How you can prevent MailFail!™

Whether you are publicizing an event, advertising your products, sending out an invitation or soliciting a donation, direct mail has continually proven to be an effective advertising medium. Of course, it’s not enough to mail just anything – there are lots of tricks and small “tweaks” that can drastically change the outcome for your direct mail campaign.

Recently, a client called wanting a quote on sending out a 4×6 postcard to advertise a 5,000 sq foot retail space. When asked why they were specifically asking for a 4 x 6 postcard, the answer was “Its cheaper!”

So, I asked a few questions. How much is the rent? “$5,000 a month.” And how long is the lease? “3 years.” Doing some quick math, I pointed out to him that he had a product bringing in $5,000 per month, $60,000 a year, or $180,000 over the three years of the lease. A larger advertising piece may cost a bit more, but the incremental cost is overshadowed by the greater impact of a larger, more noticeable mailer. He thought about it and agreed, switching to an oversize mailer.

RESULT: He rented the space in 30 days

Size matters! Think about the pile of mail that arrives in a typical mailbox. The size of your piece will help it stand out. It’s important to keep in mind that a larger size does not necessarily mean a large increase in price. Many times the size can be adjusted to create a bigger visual impact without a noticeable difference in cost.

Working with someone who has an understanding of postal regulations will open up possibilities of ways to alter the size of your mail piece in a manner that does not increase the project cost, maintaining your return on investment.

As soon as my customer with the rental space saw his newly designed mailer next to the original 4×6 postcard, there was no question it was the way to go. Direct mail can be very effective – as long as it’s done right. We have had clients who have doubled their returns over the prior year by making small adjustments to their mailing project!

Gerry Engelhart is the owner of Porath Business Services, a Cleveland based print and direct mailhouse specializing in Direct Mail and helping Not for profit organizations increase their fundraising results.

A paper supply reminder

toilet-paperWe recently wrote about the expected paper shortage and price increase. It’s really happening.

There are many factors at play here. Tariffs, increased prices for pulp, the unexpected closing of a few large mills, China’s new green policy, trade wars, increased demand in Asia, increased shipping costs, a shortage of over-the-road drivers and more are all working to make a tough situation – not only for graphic paper but for all paper products.

In the next few months and going forward, we will be seeing price increases in paper towels, diapers, toilet paper as well as graphic paper. In the last year, pulp prices have risen 20% for soft wood and 60% for hard wood. Big companies like P&G have been trying to absorb the pulp price increases, but cannot do that any longer. Price hikes in the 4-7% range are anticipated. You might want to head to your favorite retailer and stock up on toilet paper and paper towels!

We are anticipating both a paper shortage and an increase in the price of paper. We are working with our suppliers to make sure we have enough paper on hand and they, in turn, have asked us to help them by anticipating our paper needs and putting requests in as far in advance as possible.

If you have projects in the pipeline, let us know so we can make sure we have the paper we need.

As your printing partner, we’ll be doing all we can to minimize impacts by working with you to plan your projects with an eye to availability and price. We’ll keep you posted as the situation unfolds!

Solutions: FootPrints to success!

We love these! Recently we were at a convention and wanted to get attention to our booth. We set these around the convention center with paths pointing towards our booth – and people followed the footsteps! And they remembered our booth which helped when we made follow up phone calls.

These aren’t just for conventions – we have had customers put these around their buildings to lead people in different paths…and while we think footsteps are fun, the shape is up to you.

We print them on repositionable vinyl stickers.


More Psychology of Color

color-wheel-2Using color wisely in your marketing materials can make the difference between getting noticed and losing out on a potential customer. While it’s important to keep in mind the attributes and psychological triggers of different colors, there is a lot of nuance involved. You don’t have to use a single color to get your message across – it’s more likely that you will want to use a combination of colors or a color scheme.

  • When using multiple colors, you should have one color that is dominant with the other colors as accents drawing the eye to a particular area of the piece.
  • Different shades of the dominant color can be used very effectively as an accent lending a sense of cohesiveness and harmony.
  • Take a look at a color wheel! Using colors across from each other can add energy. Using contiguous colors lend calm. Using three colors evenly spaced around the wheel is vibrant even with muted colors.

It’s important to know your audience and what will speak to them. A save the date mailing about a pool party fundraiser is going to have a different color scheme than a save the date for a formal banquet fundraiser – even if the colors used are the same.

Color works great in marketing. There are lots of theories and opinions about what works best. Many say Blue lends a feeling of quality and trust. Red makes people want to act, now! Yellow draws attention.

Red – This color is known internationally as a buying color.  It reflects emotions such as anger, lust and passion.  It is a definite attention getter.  When used in small amounts, it is the best color to stimulate sales.  However, if used in large amounts, it can turn off the more subtle customers.  This color is best used to draw attention to a specific message or area you want the customer to focus on.

Orange – This is known to be the most irritating of colors and the least favorite color in the world.  Direct mail marketers tend to use this on envelopes to draw attention to a product they are selling.  Orange is best known as the color for sexuality and creativity and is associated with affordability.  This color is also an attention grabber, but is best used sparingly or as an accent color.

Purples and Violets – These colors are subjective, and people will either love them or hate them.  Purple is associated with spiritual healing and royalty.

Blue – This was determined to be the best seller and the most favorite color of people throughout the world, regardless of culture.  Blue is considered the color of communication; light blue leads to fantasy and dark blue leads to authority and power.  Blue conjures up feelings of tranquility, peacefulness and flights of fancy.

Green – This is a relaxing color that stirs up feelings of the outdoors, forest, grass and lush meadows.  It is considered a passive, not a stimulating color.

Yellow – Is the first color seen by the retina.  This is a good focus or attention-getting color and a good accent color when used in moderation.

Brown – Denotes traditional or natural values.  Light shades of wood are associated with affordability; dark hued shades are associated with opulence and richness.  Brown is a relaxing and casual color.  It is the color of wood, the earth and nature.

Source:  The National Craft Association

Psychology of Color

color-wheelColor is a powerful psychological trigger. There’s a reason why kids cereal boxes are often orange, brides wear white, surgical scrubs are green, and roadsters are often red. There are some colors that are universally loved (blue is the favorite by far) and interestingly most people dislike the color orange.

When designing your marketing materials, color could make the difference between losing and gaining a customer – that’s how important it is! Here are a few basics:


Positive associations:
Love, warmth, excitement, passion, food

Negative association:
Danger, anger.


Positive associations:
Power, professionalism, trustworthiness, calmness

Negative associations:
Boredom, sadness


Positive associations:
Nature, life, money

Negative associations:
Decay, toxicity, illness


Positive associations:
Affordability, creativity, fun, youth

Negative association:
Lack of quality, cheap


Positive associations:
Royalty, luxurious, fantasy, dreams

Negative associations:
Nightmare, craziness

Since colors have both negative and positive associations, it’s not about avoiding colors but using them wisely in a way that will allow your message to have the most powerful positive impact. And, of course, you want to use more than one color if possible to get the most impact.

Solutions: Eye Catching Mailer

We were so excited about this mailer – it’s fun and eye catching and who wouldn’t open it to find out what’s inside….and then once they open it and are pulling the horse out ahead of the others. Sure to bring a smile and a response.

The envelope is just as important as what’s inside of it – and in some ways more important. You want to use every means to attract attention and encourage and entice the recipient to open up the envelope and find out what’s inside.

Don’t miss out on the chance to use this ‘real estate’ to your advantage!

Digital Cost to the Environment

Computer devices. Mobile phone, laptop, printer, camera and tablWho hasn’t gotten an email that says something like ‘think before you print’ in the footer? The paper industry has been an easy scapegoat for environmentally concerned folks needing to point the finger somewhere. It’s true…producing paper generally involves chopping down a tree. But is printing that email harming or potentially helping the environment?

Let’s look at that email for a moment. The energy you use at your desk sending an email is only a small part of the energy required for that email to reach its destination: Energy used by computers, servers, routers, cellular networks, and data centers around the world; energy to view, store, forward, and delete messages; energy used to produce those digital devices.

That energy comes from somewhere! Digital media is in large part dependent on coal powered electricity. Mountaintop removal coal mining is decimating forests – entire mountains – in Appalachia, destroying woodland habitats, burying headwaters, and releasing toxins and dust into the air.

Computers, cellular networks, and data centers use a tremendous amount of electricity. Cloud storage sounds light and ephemeral, but are actually huge data centers that require energy to power – in climate controlled spaces. Annual global data center energy usage is 1.5 times the yearly energy usage of New York City!

Now let’s talk about paper. It is the most recycled material in use in the U.S. Up to 65% of the energy used in pulp and paper mills is generated from renewable sources. Much of the wood used for paper in the U.S. comes from privately owned tree farms where trees are sustainably grown and harvested.

Almost every component of the tree is used – the bark and branches are burned providing a renewable energy source, the ash is used for construction materials, pulping and paper-making produces turpentine and adhesives, and the residual fibers are used for mulch and animal bedding.

Neither industry is good or bad – both have work to do to improve sustainability.

How China’s New Green Policies Impact Your Life

republic-lv-recycling-facility-workersHave you ever wondered where our recyclables end up? Until the first of January 2018, the answer by and large was China. Nearly 4,000 shipping containers full of recyclables left U.S. ports EVERY DAY. And those same ships returned to the U.S. filled with consumer products made in China.

In 2017, China announced their ‘National Sword’ policy as part of a larger Green initiative to lower pollution levels. The new policy, effective January 1, 2018, bans 24 types of solid waste including certain plastics and unsorted mixed papers.

Since we’re a printing company, we’re mostly interested in what China’s been doing with all that paper. The answer is, they’ve been cleaning it and sending it back to the U.S. as paper pulp that is then turned back into graphic paper and cardboard.

U.S. mills are not set up for processing unsorted mixed paper and recyclers are scrambling to find other markets to partner with including Malaysia, India, Vietnam, and South Korea. None of those countries is interested in the same level of import, creating a global supply-demand imbalance which has driven down prices to recyclers – plummeting to $5 from $97.50 a ton in recent months.

Part of the problem is the contamination levels of this waste – including the grease on pizza boxes and food and chemical residue left in bottles (note to self – rinse and dry those bottles and cans before putting them in recycling!). Recycling facilities in the U.S. sort through recyclables to eliminate as much contamination as possible, but the level they can achieve is no longer acceptable. And so, this waste is piling up with nowhere to go.

What does this mean for us? With less paper pulp coming from recycled waste, we are anticipating both a paper shortage and an increase in the price of paper. We are working with our suppliers to make sure we have enough paper on hand and they, in turn, have asked us to help them by anticipating our paper needs and putting requests in as far in advance as possible. As your printing partner, we’ll be doing all we can to minimize impacts by working with you to plan your projects with an eye to availability and price. We’ll keep you posted as the situation unfolds!

5 Fundraising Ideas to Consider

checkbook5 Fundraising Ideas to Consider

Fundraising is one of the most important aspects of managing a non-profit — if not the most important. Nevertheless, donors can become fatigued, especially if they are constantly being solicited. Creating unique, fun, and friendly fundraising ideas is the best way to keep your community engaged so the money keeps coming in and your services can continue to be provided. Here are just a few unique fundraising ideas — don’t be afraid to get creative!

1. Create a Multi-Level Fundraiser

Multi-level marketing is nearly always a terrible idea, but a multi-level fundraiser can be a great way to grow your fan base. Encourage your volunteers and employees to “recruit” others under them and reward them appropriately for the money they raise. Turn it into a contest: the person who is able to make the most money for the non-profit and get the most people underneath them wins a prize. Multi-level fundraisers encourage everyone to participate, even though they may not be able to donate much, as they may be able to win simply by signing others up for the program rather than having to donate themselves. Even having donors pledging a dollar a month gets them in your database and keeps your organization front of mind. You never know where it might lead.

2. Have Volunteers Sell a Service

Send your volunteers out to mow lawns, wash cars, or perform other services in the name of your non-profit. This is a great way to invigorate the community, do something memorable, and raise money — especially for specific projects. Try to tie in your services to the project you’re fund raising for; for instance, you might do laundry in order to help get clothes for kids. You can even involve local businesses if you need equipment or space. Have your volunteers wear branded t-shirts to give more visibility to your organization!

3. Get Involved With Social Media

Many non-profits today are building up their donations through YouTube channels and other social media accounts. Connect with your community by building up media that is directly related to the social work that your organization does and its results. Not only will this cause engagement, but you may actually be able to fund raise through these social media channels themselves. Social media platforms such as YouTube let you monetize your channels, so you make money every time your videos are viewed.

4. Offer Your Community a Paid Experience

Need more volunteers? Instead of simply putting a call out for volunteers, ask donors to pay for the experience of working with your non-profit. Of course, everyone will know that it’s really a donation; but there are certain things that people truly never do experience, such as working with shelter animals or cleaning up a river. Many people would love to pay for a unique experience that they can also then write off as a charitable donation. Getting this type of emotional connection between your donors and your organization’s work is priceless. Make sure to capture lots of photos and testimonials – and make sure donors leave with remembrances of the day and your organization. T-shirts and other promotional products can’t be beat as take-homes. They will be great reminders of the fun day and the great work your organization does.

5. Host a Low Rent Event

Is your non-profit constantly hosting gala after gala? Take the fundraising down a notch by hosting a decidedly informal and affordable event. Casual dress paired with something a bit offbeat such as an afternoon tea, a hot dog roast, or Oreo cookie flavor sampling will give your donors something unique to talk about – and more money will go to your cause.

Fundraising is both an art and a science and requires a lot of creativity and innovation to be effective. Thinking a bit out of the box when it comes to ideas will breathe life into your efforts and keep attention focused on what’s really important – the good work you are doing. We love talking with our customers about different ideas and the best way to get the word out. Give us a call!