Mailing 101

Presented by Christopher Holder of the USPS

It’s no secret postage can be an expensive part of any communications campaign. Chris Holder gave an informative presentation to audience members, demonstrating cost saving concepts and educating them how to explore their mail project options ahead of time.

Holder explained that postage costs are determined by:

  • Size/shape/weight of the mailed pieces
  • Automation attributes
    • Are the pieces machinable?
  • Sortation level
    • How much pre-sorting is involved?
  • Location
    • The distance between where the pieces are being mailed from to where they are sent.

“Any of these things that you, the campaign manager, can do ahead of time to make it easier and less work for the postal service will save you on postage,” Holder said. “Any piece that is designed and developed to meet postal service machinability specifications and helps cut down sorting time will cost you less.”

Holder told the audience that it is to their advantage to know and understand those mailing specifications and to “become part of the process” when planning their mail campaigns.

Holder offered examples of cost saving initiatives such as:

  • Consistency
    • Sending the same type of piece from the same location at the same time of month for an agreed upon timeframe. An example of this is a monthly organizational mailing. Doing this, Holder said, may grant a postage discount.
  • Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM)
    • Saturating a selected area or carrier route(s) with your communication piece. These pieces are not personalized, need no address and no sorting or machinability is needed. These are simply consistent printed pieces that are delivered to every address on selected routes.
    • This type of campaign is highly situational, Holder explained. He offered as an example of a local pizza shop or new business saturating a particular neighborhood with their promotional mail piece.
  • Good data
    • Proper data planning is essential to saving money and providing better campaign results, Holder said.
      • Ensure good, accurate addresses in mailing lists.
      • De-dupe lists.
        • No duplicate addresses.
      • Use a professional list service company.
        • Data service provider
        • List broker

Holder also cited mail rate promotions that the United States Postal Service offers its customers.

“I bet you didn’t even know the postal service offers discount promotions,” Holder asked the audience as he presented the year-long calendar. “Sometimes these postal discount promotions are as simple as adding a clickable ride-along to a campaign or a minor design change to a piece”

Holder concluded, saying that even a two-percent discount on a large mailing campaign can equate to saving thousands of dollars for postage. He said it’s always worth looking into or asking about these promotions.

Successful Communications Panel

communications panel

Monica Wittstock, Assistant Director of Communications, Law School
Amy Leyden, Director of Marketing & Sales, McNamara Alumni Center
Lisa Gruszka, Director of Orientation Programs, Orientation & Transition Experiences

Shawn Welch, Assistant Director, Printing Services

The panel of University communicators shared their experiences planning and executing highly successful marketing and communications campaigns at the University. Between the panel members and the moderator, all have years of service with the University ranging from 14-20 years.

Shawn opened the conversation with asking, “What excites you about being a U Communicator?

  • Monica: She has a love for communications and for advancing missions and goals for the organization. She also continues to learn through the new and emerging technologies.
  • Lisa: She works with new students and families, and she gets to watch how they interact with the communications that are put out. She mentioned how great it is to see all of the students together at convocation because she knows her team had a part in bringing them all together.
  • Amy: She never imagined she would be at the same job for 20 years. She loves the product she sells and believes the team she hired has excellent customer service. The evolution of communications keeps her interested with the development of digital print and social media. She continues to be energized and challenged by the ways we can communicate.

Shawn noted how there’s motivation and pride for the U and how at Printing Services they often remind themselves of the academic mission.

Shawn asked, “What’s been the most challenging project or part of communication?”

  • Lisa: She stated because they’re a central unit they often contend with competing interest, such as other colleges or departments. Everyone has a different angle.
    • A key challenge is communicating the messages that are important at that specific time.
    • They often help identify what the best strategy for communicating is because there’s 50-70 departments communicating to students.
    • Another challenge is working with the new generation of students and understanding them, learning how they may not be reading the communications being sent out.
  • Amy: A big challenge is convincing people who aren’t familiar with the U to come to the U for events. Non-U clients often assume there’s difficulties finding location and parking, and they worry about students interfering. They have a lot of messaging to assure people that this is all managed. Images have also been super important in messaging in order to sell the venue.
  • Monica: They’re a top 20 law school and so they’re in competition with others. Their challenge is making sure their messaging says that Minneapolis is the place to come. Print materials and social media are used to get messaging out and to help make events look more fun.
    • Budget is another challenge because they want to do more than is affordable.
    • Faculty can be a challenge because they have ideas on how they want things to look that isn’t in line with how the department communicates.
      • They have to make sure they stay on brand.
      • They have to help faculty understand why.

Shawn asked, “How did you overcome a challenge and what made it successful?”

  • Monica: Their annual impact of giving report is a big project. The challenge is getting people to donate. It was proven successful because the report delivers the message that state funding is getting less each year and that donations are very important. They received many donations after the report.
  • Lisa: The biggest project undertaken is the Gold Book. They used to take about six weeks to stuff about 14,000 folders with papers and it became overwhelming for students and families. After researching what other colleges and universities were doing, they worked with Shawn and Lisa at Printing Services to create the Gold Book. It’s written from the student’s perspective rather than from the department’s. The publication is theme-based, meaning there’s a section on safety that encompasses more than policing, as an example.
    • It took a lot of coaching with departments to get them to change how they communicate.
    • They used an external editor to ensure there’s one voice rather than many throughout the publication.
  • Amy: The website is one of the most important marketing pieces. They figured out it wasn’t beneficial to brand as belonging to the U because it doesn’t capture non-U clients. Since they’re privately owned, they can do things differently. When redesigning the website, they radically suggested moving away from the U of M branding. Instead, they played on the architecture of the building and used rich colors like gold and copper. Moving off brand has been really effective has it’s bringing in outside business. They have won two national awards: and

Shawn: “What does your planning process look like? What details are important?”

  • Lisa: They figure out what challenge they want to solve, such as having students read their newsletter. Branding heavily with maroon and gold and using special cut-out tabs were elements they wanted to include. There’s a lot of negotiating back and forth what the end product should look like. Her process is to always come with an idea, ask if it’s possible, and work through the steps to make it happen.
  • Monica: A lot of print is used at the law school. They have to figure out what their goal is and how to fit it into the overall message. Many of their donors are not digital savvy and that affects their focus. She primarily has worked with Julie Longo, meeting with her and talking over the vision. They often go over what has been done in the past. It’s iterative. The trust that people can have with the printing and design team helps make for an excellent product as well.
  • Amy: She loves that printing will meet her where she’s at. She often sketches out the ideas on paper and gives it to Shawn. They’ll have a dialogue of what’s recommended or what should be tweaked. She always asks for a sample before deciding on mass production. Open communication has been key and it needs to be clear.

Shawn: “Can you share about what’s comping up or what’s currently being worked on?”

  • Amy: In February 2020, it will be McNamara’s 20th anniversary. They’ll probably have a commemorative logo and an ice rink out on the plaza. They want to do things that will integrate with the U community. They’re also thinking of events they’ll host themselves that are more mission driven, such as a blood drive.
  • Lisa: They’re looking at what they’re doing with the web and video. She also is looking at the challenge of getting ahead of SnapChat as one of the communication channels that students are using.
  • Monica: They’re converting to Drupal8. Redesigning the website is one of their big projects. They’re also working with the digital version of the alumni magazine.

Questions from the audience

  • For Amy: What advice do you have on giving your users a platform to share about their experiences at McNamara?
    • Amy: Clients are their great ambassadors and help sell the venue. Tagging and general social media is in their favor as well. They also ask to share posts and they receive a lot of testimonials from clients.
  • For Lisa: How can other departments be more strategic in their communications? How do you open up those conversations so that they’re not in silos?
    • Lisa: They do an audit where they take all of the communication that’s shared by departments at orientation. A content map is created and they figure out how often information is being shared. They look for redundancies, which to eliminate and which that need to be emphasized such as academic expectations. Departments get coached on what their message is so it’s not being continuously repeated. Moving to SalesForce will help them track messages being communicated easier.
  • For everyone: Can you talk about some different measures to evaluate whether your communication is successful or not?
    • Amy: They have a form that asks “how did you hear about us.” They also have a promo code sometimes and, if it’s used, that tells them of success as well.
    • Monica: Anything that gets sent to donors has special tracking. They’re able to compare how many people have donated versus how many received letters. They also check their mentions and social media.

Ink on Paper

Presented by Nathan Mallmann of Neenah Paper and Mike Flanders of Mallard Ink

Nathan Mallmann and Mike Flanders co-presented an informational seminar promoted as, helping to elevate your print projects. The presentation was engaging and informative, sparking constructive questions and conversations from the audience.

Mallmann began the presentation stating, “The world goes around in white paper by volume, but I’m here to introduce you to some cool and creative options.”

Mallmann followed with some high-level background information about paper used in the print industry and specifically about the Neenah Paper Company, stating that most of their paper is produced in Wisconsin and the wood comes from sustainable forestry lands.

“Did you know that paper production is one of the greenest industries,” Mallmann asked the audience? “Recycling is a very big component of what we do.”

Mallmann explained Neenah’s “Circle of Life” recycled paper production concept:

  • Trees used to make the paper pulp come from well managed forestry lands
    • For every one tree that is taken, three are planted
    • The forests are self-rejuvenating
    • There is little disruption to the wildlife and the land stays in tact
  • Paper is manufactured using the pulp produced from the wood of those managed forestry trees
  • The manufactured paper is sent to the merchant (printer)
  • Printers use this paper to produce projects for their customers
  • Customers use and then recycle the printed pieces/projects
  • That paper is de-inked and mixed with forestry wood to make new pulp
  • That pulp is sent to paper manufacturer and the process begins all over again

“Making paper is the unique process of turning a pulp-slurry from 98% moisture to a solid substrate with only 4-5% moisture content, “Mallmann said.

Mallman further explained that in the future he expects industry recycling efforts to continue and grow. He also expects managed forest lands to become even more sustainable and envisions continued improved efficiencies in the paper production process.

During his presentation, Mallman also explained the many different types of paper that are produced such as textured, coated, uncoated, colored, and so on. He presented the audience members with a sample book that demonstrated various paper options, implying a multitude of creative opportunities.

Flanders continued the presentation explaining the components of ink used in printing and offering a tutorial about the four-color printing process and the use of Pantone PMS ink colors; how they can be used together or in separate processes depending on the customer’s print project specifications. He then offered examples of pigmented inks, metallic inks and pastel ink colors.

“Using ink in a printing process is like making a cake,” Flanders said. “You can buy a box of mix off the shelf or you can buy all the ingredients separately and mix them yourself.”

He used that analogy to help explain using manufactured PMS colors or producing colors using the four-color (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) printing process.

“The determination of which ink process to use, or a combination of both, is completely determined by the scope of the project,” Flanders said. “It can be basic or it can be very complex.”

He further explained why it is so important to pre-plan printing projects from start to finish. Flanders said every aspect has to be considered from paper selection to ink color usage to additional processes like using aqueous coatings, spot varnishes or UV coating. He also acknowledged post-printing options such as foiling or laminating.

“You have to know your finished product,” Flanders said. “The ink has to work with the paper, whether it’s coated or uncoated, and it has to be able to work with all of the creative aspects and additional processes of the project as well.”

Flanders concluded the presentation explaining Mallard’s environmentally conscious production process. He explained their manufacturing facility uses solar power and the majority of their ink components are actually “edible oils”. He used a Crisco example and said they avoid petroleum-based ingredients as much as possible, but when those are used they’re regulated.