Quality Control, Your life depends on it!

quality control paperwork at CSG direct mailQuality Control is the process in which the details and consistency of a job are reviewed before the job is advanced to the next stage of protocol. QC includes the job’s artwork and its data.

Both steps are crucial when preparing a print job. For instance, you may have the correct amounts in the data, but it may be mapped to the wrong version of artwork. The job could be going presorted first class mailing, but the barcode reads standard mailing.

These are two of many possible examples of errors that can lead to costly mistakes. One mistake is all a job needs to go horribly awry! That one mistake could cost you thousands of dollars or even your client altogether. This guide is here to help you prevent such mistakes from happening.

Preemptive Measures
Q: What is the first step in preventing a mistake from happening?

A: Having all the proper details written where everyone who handles the job can read them. This means writing up the proper instructions for everything: art, data, postage, assembly, etc. By gathering all the job details at once before the job begins, it will help insure the customer has full knowledge of the outcome of their project and what it requires; therefore lessening the likeliness that there will be changes. Remember, every time you go back and change something in a job that’s already begun, the odds of errors greatly increase! After being in this business for 7 years, I can’t stress that enough.

Proofing
Due to its very nature, variable printing can contain many details to keep an eye on. For example, one mailer alone can have variable dates, freeplay amounts, hotel offers, account numbers, addresses, disclaimers, and varying graphic fields. I think you get the picture. That’s a lot of fields to keep in line.

Steps to proofing a job before sending it out for customer sign-off:

1. Know the variables and all aspects involved in that particular job.
a. Dates, amounts, disclaimers, address fields, snipes, graphic fields, etc.

2. How many versions are there? Are there multiple versions being run as one? Proof each and every version!

3. Mailing Class? Presorted standard, Full rate first class? What is your mailer being run as? Are there multiple versions being run as different postal rates?

4. Check the proofs against the original start data. For example, on the proofs it says John Smith Account# 40456 is getting $5,000 in freeplay. Wait! That’s a lot of money to just be giving away. Now going back to the start data you may find out that John Smith Account# 40456 is only supposed to get $500 in freeplay. Try explaining that mistake to your customer. So, when comparing the proofs to the start data look for these things:

a. Name and address. Is John Smith at 123 Liberty Lane on the proof as well as in the start data?
b. Any type of offers that may be included in the start data, such as: Amounts, dates, hotels offers, disclaimers, locality (This is where knowing all the variables in data really comes in handy).
c. Version: The proof says John Smith is getting “version A” does the start data reflect that?
d. Double check if there are “bi-weekly” or “semi-monthly” type offers. It would be a shame if John Smith got $100 every day when he was supposed to get $100 every other week!

5. Is the mailer size the proper dimensions? Does it go in an envelope or is it folded down to proper size? Ultimately, does the final product reflect the instructions given by the customer AND what is written up in the instructions for the job?

6. Color. Do the colors match those of the original artwork? (You may have to consult with a graphic designer on this.)

7. Spelling and grammar mistakes! Proofread every single word and sentence!

Comparing the final product to the start files is one of the most efficient ways to ensure you will be providing your customer with proper proofs. Many times customers will not fully understand the magnitude of the seemingly miniscule details involved in digital variable printing, thus overlooking small (but huge!) mistakes. This is why it is crucial that we catch these errors before we send proofs to our clients.

Address Block Sign-offThis is it. This is your last chance to change or fix the job before all five thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand (!) pieces are printed and money is thrown away because nobody checked a silly little thing like class, barcode, quantity, etc.

Things to check before signing off on the address block:

1. Class. For each version that you sign off on.

2. Barcode. Does it scan? If so, make sure the barcode reflects the class and work order.

3. Address. Make sure all the proper fields are there, such as: First Name, Last Name, Company, Address 1, Address 2, City, State, Zip Code, Country, etc.

4. Once again I recommend going back and comparing the given record(s) with the start data.

5. Check the postal paperwork. Does the postal paperwork and tray tags reflect the information in the job instructions?

6. Color, size, paper – make sure all of these are correct.

In closing, I must stress that communication between the sales rep and the customer is the most essential part to ensuring a smooth process that will lead to a successful marketing campaign. Furthermore, this communication must be transcribed orderly and properly into the job’s instructions. There is no reason for an error to happen if the proofing process is properly utilized and every small detail is checked. Look at it this way: would you rather spend 10 minutes proofing your job or 10 hours and double the cost reprinting it because you were too busy to proof? I know, that’s a no-brainer!

Okay, you’ve proofed it, the customer signed off, and now it’s in your lap for address block sign-off? I know you’re probably asking yourself, “What the heck! I thought this job was good to go?” But who knows, maybe something was accidentally changed in the time that the customer signed-off to the time it took a press operator to get the job ready, this is your last chance to catch any mistakes, take advantage of it!

By Chris Ohm -Data and Design Department

Personalized Digital Variable Book Printing

We’re printing our first digital booklets! Digital variable data printing at CSG Direct Mail has never been more alive! The idea of a press that prints multiple paged personalized booklets, gathers the pages, folds, stitches together, and finally does the 3 sided trim is an incredible dream come true.

Before this investment we had to print separate pages and then offline stitch and trim. That was not a great way to do personalized mail by a long shot. Too many pieces got destroyed in the process and the offline process increased costs and timelines. We’re highly focused on quality and speed!

Direct mail is a details business. Demand quality if you want success. We’ll help you find ways to balance cost and speed from there. Knowing what you’re dealing with is half the battle.

If you are printing booklets for your organization and would like to see samples printed on our new presses get in touch with us or get a quote.

Direct mail marketing with CSG direct mail

Direct Mailing Innovations and the best Variable Data Printing from CSG Direct Mail get you Better Results Fast. Find out how our newest innovations and decades of proven results make us the direct mailing services partner and variable data specialists you are looking for.

We live and breathe direct mail strategy, digital printing and results!

• America’s 1st Live Direct Mailing Job Tracking Systems in Direct Mail – 1999

• America’s 1st public bulk US Mail Tracking Systems – 2008

• iTunes 1st iPhone Direct Mail app in the iTunes app store – 2010

• 25 USPS MQC Certified Employees working in all aspects of your projects

• Over 2 decades in personalized Variable-Data-Digital-Printing

Using Direct Mail Maps for Personalized Mailings

So you want variable maps on your mailers to give your customers directions to your business? Great! Let’s learn how to set it all up to make it work!

DESIGN AND SPECS
Your first step is deciding exactly what you want your mailing to look like and getting CSG Direct Mail your information so we can output your maps.

1) Design your mailpiece and decide where your map will be placed

Design your mailpiece

Design your mailpiece

2) Measure your map area and send us the dimensions of the map area in inches or pixels

3) Choose your markers using the pdf provided below and send us the codes for both the START and END makers you would like
DOWNLOAD MapQuestMarkers

4) Provide us with your database and tell us what locations you’d like for START and END

5) We will create your variable maps

 

PULLING IT TOGETHER
If we are doing your mailing, you’re done!
All you need to do at this point is send us your artwork and we’ll take care of everything else!

If we are providing you with maps and you are doing your own mail outputs, follow the instructions below for variable output in InDesign.

1) Set up your file in InDesign, and link to your database using your variable program

2) Define and assign your variable area however your program requires it

3) Place/link your map

4) At this point you will need to make sure that your map is scaled correctly for your variable area

Use the fitting command to do this

 

5) Once you have it looking the way you like, you can do your mail output

 

That’s all there is to it!


Variable Direct Mail Printing

Variable Direct Mail Printing can be one of the most powerful mediums of our times. However, most people who sell this to their clients are not even really doing Variable-Printing. 80% of all Variable-Print is nothing more than mail-merge and fancy fonts.

If I get another direct mail offer with my name spelled in sea shells on a beach I am just going to go insane. “OK, Great, you have a sea shell font – wow – thanks!”. What if I’m scared of the ocean? What if I am allergic to Seafood of any kind? Are you selling me something to do with a beach or shells?

If you don’t really know that much about your customers we can append over 100 fields of additional consumer data about them so you know if they like dogs or cats, drive Fords or Chevy’s, etc.. Ironically, done by real variable data teams in direct mail; we’ll still cost you less than all those printers because we do it every day without the baggage of all that crazy software they got sold.

At CSG Direct, we have over 2 decades in Real Variable Data: Variable Data Printing, Variable Data Coding, Randomization, Variable Data Email, Websites, and more.

Digital Presses are Coming – Part 2

Digital Press PicThe saga continues at CSG Direct Mail as we have unwrapped our new digital presses and started preliminary configuration of all the components. The shipping materials are removed, all the sections mate correctly, and monitors and internal components have been installed. It is very exciting to see all the pieces come together as the machine begins to take shape!

Electricians are hard at work pulling wire, setting plugs and configuring the power necessary to feed this magnificent piece of print engineering. Our Facility Contractor is assisting us in reconfiguring the floor to accommodate our new 23 foot behemoths and new workflow it will involve.

Once power and facility upgrades are complete it will be time to slide the pieces into place, bolt it together and begin power-up and testing procedures. After this, training of operator personnel will start with full production to follow quickly.

Growth and expansion can be stressful at times pulling all the elements together, but it also gives one a sense of destiny as we see the future of our enhanced printing services forming before our eyes. Increased production capability, faster turn times and new services for our customers is that future at CSG Direct.

Check back for more updates as we move forward!

New Digital Presses Arriving

New Digital PressesOur New digital Printing Presses have started to arrive in many pieces and will be put together soon.

YES!  New Digital Presses, More Digital Presses!

This will upgrade us to 9 Digital Presses and some serious high speed variable throughput.

I will talk about the new features and newest services as they get setup as well as show you our next variable data self-marketing pieces in the weeks ahead.

But right now it feels like the night before Christmas here at CSG Direct Mail.

 

Digital Printing Can Be Green!

The call to be “green” is evident everywhere in our society. It is a great thing to be good stewards of the beautiful blue marble on which we live. At CSG Direct, we are always looking for new ways to enhance our green initiates. This can be a challenge in the direct mail and digital print industry, as we generate tons of paper and parts waste during our processes. It takes a bit of effort, research, and reaching out to partners to get it going, but it is easy to maintain and enhance once it is incorporated into a company’s processes.
And in some instances, it gives the company a chance to recoup a bit of the operating expenses.

Digital printers and presses have become much more environmentally friendly over the past few years. Most large printer manufacturers have green initiative programs for recycling parts and used consumables, which one can participate in for little or no cost. These printers are more energy efficient and are EnergySTAR® compliant which is always nice for a company’s energy costs. Toner technology has made huge progress with biodegradable toners that don’t require fusing oil, smaller particles that require less toner to be applied to the sheet and is easier for the printers internal parts which means less replacement and manufacturing of parts.

Recycling of paper, cardboard and plastic is huge in the print industry. In the printing process we receive paper wrapped in paper, plastic, or cardboard boxes. We cut paper to put into our machines to imprint and then trim it creating tons of paper waste. That’s a lot of material that would go to a landfill. Better to partner with a local company that recycles. They will usually provide large containers for recycling different materials and will pick them up when full.

Toner and ink cartridges are a huge cost for any printer and create a huge waste. There are many companies that will buy back various empty cartridges, pay for the shipping and send your company a nice check in the process. One just needs to set up a program to place the empty cartridges somewhere (usually on a pallet so it is ready to be shipped), and wait until you have a large quantity. Then, contact the company, get shipping labels, wrap the pallets, ship them and wait for the check. It’s a beautiful thing!

Recycling used printer parts is becoming more readily available and printer manufacturers are enhancing their recycling programs. Many new parts will come with return shipping labels to send back the old part with. Just replace the part, put it in the box and call for pickup. Again you are reducing waste at no cost to the company. In addition, one can purchase re-manufactured parts that are close to OEM parts at about 60 to 70% of the cost. You just return the used part to the company where you purchased the part. One usually has to pay shipping for this, but it is easily offset by the cost savings of the initial purchase.

There are many benefits to having a green program for your company. It is fairly easy to implement into your process and enhances over time. It will reduce environmental burdens, be attractive for potential customers, can be cost effective, and provide revenues back to your company. It’s a real win-win for all involved. And who doesn’t like that!

21% Direct Mail Response Rate

Digital Personalized Christmas Cards

Personalized Christmas Card Campaign

There is nothing I enjoy more than seeing the light bulbs come on when I teach people how to use player databases to personalize the players direct mail experience. Personalization is not about using your customer names in the art anymore, that isn’t the secret sauce.

Instead of “telling you” about personalization I am going to show you how. You’re about to learn how to personalize the content of your direct marketing to get better results on your next mailing. I have a great example of a mailing that many of you got to play with recently.

Our personalized Christmas card program got a 21% response rate.
Sharing the details of our own database marketing efforts is the best way to share some of our better ideas. It’s a behind the scenes look at a high response campaign you’ll get ideas from.

Campaign Layers make it fun and effective
We never think of marketing as a 1-touch experience so we did our Christmas mailing as a 5-Touch Campaign. 5 easy touches created better results fast so lets walk through them.

Personalized outgoing campaign touch 1

Touch 1: They received a personalized Christmas card with multiple fascinating components worth sharing with co-workers for greater brand sharing and interaction. This included variable maps from Santas house to show how Santa would travel to deliver gifts to you. It also included a personalized message and a personalized QR code embedded with customer# that was scanned to get a gift.

We also created variable outside envelopes to personalize and localize the message from our closest facility.  Customers nearest to our Las Vegas direct mail plant received their mailer from our Las Vegas plant for example. Variable envelopes are very effective and a huge upgrade on traditional ‘static’ direct mail envelope mailings.

Try the Mobile Site here

Touch 2: is our clients interaction with the personalized card and their smartphone. 21% of our recipients scanned these barcodes with their phones so don’t underestimate the smartphone evolution. The personalized QR Code (a working sample to the right) was used to drive a personalized mini-site. We built the QR Code so that no log-in is required and we could track who is using the program. There is a hundred uses for these barcodes when tied to mobile mini-sites.

High Response Direct Mail Mobile Site

Direct Mail Mobile Site

Touch 3: was a personalized mobile-website driven with auto-login we built into the QR Code in Touch#2. These really are easy to make and there is no end to the automated tasks that can be triggered by these small but powerful mini-sites. Our mini site was a Christmas question to see if you were naughty or nice. Your response drove a variable gift card held by Santa on your cell phone.  This was very cool as we watched the live tracking behind the scenes as entire marketing teams were playing with this and sharing it with co-workers. Gifts were tiered and variable.

Database drives personalization

The database varied gifts and triggered campaign steps

Touch 4: was triggered by the live program database to send a timed text-only personalized email. We integrated our normal corporate email footer and personalized message from your favorite member of our staff congratulating you for winning something in our Christmas program. I love this part for many reasons; it plays to our service brand and engages the customer with their CSG rep in a positive way. (a real behind-the-scenes tour)

Final Direct Mail Campaign Touch

Final Direct Mail Campaign Touch

Touch 5: was the final campaign step where gifts cards were sent out each day triggered by the database. We designed a gift card mailer for delivery of Santas gift card. The primary mailer and the followup mailer were designed together and the second mailing was triggered for immediate response to the first mailer. This easy step is not done enough these days.

That was easy and fun!
This program was creative, inexpensive and easy to execute. In the past this kind of campaign was intimidating for most people. But now you can enjoy the giant response rates and stay within your budget too.

Modern Database Marketing with Direct Mail Personalization

Direct Mail Personalized

Direct Mail Personalized

Modern Database Marketing with Direct Mail Personalization

In the database marketing industry, we always throw around the word “personalization” as if everyone already understands what we mean.  It really is a generic term.  Are you telling personal secrets? Are you talking about how much they drank on their last trip? Are you getting too “personal”?

The problem with using a generic term to describe what we are doing is that everyone has their own idea what the term means.  To some people in the industry “personalization” means using the recipient’s name somewhere in the copy of the direct mailer.  That is what it meant… five to ten years ago!

Modern personalization  is an incredibly different animal that is not well represented by a one-word term.

Modern personalization is one-to-one conversations with each customer, en mass.

For example, Customer Mary visits the casino with her husband and enjoys playing Keno and eating at the buffet.  Customer Jim is single and likes to come to your concerts, drink beer and bet on sports. How do you make one invitation that appeals to both of these people?

Just putting “Hey Jim” in the direct mail piece is usually not enough to make an offer more appealing to him if it isn’t relevant to his interest in your property.

A customer asked me the other day why they get so few responses to their concert promotions.  They mail out 10,000 pieces and get 100 responses.  “How come?” they asked.  Well it turns out the exact same 10,000 people are invited to each concert and they aren’t sure if those particular people share a like for each particular type of concert.

They need to code their database with music interests and invite people that enjoy the type of concert you are promoting.  This is the first step in modern personalization.  Put the right act or promotion in front of your customers that like that act or promotion.

Music is a great way to have this conversation but it applies to everything about your Hotel Casino property. You don’t promote 80s hair band music to 60 year old guests and you don’t promote the steak house to people who like the buffet.  Send blackjack invites only to people that like blackjack and send slot tournament invites only to people that like slot play.  This is the heart of high response marketing.

This can be done all in ONE direct mail piece!

With today’s modern technology we can do all this in one direct mail piece. There are only a couple of hurdles to making this possible. First you have to find the easiest ways to match your event and hotel casino offerings to the guests that like each of your amenities.  This is best established by tracking EVERYTHING your customer does.  For example, you need to track the types of rooms they stay in and the types of food they prefer on property.

Next we need to establish things about your clients that you currently do not have access to.  For example, do they golf? Are they married? What kind of music do they like? What kind of occupation are they in?  There are many ways to do this with in-house surveys or modern data-append services using some great outside consumer databases to gather new information.

Finally, the last step is to learn how to build a marketing matrix.  This is a spreadsheet where we describe the differences in each dataset we have pulled and what offers each database receives.  Basically, we query each special interest we can find to market to and make a map to which offers will be rotating in each direct mail piece.  This  personalizes the offers, look and feel of each piece.

The art

Now the fun happens. We build four different art sets for the invitation.  One design caters to blackjack players, one design feels more like buffet and keno, one design is 80s hair band and buffet and the last design is a golf themed piece that includes a slot tournament and steakhouse offer for those people we know like those.  This is all for offers for the same weekend, of course.

We compile your databases together and rotate the graphics in the printing and outputting process.  This is the recipe for high response modern direct mail personalized casino marketing.

Everyone gets something that appeals directly to them and their interests in a gaming experience.

The biggest gain is that over time each person in your database starts to feel like your property is their favorite because it appears that your product is exactly what they are looking for.  Every player gets a unique experience that feels most comfortable to them and they end up visiting more often.  This gives you a greater share of their annual gaming budget.