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Put Print to Work

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


When you meet as many people as I do and interact with as many different personalities as I’m fortunate enough to do on a daily basis, the question “Aren’t people printing less these days” comes up a lot.  I get it. Believe me, I get it.  At Rider Dickerson, we certainly put our fair share of ink on paper.  Truth be told, putting ink on paper is something we’ve done for years and years, and quite well if I may say so myself.  However, in today’s climate, being just another printer is an ill fated recipe for disaster in my opinion.

We realize our clients are under tremendous stress today.  There are more channels available to get your marketing message out to your intended audience than in the history of mankind.  In fact, there are probably too many if you ask me!  It’s enough to make your head spin.  To that end, we realize our clients don’t roll out of bed in the morning, pump their fist and say “Yes, I get to go to press today with our new direct mail piece!”  Having said that, print is proven (and I believe will continue to) to be a valuable medium in today’s mix.  When done right, print has the ability to stand out from the clutter and create an emotional connection with your end customer in a way that’s real and tangible.  That’s why my answer to the question I reference above is a simple one.  At Rider Dickerson, our job is to help our clients use print more strategically and thoughtfully.  Better put, our job is to help our clients put print to work!

What does that mean? Simply stated, how can our clients’ printed pieces-whether they be direct response marketing pieces or high-end collateral pieces—be more effective.  The technology is at our fingertips to do some pretty amazing stuff on press and in post-press finishing processes.  Heck, we are now able to print overtop of a metallic laminate to make traditional inks look iridescent.  It’s so cool, and our clients are eating it up.  Talk about making an impact with a printed piece!  That’s just one example.  I have more, but for the sake of keeping this post succinct I will save those for another day.

Let’s talk about 2 other ways print can be used differently and more effectively today.  The easy one is variable data and customized print.  This is nothing new, but as marketers become more and more savvy on collecting better data on their customers and potential customers, we stand in the great position to help them make sense of that data and use it in well thought-out targeted and relevant print pieces that speak directly and in absolute relevant terms to many segments within their list.

The stats are there to support it–personalization is proven to drive higher response rates. I’m not talking about simply putting somebody’s name on a piece and calling it personalized.  Rather, I’m talking about true database marketing.  No more “spray and pray”, when we mail the same piece with the same message and same imagery to everyone on the list and keep our fingers crossed for a lift in response rates.  Marketers understand the need for personal and relevant communications, and during a 7 month period during 2011 the amount of mail that was personalized was 46% higher than in 2009 (printinthemix).  Shame on us and shame on our clients if we are not leveraging data and making our direct mail more relevant (and then tracking and measuring it on the back end—see my previous post on Cross Media).  And for an excellent example of a customized publication, check out this case study.

And then there’s print on demand.  Again, this is not necessarily a new concept.  Only in the past few years has it picked up momentum, and we can tie that back to the surge in digital printing and the improved quality of digital printing. As we continue to educate our customers on the advances in digital printing and the efficiencies that can be realized by streamlining their print and distribution across their organization, interest level has risen and we can begin to discover ways the concept of print on demand might make sense for our respective clients.  Within that challenge lies our opportunity to bring more value to our clients.  Print on demand, when it makes sense, is proven to work.  It’s simple—print only what you need, when you need it, and give your national retail network or sales organization access to these branded materials through a user-friendly web portal.  Pieces can be customized, and they are printed and shipped within a few days to exactly where they need to be.  Brilliant, huh!

These are but a few examples of how we are using print differently with our clients.  There are many others, and as always, the ultimate goal is to help our customers make the most impact and get the most value out of their printed pieces.  Let’s start a dialogue and continue to find ways to put print to work!


Dean Petrulakis

Senior Vice President,

Business Development