New Technology For Printing Promos; Full Service Companies Help Meet Your Needs Page 2

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SB: Moving into future trends, how do you feel about today's trend for e-mail marketing?

FH: E-mail marketing is a hot topic and we consider it a perfect complement to print direct-mail marketing. This creates what is called multi-channel marketing--the new technology buzzword for promotion--and this means reaching the same customer base in a variety of ways. Why not do both? Together they can increase response rate.

SB: What is available in the new technology for the promo printing?

FH: Look for leading-edge printing technology such as 100 percent digital workflow, 240-line screen printing, paper stock specifically designed for the intended use (postcards for example), information on setting up color management files, and direct-mail marketing information. It involves more than just printing.

SB: Let's ask another photographer, Shanenon Starrett (www.S2Photo.com), about his search for and working with firms that can do more than just print the cards.

Shanenon Starrett: The biggest obstacles for me were first, finding the right direct-mail company. It isn't as easy as typing those two words into a Google search. Most print shops that have storefronts and websites all say they specialize in direct mail, but they don't. As a photographer, the quality, working with large mailing lists, price, and turnaround time really narrows the competition down to companies that specialize in doing direct mail for creative professionals.

Second, when it comes to designing a promotional campaign of postcards the biggest obstacle for me was designing around postal regulations. Another obstacle was being able to know exactly what the promo piece will look and feel like when it's printed. Getting examples was helpful from picking the right paper stock to the right print size for the campaign.

The third obstacle in the printing process was learning how to get correct color. As photographers, nine times out of 10 we're showing promos that have images on them where color and contrast is critical. Getting the right offset printing profile to apply to your images and trusting in a company to keep their end of the bargain consistent is absolutely key.

All of these obstacles become much more apparent when you are on a deadline to get your promo pieces off of your computer and into the mailboxes of the photo editors and ad agency personnel that need to see it. Also, aside from shopping for, designing, and printing the campaign is the compiling and formatting of the large lists of creative professionals you are mailing to. Your direct-mail company needs to be able to handle large lists and work with the multiple file formats they come in.

SB: Fred, what are some emerging direct marketing technologies that photographers should explore?

FH: The most important technology for tomorrow available today is Variable Data Printing (VDP). This is now a viable technology for our postcard printing customers. What this means is that a photographer can customize each postcard: the photos, the content, and the offer--all within the same print run. Say you are printing 1000 cards. Every one could be different or you could break that up into any number of "batches" based on predetermined variables.

Depending on the market they are targeting, a photographer can utilize VDP to send out a postcard with a specific image to target a particular audience based on demographic, psychographic, or transactional data. For example, within a single print run a photographer utilizing VDP can target families, students, youth athletes, and weddings with imagery and content specific and appropriate to each prospect.

SB: What do you think has stopped photographers from embracing this new technology?

FH: It took a while for digital printing to approach the quality of offset printing and VDP requires digital printing. We are there now. Then, the photographer needed affordable control over the software for creating digital files with the VDP component included. Photographers are there now. The true value is not really the new technology; it is in being able to target your print promotions on a one-to-one effective basis that is also affordable.

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