Franklin Forum Roundup: 14 Print Material Prep Tips
Recipients "triage" their mail, setting aside certain pieces to open before others. So the goal, according to Tempa Berish, owner of Philadelphia-based printing, direct-mail and fulfillment company Chelsea Partners, is to make sure your mailpieces stand out.
"If you're going to take the time and money to send a piece, make sure that the messaging is something that that person can relate to and is interested in," she advised in a session at the Franklin Forum, sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Philadelphia Chapter, in Philadelphia in late April.
Her tips for preparing print materials for direct-mail campaigns:
- Check with the post office or your mailhouse on postal rates and design restrictions before preparing your artwork. Be aware of U.S. Postal Service clear-zone and design restrictions to avoid mailing penalties.
- Know the potential weight of your final assembled piece before settling on a design. Heavier paper can increase postage rates.
- Ask your mailhouse about different paper and envelope options. "Slight changes in brand, flap size or stock can make a big difference in savings," Berish said. "Minor changes in paper color or outer envelope size can increase open rate (e.g., blue or yellow outer envelope, No. 11 or No. 12 size)."
- Have more than one person proofread for content accuracy and typos.
- Finish designing the mailpiece and making all edits and changes before typesetting to avoid fees that can result from frequent changes.
- Create the artwork with InDesign or Quark, as Publisher or Illustrator files increase costs with commercial printing.
- You are oversegmenting if the increase in minimum charges per segment outweighs the benefit of additional personalization.
- Create a mail calendar to make sure your campaign flows smoothly and arrives in homes at the right time for the lowest cost. "Avoid First Class except for appeals during heavy mailing seasons," Berish said.
- Make sure your data is clean.
- Your organization still gets charged for postage on Business Reply Mail envelopes that donors place a stamp on (in response to a "Your stamp here increases your gift" plea) unless you physically take the stamped envelopes to the post office and ask for a refund.
- Prepopulate phone number and e-mail information on reply slips, and prompt donors to make any necessary corrections.
- Always include a "No Premium" option on reply devices, when applicable.
- Some organizations send a brochure or reply card without a letter. While Berish said that's OK, organizations should be sure to communicate to donors by letter at least once throughout the year because people like the personal touch of a letter.
- Organizations should be aware that everything they print will print darker than it appears on screen. The type of paper chosen affects how colors render, as well; recycled paper, for example, is more absorbent.
Berish cautioned organizations not to let fear drive their thinking during this tough economic time. Ramp up donor acquisition, and institute a prompt thank-you letter to those who do give that informs them of what their dollars helped achieve and doesn't include another ask.