Top Print Questions of 2022
Over the course of the year, Lett Direct receives and answers numerous questions from clients, vendors and prospects about digital and direct mail marketing. This month we will focus on the most frequently asked direct mail questions of 2022, while digital marketing questions will follow in January 2023.
How difficult will it be to get paper and press time in 2023?
Paper was still at premium in 2022. Catalogers were securing paper early and, in some cases, still didn’t receive their first grade or weight or the amount of paper they requested.
When talking with industry experts about paper and press time, the consensus was that orders to the mills will still require early planning due to long lead times. A good rule of thumb for 2023, some paper is available, but capacity is tight. Do not wait to secure paper! Fuel and raw material costs, supply chain issues and labor concerns at mills will continue to be a factor in the price of paper.
As far as press time, scheduling continues to be a pain point for many catalog clients and those wishing to enter the direct mail channel. Again, labor shortages and an overall increase in demand continue to make securing press time a challenge. High demand for press time and low availability resulted in eliminating drops from mail plans in 2021 and 2022. Again, start planning your mail strategy early in 2023, if you haven’t started already, and build some flexibility into your plans and expectations, especially if you mail solely in Q4.
When is the next postal increase?
Currently, the USPS is scheduling rate increases twice a year. The next rate hike will take place on January 22, 2023 and will be roughly 6% to 6.5% for full-size or standard trim catalogs.
The ACMA and other organizations are fighting on your behalf against rising postage. Regardless of rate hikes, there are ways to mail more economically which you can read here.
Should I be mailing a Slim Jim instead of a standard trim book?
That really depends on a few different factors including number of SKUs, branding, budget and more. Slim Jim’s make a lot of sense for many catalogers, but each is unique. There are both pros and cons to mailing a Slim Jim as opposed to a regular trim catalog. While Slim Jim’s are a great way to get in the mail, if a “look-book” with large, expansive photography is more on brand for you, a regular trim book would be a better fit. Think of how you want recipients to consume your book and the amount of story vs. product you wish to include. Another thing to consider is the number of SKUs you want to include. Some B2B companies send out a massive “brick” book with 200+ pages because they are frequently used as a reference for ordering. Again, this comes down to the objective of your catalog and to the markets you serve. Knowing the purpose can help you determine what trim size to select.
What type of return can I expect from direct mail?
I received this question a lot from companies who have never mailed before. Asking this is the equivalent to saying, “What type of return can I expect from digital marketing?” There are a few factors at play including format, audience, number of drops, list size, prospecting, AOV (Average Order Value), etc. Just like a PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign will have different results for a company that sells graphic tees vs. diamond tennis necklaces, so too will a direct mail campaign. We can typically provide you with an accurate forecast, but before we can answer that question accurately, we need to drill down a little bit and learn more about your company! The same thing we would do when performing a PPC audit.