Category Archives: Direct Mail Dy-Na-Mo

Cool Door Post Cards!

One door or six?
Post cards or announcements?
Variable Data or generic?

Here is one of the coolest and EFFECTIVE things you can use to introduce a new product or announce an offer.   These 8.5″ x 5.5″  THICK cards  (.0023″) are perforated to open with a big door or six windows… Look!  Hidden message under the door(s) !




Since these are variable data cards you can even mix up the messages…or hide targeted and variable photos under the doors (great for an art opening or a CONTEST!).  SICK (as my nephew says).

Very reasonable with the REACH of an orangutan!

Learn more!  Email me.  I am sitting here…waiting for your call….really…



Post Office News: 3,700 offices to close

Lately there has been a lot of news about the closure of about 3,700 post offices in the near future.  Of course this may effect your outbound direct mail pieces from our direct mail services system but, for the most part, this is just another sign of the times.

If you have not had a chance to review the list, here is a copy of it.  Actually one of the offices is in the town just next to my home!  I have been in there many times.

Click Here To See The List


We have covered a ton of inside info with the Dy-Na-Mo series…please reference the Dy-Na-Mo categories on the right.

As a follow up, CPC has published this VDP guide for your reference.

You can view it as a cool digital publication here:

Or, download the pdf file here: CPC_VDP



In Part 1 of this series we learned about the economy of mailhouse and the return on investment of traditional print mailing vs digital variable data mailing.  Part 2 of this series was about simple database processing.  Now we are going to go into the darker corners of the mailhouse.

Teach your mailing project some new tricks!

Yes…here your see a Border Collie balancing a bone on her nose…and, as a Border Collie, we know this is WAY beneath her natural ability to do tricks.

SIMILARLY, your direct mail pieces can use various “tricks” to perform even better.  Easy stuff to learn, plan for and implement.

Trick #1: Using images as variable data.

Surprise!  As a variable data project, your pieces can have more than just text.  For instance, if you are marketing to various auto buyers and you know their buying habits (for instance, as everyone knows, I LOVE station wagons…but they don’t make them anymore) you can direct the actual image to appeal to their interests.  Here we see the use of this technique using a post card…

Click to Enlarge

Note that the images change based on the recipient’s needs.   In this sample, we kind of know that Jerry probably likes trucks.  So Jerry gets a photo of the pick up truck and NOT a mini van. Note that the data beneath the image is also variable.  These variable blurbs can be as customized as you like.  Remember that each record will have its own field for the blurb and for the image and these then can change from one card to the next.  Of course, the images you use MUST ALL BE the same dimensions!  So, minivan.jpg, truck.jpg, sedan.jpg, etc are each the same “trim” size.   Finally, if you noticed, even the background can change on these images and, of course, you can use as many images as you have time for…and, of course, you can use images on both sides of the piece.

Trick #2: Printing cool fonts

Using the digital press, you are not limited to just a few boring fonts.   Indeed there are MANY fonts you can use with the variable data fields from you database.  Here is a simple idea of what this means:

Trick #3: How the Video Jet system helps you out.

We are all familiar with “ink jet” addressing.  At CPC we have a very advanced video jet system that uses your data (name, address, etc) (which is variable data, by the way) and can marry it to paragraphs, series numbers, and use many other innovative ideas.  This allows you to print a magazine or catalog on our Heidelberg equipment and then trick the system into turning that into a high end variable data project.

Here is a wild example of this idea:

Click to enlarge

Hey!  We are thinking way outside the bun now!

This magazine sample includes an appropriate paragraph of variable data, a THANK YOU (from a dog!), a QR code and, of course, the address.

So we can see that tight databases mixed with imagination can yield a more consistent and valuable return on investment.  Usually this is mixed with a lot of forethought and effort on your part as the DATA drives these ideas.  Again, spending a few hours this weekend “weeding” your database will prove to be a wise choice of time and energy!

That’s it for now…please contact me if you have any ideas or need some brain melding help!




(here is part one:

Nothing seems to be more boring than data base maintenance!

In fact, there are not many exciting images to publish for  this post….even looking for images was boring!!  Yet nothing can spell success faster than spending time in your data base garden hoeing, weeding and feeding that precious patch of ground!  Data drives your email and USPS mail campaigns and must be looked at critically.  Without much fan fare, here are things I have seen that important guidelines for MOST databases:

1) The data base does not exist! It’s true…many companies I have worked with either do not have an electronic data base of customers and prospects or it is such a mess they can’t use it!  SUGGESTION: Hire someone for a month to go through your business cards, email, LinkedIn partners, notecards, Facebook, Yahoo and pile of NAPKINS to get all that data into a single xls file!!  Or, do it yourself.

2) Keep the data current. That means, if someone changes their name or email address, make that update in your data!

3) Build the data base so it is flexible. There are no set “field names” for your data base but, if it is appropriate, split out your database into at least these fields:

  • Title
  • Name
  • LName
  • Address1
  • Address2
  • City
  • State
  • Zip

..and if there are two people at the address (Dave and Lilly) and you need to contact both, either set up TWO records or introduce two (0r more) fields to handle this.  FName1, Fname2, Fname3, etc.

4) Be ready to add alternate fields. Imagine, down the road, the car dealership you own would like to send out a direct mailing.  Wouldn’t it be great to send the truck owners post cards images of trucks and the sport car owners pictures of sports cars?  What about a color field?  I like red cars…I will respond faster to a photo of a red car than a green car.  If you know that sort of thing about me, perhaps you should market to it!!  These fields can be added as time goes on.

5) Set up your spreadsheet properly.

Above are two spins on the types of data we get for a mailing.  The TOP one is correct.  The BOTTOM one is useless.  Study it closely before you are on top of your deadline and there is no time to convert the BOTTOM one to the TOP one!

Final notes: CPC can accept mailing list files in a number of file formats, including MS Excel, CSV, and text files. Please note that files must be organized such that each record is on a single row, with each column as a separate field. See example above.  If your lists require manipulation in order to be usable, additional charges may incur so clean them up and merge them before you send them to us! CPC will “preflight” all mailing lists, de duplicate them per your instructions and will submit them to the NCOA (National Change of Address) before we use them.  Of course you will be contacted for authorization to proceed with clean up if we see any issues.





“Stop worrying about the cost and start worrying about the return!”

With USPS prices going up in April (April 17th) ( see ), NOW is a great time to get a grip on your mailing returns.  First of all, a few guidelines and truths:

1) Is 1% good enough for you? As a general rule, the BEST response you can expect from a “saturation mailing” is about 1.5%.  That means that if you hit a zip code or population demographic with a standard mail drop, even if it has a correct name on the mailing panel, you will probably do no better than a 1.5% return.

2) 7% and beyond. As a general rule, a CONSERVATIVE response from a “variable data” mailing is at least 7%.  That means that if you hit YOUR database of customers and prospects with a variable data drop you will probably get at least a 7% return.  We have seen this number actually go over 35%.  Note that these variable data elements must go beyond the variable data represented on the mailing panel.

3) The cost of the postage is NOT your biggest investment! You should plan on investing a LOT of resources into PLANNING and into a great design…a design that is a part of a larger marketing campaign and includes multiple exposures to the main theme of the program (blog, email blasts, direct mail…even voice mail!).

4) POST CARDS work wonders. Here is why: They are the least expensive direct mail piece to produce and mail AND, even if your prospect/client throws the piece in the recycle bin, they absolutely MUST first give it a two second glance in order to decide if they are going to keep it.  That glance shows off your brand and name.  That keeps your brand and your name in front of the prospect/client.  Of course more dramatic options are available with folds and envelopes…everything depends on your message and product needs.  But don’t discount the value of a simple post card!

5) Green thoughts. For those concerned about environmental issues, “junk mail” is paper and paper (and printing) has many sustainable benefits.  Too many to go into here.  Forget the myth about being green because “we post our newsletter online and are saving the environment”.  That has been proven to be false many, many times over. let’s examine some numbers.

Over the past several years we have seen a dramatic shift in the types of mail pieces that are printed.  It used to be our only option for direct mail was a saturation mailing.  In fact, in some cases, this is still a good option, particularly when you HAVE to mail to every address in a zip code range or when you are fishing for new leads.

But these days we have access to new and powerful print options that print in true (high quality) offset technology with stunning variable data abilities.  These variable pieces can include much more than just name/address/zip and, if your data supports it, allows you to get higher and higher returns.

Considering you have a data base that has more than the few standard data elements , using them in a variable data mailer could yield these sorts of results (click on the image to enlarge or EMAIL ME at and I will send you this spreadsheet!):

Comparison of RETURNS based on mailing product choice


Using this model, let’s imagine you would like to have 200 – 250 responses to your mailing.  The RED circle shows a typical response based on a saturation mailing.  So, all things being “normal” you would have to print and post 10,000 pieces to cultivate about 200 responses.  This will cost you about $18.60 per response.  The GREEN circle shows a very conservative response on a very basic variable data mailing.  For an investment of about 1/3 of what you spent on the saturation mailing, you should be able to get about the same amount of responses at around $5.50 per response.  For added insurance, why not send the variable data project out twice…the first a month before the event and the other about a week before the event.  You are still spending a lot less money and will practically guarantee a response of 200.  If you are careful with your design and CONSERVATIVE with your campaign, go ahead and send it out a third time.  Now your results will likely go a lit higher and you STILL have not spent the total amount you spent on the saturation mailing (!).  In fact, you will have enough left over to hire someone to hit this entire target audience with a very effective email campaign!

Please note that, to get these sorts of results, you MUST have clean and “deep” data.  For instance, if you are a car dealer and know your data base can include the type of car your client owns, you can begin to design a much more effective variable data piece…one that includes the actual make and model of their vehicle, photos of their vehicles…even the colors they like can be included in the background, etc.  But this all needs to be thought out ahead of time and that data needs to be accounted for and properly formatted.  A few extra weeks of planning and effort goes into these sorts of results but it is well worth it when you start seeing these amazing results.

The next issue will discuss the actual data.  Where to get it, how to keep it organized, how to make it work for you!