Stand and deliver
“One final consideration is that printers may have become used to a certain build quality and durability on their existing print and finishing equipment which they would also expect on any new mailing kit,” says Steve Jarvis of KAS Paper Systems. Pictured: the KAS Mailmaster Compact C4
It is no secret that print has been through some tough times in recent years, with some sectors citing the emergence of new digital technologies as the death of the media. However, to quote the great Mark Twain, the “reports of my [print’s] death have been greatly exaggerated” and print media is making somewhat of a comeback—with some sectors proving more successful than others.
One of the more stand-out markets is mailing, and in particular direct mail, with brands turning back to the tried and tested method after having less success with over-saturated mediums such as e-shot marketing. This trend is one that has not gone unnoticed and many companies have moved into the production of direct mail in recent times.
But what about the process in-between production and the end user reading the material, the actual delivery of this direct mail? How can print companies bring mailing in-house to ensure that they are making the most of one of the most exciting trends in recent print history?
One company that can help with this predicament is the aptly named Addressing and Mailing Solutions (AMS), which is based in Hoddesdon, not too far outside of London. Victoria Christen, marketing manager, picks up on the rising demand for direct mail and says AMS can provide solutions that offer real return on investment for users.
The Challenger Economy mail folder inserter system from AMS offers output speeds of up to 6,000 envelopes per hour
“Postal direct mail continues to be more and more relevant to the way businesses communicate today, especially in multi-channel campaigns,” Christen says, adding: “Mail is physical, it has authority, it’s emotionally engaging and ultimately it delivers the most important benefit of all, driving consumers to take action which creates value.
Postal direct mail continues to be more and more relevant to the way businesses communicate today, especially in multi-channel campaigns”
“Where cost and quality have historically been key issues for printers to invest in mailing kits, AMS’ increasing range of equipment and software has made personalised mailings, variable data printing and printing postage paid impressions straight forward to produce and more secure. This ultimately saves users time and money, resulting in improved return on investment.
“The quality of print for PPIs (postage paid impressions) such as the Royal Mail’s Mailmark barcode and new digital stamp indicia is so important as they need to be machine readable. Low quality print is not accepted. Also with better quality technology, there are less breakdowns and call out charges.”
Christen leads straight on from this to pick out some of the options on offer from AMS—a range that includes envelope printers, folding and inserting machines, as well as polywrapping systems.
“Each can add speed, enhance performance and add a professional appearance to mail. For printers looking to expand into mailing, investing in an entry-level mail folder inserter and envelope printer is a great start,” Christen says, highlighting the firm’s M1 envelope printer as one of its more popular products, saying that it uses new colour print technology to meet increasing personalisation demands at high quality and low cost.
AMS highlights the Astrojet M1 envelope printer as one of its most popular machines
Christen adds: “AMS offer expert advice and can provide bespoke solutions to suit users mailing needs; formed over 20 years ago, we have a strong customer service commitment and their quick and efficient nationwide support team are always on hand to answer any queries.”
Also well placed to help in this sector is KAS Paper Systems, which stocks a host of solutions designed to strengthen the mailing process. Steve Jarvis, UK sales manager, says although the demand for direct mail is present in the market, he warns companies considering bringing such processes in-house that a lot will be expected of them and they should ensure they are up to the task.
Jarvis expands: “Printers that are thinking of entering the mailing market should bear in mind that a large proportion of mailings are very time critical and have to be sent out on a particular day. This can be where the end client has planned a mailing campaign to coincide with a new product launch, at the start of a sporting event or school term or in the run up to Christmas, for example.
“In order to ensure that mailing deadlines are met, it is crucial to invest in mailing kit which offers reliability and also ease of operation so that multiple operators can run the machine.
“Another factor to consider is that the type of mailings can vary as regards the size of the envelope to be enclosed and mailed and also in terms of the types of inserts to be enclosed. The ability to feed and insert a wide range of documents such as folded and stitched items as well as gloss-coated stock should also be weighed up so that a complete added-value service can be offered.
Available from KAS Paper Systems, the Mailmaster Eclipse boasts speeds of up to 8,000 C4/C5/DL envelopes per hour
“One final consideration is that printers may have become used to a certain build quality and durability on their existing print and finishing equipment which they would also expect on any new mailing kit. This ties in with the first point in terms of the reliability of the machinery, needed to ensure mailing deadlines can be met.”
However, despite these warnings, Jarvis says that KAS is able to supply printing companies with the solutions they need to make a success of themselves in the mailing market. For those that are new to the market, he suggests the entry-level Mailmaster Compact, which can fold and insert a letter with up to two inserts into DL, C5, or C4 at 5,000 envelopes per hour.
Also available from KAS is the C5/DL Mailmaster 565HS, as well as its big sister, the C4/C5/DL Mailmaster 465HS. Both machines are entirely bespoke and offer a multiple sheet, letter feeder/collator/folder with barcode reading, a number of insert feeders, inkjet addressing, and document tracking at 7,200 and 5,000 envelopes per hour, respectively.
At the top of the range, the Mailmaster Eclipse boasts the same features as the other models, as well as speeds of 8,000 C4/C5/DL envelopes per hour. KAS also has a polywrapping solution in the form of the Mailwrap, which is a step up from the manual drop-in polybagger, without going straight to the large, high speed polywrappers. The Mailwrap encloses at 6,000 packs per hour.
Deliver on time
Another company to have picked up on the increasing demand for direct mail and similar products is Intec Printing Solutions. Kerry Button, director of international sales, says in a demanding market such as this, going cheap is “not an option”, as skimping on technology quality could lead to issues in the long run.
Button explains: “You need to deliver on time, every time to retain your valued customers and the last thing you need is constant issues with your equipment and technology. When buying think good value not the cheapest, look at the level of support you will get from the supplier, check out some existing users for nonbiased feedback. And, yes, push for a good price, but remember the perfect purchase or sale has to be a win-win for all parties concerned.
The power of direct mail was proven by The Print Show, which sent out variable data and litho printed personal invitations to all its pre-registered visitors for the event
“Short run direct mail is a growth area due to the saturation and poor response rates from social media alone. Highly targeted, attention grabbing direct mail initiates a response and that is what businesses desire.
“By investing in the right mailing technology a commercial printer can open up new revenue streams by offering additional services to existing customers and exciting opportunities to gain new customers. You can “put a toe in the water” by exploring the opportunities of offering a short run digital print service for envelopes, this can
then develop into a full service direct mail operation bringing additional valuable profits. Take time to look at what your existing customers would benefit from and do your research into what kit will best suit your needs.”
With this in mind, Button highlights the two digital envelope printing systems on offer from Intec, both of which are designed for short to medium run work. The CS4600 and 5600 models can both print up to 3,500 DL envelopes an hour, with the latter of the two devices also offering spot colour printing of white and UV clear toner, which Button says, “opens up a whole new world of design opportunities creating the most exciting and attention grabbing graphics.”
O Factoid: Intec’s CS4600 and 5600 digital envelope printing systems can print up to 3,500 DL envelopes an hour. O
She adds: “Unlike most systems in this sector the Intec solutions can print on one of the widest range of digitally approved envelopes and come with a range of embedded high speed profiles making the process simple for any operator. Using the optional Fiery XF controller specially developed for the Intec ColorSplash range you have total control over job and colour processing.”
While demand for direct mail and similar sorts of media may be on the rise, the message from manufacturers and suppliers seems to be that, yes, there is work on offer, but you have to ensure that you are able to offer quality services in what is a highly demanding sector. Investment in quality solutions, such as some of those listed here, will help you in your quest, but it is ultimately down to you and your staff to ensure that you use this technology to its fullest to satisfy customer demand.
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