Progressive Technology

For Transactional, Direct Mail, and In-Plant Printers

This article is a reprint from Canon Solutions America.

How Production Inkjet Can Help You Achieve Your Sustainability Goals

The Digital Advantage

If you currently print predominantly on offset or other non-inkjet technology, reducing your environmental impact and boosting your reputation for sustainability are just some of the substantial benefits you could achieve by moving to inkjet production printing.

By its very nature, digital printing offers many sustainability benefits, such as less waste, chemical-free production, and reduced make-ready and set-up time

By its very nature, digital printing offers many sustainability benefits, such as less waste, chemical-free production, and reduced make-ready and set-up time. You also can add cost-efficient production of shorter runs matched to actual demand, even down to a run length of one, among its green attributes. And being a digital process, efficiencies and consequential sustainability benefits can be enhanced—and the risk of human error reduced—by putting in place fully automated workflows managed by software.

Digital printing also gives print providers access to more sustainable business models, such as:

  • On-demand Printing: Sell first, then print.
  • Dynamic Publishing: Highly targeted content based on streamlined data workflows and automated production processes, resulting in lower page counts.
  • Programmatic Print: Linking marketing automation platforms and highly-automated print production workflows.

If you’d like to find out more about these business models, you can read our reTHINK Commercial Print guide here.

Elevated by Inkjet

Through the use of production inkjet technology, however, the environmental benefits of digital printing can be elevated to an even higher level—starting with the printheads.

Engineered for precision and durability, these printheads can have a lifespan of thousands of hours and may only need to be replaced after years of use.

Most inkjet sheetfed and web presses use piezo printhead technology, which works by rapidly passing an electric charge through a piezo crystal that flexes and, in doing so, forces a drop of ink out of a nozzle. Engineered for precision and durability, these printheads can have a lifespan of thousands of hours and may only need to be replaced after years of use. The longevity of the print heads also is aided by the close interdependency between the printhead technology and inkjet inks, resulting in minimal maintenance costs.

Eco-Friendly Inks

As for inkjet inks, the most environmentally friendly are stringently manufactured aqueous pigment inks. Being water-based, the inks emit low odor; do not carry substances of very high concern (SVHC); and are free of mineral oil, aromatic hydrocarbon (MOAH), and saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH). Look for process-color inks listed in the Nordic Swan database of approved printing chemicals that show good deinking properties, according to INGEDE method 11, when combined with appropriate substrates.

Look for process-color inks listed in the Nordic Swan database of approved printing chemicals that show good deinking properties.

Solvents used and produced in the manufacture of inks, coatings, and paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), human-made chemicals that may have adverse health effects. However, sustainability-conscious suppliers see to it that the VOC emissions of ink and paper conditioning products remain well below the levels allowed by governmental guidelines. In addition, some inkjet presses use innovative technology to further reduce the impact of VOCs. For example, some drying technology uses a sufficiently low temperature that any VOC particles that do enter the paper fibers are not released into the air, so no exhaust air cleaning is required. Other presses also have integrated exhaust air cleaning systems that can eliminate VOC emissions.

Even More Sustainable Credentials

The main sustainability benefits that can be gained through adopting inkjet production technology offer a lot to consider. But there are other features and sustainable benefits to seek out when evaluating an inkjet press investment. For a start, energy consumption: while a press that is robust enough for heavy-duty 24/7 operations is a given, there are inkjet presses that feature low energy consumption per printed page.

Then, hand in hand with durability are longevity and upgradability. Though digital machines have at times been associated with “built-in obsolescence,” look for an inkjet press that has proved itself in the market and offers a clear upgrade path for new features and speed enhancements, maximizing the lifespan of the system and making it truly sustainable. An inkjet press that has been built to last and to operate around the clock—especially one that incorporates preventive maintenance concepts—is most likely to deliver the high levels of uptime and productivity required and, potentially, up to 10 million impressions per week.

An inkjet press that can be refurbished and has multiple recyclable parts also will add to your sustainability credentials.

Finally, an inkjet press that can be refurbished and has multiple recyclable parts also will add to your sustainability credentials. So, look for a supplier that maximizes the economic life of its inkjet presses with a high refurbishment rate and that recycles, within industry standard recycling processes, a high percentage of the parts in its presses.

Plus Canon’s Commitment

With sustainability becoming an increasingly important topic for print service providers, it is even more of a reason to think about moving some, if not all, your work to production inkjet and assessing which technology partner is going to be best for your business. Not only does Canon Solutions America offer a range of production inkjet presses to suit every application and run-length but, for us, sustainability is a key consideration from the very start of the inkjet innovation and development process—including using sustainable and/or recycled materials and energy-efficient manufacturing processes and eliminating hazardous substances wherever we can.

Paper Industry Update – PGAMA webinar

Thank you, PGAMA, for putting this webinar update together.

We continue to monitor how markets tighten - specifically paper.  We believe it is important to stay abreast of how paper mills reach their monthly reservations, as they are currently oversold - this means limits even with reservations. Mills are allocating a percentage for awarded tons.  It is not in stone; it can change.  The market changes daily; are you keeping up?  Each mill is very different, and it involves many other variables based on supply chains other than paper, such as trucking logistics, nails, and many other surprising factors.

Watch this webinar with two guest speakers:

  • Domtar Paper Update - Gilbert Goodworth
  • Verso Corporation - Mike Robinson

Link

It’s the Thought That Matters – Recognize Your People This Holiday Season

Guest post by Roger Burnett

It is always a pleasure to share knowledge with like-minded people.  Roger Burnett is a respected friend, writer, and lover of all things Promotional.  When he accepted our invitation to share his wisdom with our readers, we were thrilled.  We know you will be as well.

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The Great Resignation.

The Great Reset.

No matter what you name it, it’s clear there is a major change happening in the United States Labor Market. 

Most Americans (55 percent) who are either employed or looking for a job – what economists would describe as “being in the workforce” – say they are likely to look for new employment in the next 12 months, according to Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey. Even more surprising, some 28 percent of working Americans who currently say they’re NOT looking for a new job are still expecting to search for a different position at some point in the next year. (Bankrate Blog, 8/23/21) 

Most, if not all employers in the marketplace would benefit from additional employees, and many companies generate a significant portion of their revenues in Q4 and Q1, so open headcount means lost revenue, plus, a dynamic job market suggests some percentage of your current workforce might be on the move to new positions in 2022.

How do you compete for the talent you need and retain the talent you’ve developed? How do you capture the lost revenue opportunity you KNOW you could get with more staff?

RECOGNITION.

The statistics tell the story for themselves. 

Awards and Recognition thought-leader O.C. Tanner studied employee engagement and how managers can tailor their workplaces to promote it. An employee survey they conducted included the question “What is the most important thing your manager or company currently do that would cause you to produce great work?”

Respondents answered in their own words, providing a variety of responses, but a clear pattern emerged.

37% of respondents (the clear majority) made their desires for more and better recognition clear.

If this is true for your company, if you need to find more staff PLUS hold on to your existing team of winners, it’s high time you started thinking about the ways you’re going to recognize them and acknowledge their efforts. It will keep your people and bring more candidates to your door. Awards and recognition can take many shapes and work with a promotional marketing/awards and recognition expert is incredibly important this year for one VERY important reason.

SUPPLY CHAIN.

If you’ve shopped anywhere this year, in a store or online, you’ve been witness to the disaster that is the shipping industry. We’re not immune to the fact there are millions of items in containers stuck in the ocean, waiting for the opportunity to unload. In the meantime, there are wild swings in product availability and shortages of things like black hoodies, blankets, and even screen-printing inks are wreaking havoc on our marketplace. 

I recently hosted a panel of participants from a cross-section of the promotional products supplier base, in an attempt to learn how best clients could navigate these product shortages and save their opportunity to recognize their staff and key clients this holiday season. While the discussion was realistic and a little somber, the following 3 things came to light as being incredibly important if you want to come thru for your people this year:

  1. Don’t Go It Alone: the internet is proving to not be nearly as reliable as in years past. Just because you ordered an item online that showed as being in stock does not mean the product is actually there. You may have an order, but it might be months before your delivery. Even if the product ships on time, there is no guarantee UPS, Fed-Ex, etc are going to deliver the said product in time. Work with a professional in the awards and recognition or promotional products industry to give yourself the BEST chance at a successful outcome.

  2. If You See It, Buy It: if you’re working with a professional, the products they’re showing you are available, TODAY. There’s no guarantee that the same product will still be on the shelf next week, so, if you like an item, it’s best to move forward immediately than to continue to shop in hopes of finding something better. Don’t delay. 
  3. Substitutes > Waiting: if you order hooded sweatshirts or any of a litany of categories where supply is constantly changing, don’t be surprised if you get more than one label in the lot. Don’t focus on the fact that you got a combination of Champion and Russell branded sweatshirts when the order arrives – be thankful that your people were able to know you cared about them; remember, it’s the thought that counts!

By navigating the complex waters of employee recognition this year, you’ll give yourself the best chance possible to grow your team in 2022 while holding on to your top talent. In what is clearly a rapidly-changing environment, your employees will appreciate knowing they’re working for a place that truly understands what 37% of the respondents in the survey made clear. 

Happy Holidays.

Roger

Promise Maker

Better Data Management Means Business Success

Data management has become a vital part of any business in the digital age. Dealing with terabytes of sensitive customer information has exposed more than one company who did not take proper steps to ensure that their data was secure from malicious operators. Data that is transmitted from client to business without secure file transfer protocols (SFTP) have been used to steal customer information and lead to issues such as ransomware and the sale of customer data.  Having customer data compromised not only leads to angry clientele, but it can also lead to a host of legal issues. Therefore it makes sense for your company to outsources your data processing to a data processing service who has the means to protect your data; here are some reasons why it can help your business.

Instant Access to Your Data.

If your company has a large customer base but does not have enough employees to organize and maintain data effectively, it can become a nightmare made up of hours of searching and sorting through data. The few employees you have to oversee your data will lose hours that could be spent on your company's core business, not searching through physical and digital files. By freeing your employees, you ensure that your company can focus on improving and expanding its goals.

Keeping Data in Step with Changing Technology and Regulations.

A data management service has to be in tune with improvements in technology. They will migrate data to newer systems which make their management easier and more efficient. They have the resources to research and employ new technology that most mid-sized and smaller business don't have the budget or workforce to dedicate to such things. Data management services are also must stay on top of the latest regulations in order to remain compliant. There are laws concerning documents such as contracts, financial papers, and legal documents that mandate they be held for a fixed amount of time. If your company does not keep track of those important documents and they become lost or destroyed (deleted), then your company could face fines or worse. Why would you take the risk of running afoul of such laws and not outsource the responsibility to a data processing service? 

Consistently Meet Deadlines

A data processing service can make sure that things such as scanning paper documents can be transitioned into digital, searchable documents that are required for items such as the sale of a property or business. A data processing service can dedicate the time your company can't; to ensure that all your documents are in order and ready when you need them to be.

Improving Your Company's Bottom Line.

By using a data processing service, you save employee time and cost that would have been tied up in dealing with data and documents. Inadequate data management can cost you both money and loss of customer satisfaction. In this day and age, when a customer expects instant access to their data, anything that takes longer can result in losing that customer. If you have a sudden need to access and gather customer data together, you don't have to scramble and take employees away from other tasks to get it done.

So, the bottom line is if you want to ensure that your customer's data is safe, and easily accessible when you need it, then you should use a data processing service. Not only will a data processing service help your bottom line, improve your company's efficiency, but it can also give you the peace of mind that your customer's data safe and it's one less problem with which you have to deal.

The Importance of a Secure Data Services Company

Is your company doing everything it can to protect your customer’s data? If not, you should consider outsourcing your data processing to secure data services company. Data security is crucial if you want to safeguard your customers’ privacy and your company’s reputation for security. The names are well known and belong to companies that should have had better data security while processing their customer’s documents. Among these companies that allowed security breaches are:  J.P. Morgan Chase and Target. These security breaches resulted in compromising the sensitive information of millions of customers. These companies were big enough and well-staffed enough to know better than to leave their customer’s information exposed. So, if attention is not paid to data security while processing it, no matter how big an institution may be, they can still be to hacked. How much more vulnerable is your company’s data when it is being processed?

Why Does My Company’s Data Processing Need to be Secure?

To sufficiently emphasize the significance of data security, you need to know what exactly constitutes data. Data is vital information about your customer or your company. Some of the data are things such as names, addresses, birthdates, financial information, social security numbers, and driver’s license information. If your company handles medical issues, then you have another layer of data to protect required by HIPAA laws, a patient’s health information. If a hacker can obtain any of this information because of a security breach, the results can be devastating to both your customers and your company. When someone’s data is stolen, it can cause acute disruptions to their life. You have probably read stories about identity theft and credit card fraud; perhaps you experienced them yourself. These violations of privacy are among the most critical issues companies have to deal with while processing sensitive consumer information. You may or may not have a system and procedure in place to protect your customer and business data. You may think that everything is operating with no security breaches – but are you really doing enough to protect your customer and company’s data? Why take the unnecessary risk of being hacked. Your company runs the risk of losing loyal customers and incurring a diminished brand reputation by losing sensitive customer data.  That is why you should consider a third party who can securely process your data.

What to Look for in a Data Services Company

You need to be sure that the company you hire to process your data is up to date with the latest security advances and has a commitment to protecting all your company’s and customer’s data.  Any data services company you use should have clear and logical security protocols in place and meet industry security standards. Some things to look for are certifications such as SOC2/Type II. A SOC2/Type II certification ensures that a data services company has specific security protocols in place. A data services company’s systems must meet stringent principles and criteria set forth by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Another sign of that a data services company will protect your company’s data is if they are PCI compliant. PCI compliant means that the data services company meets the Payment Card Industry Security Standard.  The PCI standard means that they can safely store customer card information without the chance of a security breach. Of course, if your company is in the medical field, then you want to be sure the data processing company is HIPPA compliant.

When you have researched the security standards of a data services company, you can rest easy that when they process your data, it won’t fall into the wrong hands.

Direct Mail as an Impulse Marketing Tool

Think QR codes for personalized coupons and 3D augmented reality experiences within catalogs pages.

Merging digital and physical advertising is going to be the new direction for growth in direct marketing. Mailers receive lower rates for sending direct mail that includes 2D barcodes with a call-to-action.QR code direct marketing

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been offering new programs to compete with cheaper digital channels and to reach consumers in an increasingly digital world and providing incentives to direct mailers to do business with them.

“Right now is a pivotal point for direct mail; it can do things it never did before. It can elicit an impulse buy,” says Gary Reblin, VP of new products and innovation at the USPS. “Direct mail was never viewed as [an] impulse tool at any point in history, but now it can [be one]. We’re trying to evolve the mail to have its place in a more digital and mobile society.”

Marketers must think differently to stay relevant and engage today’s oft-distracted, multichannel customers. Personalized mailings using database technology makes it more expedient to execute mailings, as flexible and easy as email, so marketers can make changes to campaigns in progress based on the results of conversion data and personalized target markets.

 “Marketers today are gathering as much data as possible on customers, taking that information to [compose] relevant communications, and using direct mail as the vehicle,” says Don Jarred, VP of production services at marketing services provider Epsilon.”

Here are 10 tips for clever direct marketing:

1. Deliver your message into the right hands

Consumers expect messaging to be relevant across channels, including direct mail. Marketers often have scores of data about customers and prospects and should use this information to avoid batch-and-blast messages.

“Direct mail is a great way for us to target consumers,” says Laks Vasudevan, director of acquisition at Discover Credit Card. “It’s our most targeted platform, and we use it as an opportunity to understand the consumer more.”

2. Make it personal

Combine transactional and profile data to make sure customers get a message that is right for them. Marketers also use predictive analytics to craft and send communications that they anticipate will do well with a particular individual.

“Analytics tools are essential to creating smart databases that can self-mine and identify”¦the responses [marketers] are looking for,” says Grant Miller, global VP of operations and product management at Pitney Bowes.

The USPS’s Reblin emphasizes that personalization is vital to the effectiveness of direct mail. “Direct mail still gives the consumer the idea to check out a product, unlike when they do a Google search and have to come up with the idea themselves,” he says. “But it has to be targeted to get the customer’s attention.”

3. Remember those special days

Triggers like birthdays are especially effective for connecting with customers on a personal level.

“Birthdays are very personal to all of us, and we like to have the personal touch by sending something in the mail,” says Kelly Cook, SVP of marketing at DSW. “A customer may love getting an email from us for fashion tips or to let them know about a triple points offer, but their birthday is different.”

4. Integrate direct mail with other marketing channels

Use direct mail as part of an overall messaging program that includes TV, radio, billboards, contact centers, and online.  Consumers are introduced to messaging through TV ads and billboards, but direct mail serves as the catalyst to drive sign-ups either via your call center or an online application.

“Direct mail is a critical part of a communication plan,” Vasudevan says. “But we believe that it’s important that we use multiple channels to close the loop.”

5. Plan holistically

When using direct mail as part of an overall multichannel effort, it’s essential to consider how each channel will impact the others. For example, adding QR codes to a direct mail piece is a great way to catch a customer’s eye, but if it leads to a website that’s not optimized for mobile, then it could turn customers off instead of spark a sale. Or, when using direct mail to encourage customers to go online and register for an event, the PURL (personalized URL) should lead directly to the sign-up page, not the brand’s homepage.

“Direct mail is no longer just a mail piece,” the USPS’s Reblin says. “If you want it to be more effective by integrating it with other channels, then you need to think about the whole experience.”

6. Use 2D codes wisely

Adding a 2D barcode such as a QR code can bring a static piece of marketing to life. During the 2012 political campaign season, politicians used direct mail pieces with QR codes to deepen the conversation with citizens. After scanning the codes, the recipient could watch a video of the candidate speaking on a specific issue, for instance.

“Mail is a great jumping-off point,” USPS’s Reblin says. “It can encourage people to go deeper to find out more.”

7. Push the envelope

Mailers are rethinking how to use the envelope as a marketing tool. Discover, for example, uses images of its cards on its direct mail envelopes. Its mailings go out when the brand is already running ads on TV, radio, and billboards, so the customer may be more likely to open it to see what offer Discover has tailored for them.

“Marketers should experiment with the envelope to get a customer to open it and not dispose of the mailing,” says Pitney Bowes’ Miller.

Using full color on envelopes has gotten easier to print thanks to new wrapping technologies, which build envelopes quickly and efficiently out of one roll of paper around the mailers” without driving up costs.

8. Think customer-first

As with all marketing, direct mail should be inspired by the customer. “Gone are the days of blanketing the universe with one offer,” Epsilon’s Jarred says. “We’ve become much more analytical and send creative that is backed by a real understanding of the customer.”

Demonstrating that understanding means that marketers must get back to basics: make sure their lists are current, their mailings are targeted, and their promotional offers are meaningful so their message will resonate with the recipient.

9. Increase production with new technologies

New innovations in ink jet technology make it easier and more cost effective for marketers to produce high-quality mailings and get them out quickly. With these innovations in direct mail production, the channel has more in common with email than it has in the past. Although, in general, direct mailers still plan ahead for campaigns, it’s easier than ever to test campaigns in progress and change them during the execution based on how recipients are responding.

Improvements in database integration can also help speed the mailing cycle without risking the personalized experience. “In the past you would print out a whole bunch of pieces and have them in warehouse ready to distribute, and then add envelopes,” says Pitney Bowes’ Miller. “New analytics tools allow you to sub-segment and fine tune your market, coming out of the blocks without requiring a lot of extra effort to identify your target market when you get into physical production,” he adds.

10. Marry mail and mobility

Consumers are used to getting direct mail pieces with coupons or toll-free numbers on them. Mobile offers ways to simplify both. Inspired by Google Wallet, this month the USPS is launching a new promotion to encourage mailers to send direct mail pieces with coupons that can be uploaded to a mobile phone.

The USPS is also encouraging marketers to add QR codes that feature click-to-call triggers. Recipients can scan the QR code and the phone number will automatically pop up on their phone. All they have to do is click to reach the company’s contact center. “This is a great way to solicit an inbound telemarketing response,” says Epsilon’s Jarred. “By allowing consumers to capture information more quickly, direct mail is staying nimble.”

 

Check out the details on these 10 tips in a recent article in Direct Marketing News by Dianna Dilworth

10 Steps to Optimize Invoice Processing [Infographic]

Providing value to its clients has been a priority of BMS Direct. Utilizing their state-of-the art equipment BMS customers receive an advanced invoice processing service that delivers accuracy and productivity.  James E. LaPrade, Sr. President, BMS Direct explains the value to BMS clients.

“We have had a number of client requests over the years to outline how our invoice processing services increase efficiencies and reduce costs. This infographic simplifies the 10 steps BMS Direct utilizes during the production process to ensure our clients’ invoices and statements are processed in the most efficient manner.  As an added benefit, the utilization of our invoice processing services will increase cash flow for our clients. I look forward to learning how our services may help your organization.”

10 Steps for Optimizing Invoice Processing

10 Steps for Optimizing Invoice Processing

With regard to accuracy and efficiency, BMS Direct Vice President, Leif  Aagaard, Jr. explains the expectations of BMS customers,

“Over the years, the accuracy and efficiency of our invoice processing service has been refined to ensure 99.9% accuracy with each mailing. Our SSAE 16 compliance guarantees the privacy and security of your data while our state-of-the-art equipment ensures the most cost effective data processing services obtainable.”

For your convenience, we have also created the 10 Steps to Optimize Invoice Processing [Infographic] in a PDF file you can download. For additional information on our invoice processing services or to find out how BMS can help your organization please contact us.

BMS Direct Achieves SAS70 Type II Certification

March 1, 2011, BMS Direct successfully completed a rigorous TYPE II examination and audit of their statement printing services in conformity with the Auditing Standards No 70 (SAS 70) for Service Organizations.

The SAS 70 was developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for service providers who wish to prove a high level of control effectiveness to independent auditors, and is the most widely recognized auditing standard for service companies. …

Intelligent Mail Barcode Required May 2011

The Intelligent Mail barcode will be required by the USPS beginning in May 2011

May 2011 is the date set by the United States Postal Services requiring Intelligent Mail barcodes for automation discounts, business reply mail and confirm service.  Combining the capabilities of the Postnet and Planet barcodes into one unique barcode  makes the Intelligent Mail barcode a much more efficient process for all parties involved.

What is an Intelligent Mail Barcode?

The Intelligent Mail barcode, formerly referred to as the 4-State Customer barcode, is a new Postal Service barcode used to sort and track letters and flats. The Postal Service is promoting use of the Intelligent Mail barcode because it expands the ability to track individual mailpieces and provides customers with greater visibility into the mailstream.

How does it work?

The Intelligent Mail barcode combines the data of the existing POSTNET™ and the PLANET Code® barcodes, as well as other data, into a single barcode. The Intelligent Mail barcode is a type of height-modulated barcode, that uses four distinct vertical bar types (Full, Tracker, Ascender and Descender).

How do mailers benefit from the Intelligent Mail barcode?

The Intelligent Mail barcode is the result of the Postal Service’s efforts to develop more robust codes capable of encoding more information, while minimizing the space used on the mailpiece. The Intelligent Mail barcode:

  • Has a greater overall data capacity than existing barcodes.
  • Provides mailers with more digits for their use, allowing for unique identification of up to a billion mailpieces per mailing.
  • Provides more accurate and detailed information about mailings which can enable better decision making.
  • Increases mailpiece “real estate” by eliminating the need for multiple barcodes.
  • Allows for participation in multiple USPS service programs with a single barcode.

Am I required to use the Intelligent Mail barcode in lieu of POSTNET and PLANET codes?

Currently, use of Intelligent Mail barcode is optional; however, because it offers significant advantages over POSTNET and PLANET Code barcodes (including using less mailpiece “real estate” and offering more overall data capacity), most customers have found it makes good business sense to adopt this new format, today. The Postal Service will require use of the Intelligent Mail barcode to qualify for automation prices beginning May 2011.

For more Q & A regarding Intelligent Mail Barcodes download USPSIMB_QandA Fact Sheet.

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