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?

3 Ways to Make Your Postcards Stand Out

Back in the day (yes, I was a creative back then), prior to cheap 4-Color process printing, you had to find creative, inexpensive ways to get your postcards noticed in the mail. I was the king of using two PMS colors in combination to look as if you had full color, and an expert in paper stocks. Most importantly I learned all I could about printing. Why? Because printing techniques were and are one of the best tools in my creative toolbox.

Back in the day (yes, I was a creative back then), prior to cheap 4-Color process printing, you had to find clever, inexpensive ways to get your postcards noticed in the mail. I was the king of using combinations of two PMS colors to portray full color, and an expert in paper stocks. Most importantly, I learned all I could about printing. Why? Because printing techniques have always been one of the best tools in my creative toolbox.

Today I will discuss three of my favorite printing techniques — when applied to your concept, they can help your postcards stand out.

1. Paper

This is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to make your mail stand out. There are so many paper stocks that will make recipients stop and take a second look at your mail. But in today’s 4-Color world, creatives are not considering paper as much as they should.

Consider an ultra-heavy stock, or even sandwiching two sheets together. Most mail is floppy. If your postcard is the most rigid in a stack of mail, it will receive attention. That few extra seconds your consumers spend investigating will increase your response rate.

Moo doubled up stock with edge color

You should choose stocks heavier than 16pt — double it up and make it 32pt. Print one side of the sheet, sandwich two sheets together and then trim to size. Printing companies like Moo Cards offer this as a standard option.

Your stock could be particle board on which you can use production techniques like embossing, silk screening or letterpress.

Companies like Ward/Kraft are sandwiching your postcard in plastic. I know, I know: Plastic will increase your postage costs. But not with this product — they’re getting standard postage rates. This card is extremely rigid and has options for punch-out cards and tags.

Ward/Kraft plastic pop-out card
Ward/Kraft plastic covered postcard with pop-out cards

2. Texture

Texture is a wonderful way to make materials stand out. Our fingers are amazingly aware and notice anything that is abnormal. Bumpy, sticky, rubbery surfaces — anything that is not the regular feel of paper.

Use a gloss or matte varnish as a texture for sections of your postcard. Varnishes across the entire piece, like matte or glossy, will not create the unique texture you want. You want gaps for your fingers to distinguish the differences. This will also work for spot UV as well, which can create an even more dramatic effect.

Spot Gloss Varnish
Spot Gloss Varnish from