Direct Mail Finishing: Enhancement Strategy Series, Part 2

Last time, we discussed how paper can enhance your direct mail ROI. Now, it’s time to look at enhancing it with direct mail finishing. So what is finishing? Finishing is all of the activities that are performed on a direct mail piece after printing. They include binding, die-stamping, embossing, and laminating.

Last time, we discussed how paper can enhance your direct mail ROI. Now, it’s time to look at enhancing it with direct mail finishing. So what is finishing? Finishing is all of the activities that are performed on a direct mail piece after printing. They include binding, die-stamping, embossing, and laminating.

These enhancements can really make your direct mail pop! Let’s look at your options.

Finishing Options

  • Binding — There are several types of binding you can choose from. Perfect binding is when pages are fixed to a cover or spine using glue. Saddle-stitching is when pages are bound with staples through the center of the spine. Side-stitching is when the staples are driven through the pages, usually parallel to the bind. The remaining options must mail in envelopes. Comb binding is when the teeth of a plastic comb are inserted into a series of slits drilled into sheets. Spiral binding is when a continuous wire or plastic coil is placed through holes drilled into sheets. Loose-leaf binding is when a set of holes is drilled in sheets, which are then inserted into binders. Finally, Padding is the binding of sheets using a flexible adhesive, so that the sheets can easily be removed
  • Foil — This can be a great way to catch attention on direct mail. There are several kinds of foil. Metallic Foil is foil that has a metallic look, such as blue, red, green, silver, gold, or bronze. Reflective metallic foils really help your direct mail stand out. Pigment Foils are colorful foils that can be either matte or gloss, but have no metallic shine. Pearl Foils are foils that are transparent and have a pearlescent shine. Holographic Foils are foils that have a rainbow effect, so that when light shines on it, the reflection back is a rainbow of colors. You can also create a holographic pattern. There are still more foil options, such as wood or marble. You can get really creative with them.
  • Embossing — This gives a 3D, or raised, effect. Embossing makes something stand out from the rest of the piece. This also engages your prospects and customers with the sense of touch. They can feel the difference.
  • Debossing — This is similar to embossing, but in reverse. Rather than the paper being raised in specific areas, it is indented.
  • Perforating — These are used to allow easy separation of two parts of a piece. This is most commonly used for easy-to-remove coupons or remit slips. There are options on how large you want the perf and how easily you want it to tear off.

Each of these different finishing options really adds a pop to your direct mail piece that will not only get attention, but also create a fun experience for your customers and prospects. Make sure that you are using them to enhance your message; just adding them onto a mail piece to get attention without tying it all together is not effective. When you combine these finishing techniques with special papers, you can really create a special mail piece. Next time, we will discuss special coatings that can be added to your mail piece design. Are you ready to get started?

Why Can’t I Mail It? – Booklets

As you know from Part One of “Why Can’t I Mail It?” with postcards and Part Two with self-mailers, there are many times that a design element causes a mailing to go at a higher rate of postage. This can be frustrating as well as expensive. In order to help you stay away from potential issues, here are some things to keep in mind as you are preparing a direct mail campaign. Now let’s look at Booklets:

As you know from Part One of “Why Can’t I Mail It?” with postcards and Part Two with self-mailers, there are many times that a design element causes a mailing to go at a higher rate of postage. This can be frustrating as well as expensive. In order to help you stay away from potential issues, here are some things to keep in mind as you are preparing a direct mail campaign.

Now let’s look at Booklets:

  1. Booklet sizes are between 3.5 x 5 to 6 x 10.5. A booklet consists of multiple sheets or pages that are bound by saddle‐stitching, perfect binding, pressed glue or other binding method that creates a nearly uniformly thick mail piece. You also have the option of creating a top flap to fold over onto the opposite side of the mail panel so you can seal it with fugitive glue instead of tab.
    This category way created in 2009 and was driven by the USPS to curb the marketing industries use of smaller catalogs since flat-size catalogs were so much more expensive.
  2. Paper stock must be a minimum weight for the cover of between 40lb to 80lb book depending on the design.
    The USPS found that thinner stock on the covers tore off, and then they were not deliverable because the address is on the cover.
  3. Keep your aspect ratio between 1.3 and 2.5. In order to calculate the aspect ratio, you start by looking at the mail panel, then take the length of the booklet and divide it by the height.
    The USPS says that when pieces are too narrow the machines cannot feed them.
  4. There are two options for addressing a Booklet.
    Barcode in the address block
    : 4×2 clear area, no varnish, UV coating, text, or images for the address block. The block needs to be a minimum 0.5 inches from the right edge and 0.625 inches from bottom edge. The block can be no higher from the bottom of the mailer than 3.5 inches. Lastly, the address must remain at a minimum distance from graphics or text of 0.125 inches.
    Barcode clear zone addressing
    : The barcode clear zone is the bottom 5/8 of the postcard and must be free of all color, text and images. Next the address block must be a minimum 0.5 inches from the right edge and minimum of 0.625 inches from bottom edge. The block can be no higher from the bottom of the mailer than 3.5 inches. Lastly, the address must remain at a minimum distance from graphics or text of 0.125 inches.
    As you know from part one and two, these requirements are meant to keep the address in the OCR (Optical Character Reader) read area of the postal equipment. Honestly, the current equipment has more read area than this, but getting the post office to change rules is like pulling teeth!
  5. Binding requirements allow for two locations on the binding. You may either bind to the right of the mail panel or to the left of the mail panel. This is so that the machines feed the booklets with the least amount of jamming.
  6. Tabbing or Fugitive Glue:
    3 tabs are required
    with a minimum 1 ½ inch diameter and they may not be perforated. If binding is below mail panel, then two tabs are required to the right of the mail panel and 1 tab to the left. If the binding is to the right of the mail panel, then two tabs are required above the mail panel and one tab to the left.
    These are very large tabs—they need to be to hold the booklets closed—but be aware of the size when designing so they do not distract from your overall message.

    For Fugitive glue:
    Continuous glue line along flap or 1-inch glue spots within ¾ inch of right and left edges.
    The fugitive glue on the flap does look much nicer and is easier to open.
  7. Poly bag/envelope: If you use a poly bag or envelope, your mail will have to go at flat postage rates. You cannot use them with booklet letter size mail.
    The USPS tells us that they will not feed through the machines. So, we will have to use them only for flat size mail.

Your best bet is to design your booklet and then send a pdf to your direct mail provider, to have them find any problems with the design. They can help to make sure you are automation-compliant and save on postage.

As you are going through the process, do not let it stop your creativity. It is the unique and creative pieces that get recipients’ attention and increase your ROI. Do not let these regulations limit your design. There are plenty of ways to create self-mailers that standout and get attention! Contact your mail provider for samples and suggestions.