil stamping to some degree since the clear UV will pick up the colors underneath it.”
Rachel Doyle, Art Director for AccuLink, notes that higher levels of 3dUV™ treatments can be used to create unusual and highly tactile effects such as textures and water effects, “while lower levels can add depth to backgrounds when used in conjunction with the higher, glossier levels in the foreground,” she says.
When is Scodix/3dUV™ the better choice for a marketer’s project? There are a variety of factors to consider. If the marketer is trying to replicate blind embossing, they will want to go with blind embossing. But digital embossing offers effects not possible with any other process. It can also create cost efficiencies for short-run projects not possible in a traditional environment.
“You might be talking to an executive who says, ‘I want an impressive business card. What I have in mind is a full-color logo, blind embossed, and I want it glossy. I want a matte card stock, but I want to blind emboss the logo, and I want to hit it with a gloss foil so it really pops,’” says Gray. “Blind embossing, foil stamping, and printing are all different press operations, which creates three possibilities for getting out of register. Plus the client has the cost of the dies for the blind emboss and the foil stamping. At the end of the day, you’ve spent $300 – $500 getting the job set up. We can simulate all of these process with a single 3dUV treatment.”
Digital embossing also creates visual effects not possible with traditional embossing. This is because it is able to combine the raised texture of embossing with the high gloss of UV inks. For one client, AccuLink printed a black background on a white sheet, with a variety of colorful images knocked out. The sheet was then laminated, giving it a soft matte effect. Using 3dUV™, AccuLink applied digital embossing on top, making the colors underneath really pop. The contrast of the high-gloss, “embossed” images over the soft matte below was powerful.
Where digital embossing also pays dividends is when you have different versions or sizes. Once the job is designed, you can do resizing quickly without remaking the dies. The same logos designed for 3dUV can be used for business cards, direct mail, presentation folders, point-of-purchase, or any other print project.
“The versatility to revise on the fly has really opened up more possibilities for me as a designer,” says Doyle. “I can rework the UV levels and test them to see how to get the best effects out of a piece in a few minutes.”
Short Runs and Prototyping Digital embossing can also be used to maintain a consistent look and feel when end users want to go from high volume production to JIT production.
“Imagine a Steven King novel at B&N,” Gray explains. “You buy a book and it’s got a dagger with blood dripping off the tip of it. It’s blind embossed, foil stamped, and has that really nice, interesting tactile feel. But what if you wanted to print it on demand? Have zero inventory? Or if you want 250 of them at a time? Perhaps it’s a new book and you don’t know whether it will sell well or not. With 3dUV™, it’s less expensive and quicker to take to market. We can have a finished product the same day you finish the design.”
Another advantage of digital embossing is the ability to create prototypes the same day, overnight them, and test concepts. AccuLink recently produced a postcard for an optometrist. On the front of the card was a set of eyeballs. On the iris of each eye, the customer used 3dUV™ to make the iris pop in relief—sharp and glossy.
“In my initial consultation with the client, I suggested doing a 10% UV layer because the client indicated the UV would occupy large areas, and this can some times dimple when using 100% UV,” says Doyle. “So initially, the artist had used a 10% layer based on the original specs. Once the sample was printed, however, it was clear that this resulted in an effect that was too subtle. (In this case, it was hardly noticeable.) So when we received the file and saw that the areas were varied and small enough that high levels would hold without issues, we substituted with 100% UV as a test. It absolutely popped.”
The client wanted samples before printing 20,000 postcards, so AccuLink printed one of each—the eye with 10% UV and 100% UV—and FedExed them out the next day. The client took the 100% UV.
Packaging prototypes is another great use for 3dUV™, especially for high-end products. Say the end user is creating a new liquor or wine bottle in a special box. They want to have that image of the logo and the wine everything really jump out. Or they might want to play around with half a dozen different designs and see a physical product. “In the past, this workflow was very expensive. It could be thousands of dollars and take weeks. With 3dUV™, we can get it to market very quickly and inexpensively,” says Gray.
AccuLink has kept its 3dUV™ press busy. It has produced hundreds of thousands of postcards, business cards, invitations, and announcements.
One client with measurable ROI thanks to 3dUV™ is the Cleveland Browns. Midway through the football season, the team still had $100,000 skybox seats available. They produced a three-panel, double-fold A7 piece with a personalized football appearing to come out of the darkness. The grain and the tread on the football were printed using the digital embossed effect.
“You could actually feel the grain of the football,” says Gray. “On the football was the person’s name, signed, as if it were their signature on it. You opened it, and the interior panels were personalized and included unique micro-sites (personalized URLs), where they could register to attend one of three games, where they were wined and dined and sold on the remaining skyboxes. We mailed about 2,000 of them. We only produced one mailing and the sky boxes sold out. It was very successful.”
But digital embossing projects don’t have to be this flashy to be successful. One client in the tire industry created highly memorable business card by using 3dUV to create raised tire treads on one side of the card.
Another great use for 3dUV™ is to add braille to print projects. Traditionally, the only way you could create the braille image was to blind emboss, but this creates a debossed hole in the back of the piece. For projects like business cards, this can be a real drawback. Because the maximum height for Scodix/3dUV™ digital embossing is 250 microns, which is braille height, this resolves this problem entirely.
Digital embossing can also be applied variably. AccuLink recently produced a tradeshow postcard invite in which the image on the front was a basketball. It applied a 3dUV treatment so that the recipient could feel the roughness and texture of the ball. The recipient’s name was variably printed in raised text. “You could not do that any other method,” says Gray.
In selling these pieces, Gray says, it’s important to focus on marketing goals and the “wow” factor before broaching the issue of price. “Don’t take my sample and run into someone’s office and say, isn’t this cool?” Gray explains. “They’ll agree, then say, ‘How much does this cost?’ As soon as you get those words coming out of someone’s mouth, you’ve just devalued the conversation.”
For example, AccuLink is producing another sports-related project for a local university that wants unique football media guides to celebrate its 50th anniversary. This is a special edition, so AccuLink enhanced the covers of the guides with the school’s logo and other ornamentation. “[The department of] sports marketing wants to show the reader that this publication is special, that it deserves their attention, and this isn’t just another printed piece,” says Gray.
That’s why Gray encourages distributors not to look at 3D UV as a printed process. “It needs to be sold as a promotional item—a promotional tool with ROI,” he says.
In complement to its 3dUV™ process, AccuLink recently installed an Indigo 10000, a 20.5”-29.5” digital cut sheet press. Because the Scodix 3dUV™ is 20”x28” format, this allows AccuLink to broaden its range of digital embossing projects, such as presentation folders, that can be produced in-house.
“We are the only company in the United States that has both the imaging ability and the Scodix ability that is 20”x28” under the same roof,” says Gray. “Before, blind embossing a presentation folder would have taken a week or two of additional time. Now we can do both in the same day.”
In the end, the value of the digital embossing process is maximum impact: unique visual appearance, high-gloss, significant height and tactile sensation. But you have to be thoughtful about how you approach the sale.
“What’s the value of the ‘wow’ factor? The visual appearance? The value of tactile sensation?” Gray concludes. “Research has shown adding the sense of touch increases memory retention by a factor of 10. Also, you can look at whether the project is a one-off or a repeat where you can amortize the upfront design costs over time. Just like any other high-value print these days, the more strategically you approach a 3dUV project, the more value it brings.”
Direct Mail is not going away any time soon, but there is no question that it is changing. Over the next several years, we can expect that direct mail will allow us to greatly increase the connections we build today. We will engage our audiences in ways we never realized.
Our focus on changes in the industry is usually based on what the market is asking for. Henry Ford once said as he was building his first automobile, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” He didn’t see any faster horses in his crystal ball.
There’s one thing you can count on in our industry; the pace of change will only accelerate faster from here. The direct mail industry is undergoing constant change; you can bet that industry mail leaders will continue to avail themselves with every available tool to deliver the most dynamic, most welcome, and most personal communications possible.
That said, when I look into my crystal ball, here’s what I see:
In conclusion, some of you will view the next few years as a time of challenges and frustrations. Others will see innovation, growth and higher profitability.
So the question is: What’s in your crystal ball?
Digital press offers extensive high-quality print options and flexibility for an expanded range of high-value commercial applications
PALO ALTO, Calif – HP today announced that AccuLink, a Greenville, NC-based trade printer, completed installation of the 29-inch wide HP Indigo 10000 Digital Press to open new market opportunities.
Operating since 1980, AccuLink has developed strong partnerships with fellow commercial printers, resellers and distributors, and investing in new technology is key to the company’s success as well as continued growth.
“We chose HP because they offer hands-down, quality digital presses,” said Lindsay Gray, partner, AccuLink. “The HP Indigo 10000 is the only press that provides high-imposition efficiency in one, two or multi-color mode to yield nearly three times the production per hour. We’re also able to print jobs digitally that simply could not be done before because of the new large format”
New Revenue Opportunities
The B2-format available on the HP Indigo 10000 Digital Press enables AccuLink to expand its range of applications, including packaging, new sizes of prints, newsletters and specialty projects, to take advantage of new revenue streams.
With the HP Indigo Digital Presses and its diverse set of finishing equipment, AccuLink can offer its customers high value services ranging from traditional bindery services, statement rendering, direct mail, foil stamping and intelligent inserting to different finishing techniques. In addition, AccuLink added the 3dUV™ Scodix Digital Embossing system to offer customers a textured, multi-dimensional printed communications experience with a raised-print effect of up to 250 microns, which is the level Braille readers use. This technique captures users’ attention when they see and feel the digitally printed, textured images on documents or packaging.
For comprehensive direct marketing campaigns, AccuLink also offers Intelimailer™, a unique and flexible way to offer cross media marketing campaigns with full color personalized letter packages, personalized URLs (PURLs), custom landing pages, QR codes and mobile messaging – all printed from HP Indigo Digital Presses. These services add real value to short print runs as a result of such personalized enhancements.
The scalable HP SmartStream Production Pro print server was upgraded to provide increased raster image processing (RIP) power and job routing flexibility while delivering accurate soft proofs and production run lengths for Acculink’s HP Indigo 10000 and 7600 Digital Presses. Acculink produces a wide range of traditional direct mailers, bills and statements, 3dUV™ Scodix Intelimailer™ pieces, and more on their HP Indigo Digital Presses
“We receive incredible demand for our existing HP Indigo digital presses that we keep them running at full capacity. We have no doubt that the HP Indigo 10000 will exceed our expectations with the communications solutions planned for the press,” said Gray.
The HP Indigo 10000 Digital Press received the 2013 InterTech™ Technology Award in recognition as a truly innovative print solution. The press will be demonstrated in the HP Booth #1241 at PRINT 13 in Chicago.
If you manage or work in a busy marketing department you likely know these scenarios.
So how did things get so out of control? Thankfully there is a solution to gain back control of your time and your corporate identity. OrderXpress™ a web-based ordering solution will address these scenarios for branding control and more. So how does it work? The web portal is how those you authorize will procure your company’s marketing materials. It will contain products you authorize and templates that can be edited only as you have specified.
Product access is controlled by you. Some users are only able to get access to certain products while others are allowed to use more or all. You control who can order what and how much customization they can have. You control which trusted vendors will produce which products. Branding control is maintained throughout effortlessly with OrderXpress™.
You are removed from the proofing process because proofs happen in real-time on the site based on your template rules. Order history is maintained in the system allowing you to track usage and see trends. Does this sound like a tool that can put you in control of your company’s brand?
If you are looking for solutions to regain control of your brand and free up your design resources feel free to contact me any time for advice or to discuss your specific challenges.