Postage Price Increases: 3 Strategic Recommendations from Nahan

In my role as the Manager of Logistics and Postal Affairs here at Nahan, I get a front row seat to the going pricing trends and how they continue to affect Nahan’s clients.

In recent years, we’ve all felt the squeeze of rising postal prices. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been quite forthcoming about utilizing its full rate authority for each rate increase. This scenario necessitates a proactive approach to direct mail planning to harness available USPS promotions and discounts effectively.

In this article, I’ll share my top three recommendations to help direct mailers not just survive but thrive in this evolving postal landscape. From leveraging USPS promotions to optimizing your mail design and integrating advanced logistics solutions, I’ll provide insights that can lead to significant savings and greater campaign success.

Let’s dive into how you can turn these postal challenges into opportunities.

1. Leverage USPS Promotions and Discounts

When working with our diverse set of clients, I constantly emphasize the importance of leveraging USPS promotions to mitigate the rising costs of postal rates. For 2024, there are several key promotions that can significantly reduce your mailing expenses if utilized correctly.

Here’s how you can take full advantage of these opportunities:

Qualifying for the 30% Volume Discount

The USPS offers a substantial 30% discount for mailers who exceed their previous year’s mailing volumes or send over 1 million pieces in 2024. To qualify for this discount, it’s essential to understand and meet these volume thresholds. For detailed guidance on this process, please refer to our “Mail Smarter” guide where we dive deeper into how you can meet these criteria.

Registering and Maximizing the Rebate Schedule

Registering for USPS promotions can seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can be streamlined and highly beneficial. The key is to start early and allow experts like us at Nahan to guide you through the process.

By reaching out to us from the onset, you can ensure that all steps from registration to taking full advantage of the rebate schedule are handled efficiently and correctly.

Utilizing Specific Promotions

For 2024, the USPS has highlighted several promotions such as Tactile Sensory and Interactive (TSI), Informed Delivery, and Emerging and Advanced Technology (EAT). Many mailers might not realize the range of materials that qualify for TSI — even the paper type used in printing could make your mail eligible.

Always consult with us at Nahan to assess your mail’s eligibility for these promotions. In cases where TSI or Informed Delivery might not apply, a mail piece can usually be easily brought into compliance with the Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion with only minor changes to your piece’s creative. The EAT promotion provides a slightly lower discount but offers flexibility as it can be applied to any six-month period chosen by the mail owner.

Common Pitfalls in Applying for USPS Promotions

One of the most recurrent issues we’ve observed is when customers attempt to set up their own USPS promotional campaigns without expert guidance, leading to complications and missed benefits.

My strong advice is to let us at Nahan act as your subject matter experts. This approach ensures that all aspects of the USPS promotion application are managed correctly, avoiding common pitfalls and maximizing your promotional benefits.

Planning Your Campaigns with USPS Promotions in Mind

Ideally, integrating USPS promotions into your direct mail strategy should begin as soon as a job is booked, with USPS approval secured before the data sorting stage. However, we understand that plans can evolve, and are always ready to help our customers find the best solutions.

2. Optimize Mail Designs for Cost-Effectiveness

Optimizing mail designs for cost-effectiveness remains a fundamental strategy for our clients. We focus on crafting mail pieces that are not only impactful in their messaging but also structured to maximize postal discounts with minimal adjustments.

Here’s how we approach the optimization of mail designs:

Design Adjustments for USPS Discounts

While we covered USPS promotions extensively in the previous section, it’s important to touch on specific design adjustments that can help qualify for these discounts with minimal changes. For example, incorporating a QR code or adding interactive elements like “Hey Alexa” prompts can qualify a mail piece for the Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion. These small tweaks are simple yet effective ways to enhance engagement while taking advantage of postal savings.

Design Trend: The Rise of Mini-catalogs

One important design trend for retail marketers has been the conversion of traditional catalogs into mini-catalogs. This change allows mailers to benefit from lower postage rates by shifting from flat rates to the more economical letter rates. Though it’s becoming a common practice, the savings potential makes it a noteworthy strategy for any catalog campaign.

Collaborative Design Optimization at Nahan

Ensuring that mail designs meet both marketing and postal requirements is a collaborative effort at Nahan. Both our Postal Team and our Technical Service Representatives (TSRs) routinely check pieces as part of their standard process, providing an additional layer of assurance that every mail piece aligns with both postal guidelines and client marketing objectives.

At Nahan, we understand that effective direct mail campaigns require a balance between creative marketing and stringent compliance with postal regulations.

Our dual-focus approach ensures that your campaigns not only resonate with your audience but also capitalize on cost-saving opportunities offered through smart design practices.

3. Integrate Advanced Logistics Solutions

Effective logistics planning is crucial in direct mail campaigns, especially as postal rates and operational costs continue to rise. At Nahan, we employ sophisticated logistics solutions to ensure cost-efficient distribution and transportation that align with the specific needs of each campaign.

Here’s a closer look at how we optimize logistics for direct mail:

Advanced Distribution Methods

In our logistics strategy, we incorporate freight consolidation, CoMailing, and Comingling. These methods significantly reduce mailing costs by inducting deeper in the postal stream and improving mailing sortation.

By consolidating shipments, we leverage USPS drop ship discounts while reducing the cost of transportation carried by any one client. This also reduces the number of touches a mail piece requires, thus minimizing handling and the potential for delays.

Commingling and comailing serve to enhance the data sort for many clients across a combined pool, thus improving qualification levels and lowering postage for all.

Ensuring On-Time Delivery

Ensuring on-time delivery is always a top priority. We work with multiple logistics partners to create a robust network that supports our distribution strategies. By having redundancies in place, we can swiftly react to and recover from any emergencies that may arise. This proactive approach minimizes disruptions and ensures that your direct mail campaigns are delivered on schedule.

Conclusion

The rising cost of postage is top of mind for all mailers this year, especially with the latest increase just around the corner in July. I believe the strategies outlined in this article can help marketers not only navigate the current rise in postage but continue to thrive in the direct mail channel. We’re here to help.

Let’s connect! We’d love to learn more about your direct mail campaign goals.


Navigating the Shift: Direct Mail’s Role in a World Without Third-Party Cookies

Even seasoned marketers can find it challenging to stay on top of the latest developments in the digital advertising industry. The anticipated phase-out of third-party cookies by Google this year marks another disruptive change in an uncertain market. Now that it is upon us, many marketers are scrambling to fully understand its implications for their strategies and budget allocations.

In light of this shift to a post-cookie landscape, it is crucial for direct marketers to evaluate several key facets of their marketing program.

The Rising Cost and Complexity of Digital Acquisition

Since rebounding from the pandemic, digital advertising spending has continued to grow. However, like many other aspects of the economy, costs have surged across major platforms.

Companies are keen to reach new customers through digital channels, but privacy changes and the competition for attention have made it increasingly challenging. Additionally, the emergence of Retail Media and Connected TV has significantly influenced budgets and strategies for marketers. The phase-out of third-party cookies is poised to add further pressure to Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) as marketers adapt to the evolving digital data landscape.

Measurement remains a critical concern, with ongoing shifts such as Google’s introduction of new products like Privacy Sandbox and Meridian.

These changes are causing significant challenges for the digital advertising industry, as marketers are under tremendous pressure to deliver results. With budgets growing yet remaining tight, there is little room for inefficiency.

Direct Mail Delivers

While direct mail may have a higher Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), it justifies this with a significant Return on Investment (ROI) of 161 percent for house lists, as reported by the ANA 2024 Response Rate Report. In contrast, email house lists yield an ROI of 44%, and social media ads come in at 21%. This stark difference underscores direct mail’s crucial contribution to an omnichannel strategy, highlighting its efficiency and effectiveness in reaching and engaging customers.

Despite its effectiveness, direct mail is not without its challenges, notably the significant increase in postal rates over recent years. These challenges have compelled direct marketers to prioritize data, production and postal optimization to ensure their direct mail campaigns effectively reach the intended audience and yield tangible results for brands.

We exist in an omnichannel environment where actions in one channel invariably affect other channels. Will the elimination of third-party cookies prompt brands to shift their spending from digital to direct mail marketing? Through the use of meta-models and digital overlays (matching direct mail to the digital universe for integrated advertising), marketers can optimize how they engage customers across both channels in a targeted and personalized manner.

What’s the key?

The Unmatched Value of Household Addresses

 

Household addresses have proven to be an indispensable data set for marketers amidst evolving privacy regulations impacting digital advertising. As identifying consumers online becomes increasingly complex, household addresses emerge as a steadfast identifier.

“In contrast to ephemeral digital identifiers, a physical address offers a stable and reliable way to reach consumers directly within their homes,” says Nahan VP of Strategy, Alan Sherman

This durability makes household addresses an invaluable resource for marketing, facilitating targeted and personalized communications that navigate privacy concerns while effectively engaging the target audience. Such enduring value cements direct mail’s role as a dependable and stable channel in the midst of the digital landscape’s uncertainties. In addition, the availability of home address combined with name makes possible the appending of demographic and other data essential for marketing analytics.

Navigating Omnichannel Marketing Complexity with Expertise

Navigating the current marketing landscape has become increasingly complex in the post-pandemic economy, where shifts, such as the phasing out of third-party cookies and the introduction of new tools by major platforms, can significantly impact strategies.

At Nahan, we view these changes in digital advertising as opportunities for brands that are agile and prepared to confidently pursue data optimization. We recognize that each brand faces unique marketing challenges and are committed to helping navigate these opportunities to achieve their growth objectives.

We assist brands in leveraging data-driven insights, optimizing channel mix, and deploying cutting-edge technologies for precise targeting and personalization. Our goal is to ensure that marketing strategies not only comply with current regulations but are also well-positioned for future shifts in the digital ecosystem.

Conclusion

As we conclude, it’s essential to recognize the dynamic nature of digital targeting and the critical role of integrating advanced direct mail strategies into the omnichannel marketing mix. This integration ensures privacy, enables personalization, and drives high engagement with customers, addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by the evolving marketing landscape.

Let’s connect! We’re eager to discuss how direct mail campaigns can elevate your marketing strategy.


Nahan Achieves Star Two – AIM in PIM’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Accreditation Program

(SAINT CLOUD, Minn.) – February 29, 2024 – Nahan is thrilled to announce it has achieved Star Two – AIM, in the Printing Industry Midwest’s (PIM) Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Accreditation Program. This milestone reflects Nahan’s ongoing dedication to advancing DE&I within its operations and the broader industry. Building on the foundational Star One – Commitment award, this new recognition underscores Nahan’s proactive measures to foster a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

In achieving Star Two – AIM, Nahan has made significant strides in embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) into the fabric of its organization. This achievement reflects a dedicated review of operational ethos, with a shift towards creating an environment that not only welcomes but actively champions diversity.

“We’ve innovated our approach to talent acquisition and management, ensuring our practices and policies not only meet but exceed the standards for inclusivity. Through a holistic evaluation of our procedures, from recruitment to supplier relationships, Nahan has set a new benchmark for DE&I commitment, embodying our belief in the power of diverse perspectives to drive meaningful progress,” says Elena Taylor, Director of Human Resources.

Chad Coss, VP, Human Resources at Nahan continues: “We believe that a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is not just morally right, but is also critical to our success as a business. Achieving the Star Two – AIM is a testament to our team’s hard work and the actionable steps we’ve taken to make our workplace and industry more inclusive. We’re not just aiming for change; we’re making it happen, and we will continue to build on this momentum to ensure DE&I remains at the heart of our operations.”

The Star Two – AIM level is part of PIM’s structured DE&I Accreditation Program, designed to support companies in the print and graphic communications industry in developing and implementing DE&I initiatives. Nahan is among the pioneering companies to navigate this progressive path, reinforcing its role as a leader in promoting diversity and inclusivity within the industry.

About Nahan
Nahan is a premier provider of direct marketing and print solutions, offering a comprehensive suite of services including strategy, creative, data, analytics, print production, mailing, logistics, and fulfillment. From its beginnings in 1962, Nahan has grown from a family-owned print shop to a dynamic team of professionals dedicated to delivering marketing strategies and solutions that drive results. For more information, visit www.Nahan.com.

About Printing Industry Midwest (PIM)
Printing Industry Midwest (PIM) is the trade association for print service providers in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. PIM supports the print and graphic communications industry through resources that promote growth and sustainability. For more details, visit www.pimw.org or contact PIM at 612.400.6200.

About PIM’s DE&I Program
The PIM Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Accreditation Program, driven by the PIM Diversity Coalition, aims to foster foundational changes in industry practices related to recruiting, hiring, and training. The program sets benchmarks for companies striving to create more diverse and inclusive environments. For more information, please email diversity@pimw.org or visit www.pimw.org/diversity/.

Multi-sourced Data Builds and Improves Upon Single Credit Bureau Data

For most financial and insurance marketers, credit bureau data is the single most important component of direct mail success. When you are partnering with a credit bureau, it’s likely not apparent that an even better data targeting solution exists.

Nahan delivers a higher-performing alternative to single source credit bureau data. Our multi-sourced data solution leverages real-time credit bureau data and enhances performance via the use of additional data sources and a unique and unmatched approach to analytics. Response rates and other metrics typically see improvement of 20-50% over traditional results.

The Challenges with Single Bureau Data

A single bureau relationship covers just 80% of those with a credit history. If a predictive model is used, it frequently uses credit data only. Challenges include older credit data and longer processing times, meaning data is not as fresh and accurate as it could be. There are concerns over data accuracy and quality – up to 15% of bureau files contain invalid data. A single bureau is usually limited in credit inquiry coverage for trigger processing.

Benefits of Nahan’s Real-Time Credit Bureau and Multi-Source Data

We can leverage data from all three major credit bureaus as well as over 20 alt-credit, demographic and specialty files, dramatically increasing coverage and offering over 30,000 data attributes for our META Models. We provide significantly more predictive data with the fastest turnaround from request to delivery. Credit bureau data pulls can be bureaucratic and take some time, whereas our resources contain real-time credit bureau data, received and updated nightly. We can deliver data faster than a bureau – faster means fresher and more accurate. This broadens the scope of lead generation and data analysis, offering a much wider and deeper pool of predictive data attributes.

We feature superior META Models designed to take advantage of diverse credit and ITA data sources and deliver superior results. A multi-model solution delivers better model discrimination, greater predictive accuracy, and a continual updating process. Rather than building traditional predictive models that often grow “stale” and need to be rebuilt over time as business and market conditions change and evolve, our models are continually fed with response data to remain current. These models have the ability to adjust to current business goals, focusing on factors like response, conversion, loan amount, cost of acquisition, quote rate, premium amount and more.

Many of our clients have long-term credit bureau relationships and are reluctant to switch from bureau data they are familiar with. This is not a problem – they can maintain the relationship and the data – we build models that use the data but improve upon it with the inclusion of additional non-bureau data sources.

As part of our services, we include proprietary data linkage and hygiene methods that substantially improve upon USPS NCOA and standard hygiene processing. USPS move forms are typically filled out by only 50% of the population. We use the sheer amount of data that we manage to determine the best addresses for delivery. This increases the precision of targeting and reaches potential customers more effectively. A recent prospect mailing file analysis identified 11% of their mail file was sub-par in quality with an associated 33% drop in response vs. the rest of file. Nahan fixed their future files for superior results.

Discover the power of multi-sourced credit and ITA data in transforming your financial or insurance marketing strategies.

Unlock the Power of Precision Data with Nahan!

Transform your direct marketing with Nahan’s proven, data-driven strategies. Leverage our advanced data capabilities and personalized, results-oriented services to enhance your campaign performance. At Nahan, we prioritize real connections and actionable insights, offering solutions based on proof, not promises. To explore how we can achieve big wins for your direct mail efforts, fill out the form below to speak to one of our dedicated Client Solutions Representatives.

Let’s start a conversation today about your direct mail programs!


USPS Postal Rates & Promotions for 2024: Mail Smarter

The USPS has announced the proposed new postage rates to be implemented on July 14th, 2024.

Standard Letters: 7.8% average increase

Standard Flats: 9.8% average increase

For your convenience, a printable rate chart can be downloaded here.

The USPS Postal Promotions are a valuable resource for marketers to save money by mailing smarter. With inflation pressures still lingering and postal rates increasing, it’s becoming more expensive to send direct mail which is why it’s even more important to take advantage of the postal promotions, and work with agencies to make sure you are maximizing your ROI through personalization, testing and advanced predictive modeling.   

For your easy access, you can download the promotions guide and rates for printing here. The guidebook provides a quick glance over each promotion’s most important information including eligibility and effective dates. For more detailed information on each promotion, please visit https://postalpro.usps.com/promotions. 

Let’s dive into the most important changes in this year’s Postal Promotions and how you can use them to your advantage.  

 

What’s Changed? 

In 2024, the USPS is introducing a significant volume discount, presenting an opportunity for substantial savings on mail campaigns:

30% Discount: Mailers sending volumes above fiscal year 2023 levels or 1 million pieces in 2024 are eligible for a 30% discount.

Rebates Schedule: Credits will be issued in July 2024, October 2024, and January-February 2025.

Registration: Starting in November 2023, mailers can register for the discount through the USPS Business Customer Gateway.

Validity: Postage credits remain valid until December 31, 2025.

2024 USPS Promotions:

  • Tactile Sensory and Interactive – 5%: February – July
    • 2024 is the last year that gloss paper stocks will be eligible
  • INFORMED DELIVERY – 4%: AUGUST – DECEMBER
  • Emerging and Advance Technology – 3%: Any six-month period
    • 2024 is the last year for the mobile shopping promotion.
    • Customers can now pick their own six month window this promotion as well.

Save Money With Informed Delivery 

Marketers who utilize Informed delivery will once again receive a 4% discount in 2024. Informed Delivery is a free program for consumers who wish to participate that allows them to see photos of the mail before it arrives.  

It consists of two main elements: 

1) A large grayscale image of the piece or a 4-color representative image of the mailer. 

2) A smaller, accompanying image that offers interactive marketing potential. Clicking on this image or on the “Learn More” call to action opens the URL associated with the campaign. It can also be used to open a marketer’s phone app for the recipient to call. 

With over 44 million consumers signed up for Informed Delivery, there is major potential for marketers to take advantage of that audience with links and Call-To-Actions accompanying the user’s mail images.  

How Nahan Provides Cost-Effective Mailing Solutions

  • Logistics expertise – We have a team of logistics experts to help our customers determine the best mailing and transportation method for their needs. The team is always on top of what’s going on with industry changes and is quick to respond.
  • Multiple shipping methods – We have three primary shipping options: co-mail, commingle, and drop-ship, all of which our team of experts can help you choose from to best support your needs.
  • Advocating for our customers – Throughout industry changes, we remain committed to finding the best postage rates for our customers and by the best means possible relative to desired transit times and in-home dates.
  • Active support – We actively monitor, recommend, and assist with approvals to allow clients to take advantage of USPS postal promotions. This often saves clients 3-5% on their postage, which is typically the largest component of direct mail spend.

The printing and direct marketing industry could not exist without the partnership of the USPS to deliver your eye-catching and action-driving piece to your consumer. The team at Nahan is here to help you find solutions to minimize postage and transportation costs and drive improved marketing return on investment (ROI).

7 Things Mailers Need to Know for 2024

As we slide into 2024, we’re coming off a rollercoaster year of uncertainty, bouncing between downbeat predictions about a recession and the possibility of a soft landing with interest rate cuts in 2024. Along the way, the buzz around AI was unavoidable, with many marketers diving headfirst into using new tools like ChatGPT as part of their evolving processes.

Mailers, as always, will be paying close attention to postal rates, which are set to increase again in January, but there’s also good news in the form of marketing mail incentives. We’ve put our heads together, analyzed our news clippings, and have developed what we believe are seven things every mailer should keep an eye out for in 2024. Of course, this being the marketing industry, we can probably expect some surprises and new developments. One thing remains certain, though, and that’s the effectiveness of direct mail and catalogs. Direct marketing remains one of the key drivers for acquisition and brand building.

USPS Marketing Mail Incentives and Postage Increases

If there’s one topic that’s sure to get direct mailers talking, it’s postal rates. As with overall inflation, rates have climbed steadily the last few years with additional price increase arriving in January and July. However, there are ways for mailers to save money with some exceptional discounts and promotions. This is one area where mailers want to make sure they are working with partners that understand the intricacies of these promotions.

In 2024, the USPS is introducing a significant volume discount, presenting an opportunity for substantial savings on mail campaigns:

30% Discount: Mailers sending volumes above fiscal year 2023 levels or 1 million pieces in 2024 are eligible for a 30% discount.

Rebates Schedule: Credits will be issued in July 2024, October 2024, and January-February 2025.

Registration: Starting in November 2023, mailers can register for the discount through the USPS Business Customer Gateway.

Validity: Postage credits remain valid until December 31, 2025.

2024 USPS Promotions:

  • Tactile Sensory and Interactive – 5%: February – July
    • 2024 is the last year that gloss paper stocks will be eligible
  • INFORMED DELIVERY – 4%: AUGUST – DECEMBER
  • Emerging and Advance Technology – 3%: Any six-month period
    • 2024 is the last year for the mobile shopping promotion.
    • Customers can now pick their own six month window this promotion as well.

We looked to our in-house USPS expert Brandon Jacklin, Director of Postal Logics to share his perspective and advice for mailers: “The post office has been clear about two things- that all available rate authority will be used at each and every postage rate increase, and that postal promotions are here to stay.  So don’t leave money on the table- with a variety of qualifying treatments and options, most any piece can be made to qualify for a 3-5% discount with only minor changes, and the Nahan team is standing by to assist with the entire process from the initial design to the final postage statement cleared.”

In addition to postage incentives, the emergence of the Congressional Printing Caucus as a new voice for the industry on Capitol Hill underscores the evolving political landscape affecting direct marketing. This development points to an increased recognition of the industry’s significance and the need for its representation at the national level.

Shift to Smaller Formats in Retail/Catalog Direct Mail

As highlighted in a recent Retail Brew article, retailers continue to leverage catalogs and direct mail as key channels for brand storytelling and product showcasing, despite the rise of online advertising. Polly Wong, president of Belardi Wong, explains the strategic reasoning: “The No. 1 reason is that most of our clients are sophisticated marketers who understand the risk of over-reliance on just Google and Meta.”

She points out the increasing costs of digital advertising over the past five years. “CPMs and CPCs are up by double digits,” Wong notes. “With the rising costs in digital marketing, it turns out you can send four targeted direct mail pieces for the cost of one digital click.

However, the increase in postal rates and cost of paper has created a shift to smaller, more cost-effective formats. Small format catalogs complemented by self-mailers have given retailers more flexibility to stay nimble and creative with their mailings. We see this as a continuing trend into 2024, and view it as an ongoing opportunity for innovation and efficiency while not losing on performance.

One person that understands this shift almost better than anyone in the industry is Mark Groff, our Vice President Eastern Region Sales. Mark has worked with some of the top retail brands from Fortune 500 stalwarts to rising DTC innovators for the past 30+ years. We asked him for his insights on this shift and here’s what he had to say:

“The 2020 pandemic showed that retailers who continued direct mail campaigns remained successful. Given the rising costs of postage, paper, and labor, it’s crucial to maintain cost-effective strategies. We’re observing a trend towards smaller, 6×9” catalogs and folded self-mailers mailed at lower postal rates, saving significantly per piece. While large catalogs are still used for extensive merchandise ranges and seasonal offerings, smaller formats are increasingly popular for specific segments or promotions. In 2024, marketers will need to carefully consider these options for optimal efficiency.”

Multisourced Data Analytics for Predictive Modeling

Most mailings nowadays involve the use of predictive analytics to select prospects for targeting. Direct mail is an investment, and so every marketer wants to be able to identify those most likely to respond and purchase. The vast majority of predictive models are built upon data provided by a single data provider.

Nahan’s Vice President of Marketing Strategy, Alan Sherman noted, “We are seeing better performance coming from multi-sourced analytic tools – predictive models known as “META” models. These are models that are constructed by bringing together several models, each built upon a different data source, such as a demographic compiled file, credit bureau data (if applicable), alt-credit and niche data.” Typically, these models are built against a pool of data files licensed by a group of data providers. With an exponentially larger pool of some 20+ data providers and 30,000+ data attributes, these models have much more potential predictive data to work with. When more data is available to work with, a better analytic tool is the result.

These models demonstrate greater discrimination and predictive power and are continually updated via ongoing response data. They don’t grow “stale” over time, and don’t need to be rebuilt when the market or marketer’s priorities change. They tend to deliver response lifts of some 20-40% over traditional single data provider models.

The AI Impact on Marketing Augmentation

It’s been a year since the arrival of ChatGPT and ever since there’s been a steady flow of discourse about how it will impact every aspect of business, including direct marketing. Machine learning and AI have already had major impacts on the data and modeling side of the equation, and will continue to improve in 2024.

The recent AI hype focuses more on Generative AI and you can’t really go a day without learning how marketers are incorporating it into their workflows for brainstorming, analysis and research.

It would be foolish for us to predict where all of this is going so like everyone else we are advising to pay close attention to the narrative and new developments. Will there be more hype? Of course, but there will likely be some new innovations and applications that will genuinely help marketers create more efficiencies and productivity gains.

This article in Adage caught our attention as one of the way that brands are starting to experiment with using AI-generated customer profiles for deeper insights into consumer preferences. While it will take some time to refine these approaches, there’s no question that using AI to better understand customer desires and expectations will gain more traction, and likely create an interesting dialogue within the industry.

We’ve also seen some interesting experiments using generative AI for direct response copy, and this will certainly continue. AI chatbots will become more common for certain and marketers will find all sorts of new ways to augment and optimize their workflows.

We are currently using ChatGPT for our weekly internal news summaries and it has helped us identify some trends that we might have overlooked. While a lot of the focus has been on how ChatGPT outputs text, what it really excels at thus far in our estimation is in sorting and synthesizing text to get to the core ideas and principles.

Interest Rate Policy and the Economy

When the Federal Reserve started it’s campaign to battle inflation by rapidly raising interest rates, the consensus in the financial world was that a recession would result at some point in 2023. But that didn’t happen, and inflation has slowed substantially the last year but remains stubbornly above the 2% target rate.

So what comes next? There are already predictions that the Fed will cut interest rates as inflation stabilizes and this could potentially have a major impact for direct marketers, especially those in the financial services, mortgage, and insurance sectors which are highly sensitive to interest rate policy.

But there’s no guarantee the economy is out of the woods just yet and a recession could still be in the cards at some point in 2024. While there’s growing optimism for a soft landing, where inflation comes down without a significant downturn in the economy, there still remains much needed caution. It could another turbulent year where marketers and mailers need to remain nimble and laser focused on what the data and market are signaling.

Our VP of Finance, Bri Bennet had this to share: “The impact of interest rate changes to key sectors like finance and insurance offers unique challenges and opportunities. Our industry’s adeptness at navigating evolving market conditions underlines our potential to drive impactful direct marketing strategies in the coming year.”

The Final Countdown for Third-Party Cookies

Third-party cookies, long a staple in digital advertising, face extinction in 2024 with Google set to deprecate them from the Chrome browser. This change, driven by evolving consumer privacy expectations, leaves the advertising industry at a crossroads. The industry must now pivot towards first-party data and explore innovative customer engagement strategies.

Krista Black, VP of Marketing at Nahan, notes, “As digital marketers adjust to these shifts, we anticipate a reallocation of ad budgets, favoring channels like direct marketing and print. This presents a prime opportunity to harness highly targeted direct mail to reach specific audiences, maintain ROI, and drive growth in the midst of digital uncertainty.”

Sustainability in Print

We’re passionate about print and are dedicated to its sustainable future. Recognizing the importance of sustainability, especially as younger generations demand environmentally conscious practices from their favored brands, we’ve embraced this ethos in our operations.

In 2023, the evolution of digital printing continued to advance sustainability efforts in the printing industry. This technology, continuously improving in efficiency and eco-friendliness, has become a key part of sustainable printing practices.

Nahan’s VP of Production, Paul Overn, shares his perspective: “Aligning with industry trends, our commitment to sustainability involves adopting sustainable materials and practices, positively impacting the environment, and meeting global standards.”

Key aspects of Nahan’s sustainability practices include:

  • Environmental Best Practices: Using recycled paper, optimizing packaging, and implementing energy-efficient workplace solutions.
  • Eco-Friendly Ink and Coatings: Utilizing vegetable and soy-based inks and low VOC coatings, emphasizing renewable resources.
  • Industry Certifications: Proudly holding certifications from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI®).
  • Recycling Initiatives: Strong commitment to recycling various materials, including paper, plastics, and metals.
  • Continuous Environmental Improvement: Ensuring compliance with regulations and constantly seeking more energy-efficient methods.

These practices reflect our dedication to contributing in creating a healthy, sustainable print industry where great catalogs and marketing materials continue to play a vital role in creating awareness for brands.

Conclusion

2024 is shaping up to be another interesting, complex year for the mailers and marketers. We think these seven topics will probably dominate the conversation in one way or another but of course that could always change. We’re excited about what’s ahead but if the last few years have taught us anything it’s that we need to be prepared for the unexpected.

Innovation, Insights, Impact: Welcome to Nahan Magazine

Our creative team at Nahan has been bustling with activity; balancing client projects while also spearheading our internal branding initiatives. Over the past year, we’ve focused our content marketing efforts on diving into some of the complex challenges direct marketers face in today’s competitive marketplace. These collaborative efforts have inspired us to create something more tangible: Nahan Magazine.

“Our mission is simple: to stimulate conversation, foster real connections, and provide actionable insights.” – Mike Ertel, CEO

In our inaugural issue, we delve into a variety of topics that are at the forefront of the direct marketing industry. From trends and strategies to the intricacies of targeting and the transformation brought about by digital printing, we’ve covered it all. Highlights include:

  • A personal welcome and insights from our CEO, Mike Ertel
  • An overview of current “Direct Marketing Trends”
  • Strategies for navigating through a “Stormy Economic Environment”
  • Exploring “Informed Creative” and why “Personalization Matters”
  • The battle between “Behavioral Targeting vs Demographic Targeting”
  • “The Risk in Not Testing Your Direct Mail”
  • Unpacking “Trigger Mailing – When the Dominos Begin to Fall”
  • The transformative impact of “Digital Printing – Changing the Face of Direct Mail”
  • The advantages of working with the “Catalog Printing Pros”
  • An Introduction to Nahan’s White Papers

With the content curation complete, the next challenge was bringing these articles to life through creative design. That’s where our talented design team came into the picture, taking full creative reign on this side project. The result is a vibrant magazine of which we are all proud.

“Direct mail design is typically very methodical and targeted. This magazine was a blank slate, allowing us to flex our creativity using imagery and typography to convey the insights from the content,” shares Mike Dietz, Executive Creative Director. The magazine stands as a testament to our belief in the power of creativity in direct marketing, proving that design is the unsung hero of direct mail.

Laura Karels, Lead Designer on the project adds, “This was a fun opportunity for us to step outside of the box; to be both the client and the designer at once.” The magazine presented a unique challenge, differing from direct mail, which usually aims to get someone to open an envelope and take action. “With this cover, we want people to stop, question it, and be intrigued enough to open the magazine,” Laura explains.

Mike elaborates on the design process,“We worked on each spread independently, thinking about how to visually convey the content through engaging typography and imagery.” This independent approach to each article ensured a unique and dynamic spread, maintaining the reader’s interest throughout the magazine.

“We had the chance to step out of the direct mail mindset and present our content in a visually interesting way,” says Mike. The magazine not only showcases our expertise in the industry but also serves as a valuable resource for pros in the direct marketing space.

Laura shares her enthusiasm for the project: “There’s so much content in the magazine that demonstrates our team’s expertise. It’s a visual testament that we care deeply about helping our clients navigate the complexities of direct marketing.”

As you explore the pages of Nahan Magazine, you’ll find it is more than just a showcase of creative skill. It is a resource rich in insights and inspiration and a companion in your marketing journey.

Thank you for taking the time to explore Nahan Magazine. We are excited to share this journey with you and we hope you find inspiration, insights, and ideas to elevate your marketing efforts.

 

Decoding Direct Mail Plans: A Checklist for Marketers

Here at Nahan, our Strategy and Account Services Teams know just how vital a meticulously crafted direct mail plan is to the success of any campaign. Trust us, it’s not just about sending mail, it’s a delicate balance of art and data science. A well-thought-out plan guides your campaign from start to finish, providing the flexibility for real-time adjustments and mitigating unexpected challenges.

To help you navigate this journey, we’ve developed a comprehensive checklist. Think of it as your roadmap to a successful direct mail campaign, ensuring each dollar spent translates into real, meaningful engagement.

Determining Your Target Audience

The first and perhaps most crucial step in building a successful direct mail campaign is recognizing your target audience. By identifying and sizing your audience initially, you set the stage for a campaign aligned with your specific goals – be it maximizing lead quantity, focusing on high-quality conversions, or even building brand awareness.

In our experience, assumptions can be risky. You may think you know your customer demographics, but reality often tells a different story. It’s worth taking the time to understand who your most loyal and profitable customers are. We believe in letting the data do the “talking.”

Are they the same as your broader audience?

The attributes of your loyal customer base can serve as a blueprint for identifying your acquisition audience.

Leveraging modern predictive modeling techniques provides deep insights into which data attributes within a prospect or customer universe are indicative of response. These insights can inform you which messaging, creative and offers may resonate with your audience. Models rank the target audience, enabling marketers to target just those deemed likely to respond, thus enabling a more efficient budget allocation and minimizing unnecessary expenditures.

Nowadays, with the cost of marketing continuing to rise, predictive analytics are a must for targeting.

Checklist

  • Clarify Campaign Objectives: Before you dive into audience identification, be clear about your campaign’s goals. Are you looking to generate a large number of leads, focus on high-quality conversions, or increase brand awareness? Your objectives will influence the rest of your planning steps.
  • Identify Your Audience: Through comprehensive market research, understand who you’re targeting. Go beyond assumptions and investigate whether your perceived audience matches your actual customer base. It may be useful to build a customer profile by appending demographic data to your customer file to gain customer insights.
  • Recognize Your Most Loyal Customers: Identify your most loyal and profitable customers and see how they align with your broader audience. Use this information to prioritize your audience.
  • Size Your Audience: Based on your clarified objectives, budget, modeling results, and audience insights, evaluate the size and scope of your target audience. Assess the feasibility of reaching them within your budget constraints.
  • Apply Predictive Modeling: Make use of predictive analytics to rank your audience to determine those most likely to engage with your campaign. This focused approach allows for a more effective and efficient budget allocation.

Setting Budget and Audience Size

Whether your budget is modest or extensive, aligning it strategically with your audience size and campaign goals is vital.

Sometimes, achieving your goals might mean considering more economical creative formats. While high-response formats are often tempting, they aren’t always necessary depending on your campaign objectives.

For example, if your primary goal is brand awareness and product trial, a postcard may suffice. However, if conversions are what you’re after, investing in a #10 envelope with a reply card could yield a better ROI. We have also found that certain formats may be best for certain industries.

Running a proforma analysis of projected results is an excellent way to gauge ROI and assess how different mail formats align with your objectives. This can inform whether your budget is optimally allocated for achieving your campaign goals.

Checklist

  • Evaluate Budget: Take stock of your financial resources to determine a feasible budget that aligns with your campaign objectives.
  • Consider Format Options: Depending on your goals, weigh the costs and potential ROI of various mail formats. If brand awareness is the goal, a more economical format may be sufficient. For higher conversions, consider investing in more engaging formats.
  • Run a Proforma Analysis: Conduct a proforma to evaluate the potential ROI for different mailing formats and target audiences. This will help align your budgeting decisions with your campaign goals.
  • Balance Budget with Audience Size: Once you’ve considered all the variables, strategically allocate resources to maximize the reach and impact of your campaign within your budget.
  • Optimize for Response: Use modeling insights to focus resources on those more likely to engage, but always in alignment with your overarching campaign goals.

The Roadmap: Understanding Direct Mail Plans and Pricing Charts

The landscape of direct mail can be both broad and intricate. One of the first steps is understanding what each line in your pricing chart means. Whether you’re looking at formats, postage types, the number of touches, mail types, or cost considerations, these components all feed into your overall direct mail strategy. Understanding these can provide not only cost savings but also contribute to a more targeted and effective campaign.

Sometimes, particularly when budgets are tight, it’s worth considering alternative, more economical formats. While the highest response rates are always appealing, they often come at a higher cost.

Testing needs to be part of every plan wherever possible. This is how we learn and apply that learning to improve results

Collaboration is key. Working with expert agency partners ensures you’re making data-informed decisions, better positioning your brand for success. And hey, we’re always here to help!

Checklist:

  • Consult the Roadmap: Keep your mail plan and pricing chart within arm’s reach. It’s your guiding star.
  • Break Down the Chart: Make sure you understand all elements in your pricing chart; formats, postage type, number of touches, mail types, and associated costs.
  • Evaluate Alternative Formats: Don’t blindly chase higher response rates. Weigh the pros and cons of different mail formats in the context of your campaign goals.
  • Test different creative and formats. Include a certain amount of risk in your planning to allow for testing. This is how you learn and improve performance.
  • Run a Proforma: This financial statement can provide insights into potential ROI and help you make more informed decisions.
  • Seek Expert Guidance: Don’t go it alone. Partnering with a seasoned agency can provide invaluable expertise and strategic direction.

Understanding the Customer Lifecycle and Crafting Tailored Campaigns for Each Stage

The customer lifecycle isn’t a straight path; it’s a complex journey with twists and turns. Knowing how to navigate these intricacies is crucial.

At Nahan, we often emphasize that to create the most impactful direct mail plans, you need to understand and adapt to your customer’s lifecycle.

Direct mail can be highly effective on its own, but its potency increases exponentially when integrated with other channels like digital advertising or social media, all carrying a cohesive message. Omnichannel works particularly well when we target digital campaigns to the very same people we are reaching via direct mail, taking advantage of the original predictive analytics used to target them.

Remember, a good mail plan is as fluid as it is solid.

Sure, planning is key, but agility in execution can be your differentiator. You can’t always predict how your customers will react, which is why your plan should be adjustable. If new insights arise during the campaign, be prepared to pivot for more desirable outcomes.

Don’t overlook post-campaign analysis. Knowing what succeeded, what didn’t, and why is indispensable for refining future mail plans. This is a continuous learning process that sets the stage for your next campaign.

Let’s talk metrics. The last touchpoint might get all the glory, but we know that DM plays a vital role in customer conversion, even if it’s not the final interaction. So dig deeper. Analyze how many people who received a DM piece actually engage and whether they are likely to become more valuable customers in the long run.

Checklist:

  • Acknowledge Lifecycle Complexity: Understand that the customer lifecycle is multi-dimensional, requiring a nuanced approach.
  • Integrate Across Channels: Consider all touchpoints in your customer’s journey. Ensure your DM campaign complements other channels for a unified brand message. Same offer and messaging.
  • Stay Agile: Be prepared to adjust your campaign strategy as you gather more data and insights during its execution.
  • Post-Campaign Analysis: Don’t move on to the next campaign without evaluating what worked and what didn’t in the last one.
  • Re-Examine Metrics: Challenge the “last touch attribution” model. Dig deeper into how DM contributes to customer engagement and long-term value.
  • Partner with Experts: Collaborate with specialized agencies that can bring expertise in direct mail and integrated marketing strategies.

The Power of Persistence: Advantages of Ongoing Multi-Mailing Campaigns

Within our team, we often find ourselves echoing a vital principle:

An ongoing direct mail campaign allows you the freedom to experiment, refine, and most importantly, learn about your audience. Think of it as a long-term relationship rather than a one-off encounter. You wouldn’t propose on the first date, would you? In the same vein, ongoing touchpoints afford you multiple opportunities to build credibility and foster trust.

Don’t forget, data is your best ally here. Frequent interactions with your customers offer more data points, allowing for nuanced insights that can be used for continuous refinement. This is particularly important when considering other channels your customers may encounter. A multi-mailing strategy can seamlessly integrate with your other marketing channels to deliver a cohesive and impactful message. This synergy often leads to a snowball effect, enhancing the impact of each channel and making your marketing spend more efficient.

Remember, the insights you gain from one campaign can (and should) be used to fine-tune your next one. Always be analyzing and adapting. The lifecycle of your customer base isn’t static, and neither should your approach be.

Checklist:

  • Understand the Customer Journey: Map out key touchpoints and opportunities to make a meaningful connection.
  • Tailor the Message: Different stages of the customer lifecycle warrant different messaging. Make each touchpoint relevant.
  • Test and Optimize: Don’t rest on your laurels. Regularly revisit your performance metrics and adapt based on real-world feedback.
  • Integrate with Other Channels: Make your direct mail campaigns part of a larger, unified marketing strategy. Cohesion amplifies impact.
  • Continuous Learning: View each campaign as a learning opportunity for the next. Capitalize on what works and learn from what doesn’t.

Final Thoughts

Direct mail campaigns that are executed thoughtfully and iteratively can offer unparalleled ROI and engagement.

Our team of experts at Nahan is committed to guiding you through this labyrinth, ensuring that your messaging resonates deeply with your targeted audience.

 Contact us today to craft a strategy tailored to your audience, optimizing your ROI for sustainable success.

Celebrating John Klumb’s 50-Year Legacy in the Print World as He Retires

As we say goodbye to John Klumb, our VP of Sales, there’s a mix of feelings. Excitement for John as he steps into a well-deserved retirement, and gratitude for the invaluable contributions he’s made over his 50-year career in the print industry, including a significant 8 years with Nahan. Under John’s guidance, our organization navigated through several pivotal changes, affirming that his expertise has been instrumental to Nahan’s success.

While John gears up for his next chapter, we take a moment to delve into his extensive experiences and reflections on his 50 years in print.

Mike Ertel, our CEO, aptly articulates our sentiment:

“John Klumb’s impact on the industry is undeniable. With a career spanning five decades, he’s been a reservoir of knowledge and wisdom. Collaborating with John has been enlightening. He embodies the spirit of Nahan’s dedicated team. Thank you, John, for your immense contributions to Nahan and the broader industry. Wishing you a fulfilling retirement!”

What are three lessons you’ve learned about the industry over the course of your career?

  • Our Employees are our most important asset. Our competitors have essentially the same equipment and utilize the same processes.  What sets us apart is the knowledge, creativity, and attention to detail of our employees.
  • Our customers are the only people who pay us for what we do and as a result, we hold them in high esteem.
  • How we react when things go wrong and they do, even to the best of us. Differentiates us from our competition.  High quality and outstanding service is why our customers came here.  How we react when things go wrong is why they stay.

What have been the most significant changes you’ve observed?

  • The change in Pre-Press (Pre-Media) from a labor-intensive process of conventional 4/C separations, film assembly non standardized color proofing and photo sensitive plate making.  To Fully electronic, desk top based pre-media that incorporates, design, retouching and production utilizing standardized 4/C proofing and digital plate imaging.  This resulted in reduced cycle times and improved quality.  The very highest quality still dependent on electronic retouching done by skilled craftsman working in a controlled environment.
  • The demise of the printed publication (magazines).  The immediacy of information on the internet along increased price of paper and postage have all but killed printed magazines resulting in a huge reduction of high-volume printing.  There’s only one true high-volume printer left in the US with both web offset and rotogravure.
  • The explosion of ink jet printing.  Fifty years ago, it was recognized as an up-and-coming print process but was very limited in its use.  The most common application being applying the name “Sunkist” to oranges.  Besides the total variable high quality direct mail application that we employ, it rules the roost in large format printing from race car wraps to building sized advertising.  Ink jet is also a major player in the textile, packaging, and label industry with exponential growth.

What excited you most about your day-to-day activities?

  • Being part of a successful team.  Nothing feels better than when a plan comes together.  Be it a big sale, completion of an amazing project, adding a new process or achieving a company goal.
  • Working with our team and helping employees develop.
  • Helping solve problems.

Do you have any exciting retirement plans?

  • Reintroducing myself to my wife and family.  I maintained my permanent residence in rural Southern Minnesota while I lived in an apartment in St Cloud for the last 8 years returning home on the weekends.  Both of our sons are married, and we have 5 grandchildren from 2 to 16, so I have some catching up to do.
  • Become more involved in my community and Church.

What advice would you give younger employees working in the industry?

  • Embrace and celebrate change.  The only constant in the printing industry is change.  Nahan has been and will continue to be successful because its owners and leaders embraced changes as opportunities rather than bemoaning change and hoping the past would return.
  • Learn as much as you can whenever you can.  The more you know the more valuable you are to yourself and to your employer.
  • Enjoy the changes and variability that the print industry offers.  Every job you produce is unique and has its own challenges and rewards.  If you embrace that change and are not afraid to take the next step in the business, you will find long term fulfillment in your career.

As we bid farewell to John Klumb, we’re not just saying goodbye to an industry stalwart but also a mentor, leader, and above all, a cherished member of the Nahan team. John’s five-decade-long journey is a testament to resilience, adaptability, and an unwavering passion for the craft. As he steps into a well-deserved retirement, we wish him endless joy, memorable moments with his loved ones, and countless new adventures. John, here’s to new chapters and horizons. Cheers!

Leveraging Advanced Meta Modeling for Optimizing Direct Mail Campaigns

With the costs of direct mail postage going up, it is essential that targeting must be as precise as possible. This accuracy is essential for industries like insurance, financial services, and telecom, where direct mail is an important marketing channel.

Predictive modeling has long been indispensable for these and other industries leveraging direct mail, but the question is, can we get any better with predictive analytics? We can – anywhere from 20-40% improvement in response over traditional predictive modeling.

Meta Modeling is Superior to Traditional Predictive Modeling

“Meta modeling is a game-changer in predictive analytics,” says Alan Sherman, VP of Strategy at Nahan. “We’ve moved beyond relying solely on single data provider sourced models. The era of meta-modeling is upon us, and it’s transforming how we identify our best customers.”

In our Meta models, we have access to over 20 data provider files to consider over 25,000 data attributes across credit, alt-credit, demographic, and specialty data files. Credit bureau data use is usually restricted to the financial and insurance industries, but in certain cases can be applied elsewhere where credit is being extended. But even without credit data, our Meta models are superior to models built by one data provider or analytic firms with access to one data provider’s compiled file.

Quantity, Quality, and Approach

The breadth of multi-sourced data means that there are exponentially more predictive data points that can be identified and taken advantage of. With access to multiple data sources there are also more net leads.

Multi-sourced data also means higher quality. A typical compiled file may contain up to 15-20% outdated or inaccurate data. Here, all data is linked across sources; we run independent and linked data hygiene to validate “good” data and suppress “bad” data, providing higher deliverability and thus better results.

With this method, sub-models are developed independently on the selected data sources. These sub-models roll-up to an overarching Meta model, which produces the final predictions. This approach delivers inherent advantages over typical single-source models – superior discrimination, greater predictive accuracy, more flexibility, and a faster updating process based on the feeding of most recent campaign results. Unlike most models, these never grow stale, as they are continuously updated at no additional cost. In addition, several Meta models can be built that focus on different goals, such as response, conversion, lifetime value, and then are combined for precise targeting that incorporates all three.

Backed by thousands of performance evaluations, tests, and simulations, meta-modeling provides marketers with accurate and predictable outcomes.

In addition, this approach is applied by a team of award-winning and machine-learning analytic professionals backed by a powerful infrastructure that easily processes millions of records.

The Analysis

Meta modeling begins with an analysis of client customer and promotional files. It results in the building of a Meta model with documentation, projected results and universe sizing. Strategy and target universe recommendations are made. All at no cost, with the expectation of a test to prove performance.

Conclusion

In conclusion, meta-modeling offers a powerful tool for optimizing direct mail campaigns. Its ability to integrate multiple predictive models and harness multi-sourced data provides unprecedented precision in identifying the best prospects.

“In this rapidly evolving industry,” says Sherman, “embracing advancements like meta-modeling is not just about staying competitive. It’s about shaping the future of marketing.” Businesses that adopt these sophisticated approaches can expect improved marketing outcomes and superior results.

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

8 Types of Direct Mail Data Every Marketer Needs to Know

Direct mail campaigns are only as effective as the data that informs them. With the right data, businesses can target the right audience and achieve a higher ROI.

However, understanding the different types of direct mail data available can be overwhelming. In this post, we’ll break down 8 key types of direct mail data to help you unlock the power of your campaigns.

Saturation Data

Modeled Credit-level Data

Modeled Compiled Demographic Data

Media/Publication data/vertical lists

Co-op Retail and Catalog Data

Compiled Business Data

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

Unlocking the Potential of Personalization with 4 Color Variable Printing

By now, personalization in direct mail is nothing new to seasoned marketers. Still, there’s a facet to it that continues to evolve and improve, often catching many by surprise: data-driven variable printing. The technology shines brightest when it comes to envelope personalization, the first point of interaction between your mailer and the recipient.

The Rise of 4C Variable Printing

4C variable production is a tool that direct marketers can leverage to create outer envelopes teeming with personalized information. Thanks to technological advancements, it now provides the option to feature elements like business vertical images, local graphics, representative photos, and relevant data attributes. The result? A connection with the customer that feels more personal than ever.

 

Advancements in Digital Printing

Historically, the adoption of this technology may have been hindered due to concerns about quality. However, as digital printing continues to astound us with its progress, those concerns are becoming obsolete. “Today, digital printing reliably churns out vibrant, crisp images that meet the high standards marketers have come to expect from professional print services,” Mike Dietz, Executive Creative Director at Nahan.

The Power of Personalization

“Personalization has been, and continues to be, a significant driver in today’s marketing strategies,” Dietz continues. “Innovations in digital printing have made personalized packages a reality, paving the way for new engagement opportunities in direct mail campaigns.”

Variable production leverages data to create a unique experience for each recipient. The customization extends beyond the name and address; it’s about aligning the content with the recipient’s interests and preferences.

Everything from letters to inserts and envelopes, even catalog covers can now include tailored features like business vertical images, local maps and images, representative photos, and other data attributes – each one adding a layer of personal connection with the customer.

The Evolution of Direct Mail

Digital printing and data analytics aren’t new to the industry, but their potential for transforming direct mail continues to grow. They have become an integral part of the evolution of direct mail, with 4C variable production at the forefront, offering improved personalization and quality. The resulting engagement opportunities are beneficial to marketers and customers alike.

In conclusion, personalizing your direct mail campaign with relevant content isn’t just a trend – it’s an evolving strategy that delivers tangible results. So, if you haven’t recently revisited the capabilities of digital printing, there’s no better time than now. With variable printing, and the high quality of digital printing, there are endless opportunities for the type of personalization that can give your campaign an edge.

Curious to learn more? Drop us a line and we’ll answer any questions!

Direct Mail Campaign Development: Tips for Success

When executed properly, direct mail is a highly effective way to reach target audiences and generate leads. What’s the secret sauce? Careful planning and execution. A successful direct mail campaign is not completed by flying blind, but instead by taking a deep dive into your objectives, data, and creative. 

An effective direct mail plan incorporates thoughtful strategy, data tests, creative tests, and more. To help break down what you need to know, we’ve enlisted the help of some industry experts and have compiled the insights below.  

  1. Build a sustainable campaign platform with measurable results

    Alan Sherman, VP of Marketing Strategy at Nahan, once said “Direct mail is changing. If you still think of direct mail campaigns as a “throw spaghetti at the wall” mass-mailing approach, you’re greatly mistaken.” Today, successful direct mail plans are built on a sustainable campaign platform that allows for measurable results.  

    Marketers must also define their goals and objectives. Determine what you want to achieve with your campaign, whether it’s generating leads, boosting sales, or increasing brand awareness. Then, develop a plan that includes projected metrics for success and a process for measuring and analyzing your results. 

  2. Test your creative and align it with your audience 

A creative audit can help you identify areas where you can improve your mail package format, messaging, offer, personalized copy and images, and integrated digital/direct mail campaign. This audit can provide valuable insights that will help you optimize your mail plan and improve its performance. Use this information to inform your creative tests, such as testing different formats, messaging, and offers. 

“Creative tests allow you to refine your messaging and design and make sure it is resonating with your target audience. Your data and your creative really need to align with each other to make sure the correct message is being spoken to the corresponding audience.”

-Mike Dietz, Executive Creative Director

3. Build predictive targeting models and profiles based on your current customer list, and target those most likely to respond

One of the most effective ways to target your direct mail campaign is by building models and profiles based on your current customer list. 

“Analyzing your customer data allows you to identify the most likely prospects to respond to your mail campaign,” Sherman says. “This can help you build a more targeted and efficient campaign that delivers better results.” 

To do this, data analysts must analyze your customer data to identify common traits and behaviors indicative of response, such as age, income, and purchase history. Depending on the industry, this could include analysis of credit data. Use this information to create targeted models and profiles that can guide your mailing list selection and messaging. 

4. Continual improvement through testing 

“Continual improvement is key to a successful direct mail program,” Krista Black, VP of Marketing and Account Services says. “By continuing to test your data sources and creative, you can refine your campaign over time to ensure it doesn’t fall flat. Regular testing is an investment that puts the long-term odds in your favor. Every test is an opportunity to learn and improve. 

“We really cannot stress enough how vital direct mail testing is to the health of a direct mail campaign. It really is the lifeblood of it. While some marketers have a fear of testing for a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, failing to test is more risky. Every package will eventually face a decline. Testing must be a regular ongoing process. Ideally, that means part of every campaign or at least testing quarterly.”

-Alan Sherman, VP Marketing Strategy

Let’s do a quick recap of the above: 

  1. Define your goals and develop a mail plan with clear metrics for success. 
  2. Incorporate best practices, data and creative tests into your mail plan. 
  3. Build models and profiles based on your current customer list to target most likely to respond. 
  4. Continuously test and refine your campaign to improve results. 

 

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

Nahan Takes Home Best of Category at 2023 PIM Star Awards

SAINT CLOUD, MN – June 23, 2023 – Nahan has received a Best of Category award win at the 2023 Star Awards, hosted by Printing Industry Midwest (PIM). The Star Awards is an annual five-state print competition that recognizes excellence in print quality in the printing, communication, and graphic arts industries. 

 

Nahan was proud to receive the award for Best of Category – Web Press Printing, which is the highest award a printer can receive in this category, for a catalog produced for Room and Board, a high-end furniture retailer. Nahan also received four Awards of Recognition in the Product Catalog and Single Promotional categories, and two Certificates of Merit. 

Nahan’s very own Jolene Simi, Senior Account Manager, took home the win for Customer Service Representative of the Year. Team members Dawn Volante Brown, VP of Business Services and Erik Turbin, Direct Mail Production Supervisor were also nominated for Young Professional of the Year and Production Professional of the Year, respectively.  

Dawn Volante Brown, Jolene Simi, and Erik Turbin 

 

It was also an honor to have our very own, Aaron Weekes, VP of Information Technology, speak at the event on behalf of the PIM Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion DE&I) Program.  

About PIM Star Awards 

The PIM Star Awards competition recognizes the companies, teams, and individuals who take part in the creation and production of print communications in the Midwest. For more information about the Printing Industry Midwest Star Awards, please visit www.pimw.org or call PIM’s office at 612.400.6200. 

About Nahan 

Nahan is a world-class, privately owned, direct marketing services and print solutions company. Nahan produces integrated marketing solutions for their clients, enabling them to successfully acquire, develop, and retain profitable customer relationships. Nahan leverages the power of omnichannel marketing strategy, creative, data, and analytics coupled with exceptional production and postal strategies to closely connect brands with customers. For more information about Nahan and to learn more about joining the Nahan team, please visit http://www.nahan.com. 

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Celebrating African American Contributions to Print: Freedom’s Journal

Print media has played a crucial role in shaping societies and disseminating knowledge to communities throughout history. We cannot even imagine a world without print.  

When reflecting on African American contributions to print, one cannot overlook the groundbreaking achievement of Reverand Peter Williams, Jr. And William Hamilton, co-founders of The Freedom’s Journal, the first African American-founded newspaper, debuting in March 1827. 

Rev. Peter Williams, Jr. and William Hamilton

The Conception of The Freedom Journal 

Reverend Peter Williams, Jr. Was a prominent clergyman and activist in the African American community in the early 19th century. He recognized that education and communication held tremendous power over opportunity and knowledge. William Hamilton was a trailblazer in journalism and a successful businessman with a history in the printing industry. Together, Willaims and Hamilton made the perfect pairing to co-found The Freedom’s Journal. The pair’s determination to uplift the African American community and shared experience ensured the newspaper’s steady production and distribution, enabling it to reach a wide audience and create a lasting impact.

An Issue of The Freedom’s Journal, 1827 

The Impact of Print on the African American Community 

During the early 19th century, African Americans faced a variety of hardships and challenges, including limited access to education, restricted civil rights, and widespread discrimination. The founding of The Freedom’s Journal marked a monumental moment in history, as it allowed for printed media to be a vehicle for change and empowerment. Rev. Peter Williams, Jr. and William Hamilton recognized the need for a platform to voice the concerns, achievements, and aspirations of the African American community. 

Legacy of The Freedom’s Journal 

The Freedom’s Journal emerged as a powerful voice for African Americans, highlighting their achievements, addressing social issues, and challenging the prevailing racial prejudices of the time. It became a beacon of hope, fostering a sense of unity and community among African Americans across the nation. 

The newspaper’s establishment was a watershed moment, paving the way for future African Americans who would contribute to newspapers, journalism, and other forms of print media. It demonstrated that African Americans could not only contribute to the field of print, but also shape public opinion and advocate for their rights.  

 

Postal Rate Increase: The Role of Data Analytics in Optimizing Direct Mail Campaigns

 

USPS postal rates are continuing to climb, with the latest increase set to take effect on July 9th, 2023. As a result, direct mail marketers are becoming progressively concerned with the rising costs of campaigns. However, increased postal costs do not mean that your direct marketing budget needs to go out the window 

The Current State of Postal Rates 

The proposed postal rates were approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission on May 31st, 2023. This rate increase is the fourth of its kind since the post office moved to the twice per year cadence, and the Postmaster General has been clear that increases will continue to occur twice per year at least through 2025. 

As a company deeply invested in postal ongoings, two of our very own, Brandon Jacklin, Postal and Logistics Manager, and Kelly Marthaler, Sales Representative, went to Washington D.C. to collaborate with the ACMA (American Catalog Mailers Association) and Vogel Group to bring awareness around the impact of rising postal costs and tax laws to the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. 

Direct Mail Optimization Amidst Postal Increases 

What can you do about rising postal rates? Optimize, optimize, optimize! By being wise about your data, you can be strategic in mailing less, but to highly responsive consumers, lowering your postage costs.  

Audience Segmentation 

The more people you mail to, the more postage you must spend, plain and simple. To save on postage, marketers should perform an audience audit. Who is your responsive audience? What is your key demographic and what is their past behaviorUnderstanding better who your audience is will help you narrow the net you mail to. Less mail to a more responsive audience equals a higher ROI. 

Predictive Modeling

Data analytics allows marketers to leverage predictive modeling techniques to identify those most likely to respond. By analyzing historical promotional data and customer files, companies can build models that predict customer behavior, response rates and conversion rates. Predictive models optimize various aspects of direct mail campaigns, such as selecting the most responsive target audience, and determining the optimal timing for mailings.  By using data-driven insights, marketers can make informed decisions that maximize the impact of their direct mail campaigns and minimize the costs associated with postage. 

Testing

Data analytics enables marketing to conduct testing and optimization of their direct mail campaigns. By testing different variables such as messaging, design, offers, and call-to-action, companies can measure the effectiveness of each element and make data-driven decisions to improve their campaigns. Through continuous testing and optimization, businesses can identify the most impactful strategies, refine their mailings, and achieve better results while mitigating the impact of rising postal rates. 

Integration with Digital Marketing

Data analytics also plays a crucial role in integrating direct mail campaigns with digital marketing efforts. By leveraging customer data from various sources, such as online interactions, social media, and previous email campaigns, businesses can create a comprehensive view of their customers’ preferences and behaviors. This integrated approach allows for a cohesive and consistent customer experience across different marketing channels. Data analytics helps in identifying the most effective touchpoints, enabling businesses to create a seamless and personalized omnichannel experience that maximizes engagement and conversion rates. 

Don’t let rising postal rates get you down. Instead, focus on ways to optimize your direct mail campaigns to ensure a high ROI. Being smart about your data is one of the necessary tools marketers can use to achieve this optimization.  

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

 

Fortifying Customer Privacy: Data Security Best Practices for Direct Mail

Data privacy is a looming concern for consumers and thus securing sensitive data should be paramount for direct mail marketers. Data breaches can have severe repercussions, such as financial loss, identity theft, reputational damage, and legal consequences. All of which can be prevented by implementing strict security measures. 

As a leader in direct mail marketing, we adhere to industry best practices and prioritize robust data security measures that enable us to offer personalized direct mail campaigns while respecting privacy and maintaining trust. Nahan maintains compliance certifications like PCI DSS Level 2, AICPA SSAE18 SOC2 Type 2 + HITRUST CSF, HIPAA, and GDPR compliance. We also engage third-party auditors to conduct security audits, penetration tests, and risk assessments, validating our security measures and identifying areas for improvement. 

It’s important that marketers understand the risks, impacts, and regulatory requirements associated with direct mail campaigns, and how Nahan employs key security measures in response. Let’s dive in! 

Importance of Protecting Sensitive Customer Data in Direct Mail Campaigns 

In today’s digital age, where data breaches and privacy concerns are prevalent, protecting sensitive customer data is of utmost importance in direct mail campaignsDirect mail involves the collection, storage, and processing of customer information, such as names, addresses, credit card details, purchase history, and other financial information. Safeguarding this sensitive customer data should be a top priority for businesses engaging in direct mail marketing. It is essential that direct mail providers implement robust security measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of this data. 

“We live in a world where consumers want both personalization and data security. In response, direct mail marketers must work with a trusted partner who has industry knowledge, integrity, and rock-solid security measures. At Nahan, I’m proud to say we have all three.”
-Elizabeth Evans, Security Administrator

Common Security Threats and Solutions 

When it comes to direct mail campaigns, several common threats pose risks to the security of sensitive customer data. Understanding these threats is essential for implementing effective security measures.  

Threat: Data Interception and Breaches 

During the transmission of customer data, interception by malicious actors can occur, compromising the confidentiality of the information. Intercepted data can be exploited for identity theft, fraud, or other malicious activities. 

Nahan’s Response: Data Encryption and Protection 

Data encryption transforms sensitive information into unreadable code, securing it against unauthorized access. It applies to data transmission, data storage, and physical documents, with key practices including using strong encryption algorithms, secure key management, end-to-end encryption, regular updates of encryption protocols, and regular security audits and training. 

Nahan’s robust information security program adheres to international standards, ensuring comprehensive data governance and privacy protection. We continually monitor our systems and data to detect suspicious activities or potential security breaches. In the event of any security incidents, our incident response team follows a predefined process that includes containment, investigation, mitigation, and recovery. 

Nahan emphasizes continuous improvement and ongoing training. Regular security training sessions raise employee awareness about data protection best practices and emerging threats. We also conduct regular risk assessments and vulnerability scanning to identify and address any security weaknesses promptly. By analyzing and learning from security incidents, we continually enhance our data protection measures and mitigate future risks. 

Threat: Unauthorized Access

Unauthorized individuals gaining access to customer data can lead to misuse or theft of sensitive information. This can occur through physical breaches, such as theft of mail or documents, or through cyberattacks targeting digital systems and databases.

Nahan’s Response: Access Control and Authentication   

Access control limits unauthorized access to sensitive data, with strong passwords, role-based access controls, and regularly updated user access privileges. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security, requiring multiple factors of authentication. We also promote a security-conscious workforce through regular employee training. 

Nahan implements physical security measures, including access control systems, video surveillance, and equipment protection measures like fire suppression systems and uninterruptible power supply (UPS), to protect premises and sensitive equipment. 

Threat: Disaster 

There is always the risk of the unthinkable happening, such as cyber-attacks, natural disasters, power outages, and equipment failure, among other disasters. Organizations of all sizes generate a large amount of data, with much of it extremely important to daily operations.  

Nahan’s Response: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning 

We have established a comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan outlining procedures and protocols for responding to disruptions. Regular testing and refinement ensure its effectiveness, preparing Nahan to handle any unforeseen disruptions effectively. 

Work With a Prepared Partner  

What we’ve learned through seeing various organizations fail in the areas described above is that it is crucial to work with a partner you can trust. Your direct mail partner should be able to answer all of your security questions and have stringent measures to protect your customer data.  

By prioritizing data governance, ongoing monitoring, incident response, continuous improvement, and employee training, Nahan ensures the highest level of protection for sensitive customer data in direct mail campaigns. Our commitment to data security enables our clients to have confidence in the integrity and confidentiality of their information throughout the direct mail process. 

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The Emotional Edge: Drive Consumer Influence with Direct Mail

 

Direct mail holds a unique advantage that digital channels such as social media and email fail to replicate: the ability to forge genuine connections and evoke powerful emotions through touch. With crowded inboxes and social ads fighting for attention with the scrolling consumer, physical mail presents an opportunity to connect like no other.  

Emotionally resonating direct mail copy has the potential to create a lasting impact, influencing consumer behavior and driving conversions. 

In this article, we will explore how direct mail can engage recipients on a deeper level, highlighting the unparalleled impact it can have in a world dominated by screens and pixels. Understanding and harnessing the emotional potential of direct mail campaigns is vital for marketers seeking to create lasting impressions and influence consumer behavior. 

Understanding the Power of Emotion 

Emotions play a fundamental role in human decision-making. Countless studies have shown that emotions, rather than logic, often guide our choices.  

Psychologist Gerald L. Core, said human thought is “often automatic, heuristic, unconscious, and guided by emotion instead of being strictly logical and reasoned.”

When it comes to marketing, tapping into these emotions can be a powerful tool to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Direct mail has a unique advantage in this regard, as it allows for a tangible and personal experience that can engage multiple senses From the initial mailbox experience, when the consumer touches and feels the package and makes a decision to engage, it is a living and breathing channel. 

According to Nahan’s Executive Creative Director, Mike Dietz, “Evoking emotion through tactile components like paper weight, texture and treatments is a major driving force behind every successful direct mail campaign. It’s the key to creating a lasting impression and influencing consumer behavior.” By leveraging the power of emotion, marketers can create a memorable experience that resonates with recipients long after the mail has been opened. 

The Role of Resonating Copy 

The written word holds immense power to evoke emotions and shape perceptions. In direct mail, resonating copy acts as a catalyst to provoke an emotional response from the recipient. It goes beyond merely conveying information; it aims to captivate, inspire, and persuade. 

“In direct mail, words are more than ink on paper. They have the potential to connect with readers on a personal level, driving them to take action,” says Mike Dietz.

By crafting compelling and relatable copy, marketers can tap into the desires, fears, and aspirations of the target audience, creating an emotional bond that drives engagement. 

Let’s think about a credit card example. When students are going off to college, it is a prime time for credit card companies to target them with student credit card offers with low interest rates and tempting rewards. The emotional direction a direct mailer uses to target college students considering a credit card is different from a high-salary professional who might be seeking a high credit limit. With direct mail, marketers can create highly personalized messaging that speaks to them. 

By harnessing the power of four-color variable data printing, marketers can create unique 1:1 messaging to consumers. The internal components of a direct mail piece allows the marketer to create a journey unlike any other channel, with the ability to utilize a large variety of configurations to address barriers, develop relevant messaging tone that is focused exclusively on the individual consumer. Dietz says, “The ability to combine actionable data inputs and dynamic 4 color digital technology allows marketers to leverage direct mail to create a unique 1:1 experience.” 

Consumer influence

Creating Emotional Connections 

Harvard Professor, Gerald Zaltman, says that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious. To create emotional connections, direct mail campaigns must be rooted in a deep understanding of the target audience. You must know who you are trying to reach before you write anything. Market research and customer insights are essential in developing resonating copy that strikes a chord with recipients. By identifying the pain points, aspirations, and motivations of the target market, marketers can tailor their messaging to elicit specific emotional responses and respond positively to the call to action. Here comes the advantage of variable data printing again. 

Let’s think of the example of life insurance. A consumer cares about his or her family and wants them to be financially stable in the event of their passing. This is partially an emotion-based decision. Direct mailers can appeal to that desire not to leave behind familial financial strains. How a marketer appeals to that desire in the copy affects the consumer’s reaction.  

Leveraging Emotional Triggers 

Different emotions can be leveraged strategically in direct mail campaigns to achieve specific goals. For instance, a sense of urgency can be invoked through time-limited offers or exclusive discounts. Fear of missing out can drive recipients to take immediate action, ensuring a higher response rate. On the other hand, appeals to happiness, joy, or nostalgia can create positive associations with a brand or product, fostering long-term loyalty. By aligning the emotional tone with the desired outcome, marketers can increase the effectiveness of their direct mail campaigns and drive meaningful results. 

Measuring Success and Iterating 

The effectiveness of direct mail campaigns can be measured through various metrics, such as response rate, conversion rate, or customer lifetime value. By analyzing these metrics, marketers can gauge the impact of their emotional appeals and resonating copy. It is essential to track and evaluate the campaign’s performance to understand what worked and what can be improved upon in future iterations. 

 “Direct mail campaigns should be seen as an iterative process. By learning from data and feedback, we can refine our messaging to better connect with our audience’s emotions and achieve greater success, says Mike Dietz.

Conclusion 

Emotions play a crucial role in decision-making, and direct mail has the capacity to evoke those emotions in personalized and tangible ways that digital can’t live up to. Through empathy and understanding of the target audience, marketers can create copy that resonates on a personal level, building strong emotional connections. 

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Exploring the Impact of AI Language Models on Direct Mail Marketing

 

ChatGPT….a term that is likely newer to our vocabulary, but undoubtedly, a word you’ve seen pop-up at an increasing rate anytime you open an internet browser or a smart device. But have you considered the impact of ChatGPT on direct mail marketing? 

At the start of this article, we were confronted with a dilemma. Do we ask ChatGPT for an outline? Do we have it write the entire article (as a meta-experiment of course)? Or do we ask it to provide some background research on the topic to get us started? This seems to be a common situation that content marketers now face. 

And of course, this is just a minuscule example of how this fast artificial intelligence is impacting marketing departments and other knowledge workers.  

 

According to a recent CBS News article, 30% of professionals are already using ChatGPT for their jobs, and if we had to speculate, it’s likely the marketing industry may be among the leading users.  

 

At Nahan, we believe that AI language models such as ChatGPT have the potential to significantly impact the direct mail channel in a positive way, but how fast and to what degree are very much uncertain, like so many things with the emerging AI revolution.  

In this article, we will discuss how direct mail marketers can use ChatGPT to enhance their campaigns, as well as some of the limitations and potential risks to consider. 

And yes, we did ask ChatGPT for some help in writing this article, but it is mostly human generated!  

What is ChatGPT? 

At its most basic level, ChatGPT is a chatbot that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to generate responses to user input. Its models are built by analyzing enormous amounts of text from the internet and other sources like books, social media, new articles and academic papers. The algorithms can then use this data to understand human language, identify patterns, and generate responses. 

It’s currently available to use for free on the Open.ai website, and recently a paid PRO tier of $20 a month was created. It has been integrated into Microsoft’s Bing search and Edge browser, with plans for rolling out a new product called Co-Pilot which will be integrated into many of the Microsoft Office applications, including Word and Excel.  

Three Ways Direct Mail Marketers Can Use ChatGPT Today 

The extent that ChatGPT is being incorporated into direct mail workflows cannot be known in full just yet. From our conversations with clients and others in the industry, we know that people are starting to tap into its great potential on certain tasks.  

Of course, AI and machine learning technology have been a part of the direct marketing industry for several years on the data side of the equation, especially when it comes to targeting.  

But what are some other areas where generative AI could have an impact? Let’s look at a few use cases.  

 

AI and direct mail

 

Personalized Responses 

Generative AI’s ability to generate personalized responses based on user input has the potential to enhance the personalization of direct mail campaigns.  

For example, a direct mail piece might include a call-to-action that invites the recipient to chat with a chatbot. Once engaged, the chatbot can ask questions and generate personalized responses based on the user’s answers. 

Optimization

Direct mail marketers are always focused on optimizing campaigns. However, finding the right formula can be time-consuming, and expensive. Artificial intelligence and chatbots could have a significant impact on that process by generating real-time feedback on campaigns. This in turn will allow for more robust and experimental testing with the goal of generating a higher ROI.  

By automating certain tasks, such as testing and targeting, AI can help marketers identify the most effective strategies quickly and efficiently, leading to more successful campaigns. 

Copywriting and Creative 

Direct Response copywriting is a core part of direct marketing campaigns. Best practices have been defined by the industry over the years, and this is exactly the type of structured data tools like ChatGPT have been trained on.  

Generative AI will allow marketers to generate ideas, outlines and research and a high volume of copy in lightning speed. This will give marketers the opportunity to expand possibilities and potentially lead to greater creativity.  

By inputting key information about the target audience and marketing goals, ChatGPT can provide customized content optimized for engagement and conversion. This can save time and resources while improving the overall effectiveness of direct mail campaigns. 

Limitations of Using ChatGPT for Direct Mail Marketing 

While ChatGPT can be a powerful tool for direct mail marketers, there are some limitations to be aware of: 

Accuracy

It may not always generate entirely accurate or relevant responses, although they can sound very convincing. Currently, ChatGPT has a knowledge cut-off date of September 2021. It’s important to review and verify to assure accuracy.  

Originality

ChatGPT is capable to generating dazzling, convincing, and sometimes even very funny results, but it does require trial and error with the prompts, otherwise there’s a risk that output will sound like more generic marketing copy and nobody wants or need more of that. Due to this limitation, copywriters will still have job security. Human touch and talent are still critical to the process of refining and enhancing the ideas AI outputs.  

Data Privacy

As with any tool, precautions need to be taken to assure that your proprietary data is safe and secure, so at this point you most definitely do not want to share that or any private customer information. 

Legal Risk

The insurgence of AI capabilities in marketing is new. And while very tempting to use in any way you can, its newness means that laws and regulations have not yet caught up with it. We simply don’t know the answers to all the legal and ethical questions that ChatGPT may bring up with its use in marketing. 

As the industry learns more about generative AI, there will no doubt be more clarity on some of these limitations, but for the time being, caution is recommended.  

 

AI and direct mail

 

Takeaways for Direct Mail Marketers Using ChatGPT 

The marketing industry understands hype better than just about any other. In fact, it’s marketers that help build and generate hype for brands. At this point, the hype around ChatGPT and generative AI is impossible to avoid, and likely won’t dissipate anytime soon.  

ChatGPT is certainly one of the most impressive, and potentially industry changing tools to come around in a long time. We believe the hype is real and that the direct marketing industry needs to start experimenting with these tools because, well, your competitors are going to and the risk that you fall behind is very real. To summarize:  

  • Direct mail marketers can use ChatGPT for personalized responses, optimization, and copywriting. 
  • There are limitations to be aware of, including accuracy, originality, and data privacy. 
  • Direct mail marketers should start experimenting with ChatGPT to stay ahead of the competition and take advantage of its potential benefits. 
  • The integration of AI technology is new, and thus best practices are ongoing. However, we recommend this source as a starting point for getting your feet wet in learning how to form prompt questions for AI. 

 

Employee Spotlight: Pat Scanlon

 

Author: Camille Rosa, Senior Marketing Specialist

Nahan is proud to have many extraordinary employees and we love taking the opportunity to share their stories with you. It’s not only our product quality that we take pride in, but the people who make the quality our customers expect, possible. In this Employee Spotlight, we are featuring Pat Scanlon, Pressman, and member of the Nahan team for the last 28 years.

 

Pat Scanlon

Pat Scanlon, Pressman

A Master of Print

Pat first ventured into the print industry in 1978, through a high school vocational program at Volkmuth Printing. Volkmuth originated in 1938 in Waite Park, MN, and would eventually be purchased by Quad Graphics, running until its closure in 2014. Pat earned his MPA (Master Printers of America) accreditation from the Printing Industries of America (PIA) in 1988. In 1990, he moved to working in the printing department of Banta Catalog Group. From there, Pat accepted a job at Nahan in 1995.

An Accomplished Pressman

One of the reasons Pat enjoys his role of Pressman at Nahan is the opportunity to think through and recommend ways to produce projects on the press. An accomplishment he prides himself on is being part of a team to start up three presses: M1000BE, Sunday 3000, and the Man Roland Rotoman.

 

“Working on these press teams gave me the opportunity to better understand how and why these presses are built the way that they are.”

-Pat Scanlon, Pressman

 

Even after 45 years in the industry, Pat says he still enjoys the art of putting ink on paper. Being part of a team where he is passionate about what he does, and where he gets to help people new to the industry learn more everyday about the ins and outs of print, gives Pat joy each day he comes to Nahan.

Beyond Nahan

Outside of work, Pat enjoys spending time with his family, his wife Theresa (also a member of the Nahan team), snowmobiling, fishing, going to the cabin, and riding motorcycles. In fact, he and his wife are planning a cross-country motorcycle trip this summer from Minnesota to northern California and back. Pat says his favorite place he’s traveled to so far has been Europe, where he and his family traveled across the continent. He also had the opportunity to go to Germany to be trained on the Man Roland Rotoman press.

When asked what the best piece of advice he’d ever been given was, Pat replied with “Don’t be afraid to learn something new every day.” In Pat’s decades long experience in print and 28 years of dedication to Nahan, he has truly shown the essence of this advice. Always willing to learn and to teach, Pat is an incredible value to the Nahan team and a tremendous individual as well.

What Is Zero-Party Data?

 

Author: Camille Rosa, Senior Marketing Specialist

All marketers know….data is king. And lately there’s been a new type of data sitting on the throne, known as zero-party data. If you don’t closely follow the data landscape, this is likely a new term you’ve heard floating around, unsure of its meaning for marketers. With the state of the market today, zero-party data is a crucial tool that all marketers should become familiar with. 

Changing Consumer Behavior  

It’s no surprise that consumers are becoming more concerned about their data and how it’s being used. With fears of data breaches or invasive data tracking, consumers are more wary than ever of how their data is collected.  

At the same time, consumers want a personalized shopping experience – one that makes product recommendations based on their interests and doesn’t just blindly advertise to them. Can consumers have the best of both worlds – data privacy and a personalized advertising experience?  

This is where zero-party data enters the chat.  

What Is Zero-Party Data? 

Zero-Party data is relatively new to the data scene. Forrester Research coined the term in 2018, defining it as “data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a business.” It can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal contexts, and data on how an individual wants to be recognized by the brand.” 

Instead of relying on tracking consumers, zero-party data allows consumers to voluntarily offer personal data to a brand. In exchange, consumers are expecting their freely given information to improve their shopping experience.  

Let’s go over some examples of questions brands might ask to gather zero-party data: 

  • “Tell us about your most recent shopping experience with us.” 
  • “How much does sustainability impact your purchasing decisions?” 
  • “What problem does this product/service help you solve?” 
  • “What are some of your hobbies?” 
  • “Do you prefer one email per week or one every two weeks?” 

How do brands capture the answers to these questions? 

  • Pop-up windows  
  • Opt-in forms 
  • Social media prompt questions 
  • User profiles 
  • Polls, quizzes, and surveys 

 

How Does Zero-Party Data Fit into the Data Landscape? 

Zero-Party Data – This type of data is voluntarily given by the consumer and thus requires no inference or analysis to determine its meaning.  

First-Party Data – This type of data comes from consumer information such as tracked website activity, purchase history, or contact information to make educated assumptions about the consumer’s interests. First-party data is a highly accurate source, but still requires analysis, unlike zero-party data. 

Second-Party Data – This type of data is another company’s first-party data that is received via some type of partnership. The same type of information as first-party data is collected, but it’s not directly from the first source. 

Third-Party Data – This type of data is bought from an outside source that is not the original collector. 

 

Zero-party data

 

Death of Third-Party Cookies 

As consumer data tracking has become more regulated and privacy concerns have grown, third-party cookies have become phased out by several companies, including Firefox and Safari. Google is set to have them fully phased out by 2024. 

What does this mean for marketers? Privacy will remain a concern for consumers. Now is the time to begin collecting data in other consent-based methods, such as zero-party data. 

Using Zero-Party Data in Your Marketing  

One sure-fire way to grow revenue is to show consumers products and services that are tailored to their interests. It’s a no brainer, right? Brands have been doing it for years.  

Not only is zero-party data the way of the future, but it is also more accurate as it comes explicitly from the consumer. When used in combination with first-party data, marketers can gain extremely valuable insights into the desires of consumers, ultimately offering them a better brand experience with less controversial data methods.  

Now is the time to do an audit of how you are collecting your data and how you’re making the data work for you.  

Learn more about our data services and how we provide prospect leads by utilizing multiple data sources and generating predictive models here. 

 

Marketing Agility in a Risk-Adverse Economy

 

Author: Bryan Formhals, Senior Marketing Specialist 

Being a marketer in today’s economy likely produces some trepidation and maybe some nervous laughter. You might not be confident that your well-thought-out marketing plans will unfold as expected in 2023.  

Everyone under the sun has heard of the looming economic uncertainty, many of which are calling the most telegraphed recession in history. There’s a lot of angst in this economy, especially in the marketing industry.  

We feel the pressures of the economy, but view the challenge as a great opportunity for the direct mail channel.  

Why?  

When you create an agile framework and embrace new ideas, you can find growth while others act out of fear and face growth decline. 

Nahan is here to help you create an agile framework for your direct marketing program to help ensure it remains nimble and profitable during uncertain times. 

Remember that Avoiding Risk At All Cost Can Be Costly

When businesses face uncertainty, the natural tendency is to take a more cautious approach to new initiatives and scrutinize spending more closely. Caution is recommended when it is coupled with strategy to find opportunities.  

The key is to not withdraw and become entirely risk avoidant. Avoiding all risk can actually become a bigger risk.  

In our opinion, the riskiest decision direct mail marketers can make in 2023 is pulling back on testing – completely missing out on the opportunity to learn and improve their programs.  

To help marketers build a testing strategy that will limit risk and provide the most performance improvement, we’ve published a Guide to Direct Mail Testing. Warning: we get a little geeky and deep into the data models…but that’s what we like. We believe it’s through testing that marketers will find the most success in direct mail, and ultimately the best ROI.  

You can leverage Nahan as an extension of your marketing team. We’ll bring our decades of data and testing expertise to help you continue to test and learn in 2023, while avoiding unnecessary risk. Turning to in-depth industry expertise is critical when there’s less room for error. In challenging times, leaning on strong expertise matters. 

Find Partners That Embrace Agility

During challenging times, marketers need to be flexible. We understand the need for adaptability as your strategies, offers, promotions, and competitive environment are rapidly changing. 

Throughout the past several years, we’ve prioritized agility in our upgrades and evolution as a company. We’ve built a dynamic platform with the capability to produce a wide range of direct mail formats, increase efficiency, improve change management, and allow for more dynamic personalization, just to name a few.  

We have an end-to-end trigger platform that takes advantage of the fact that best results are driven by human behavior – whether it’s consumer credit inquiries or web abandoners – and everything else in between. Results are 40-140% higher than business as usual mail. 

We love connecting the dots for our customers, from data to creative to digital integrations, and helping find ways to improve speed to market. We’ve learned that every job is unique and requires a unique solution. And that’s why Nahan makes agility a top priority. 

Ensure Stability For Your Direct Marketing Program

When the market is uncertain, you want a trusted and reliable partner at your side. Nahan has been in business for over 60 years and is a thriving, financially stable organization.  

Our leadership team is filled with direct marketing veterans, each with over 25 years of experience in the industry. We’ve weathered many economic ups and downs over the years, and have made investments along the way that ensure continuity and efficiency for our clients.  

We’ve invested in dual production facilities –  one in Minnesota, and another in Pennsylvania. These two facilities not only drive production and logistics benefits for our customers, but also provide enhanced disaster-relief continuity to our clients’ programs.  

Another example is our strategic relationship with supply chain partners such as those that supply paper and ink. Through these decades-long relationships, we’re able to gain unique visibility into supply chain strategies and challenges before they become a problem. This allows us to plan further ahead to mitigate challenges with availability and pricing of materials.  

Lean Into Data

Fresh and accurate data is the single most important factor in driving direct mail performance improvement. We make it our business to deliver the right data solution for your unique targeting needs.  

Not only can we access credit data from the 3 main credit bureaus when a client is eligible, but we can also access supplemental and alternate credit data sources and demographics to provide complete asset targeting and identify under-banked individuals.  

Due to our overall volume and contractual agreements, we can obtain data at a price lower than clients can obtain on their own. Credit data itself is more accurate than traditional demographic data, leading to higher rates of deliverability and improved targeting, both of which save our clients substantial marketing dollars. 

Using data, we can create predictive “meta-models” that combine many source-specific sub-models, making them more powerful and flexible than traditional single-source models.  

Ensuring your offers are being sent to the right audience is crucial to success, especially when budget dollars are tight. 

Make Agility Your Approach in 2023

2023 is a year for refining and opportunity-seeking amidst uncertainty, not a year for staying stagnant. Maintaining an emphasis on flexibility, adaptability, and continual improvement is the name of the game.  

Responding to market conditions in a cautious, but wise way that takes strategic risks, will set your business up to thrive in the future. 

Ready to up your agility? Download our “Guide To Direct Mail Testing Today” white paper. 

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

 

Direct Mail Testing is Like the Stock Market: Here’s Your Investors Guide

When we talk direct marketing to marketers, the subject of direct mail testing inevitably comes up. For some, it’s all about creative testing, where testing might be tweaking existing creative once a year. For others, it’s a regular creative testing program, with new creative being tested with every campaign. For still others, testing may include offer, copy, contact cadence, list, and predictive model testing as part of the necessary mix. But why this range of approaches and is there a right way?

We find that the frequency and scope of testing depends on budget, your product or service, one’s risk tolerance, and prior experience with testing. This last item is a big one – many people are simply unfamiliar with what a regular testing program looks like and its value.

I like to think of testing as similar to long-term investing in the stock market. With all of the recent attention paid to artificial intelligence, I decided to informally check my theory by asking AI provider ChatGPT about the value of long-term investing. Here are the key value points to long-term investing that came back, with my comments:

  • The Earning of Compound Interest – With enough time, the compounding of interest leads to major growth. When we test, we accumulate a long-term knowledge base of what works and what doesn’t.
  • Reduced risk – Given time, short-term risk fluctuations are reduced. Same thing in direct mail testing. Each time we test, we learn a little (or a lot) more, which reduces risk.
  • Potential for Higher Returns – Long-term investing is associated with higher returns. Same as with testing. When we are in testing for the long-term with a regular, consistent program, we are “in it to win it.”
  • Diversification – When we diversify our investments, we reduce our risk. So when we test a variety of items we learn more, which leads to less risk and greater performance in the long-term
  • Ability to Meet LongTerm Goals – Long-term investing can help us reach long-term financial goals, like education funding and retirement. Testing enables us to reach our long-term marketing performance goals.
  • Peace of Mind – Long-term investment can lead to greater piece of mind. When we run a comprehensive testing program, we have the peace of mind that we’ve left nothing to chance.

The challenge for many marketers is that they are unfamiliar with how to structure a best practice testing program.

That’s why we created Nahan’s Guide to Direct Mail Testing!

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

Nahan Awarded Star One – Commitment in PIM’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Accreditation Program

 

(SAINT CLOUD, Minn.) – February 7, 2023 – Nahan, a full-service, direct marketing and print solutions provider, is proud to announce it has been awarded Star One – Commitment, from Printing Industry Midwest’s (PIM) Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Accreditation Program. As one of the first in the industry to unlock this achievement, we’re excited to continue working with PIM to grow this program in the industry.

This program is comprised of a passionate group of PIM members working towards creating foundational changes in the recruiting, hiring and training practices of our industry. Achieving this accreditation demonstrates our compliance and dedication to being a more diverse, equitable and inclusive company.

“We’re proud of the DEI initiatives we’ve implemented in recent years. This recognition from PIM underscores that we’re on the right path to helping the printing industry diversify and expand opportunities for marginalized groups,” said Chad Coss, VP, Human Resources at Nahan.

Nahan’s journey to becoming a more diverse and inclusive company will continue as we work towards the next star level, Aim. To achieve this level, Nahan will review our processes and documentation, setting measurable goals on how we can move forward with having an effect on DE&I.

 

###

 

About Nahan

Nahan is a full-service direct marketing and print solutions provider. Our portfolio of services includes strategy, creative, data, analytics, print production, mailing, logistics and fulfillment services.

Founded in 1962 by Jim and Helen Nahan, the company established a strong reputation for providing high-quality direct mail and commercial print and exemplary customer service. What was then a 15-person, family-owned print shop is now home to over 400 employees, including industry-leading experts in direct marketing strategy, data, analytics, creative, and more.

For more information about Nahan and our services, please visit http://www.Nahan.com.

 

ABOUT PRINTING INDUSTRY MIDWEST

Printing Industry Midwest (PIM) is the trade association representing print service companies in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Membership resources add value to companies that provide print, graphic communication services, market or manufacture supplies for the printing industry. Visit PIM’s website (www.pimw.org) or call PIM’s office (612.400.6200) for more information and questions about membership.

 

ABOUT PIM’S DE&I PROGRAM

Printing Industry Midwest’s (PIM) Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Accreditation Program was designed to create foundational changes in the recruiting, hiring, and training practices of our industry. This program was created by the PIM Diversity Coalition, a group of individuals from companies who are members of PIM, who put together metrics and a process for accreditation that will help your company continue to uphold and enforce a more diverse and inclusive company environment. For more information, please email Kristin Pilling-Davis & Sadie Johnson (diversity@pimw.org) or visit our website (www.pimw.org/diversity/).

 

Direct Mail Trends for 2023

 

Author: Camille Lehmann, Senior Marketing Specialist 

2023 is here and one thing that has not changed, no matter the year nor the climate, is your need to reach your consumers. The challenge lies in reaching them in an efficient and effective way that aligns with your marketing budget.  

With over 60 years in the direct mail and catalog industry, we’ve garnered a thing or two from interacting with the evolving market space. In 2023, we’re seeing a stronger case than ever for utilizing direct mail in your marketing campaigns.  

As the economic environment has shifted and the priority for personalized, highly-targeted campaigns have increased, we’ve seen a few trends populate that will help you amp up your marketing game. 

Optimize with Highly Targeted Campaigns 

Gone are the days of throwing spaghetti at a wall, just hoping something sticks. Your customer base is unique and your direct mail should be as well. 

Mailing smarter by strategically choosing your audience means less mail produced, less money spent, and more engaged consumers. Win-win-win.  

It’s time to optimize your direct mail campaigns by making them highly informed with fresh data, fresh strategy, and fresh results.  

How does Nahan do this? We can provide prospect leads generated by predictive models. These tools are built via analytics derived from multiple data sources and elements not commonly found in standard sources. By utilizing data across sources, we can identify highly predictive data elements—leading to greater response and conversion results. 

Depending on available data, we can identify patterns based on past behavior and transactions, then supplement the target development universe for analysis with appended demographic, psychographic, and attitudinal data. We often build multiple models that work in concert for the best solution. 

“Consumers can be hesitant. Get to know them and what keeps them from taking action. Once you know that, you can address it right away in the copy itself. It’s personalized and targeted pieces that will get you results. That requires thought and intention, but delivers in ROI.”

-Mike Dietz, Executive Creative Director

Digital Retargeting and Digital Overlay 

You send your consumer a direct mail piece on the biggest sale of the year. It arrives in their mailbox, and three days later, they receive a digital display ad on their Instagram account reminding them about the coupon they received. This is not a coincidence, but a strategic digital retargeting.  

Digital overlays can display the same message in your direct mail piece on a digital display ad, packing double the punch. These types of ads can be useful in driving traffic to a specific landing page for generating leads. 

Consumers don’t have a great retention span and see multiple marketing messages per day. But you know what they say about repetition – it sticks.

Direct Mail Testing 

Direct mail is not a “one-size fits all” or an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type of situation. Yet, many marketers treat it that way.  

“We find that marketers can be reluctant to test, simply because they don’t know how. While others may not want to risk the company’s budget on a test that may not out-perform the control. And sometimes it’s a combination of the two. But not doing any testing, will ultimately result in performance decline. 

-Alan Sherman, VP Marketing Strategy 

In 2023, both creative and data testing will be the way to go to ensure a campaign keeps hitting the mark. Testing must be a regular ongoing process.  

Ideally, that means part of every campaign or at least testing quarterly. The aim is to develop a stable of high-performing creative packages and a precisely optimized audience by testing new data sources and predictive models to continually improve results. 

Teaming Up with Informed Delivery 

Marketers who utilize Informed Delivery will receive a 4% postal discount in 2023 from August 1st to December 31st.  Informed Delivery is a free program through the USPS for consumers who wish to participate that allows them to see photos of the mail before it arrives.   

It consists of two main elements:  

1) A large grayscale image of the piece or a full-color representative image of the mailer.  

2) A smaller, “Ride-Along” image that offers interactive marketing potential. Clicking on this image or on the “Learn More” call to action opens the URL associated with the campaign. It can also be used to open a marketer’s phone app for the recipient to call. 

With over 44 million consumers signed up for Informed Delivery, there is major potential for marketers to take advantage of that audience with links and Call-To-Actions accompanying the user’s mail images. 

Saving with the USPS Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Promotion

Each year the USPS has multiple promotions, one of the newest being the Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive promotion. Marketers can save 5% by utilizing including elements such as specialty metallic or thermal inks, textured papers or varnishes, scented coatings, or interactive pull strings and die-cuts to make use of the promotion and stand out in the mailbox. 

For your easy access, you can download our promotions guide here. The guidebook provides a quick glance over each promotion’s most important information including eligibility and effective dates.  

Time to Get In the Game

Direct mail is a core part of an omnichannel marketing strategy. Now is the time to engage with optimization and testing opportunities. Settling for the status quo is not going to lead to results. 

We challenge you to not sit on the sidelines with your marketing strategy in 2023, but instead find ways to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and overall ROI. And as direct marketing experts at Nahan, we’d love to help you do it.  

A Guide to Direct Mail Testing Today

Testing is a key component of any successful direct marketing program. The most impactful direct mail marketers are constantly testing creative, lists, and offers, which enables them to make marketing decisions armed with more insight.

We have found that testing means different things to different people. Clients approach it in a variety of ways.

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

Key Career Lessons From a Leader in Print: Lisa Palm 

 

Author: Lisa Palm, Director of Manufacturing

Paving The Way For Others

I may be the first female Director of Manufacturing at Nahan, but I won’t be the last. It’s been quite a ride getting to this point and some would say I took the road less traveled. I say I paved the way.

My hope is that I can encourage others – especially other women in print – to pursue their career goals and provide some practical advice for overcoming obstacles in the corporate world.

Lisa Palm

Lisa Palm, Director of Manufacturing

Four Key Lessons I’ve Learned 

  1. The Importance of Setting Work/Life Boundaries

We work in a 24/7 industry. I use my phone for both work and personal connections. My work email, voicemail and text are always there at my fingertips even when I’m not physically at work. I had to learn to remind myself that when I’m not working, others will step in and respond – it’s ok to take time off for family and personal time.

As a leader when you train and empower your team, you’ve done the work ahead of time to know your team can handle the workload. It’s about building trust.

  1. Leaders Listen First

Early in my career, I noticed that I was always speaking in meetings. While it’s still important for me to contribute during meetings, I realized I needed to take a step back and encourage others to speak too. I had to learn when to give input and when to open the floor to others so that their good ideas would be heard.

I saw that by listening and more importantly, taking action on employee suggestions, it helped my team members to feel valued. As a leader, facilitating their ideas and pursuing them strengthened our culture and our results.

  1. Earning Respect on the Production Floor 

Working on a production floor can be challenging. There is no handbook on what you will encounter and how best to react. I have faced many difficult situations and even experienced disrespect that at times was upsetting. But through these experiences, I learned to hold my head high; never letting others see if a situation was “getting to me,” and to give out the energy I wanted to receive even during the toughest moments. If I responded to a situation matching the energy of an angry employee, things would take longer to diffuse, and exhausted more energy and time on my part. Instead, I learned to handle myself calmly and professionally to help resolve the situation faster.

In addition to leading by example, it is important to develop mutual respect with the press operators; they are the experts. I look for opportunities for them to teach me – not only do I learn from them, but it allows me to demonstrate my true respect for their trade. And by better understanding their process and developing strong relationships with them, I not only earn their respect in return, but can better ensure they have what they need to be successful.

  1. Importance of Finding Mentors Along the Path

The higher you move up, you naturally have fewer peers and mentors that you can bounce ideas off of. One of the biggest reminders I regularly give myself is to not get comfortable. I have had to stretch myself to continue finding people and opportunities to push myself forward.

My former supervisor Michelle was a very influential person in my growth as my leader. She saw something in me that I did not recognize at the time.  I remember going into her office one evening and hearing her ask if I was going to apply for a supervisor role. My response was, “…In Production…on nights??” She replied saying, “Yes you would be good at it.” I remember the look on my face, thinking she had lost her mind. The opportunity felt like such a stretch outside of my comfort zone. If it was not for her, I would not have taken the leap, and would not be where I am today. For that I am forever grateful, and I can’t stress enough the importance of finding mentors that believe in you throughout your career.

Final Thoughts

I absolutely love my job and the people I work with. I enjoy allowing my authenticity to show and encouraging my team by giving them opportunities to lead, share ideas, and make connections that build trust and respect. My strength and success as a leader is thanks in large part to the coworkers and mentors who invested in me, and now as a leader in my field, I get to be the one that ignites the spark in others. I encourage you to do the same.

 

 

 

 

The Power of the Holiday Catalog: Leading with Nostalgia

 

Author: John Klumb, VP Sales

 

Imagine sitting at the foot of the Christmas tree as a child, hot cocoa in one hand and a thick holiday catalog in the other. Thumbing through its pages, you bookmark the items you wanted for your list to Santa.

Calming, right? Reminds you of simpler times and the childhood joy that came alongside anticipating the holidays.

There’s a reason why thinking of those holiday catalogs now brings feelings of merriment and peace as it plays on our feeling of nostalgia. Even though the size and thickness of the holiday catalogs may change, they still have a hold on our emotions and thus, consumer spending.

Consumer Holiday Spending Power

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday retail sales during November and December of this year will grow between 6% and 8% from last year, equaling between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. The increase in percentage is down from last year, likely due to consumer fears of recession. However, the positive trend of growth since the end of 2020 continues, likely due to the effects of the pandemic.

“In the face of these challenges, many households will supplement spending with savings and credit to provide a cushion and result in a positive holiday season.”

– NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay

 

holiday catalog

Take Advantage of Traditional Advertising Over Digital

While digital may seem to be everywhere you look, that comes with its downfalls. You’re competing with every other brand advertising on social media, TV, streaming, and display ads that normally advertises….times 10 because it’s the holidays.

And herein comes one of the powers of print…standing out from the digital crowd.  As marketers increase their budgets to try and capture the holiday shoppers, keeping a consumer’s attention may be even harder. Print advertising, however, has an advantage that digital can never copy because its based on how our brains work.

According to the USPS, the part of our brain that controls motivational response is 20% more engaged when we view print advertising. The real power of catalogs is how they increase the vividness of a product by allowing the consumer to visualize the product’s usage (Harvard Business Review). Humans are visual people. We like to see how the product can be used, and catalogs are a great way to deliver that visual.

Combine the powerful impact of print with the nostalgia of the holidays and you’ve got an award-winning duo.

Beyond the Holidays

When the New Year has been rung in, the lights have been taken down and ornaments put away, the holidays might be over, but the power of the catalog is not.

“Catalogs are a great way reach your consumers in a captivating way. With exceptional print and paper quality, it creates an entire immersive experience for the consumer that can never be replaced with digital alternatives.”

Mark Groff, VP Eastern Region Sales

We’d love to talk to with you about harnessing the power of print for your brand! Find out more at nahan.com/direct-marketing-solutions/catalog-production/.

Employee Spotlight: Mike Gillen

 

Author: Camille Lehmann

Mike Gillen, an anchor of Nahan’s training team, has played an integral part in our success as a growing organization, now home to over 400 employees. We believe in empowering our employees with training and development opportunities. Much of this is accomplished through our Nahan University program, which Mike played a large part in launching in 2019 in partnership with St. Cloud State University. I had the privilege of learning more about Mike’s career journey throughout the print industry and what he’s passionate about outside of Nahan.

Mike GillenMike Gillen, QA and Training Lead

Decades of Experience in Print

Mike’s career in print began in the 1980s, where he spent several years at Post Publishing Co. During that decade, the Minnesota printing industry was more uncertain, resulting in his workplace closing in-house production. With three children at home, he began searching for another opportunity. What happened next, was the beginning of a long-lasting relationship with Nahan. Coincidentally, his thumbing through the Yellow Pages and making phone calls, led Mike directly to Mike Nahan, our CEO at the time. Nahan had just purchased a new Heidelberg Web 8 Heatseat Press and we were in need of people to run it. Nahan was growing so quickly, that multiple shifts were needed, and Mike began working night shifts regularly. After a couple of years, Mike moved to the Twin Cities area to be close to family and left Nahan. Mike Nahan always left the door open for him to return, which he did in October of 1989. Now Mike is celebrating over 30 years at Nahan.

From Humble Beginnings

Mike shared that what makes him most proud is how Nahan has grown from its humble beginnings to the highly successful print and mail operation it is now, all while not losing its heart. He commends the group of people he has worked with on their strong work ethic and ability to press through challenges, particularly those on Press 288 who he worked alongside for 14 years.  It is the people who have helped shape Nahan into the successful company it is today.

“We’ve always done a wide variety of things at Nahan and taken on challenging projects. What’s fascinating and rewarding is that each person brings something a little different to the table and the combination of all of us finds ways to make it happen.”

    -Mike Gillen, Production Trainer

Passionate About Print

Even though he can’t explain it, Mike says he has always had a fascination with printed material; everything from the equipment that prints ink on paper, the controlled processes, and all the human interaction that is required as well. Being a part of a team that preserves production quality and trains others about the amazing attributes about print.

Mike Gillen

Mike and some of his family

Beyond Nahan

Outside of Nahan, Mike is passionate about his family, heritage, faith, and his woodworking hobby. He always finds a thrill working with reclaimed lumber. He describes one of his favorite things to do is watch movies with his wife as they try to figure out the plots of the story. Whenever he gets the chance to travel, Mike enjoys capturing photos of memories. Through the generosity of a grandfather, he was able to go to Israel in 2018, one of his favorite trips so far.

 

Author Bio: Camille Lehmann is a Senior Marketing Specialist and has been on the Nahan team since January 2020. Camille is responsible for managing Nahan’s social media, blog content, and other internal and external content communications. She graduated with her Masters of Science in Marketing with a specialization in Project Management in 2020. In her spare time, Camille enjoys visiting new coffee shops and restaurants with friends, playing tennis, and finding new Pinterest projects.

Evolving Your Direct Mail Strategy In a Changing Economy

 

Author: Bryan Formhals, Senior Marketing Specialist 

It’s hard to avoid reading about inflation and predictions of a recession in the news. Supply chain snarls, the war in Ukraine, and labor shortages have all contributed to the highest inflation in over 40 years.  

In response, the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates and is likely to continue raising them in 2023. However, the jury is still out on whether the Federal Reserve can pull off a soft landing without pulling us into a recession.  

What to Expect in the Industry  

Consumer sentiment is a key indicator of where the economy is headed and it’s looking a bit grim right now. According to the second-quarter 2022 PRINTING United Alliance/NAPCO Research State of the Industry, around 79% of consumers expect “bad times” in the year ahead for business conditions, the poll number highest since the great recession in 2009. 

It’s no secret that during an economic downturn, marketing budgets are often one of the first area companies make cuts.  Less than excellent economic conditions mixed with tight labor and difficult supply chains creates the landscape marketers are facing. It’s gloomy but business goes on during challenging times. Marketers can stay a step ahead by evolving their strategy, tactics, and process out of necessity.  

With our 60 years of experience, Nahan has seen its share of economic peaks and valleys and have learned from these experiences on how to work with marketers to optimize their direct marketing programs to remain effective and focused on growth.   

Review Your Programs and Vendors 

With budgeting season upon us, it is important to know how your direct mail is performing and whether you’re spending your dollars effectively. In times like these, it’s critically important to ensure you’re getting the most return possible for your investment. 

The knee-jerk reaction might be to start slashing, but that often causes more harm than good long term. If you’re not thoughtful about the cuts, you’ll often find programs worsening in performance, ultimately leading to further cuts, and thus create a downward spiral.  

Instead, you’ll want to review your most effective programs to make sure they align with your current goals. It’s also a good opportunity to review your vendors to see if there are possibilities for improved efficiency. A few important questions to consider:  

  • Has your data vendor fully optimized your mailing list with predictive analytics and refined targeting strategies?  
  • Has your creative agency been successful at building test packages that successfully turn into control packages or are your packages experiencing response fatigue?  
  • Do you have a regular testing program aimed at creative and data? 
  • Has your production and mailing partner discussed options for optimizing your formats and campaigns for production efficiency and postal savings?  
  • Are your partners helping you take advantage of USPS promotions and discounts? 
  • Are you confident in your response and conversion attribution – do you know for certain which channels are driving performance? 
  • How can strategy, data and creative more effectively work together to achieve your results?  

With the right partners in place, asking the right questions, it’s time to make sure you’re optimizing for improved ROI. This is where you can uncover opportunities for efficiency if you focus on the next topic: testing.  

About Data Testing 

Effective direct marketing is the convergence of data, creative, strategy, and testing. Whether the economy is humming along or in a recession, testing and optimizing will always be critically important. Here are three steps you can take… 

  • Implement Predictive Modeling: Direct mail is all about generating a response from your customers. Predictive modeling using sophisticated analytics will help predict the likelihood of a response or conversion from your mailing. At Nahan, we work with our partners to utilize your current customer base and promotional history to help you target the best prospects and customers, allowing you to be more selective in who you mail to. 
  • Creative Format Testing: Finding the right creative formats to present your messaging and offer is key and you have options. You’ll want to test for efficiency and economic optimization to improve your ROI. For example, if you are sending out catalogs, shaving an inch from the page size, or reducing the page count may not save you money on paper, but it could push you into letter-rate postage which will creative significant savings.  
  • Creative Message and Offer Testing: Finding the right message and offer is a constant challenge in direct mail. Is your offer competitive and unique? Consumers can be fickle. If they are in a more conservative mindset due to economic uncertainty, brands will want to adjust their messaging or offer strategy to entice them to take action and convert.  

Mail Smarter: Find the Opportunities 

There are always opportunities for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the direct mail channel, no matter the economic climate. We have a mantra at Nahan and we think it’s appropriate for every brand to keep it top of mind: It’s time to start mailing smarter! 

In an economic downturn, there will be shifts in the industry and more than likely the mailbox will become less populated. But if you are mailing smart, that means when your message does arrive, it will become more prominent.  

There are always opportunities to optimize your budget. For example, take advantage of USPS promotions. Through the remainder of the year, direct marketers can save 4% on postage simply by including Informed Delivery as part of their campaigns. At Nahan, we have streamlined this process, so all our customers need to do is say “Yes!” and it’ll be added to their program.  

We don’t know just yet which way the economy will turn the remainder of 2022 and into 2023, but no matter what, marketers can find opportunities to improve ROI by mailing smarter. We’re confident if you do this, you’ll come out on the other side with a much more effective direct mail program. 

Are you currently testing your direct mail programs?

Testing is a key component of any successful direct marketing program. The most impactful direct mail marketers are constantly testing creative, lists, and offers, which enables them to make marketing decisions armed with more insight.

We have found that testing means different things to different people. Clients approach it in a variety of ways.

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

Nahan Wins Best in Category at PRINTING United Alliance Premier PRINT Awards

SAINT CLOUD, Minn. – September 20, 2022 – Nahan, a full-service, direct marketing and print solutions provider, announced today it has won the Digital Printing/ Direct Marketing Best in Category Award at the PRINTING United Alliance Premier PRINT Awards for the South Dakota Department of Tourism “Your Guide to Great Finds” campaign.   

 The mini-catalog campaign was created in collaboration with client Lawrence & Schiller to promote South Dakota’s unique travel destinations.  

 “We’re honored that our collaboration with the South Dakota Department of Tourism and Lawrence & Schiller has been recognized by Printing United Alliance this year. It demonstrates the agility of the Nahan print platform and our ability to produce highly unique, and personalized print pieces,” said John Klumb, VP, Sales.  

 The recognition caps off a summer of achievements for the Nahan team. At the June Printing Industry Midwest (PIMW) Star Awards, Nahan received multiple awards for its work, including:  

  • Award of Recognition, C-4 Product Catalogs: C.C. Filson Company Mailer 
  • Award of Recognition, C-4 Product Catalogs: Boundless Summer and Fall 2021 
  • Award of Recognition, C-4 Product Catalogs: Patagonia 2021  
  • Catalog Certificate of Merit, W-4 Direct Mail Campaigns, Consumer: South Dakota Tourism Great Getaways 

 Team members from across the organization were also honored for their service and expertise, including: Senior Marketing Strategist Camille Lehmann, who was awarded Marketing Professional of the Year, and Senior Account Manager Amanda Thompson took home the award for Customer Service Professional of the Year.  

 Teammates Brandon Jacklin, Manager of Postal Logistics, Laura Karels, Lead Designer and Jennifer Chirhart, Fulfillment Production Supervisor were also honored as nominees during the gala.  

 “We are extremely proud that so many of our team members were nominated and recognized for their outstanding contributions this year,” said Krista Black, VP, Marketing and Account Services. “Our team works hard to provide the highest levels of service and quality to all of our clients and being recognized by our industry for their achievements this year is an honor.” 

 About Nahan 

 Nahan is a full-service direct marketing and print solutions provider. Our portfolio of services includes strategy, creative, data, analytics, print production, mailing, logistics and fulfillment services. 

 Founded in 1962 by Jim and Helen Nahan, the company established a strong reputation for providing high-quality direct mail and commercial print and exemplary customer service. What was then a 15-person, family-owned print shop is now home to over 400 employees, including industry-leading experts in direct marketing strategy, data, analytics, creative, and more. 

 For more information about Nahan and our services, please visit http://www.Nahan.com. 

Using Data to Develop Informed Creative

 

Author: Mike Dietz, Executive Creative Director and Laura Karels, Lead Designer

Ultimately, the goal of any direct mail piece is to pique a consumer’s interest, but also leave them wanting more. This is where informed creative comes into play.

When a piece of mail is in a consumer’s mailbox, there are two steps that need to be taken to achieve the desired outcome. First, it must garner the attention of the consumer to be opened. Once that occurs, it needs to convince the consumer to take action, whether that’s a phone call, typing in a unique URL, or scanning a QR code.

Getting the consumer to the point of taking action requires thoughtful strategy behind the design and copy of the piece – allowing the data to inform influence the creative strategy.

Knowing your audience means being able to resonate with them better. But the only way to do that is to know your data.

Subtle Changes Can Make Big Differences

Every target demographic is different, so why wouldn’t your direct mail reflect that? Writing for different target audiences require a good amount of nuance. This is when having a strong copywriter who knows how to add in those subtle changes that make all the difference for who you’re speaking to.

Let’s say you’re an insurance company and you want to reach those of retiring age as well as those who are just starting their families, that’s people in two wildly different life stages. While the entire structure and copy doesn’t need to change, reordering the bulleted benefits in a way that puts the most important to them first is a way to capture attention. The retired couple might not be looking for the same elements of a health insurance plan as a young family with three children.

The same goes for imagery. While you don’t need hundreds of image options, having a few that reflect who you’re sending to is helpful. You’re more likely to open something that looks like you.

Understand Your Consumer’s Barriers

Another important aspect to know about your audience is what might keep them from taking action. Identifying potential barriers is key. Once identified, address it in the copy right away. Going back to the insurance example, some people might not want to switch insurances because they think it will be too complicated and you’ve lost them before they even read the offer. By stating that the insurance company will eliminate all the pain of switching, you’ve helped overcome their hesitations.

Move the Needle

Ultimately, figuring out what elements will move the needle for your consumer are what’s most important. And you guessed it, infusing data into your creative strategy provides you with the best opportunity for success. At Nahan, our Designers work seamlessly with our Data and Strategy teams to develop informed creative that gets the job done.

A Guide to Direct Mail Testing Today

Testing is a key component of any successful direct marketing program. The most impactful direct mail marketers are constantly testing creative, lists, and offers, which enables them to make marketing decisions armed with more insight.

We have found that testing means different things to different people. Clients approach it in a variety of ways.

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

The Trustworthiness of Direct Mail in the Age of Cybersecurity

 

Author: Bryan Formhals, Senior Marketing Specialist

 

Security and privacy are two issues that impact almost every aspect of the way consumers engage with marketing in today’s world. While much of the focus revolves around cybersecurity and consumer data privacy, what happens in one channel has an impact in other channels.   

For marketers currently working in direct mail, or considering moving into it sometime soon, it’s important to understand some of the high-level issues revolving around security and privacy, which may not always be obvious on the surface.  

In the post, we’ll review how cybersecurity issues impact direct mail, and how agencies like Nahan help marketers navigate tricky security and privacy issues.  

Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Are Top of Mind Issues 

The inherent security risks around digital interactions are well known at this point. We all know about spam, phishing and data breaches. They make headlines and we’re all trained by our IT departments about these threats.   

These days, consumers are faced with potential threats anywhere they interact online, whether that’s clicking on banner ads or a link in an email. The threats are everywhere.  

Our inboxes are particularly a prime target which has made us inherently more risk adverse. We look for our billing statements, emails from friends and family and perhaps a few newsletters from trusted brands and media outlets. Anything else is oftentimes viewed suspiciously.  

Along with cybersecurity threats, consumers are weary about data privacy and how their information is collected and used by companies. This has made data privacy a hot button political issue with new laws in Europe fundamentally changing how companies can collect data. There could be similar laws in the United States within a few years, making data collection, targeting and analytics more complex for marketers.  

In this ever-changing landscape, it’s no wonder that consumers are growing weary of, and have a short attention span for marketing messages. In fact, brands have less than 3 seconds to capture consumers attention with an email message.  

So, what does this mean for marketers working the direct mail channel?   

Direct Mail is Trustworthy  

Direct mail has long been a trusted media channel. It might be common sense, but we know that when we get a piece of mail, it’s probably legitimate. There is no threat to your personal data by opening an envelope or reading a postcard.  

Beyond its safety, many consumers actually welcome mail from brands they trust. According to an Epsilon survey, 59% respondents say they welcome and enjoy getting mail from brands to find out about new products.  

Effective marketing requires integrated approaches and finding the right channel mix. These days, there’s a lot of uncertainty, and dynamics are always changing which requires smart marketers to be even more data driven. If you’re looking to break through the noise, direct mail is both safe and effective. According to the Data & Marketing association, around 90% of direct mail gets opened compared to 20-30% of marketing emails.  

We know that consumers trust direct mail, and it can be a highly effective channel with the right message and offer. However, that trust is built on security and established privacy laws and policies, which are critical to understanding in the direct mail channel.  

Direct Marketing Agencies Are Security Partners  

Security is a paramount issue in the direct mail channel. Many types of campaigns require companies to share sensitive customer data with their direct mail partners.  

With security protocols becoming more stringent to meet increasing cybersecurity threats, direct marketing providers like Nahan need the highest level of commitment to security to ensure consumer privacy.  

That’s why Nahan is certified at the highest level by organizations including HIPPA or PCI DSS, SOC2+HITRUST, S2Score (third-party security/risk assessment), PCI DSS, SOC2+HITRUST, HIPAA, CCPA, and GDPR. 

Nahan Security Safeguards   

At Nahan, we have decades of experience in direct mail industry, working with brands across many industries that require the highest security standards. We’re constantly reviewing our protocols and working with customers to develop new security processes. 

We know that protecting our clients’ customer data is critical to building trust, and delivering the results that drive business forward.  

Nahan prioritizes security by protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of customer data through multiple layers of technical, physical, and administrative controls including:  

  •  Secure file transfer processes including secure transport protocols, Secure FTP (SFTP)

  • PGP file encryption

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) including biometrics

  • Highly-trained staff with weekly, monthly, and annual security training sessions and modules

  • Secure online industry-standard proofing application

  • Customer data access protected with ACL’s, audit trail logging, and file integrity monitoring (if required)

  • Secure data deletion with Certificate of Destruction (if required) 

If you’d like to learn more about growing your business or increasing your ROI through direct mail, get in touch!

Are you currently testing your direct mail programs?

Testing is a key component of any successful direct marketing program. The most impactful direct mail marketers are constantly testing creative, lists, and offers, which enables them to make marketing decisions armed with more insight.

We have found that testing means different things to different people. Clients approach it in a variety of ways.

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

The Risk in Not Testing Your Direct Mail

 

Author: Alan Sherman, VP Marketing Strategy

If you’ve been in the direct marketing space for any amount of time, you’ve certainly heard about the importance of testing. But “testing” means different things to different people, and we see people approach it in a variety of ways. My colleague, Maggie Stack, recently published a blog on Direct Mail Testing. Consider this a prequel – insights into the risks of not testing.

Testing “Approaches” Run the Gamut

Some marketers don’t test on a consistent basis or simply don’t test at all. After mailing the same creative package, list or offer, for months or even years on end, they experience the inevitable performance decline, and think it may be time to test a new creative. Their creative team or agency offers a new creative that hopefully out-performs the old one and then the process repeats itself. Still other marketers occasionally test but are so risk averse that they test small creative attributes, such as a headline in a letter or on an envelope, which rarely moves the performance needle. And data testing happens less frequently than creative testing, even though data has a more significant impact on results.

A Fear of Testing

Why the reluctance to test? Some marketers simply don’t know how. Others may not want to risk the company’s budget on a test that may not out-perform the control. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two – “I don’t know how – so why take the chance?”

What About Data Testing? I hear less about this than creative testing.

Why is there so little data testing? Data can be tougher to test – nowadays it would be less likely for us to test an entire list. With the cost of postage, we must be as precise as possible. Segments or model groups within an audience are not always easily explained or understood. Many lists should not be mailed without the use of effective predictive models to rank prospects. It feels riskier than changing a creative headline, or maybe data is managed by another group in the organization.  Maybe the data testing setup and measurement can feel daunting. We can hold and touch creative – it feels more “real” than data and many of us like to think we intuitively know what works in creative when it’s sometimes best left to the direct mail creative experts. 😊 And yet data has a larger impact on response than creative.

The Risk in Not Testing Your Direct Mail

Some might apply the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to direct mail testing. I would argue if it ain’t broke yet, it will be some day.  I would say that there is greater risk in NOT testing. Every creative package’s performance declines over time, and if you wait until that happens you could find yourself many months away from a new, high-performing package. The same applies to data. Doing nothing is short-term thinking that, over time, delivers inferior results. Regular testing is an investment that puts the long-term odds in your favor. Every test is an opportunity to learn and improve.

How frequent should testing be done?

Testing must be a regular ongoing process. Ideally, that means part of every campaign or at least testing quarterly. The aim is to develop a stable of high-performing creative packages and a precisely optimized audience by testing new data sources and predictive models to continually improve results.

We can make testing work for you. Testing is both art and science – Nahan offers both. We will continue to cover various aspects of testing in upcoming blogs.

Are you currently testing your direct mail programs?

Testing is a key component of any successful direct marketing program. The most impactful direct mail marketers are constantly testing creative, lists, and offers, which enables them to make marketing decisions armed with more insight.

We have found that testing means different things to different people. Clients approach it in a variety of ways.

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

Excitement Continues With The Success of Nahan’s East Coast Facility

 

Author: Michael Henry, VP Operations

 

As announced in April, Nahan recently acquired a second facility in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania. It has been an exciting past several months ramping up the facility and launching production. Our team is incredibly proud of all the hardworking individuals who made this addition possible.

From preparing equipment, to hiring a work force, to installation of new branding, and much more, many people had a hand in the success of this addition that enables faster speed to market.

Nahan East

Nahan East

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate this progress, we asked members of our Leadership Team to share a few sentiments regarding the facility and its team.

“Direct mail is the fastest-growing segment of our business,” said CEO Mike Ertel. “The addition of an East Coast facility strengthens our already best-in-class platform with improved cycle time, which is integral to our end-to-end direct marketing solution.”

“Marketers are seeking integrated solutions to increase agility, efficiency, and effectiveness,” said Mike Logar, SVP Sales and Marketing Services. “The addition of Nahan East puts us in a strong position to produce direct mail campaigns that will deliver high-performance results for our customers and drive business growth in a highly competitive market. We are super-pumped to have our PA facility online and are proud of the efforts by everyone who contributed to the launch.”

Aaron Weekes, VP Information of Technology and Adam Rohde, Manager of IT, had significant roles in getting all the technology in the facility in working order. Aaron stresses that the addition of this location is fantastic, “but the best thing about it is the amazing people. The team there takes pride in their work, they are knowledgeable about what they do, and are fun to work with as well.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exceptional team dynamic that has been cultivated at this location is a testament to the amazing people at this location. Dawn Volante Brown, VP Business Services says “I am impressed by the level of the energy and collaboration created between both our St. Cloud and Montgomeryville locations. We are quickly becoming a global Nahan with the benefit of two geographic locations.”

As the VP Operations of Nahan East, I am incredibly excited about the progress so far and I’m looking forward to expanding and growing the facility to support the platform in the months ahead.

 

 

Author Bio: Michael Henry is the VP Operations at our facility in Pennsylvania. He joined Nahan in 2022 and has over 30 years of leading and direction organizations, bringing valuable leadership experience in the direct mail industry. Away from work, Mike enjoys spending his time on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland with his family and friends.

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Newell

 

Author: Camille Lehmann, Senior Marketing Specialist

Earlier this year, we announced the exciting news of our addition of a second location in Pennsylvania. It has been a thrilling past few months getting the operations up and running. One of the people who has played an integral role in this success is Ryan Newell, Director of Manufacturing at our East Coast location. I had the privilege of getting to know Ryan better and what has made him proud to be a part of the Nahan team after only a few short months.

“One of my favorite parts about my job is producing something that is top quality and wows clients. Then add the fact that I get to be a part of a team that is so collaborative. We’re always learning from each other.”

-Ryan Newell, Director of Manufacturing

 

Ryan Newell

Ryan Newell, Director of Manufacturing

Coming Aboard Nahan

Ryan joined the Nahan team in March 2022 as a Production Shift Manager  at Nahan’s East Coast location in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania. In July 2022, he was promoted to Director of Manufacturing. Ryan began his direct mail career as a technician in Prepress, later moved to a Direct Mail Specialist in Lettershop, and then was promoted into various management positions. When asked what professional accomplishment he is most proud of, Ryan says that leading an initiative to implement a digital print platform is top of the list. And now he is excited to be adding starting and expanding the Nahan East Coast operations to that list. We are excited about what this second location means for the future of Nahan and the additional ways we can serve our customers. Ryan’s efforts are have been a huge part of driving success for Nahan East.

“The best piece of advice I’ve ever heard is to work hard, don’t cut corners, and always give the maximum of your ability.”

-Ryan Newell, Director of Manufacturing

Beyond Nahan

When Ryan isn’t busy helping lead the way for Nahan East, he enjoys spending time with his family in the beautiful mountains of Pennsylvania. You can almost always catch Ryan doing something outdoors in his free time. Whether it is fishing, hiking, hunting, or playing a round of golf or cornhole, Ryan’s there for some fun and fresh air. Thank you Ryan for being a dedicated member of our team!

 

Author Bio: Camille Lehmann is a Senior Marketing Specialist and has been on the Nahan team since January 2020. Camille is responsible for managing Nahan’s social media, blog content, and other internal and external content communications. She graduated with her Masters of Science in Marketing with a specialization in Project Management in 2020. In her spare time, Camille enjoys visiting new coffee shops and restaurants with friends, playing tennis, and finding new Pinterest projects.

3 Benefits of Behavioral Targeting in Direct Mail Campaigns

 

Author: Camille Lehmann, Senior Marketing Specialist

 

If you’ve been in the direct marketing industry for any period of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard that data is a key driver of results. Better yet, highly targeted data. But this may leave marketers with the question – What kind of data should I use? The answer largely depends on your direct mail campaign history. Have you sent campaigns before, and do you have customer response data? If the answer is no, the first step is to begin with demographic targeting to be able to later use behavioral targeting for improved results in subsequent campaigns.

So what’s the difference between demographic targeting and behavioral targeting and how do you use them to increase your direct mail ROI?

Demographic Targeting Vs. Behavioral Targeting

Demographic targeting uses information such as age, gender, geographic location, income, and vocation to target an audience. While there are hundreds of additional data points available for use, the first time a brand mails, these are often the only data points available, since there is no previous response data. Demographic data is frequently used to create a predictive Lookalike (or Profile) Model as a first step to predict those most likely to respond. It is not ideal, as it is simply not as powerful as analytic tools that utilize past behavior. After enough initial responders are gathered, strategists and analysts use this information to learn which people have an affinity for the product and are likely to respond via direct mail. If creative tests were done, we gain insight into which type of creative copy and formats appeal to responders. The response data is used to build a more sophisticated response model, which utilizes both demographic and behavioral data. It is based on the principle that past behavior indicates and is predictive of future behavior.  We then implement behavioral targeting in the next campaign and beyond.

Behavioral targeting and analytics use a brand’s own data, usually in the form of direct mail response and corresponding purchase data for better acquisition results. Marketers must consider how they will capture and measure response, so that information can be used to inform future decisions, making behavioral targeting more successful. Examples of this include using custom QR codes, a personal URL only for that campaign, a 1-800 number, or promotional codes unique to each campaign file.

“By utilizing data across sources, we can identify highly predictive data elements—leading to greater response and conversion results.”

-Alan Sherman, VP Marketing Strategy

Once you acquire behavioral data, why should you consider using behavioral targeting in your next campaign?

Benefit #1: Advertise to Consumers Likely to Engage

When you target behaviorally, you are analyzing the behavior of past responders and using that behavior to find more consumers like them. Targeting likely responders means better results.

Benefit #2: Print Less, Spend Less

Using behavioral targeting is more cost-effective when the data is available. The more targeted your audience becomes, the smaller it gets. With rising paper and postage costs, a smaller, but more responsive audience becomes more efficient to reach, both from financial and environmental perspectives.

Benefit #3: Greater Marketing ROI

While your audience is smaller, it is also more responsive. No longer is money spent on people who have less interest in what you are selling. The combination of spending less on materials and having a more responsive pool equals a greater ROI.

We’re data experts at Nahan with access to more than 20 of the best data sources comprising over 25,000 data points. Our decades of experience paired with the amazing partners we work with, means you get service that can’t be beat. We’d love to help you reach your audience the best way possible with your direct mail campaign. Contact us today to find out how we can help you increase your ROI.

A Guide to Direct Mail Testing Today

Testing is a key component of any successful direct marketing program. The most impactful direct mail marketers are constantly testing creative, lists, and offers, which enables them to make marketing decisions armed with more insight.

We have found that testing means different things to different people. Clients approach it in a variety of ways.

In this white paper, we provide an insiders guide to effective direct mail testing for programs of all sizes and across industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started with testing or a seasoned pro, our guide will provide you with actionable insights you can implement today.

Learn how the four phases of the testing process work together to drive optimization.

  • Research
  • Pre-Testing
  • Testing
  • Post-Campaign Assessment

If you’re ready to test smarter and drive ROI for your program, fill out the form below for the full guide to direct mail testing today! 

4 Ways Nahan Makes Safety a Priority

 

Author: Doug Roob, Safety Coordinator

 

To be the top direct marketing solutions company, we need to have the top people in every department. How do you attract the top people – you give them an environment where they feel safe, heard, and appreciated. We’re honored to have consistently been awarded a Printing Industry Midwest Best Places to Work designation. Prioritizing the safety of our employees is always top-of-mind and a practice that we see flow naturally out of our team.

 

1. Committed Safety Team on Production Floor

When I started at Nahan in 1989, safety was controlled under department managers, the changes made to having a designated Safety Coordinator helped streamline safety policies. To raise more awareness of Nahan’s safety policies and to ensure employees are following best-practice procedures, we developed a Safety Team that comprises of employees across departments. This team serves as a link between employees and management where anyone can bring their safety ideas and suggestions to be brought up in Safety Meetings.

 

2. Monthly Online Safety Training

Working in a production facility naturally brings up many safety topics. We feel it is important to keep all of our employees updated on safety measures by using monthly, online safety training. Preventative measures like this can help us reduce injuries and time away from production, leading to more satisfied employees, and higher quality work for customers.

 

3. Monthly Safety Audits

To make sure that safety measures are being implemented consistently, monthly safety audits are completed. The results of these audits are shared with the Production Department to make any changes that are needed to minimize hazards, if not entirely eliminate them.

 

4. Priority of Safety Work Orders

At Nahan, safety is not an after-thought – our entire team is committed to it. Safety Work Orders are given top priority and are completed immediately by our Maintenance Department.

 

Helping employees recognize hazards, learn how to minimize them, and keep themselves and their teammates safe is why I love what I do. Nahan’s commitment to training employees on best practices and ensuring the safety of all, is a big reason I have been on the Nahan team for over 30 years.

 

Author Bio: Doug Roob started at Nahan in 1989 and began his role in Safety in 1992. His favorite part of the job is teaching people how to keep safe in the work environment, and the challenges that it can bring.

 

 

Insights from the 2022 National Postal Forum

 

Author: Brandon Jacklin, Manager of Logistics and Postal Affairs

 

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the 2022 National Postal Forum in Phoenix, Arizona. This annual conference always serves as a great opportunity to learn about the new happenings in the print and mailing industry, as well as connect with others in the field. This year’s theme was Facing the Future Together – a homage to overcoming the challenges remaining after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to the transformation taking place with the USPS’s Delivering for America initiative. Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, outlined several key initiatives the USPS is implementing, all of which are of interest for those in the print and mailing industry, as they will affect postal rates, delivery, and efficiency.

Increasing Service Standard Times

The USPS is implementing several improvements behind the scenes to drive better delivery performance while reducing costs. They are planning major capital investments into its processing network, facilities, retail locations and fleet.  This includes maximizing existing routes to ensure that trucks and planes are being sent at full capacity, and consolidating facility operations from multiple locations into one larger one, where possible, to increase efficiency.

Improving Employee Retention

Another focus of the USPS is improving employee amenities to help with workforce retention and morale. With employee shortages nation-wide, the USPS realizes it needs to increase the desire to stay for current employees who in many cases are facing higher demands. Some of these changes include improving the onboarding and training process, workplace safety, and updating equipment and vehicles. The USPS is seeking to electrify it’s entire fleet by no later than 2035.

Looking Towards the Future

Postmaster General, Louis Dejoy, acknowledged that the USPS has faced several industry headwinds in recent decades (not the least of which being the Covid-19 pandemic). However, he stressed that it is the postal service’s responsibility to rise up, remain competitive, and achieve its mandate of being a self-sustaining enterprise regardless of whatever challenges may exist. Under the Delivering for America plan, the post office anticipates operating with a positive net income beginning in fiscal year 2023 or 2024 and predicts reversing a projected $160 billion in losses over the next ten years.

 

Employee Spotlight: Erik Turbin

 

Author: Camille Lehmann, Senior Marketing Specialist

 

If you were to ask someone at Nahan what their favorite part about being on the team is, more likely than not, their answer is the people. Our people are where we take the greatest pride. One of those people is Erik Turbin, Direct Mail Production Supervisor. I had the opportunity to get to know more about Erik and why he has made Nahan his home for almost 10 years.

 

Erik Turbin

Erik Turbin, Direct Mail Production Supervisor

30 Years in the Print Industry 

Erik came to Nahan in 2013 with twenty years of experience in bindery, as well as being a supervisor. Since he started at Nahan, Erik has held the positions of Operator and Finishing Department Lead Trainer. This fall he will be celebrating an exciting personal milestone of 30 years in the print industry! Nahan is proud to have someone as talented and knowledgeable as Erik on the team, holding so many years of experience. In 2016, he even received the Production Professional of the Year award from Printing Industry Midwest (PIM). When asked what aspect of his career he is most passionate about, Erik responded that always being honest and fair to employees under his supervision is his priority, as well as helping people understand how every minute adds up to supporting both Nahan’s goals as well as their own personal goals.

 

“I love to see people meet a production goal and also work on building their relationships with others in the organization.”

-Erik Turbin, Direct Mail Production Supervisor

Beyond Nahan

When Erik is not busy leading his team at Nahan, he enjoys hunting, camping, and fishing (as he describes the normal Minnesota way of life). He also enjoys spending time with his wife, five children, and five grandchildren. When he has the opportunity, he loves to travel, citing the Boundary Waters up north as his favorite place so far. He hopes to visit Iceland and Bora Bora sometime in the future as well.

Careers at Nahan

If you are interested in learning more about a career at Nahan, visit our Careers page today!

 

Author Bio: Camille Lehmann is a Senior Marketing Specialist and has been on the Nahan team since January 2020. Camille is responsible for managing Nahan’s social media, blog content, and other internal and external content communications. She graduated with her Masters of Science in Marketing with a specialization in Project Management in 2020. In her spare time, Camille enjoys visiting new coffee shops and restaurants with friends, playing tennis, and finding new Pinterest projects.

Nahan Announces Rebrand as Part of Business Evolution

SAINT CLOUD, Minn. – April 19, 2022 – Today, Nahan announced it has rebranded. The effort includes a new logo, refreshed visual identity, and an updated website.

The rebrand reflects Nahan’s growing suite of services that include marketing strategy, creative, data, and analytics — coupled with world-class print production and postal strategies  — providing a fully integrated solution for its clients. The news follows on the heels of Nahan’s earlier announcement that it had expanded its direct mail capacity and geographic footprint through the acquisition of a Pennsylvania-based facility.

“Our business has evolved dramatically in recent years, including an expansion of the services we offer, enhancements to our printing platform, and considerable additions to our leadership and management teams,” said CEO Mike Ertel. “We’re excited to unveil updated branding that more accurately reflects the company we’ve become, which is a one-stop-shop for our clients’ direct marketing needs.”

Founded in 1962 by Jim and Helen Nahan, the company established a strong reputation for providing high-quality direct mail and commercial print, and exemplary customer service. Sixty years later, what was then a small family-owned print shop, is now home to more than 400 employees, including industry-leading experts in direct marketing strategy, data, analytics, creative, and more, with facilities in the Midwest and East Coast.

“The team at Nahan is driven by our immense pride in our company’s history, combined with the ambition to push ourselves in new directions and deliver greater results to our clients,” said Mike Logar, SVP, Sales and Marketing Services. “Great marketing is more than just delivering the right message at the right time — it’s also about making real connections with people. And Nahan is purpose-built to create those connections.”

For more information about Nahan and to view the new Nahan branding, please visit http://www.Nahan.com.

Nahan Announces East Coast Expansion of Direct Mail Platform

Acquisition of Intellus Marketing Mail Division Assets Will Allow for Faster Speed to Market for Customers’ Direct Mail Campaigns

SAINT CLOUD, Minn. – April 12, 2022 – Nahan, a full-service, direct marketing and print solutions provider, announced today it has acquired the mail division assets of Intellus Marketing. The purchase allows Nahan to strategically expand its geographic footprint and complement its existing Minnesota facility with enhanced printing, mailing, distribution, and logistics capabilities that enable faster speed to market.

“Direct mail is the fastest-growing segment of our business,” said CEO Mike Ertel. “The addition of an East Coast facility strengthens our already best-in-class platform with improved cycle time, which is integral to our end-to-end direct marketing solution.”

The dual facilities will also increase Nahan’s overall print and mailing capacity to support the growing needs of its expanding customer base. The former Intellus facility, located in Montgomeryville, Pa., is equipped with a high-speed direct mail production platform which enables high volume execution of direct mail campaigns.

With the direct mail industry facing headwinds due to supply chain issues and paper shortages, companies like Nahan have partnered with marketers to find creative solutions, such as redirecting marketing dollars toward trigger-based communications that are highly targeted, personalized, and timely.

“With the increased focus on triggered direct mail campaigns, marketers are seeking integrated solutions to increase agility, efficiency, and effectiveness,” said Mike Logar, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Services. “This acquisition puts us in a strong position to produce direct mail campaigns that will deliver high-performance results for our customers and drive business growth in a highly competitive market.”

About Nahan

Nahan is a full-service direct marketing and print solutions provider. Our portfolio of services includes strategy, creative, data, analytics, print production, mailing, logistics and fulfillment services.

Founded in 1962 by Jim and Helen Nahan, the company established a strong reputation for providing high-quality direct mail and commercial print and exemplary customer service. What was then a 15-person, family-owned print shop is now home to over 400 employees, including industry-leading experts in direct marketing strategy, data, analytics, creative, and more.

For more information about Nahan and our services, please visit http://www.Nahan.com.

Direct Marketing Insights from NEMOA Spring Summit

 

Author: Bryan Formhals, Senior Marketing Specialist

As the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, marketers and brands are facing new challenges from rising input costs, labor shortages, and continued supply chain disruptions. With all this uncertainty, gaining an edge in the market and optimizing marketing programs becomes even more important. One place to gain insights is from industry peers and experts developing innovative solutions.

Every spring NEMOA (National Etailing & Mailing Organization of America) holds their first of two summits, bringing together leading experts to share their insights on the current market, providing the opportunity to network with peers, and have lively discussions about the biggest topics in the industry.

This year’s spring summit was held virtually and we at Nahan were thrilled to attend and present our roundtable conversation on ‘Extending your Catalogs Reach by Geo Targeting Mobile Users.’

We also attended several of the presentations and roundtables to learn what some of the best minds in the industry are thinking. Here are a few of the key takeaways:

DTC Brands Turn to Print Inserts

In ‘The Power of Marketing Via Print Inserts’ hosted by by Craig Kapilow, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships RUE GILT GROUP, we learned how digitally-native brands are utilizing print inserts for brand awareness and customer acquisition.

They also offer a great way to delight when they open their packages by offering a little surprise, which everyone loves!  Another key advantage of print inserts is the ability to include offers from thirty party partners. Craig warned that brands shouldn’t try to do too much with their inserts and should make sure their brand and logo are always prominent, as well as including a crystal clear call to action and value proposition.

Getting Creative with Catalogs

 Catalogs are a big investment, making it critical marketers assure their effectiveness in engaging with their customers. In “Catalogs: Creative and Creation,” Brent Niemuth, J. Schmid spoke with Jackie Ardrey of Grandin Road and Bryan Seeley of BSW to learn their insights about tactics for creating beautiful, impactful catalogs.

For Seeley, catalogs are a great way to cut through the digital noise for their B2B focused customers in the broadcast industry. He recommends working with suppliers to help pay for catalogs, as well as featuring the people behind the brand, and most importantly, make it fun!

With Grandin Road, Ardey says catalogs are a source of inspiration and the best format for telling a broader and deeper brand story. Their customers are looking for inspiration and ideas and want to see something they have never seen. Their top tips are to elevate the creative by focusing on great photography and conveying personality through copy.

The Future of Print is Personalized

Digital inkjet technology is a significant trend for everyone in the print world. Ricoh’s Director of Global Marketing, Mike Herold hosted an insightful roundtable discussion on the “Opportunities and Obstacles in Customizable Print” with a few key takeaways that are going to be relevant for all marketers in the space.  

The COVID pandemic accelerated the decline of offset which is also facing labor shortages. There aren’t enough skilled employees to run offset equipment, so future growth will come on the backbone of digital solutions. Right now less than 1% of the 44 billion direct mail pieces produced annually are produced with inkjet technology, so there’s a lot of growth ahead.

One of the huge benefits of inkjet printing is the ability to personalize the campaigns, however customization does come at a higher cost. This tension requires marketers to work closely with their partners on optimization. In many cases, those higher costs will be offset by the higher response rate you get from personalized campaigns.

Smaller and more targeted runs, sometimes called ‘microruns’, are quicker and more customized, with programmatic print continuing to grow. Bottom line, traditional print is not going away, but how can you compliment it with digital to drive value? 

Taking Multi-Channel Marketing from Digital to Catalogs and Print

Many direct-to-consumer brands had great success building their brands through digital marketing, but with the cost increasing, some are diversifying to catalogs to increase engagement.

In a presentation called, ‘The Whys and Hows Of Beyond Digital Multi-Channel Marketing,’ Liz Dolinski, Chief Growth Officer of Lunya, shared how the three pillars of media diversification, customer journeys, and brand building have helped them grow in the face of steeper digital marketing costs.

With media diversification, she emphasized the importance of meeting customers where they are by not allowing one channel/partner to dominate your marketing spend.

Moving into the physical world with catalogs is a great way to tell the full brand story and create a deeper, richer experience. Since the lead times for print are much longer, they can be more difficult for agile marketing strategies.

A couple of tactics they have found successful are to follow up with a postcard when a customer unsubscribes from their newsletter and to add a copy of catalogs to gift boxes.

Conclusion

NEMOA brings together some of the best minds in the print industry. The presenters at the spring summit shared actionable insights that marketers can implement into their 2022 direct marketing strategies. We look forward to the fall summit to see how  these trends and insights evolve throughout the year.

 

 

Bio: Bryan Formhals is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Nahan. His efforts focus on public relations, trade shows, sales support, and other external marketing initiatives. He has over 20 years experience in digital marketing working across content, social media, strategy, and communications. In his free time, Bryan enjoys photography and art, walking and hiking, and exploring parks and nature.

 

Paper Market: 5 Insights for 2022

 

Author: Bryan Formhals, Senior Marketing Specialist

 

It doesn’t take long in the print industry to know that the current paper market is a tricky challenge to tackle. There are many different layers to consider when developing your direct mail and catalog strategy, but the most tangible element of your planning will always be your paper choices. Paper is what makes print….well, print!

Whether you’re a seasoned paper veteran, or new to print, you’ve undoubtedly realized that there are many variables to understand, including: pricing, size, finish, coating, sustainability, among others. The last two years have added a new layer of complexity with increasing paper shortages due to supply chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as fundamental shifts in the paper market. What does this mean? Marketers are facing unprecedented challenges when developing their direct mail and catalog campaigns. In such an environment, knowing the pulse of the industry and trends is more important than ever.

While we could certainly write a book on the topic (hey, this is our business and we love it!), we’re going to instead share the top tips and trends you need to know about making paper choices for your projects in 2022.

Stay Flexible When It Comes to Choosing Paper 

Paper availability looks different in 2022. What was used in your last project, might not be now, or might take longer to acquire than in prior years. The name of the game going forward is flexibility. For example, one might have to consider environmental certified versus recycled depending on availability and timing.

This is also a good opportunity to discover new paper types and sizes you haven’t tried before.

Small is the New Big

Want an easy way to combat the increase in paper prices? Go smaller. With paper prices increasing, it makes sense to try to use less of it. This doesn’t mean your mailer will lose impact. It means being concise and strategic with your messaging and creative design. Think “small but mighty.” A smaller mailer implementing best practices can have the desired impact and achieve your ROI. For example, we’ve helped several fashion retailers make a splash with mini catalogs that have a smaller paper footprint. Not only does it cut down on paper, but it also stands out in the mailbox.

Supply Chain Issues and the Resulting Delays

By now, the snags and snarls caused by the supply chain issues have been apparent in nearly every industry, forcing businesses to be nimble and adjust. For the paper market, transportation challenges have been a leading cause of delays and price increases. Rising energy and gas prices paired with a shortage of truck drivers have created a perfect storm for moving paper from the mills to printers. Experts expect some of these issues to slowly work themselves out over the year, but for the time being, patience is required.

The Paper Market is Changing

As with many industries the pandemic has disrupted and fundamentally changed the paper market. Many mills have had to shift production to producing corrugated cardboard to meet the increasing ecommerce demand and are suffering from the labor shortage as well. The result has been that paper companies are now setting allocations for paper delivery, with shipments requiring longer lead times, creating the shortage we’re all feeling.

Plan Early, and then Be Nimble

In an industry that requires effective planning with moving parts, the current headwinds with supply chain issues and paper shortages requires planning even further into the future. Once planning is in motion, you want to be nimble and know where you can make last minute adjustments. This is where it becomes important to work closely with vendors such as Nahan to help guide through the process and find opportunities for optimization.

“I’ve been telling clients they need to firm up circulations and place orders as soon as possible. They also should be open to trimming their mail file at the 11th hour to remove the populations they feel are less likely to respond,” Pat Nahan, VP of Client Solutions.

Conclusion

Paper may not be glamorous but it’s a crucial component in the success of any direct mail or catalog campaign. With supply chain challenges persisting and fundamental transformations taking place in the paper market, it’s important for marketers to understand the core industry taking place. While these new challenges create headwinds in executing campaigns, they can also create new opportunities for brands who plan with agility and partner with the experts.

 

 

Bio: Bryan Formhals is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Nahan. His efforts focus on public relations, trade shows, sales support and other external marketing initiatives. He has over 20 years experience in digital marketing working across content, social media, strategy and communications. In his free time, Bryan enjoys photography and art, walking and hiking, and exploring parks and nature.

 

The Dynamic Duo: Combining Direct Mail and Digital for Increased ROI

Author: Alan Sherman, VP of Marketing Strategy

Direct mail and digital ads are the ultimate power team. While compelling on their own, together they make a larger impact on the consumer, but this is increasingly difficult to achieve in the wake of the phasing out of third-party cookies.

For years, direct marketers have run cross-channel marketing programs that use third-party cookies to track user behavior across websites – we all see those ads that seem to follow us around online. In response to European and CA privacy regulations, third-party cookies have largely already been phased out by most browsers (now only relevant 40% of the time), such as Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome, which will fully phase out cookies in 2023.

So, if cookies are going away and direct marketers want to reach consumers at the same time across channels to lift and improve response, what do they do? 

Our Solution

Nahan’s solution is known as Direct Mail Companion™ (DM Companion™) – or if you’re a cataloger, it’s known as Catalog Companion™. The name may vary, but the solution remains the same. And what a solution it is! You can now leverage the power of your targeted offline prospect or customer files to create a seamless message before, during, and after your direct mail or catalog in-home date, leading to greater response and higher ROI.

DM Companion™ is a multi-channel marketing program that combines direct mail and mobile targeting. We leverage the direct mail file and target the same recipient via their mobile devices in their homes. The targeting process is based on geocoding technology that achieves a 100% match rate (except for multi-dwelling units) between the direct mail file and the digital universe.

Those that click the ads on their phones are further retargeted across digital channels and other known devices, all without the use of third-party cookies.

Respecting Privacy

We respect consumer privacy by leveraging mobile device ID, which is not considered Personal Identifiable Information (PII). It does not leverage cookies or IP address targeting and is not subject to digital privacy restrictions.

Results Are Impressive

Click-through rate results are typically 2x higher than traditional digital display campaigns, with a 50–75% reduction in cost-per-click and the added  frequency provides incremental response rate improvement of 20%+ over direct mail alone. Recipients can be digitally targeted before the mailing is delivered to build awareness, during the in-home delivery period, and during the remainder of the response cycle. This program uses a highly targeted, cost-effective approach that streamlines the path to response, and is proven across every industry we work with.

Multiple contacts to the same people across multiple channels translate to un-matched results. To find out more about DM and Catalog Companion™, get in touch with your Nahan representative or reach me at alan.sherman@nahan.com.

Bio: Alan Sherman is our Vice President of Marketing Strategy. Alan enhances Nahan’s current value proposition with strategy solutions that support new/existing client relationships. For clients, he leverages market, customer, and competitive intelligence to build achievable strategies for omnichannel marketing success. His marketing plan strategies include targeted data, predictive analytics, testing and creative that drive ongoing client performance improvement. In his spare time, Alan enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, going to concerts, watching sports (he’s a fan of the NY Giants, Boston Red Sox and Celtics) and walking the dog, even though it was just out.

Nahan Announces Investment in New Technology from Canon Solutions America

SAINT CLOUD, MN – November 17, 2021 – Nahan announced that it has expanded its digital printing platform with the addition of the ProStream 1800, manufactured by Canon Solutions America. “This state-of-the-art continuous feed inkjet press will enable Nahan to deliver highly targeted and personalized print at exceptional speeds with award-winning quality and flexibility, unlike anything we’ve seen,” said Nahan CEO Mike Ertel.

Speed

With the ability to produce over 62 million letter impressions per month, the ProStream will increase Nahan’s overall capacity, while reducing production cycle times and enabling faster speed to market for its clients. 

Quality

Setting a new benchmark for inkjet quality, the ProStream1800 provides a color gamut beyond offset standards on most papers. At full speed, the ProStream leverages 1,200 dpi resolution with Canon multi-level ink drop size modulation for smooth shadings, striking details in dark tones, and sharp fonts.

Flexibility

The ProStream allows for flexibility across a wide range of media, including standard offset coated, uncoated, and inkjet optimized papers from 40gsm to 300gsm. This will allow Nahan to efficiently produce a wider range of formats than ever before, from premium direct mail, to catalogs, self-mailers, and more. Another compelling feature of the ProStream is that it can produce fully variable 4-color catalog covers in-stream – a new and unique advance in capabilities for Nahan.

“We’re proud to partner with Canon Solutions America on this investment in our future,” said Paul Overn, Vice President, Operations at Nahan. “Their constant innovation and support is invaluable as it has enabled us to meet our customers’ increasing needs for speed and personalization.”

About Nahan

Nahan is an award-winning, privately owned, direct marketing and print solutions company. Nahan leverages the power of omnichannel marketing strategy, creative, data, and analytics coupled with exceptional production and postal strategies to closely connect brands with customers. For more information about Nahan, please visit http://www.Nahan.com.

About Canon Solutions America, Inc.

Canon Solutions America, Inc. provides industry leading enterprise, production, and large format printing solutions, supported by exceptional professional service offerings. Canon Solutions America, Inc. helps companies of all sizes discover ways to improve sustainability, increase efficiency, and control costs in conjunction with high volume, continuous feed, digital and traditional printing, and document management solutions. For more information on Canon Solutions America, please visit csa.canon.com.

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Nahan Named Top Digital Agency in Minnesota by DesignRush

St. Cloud, MN — November 2, 2021 — Nahan has been named a Top Digital Marketing Agency in Minnesota by DesignRush.

DesignRush is a B2B marketplace that connects brands with professional full-service agencies, web design companies, digital marketing firms, direct marketing firms and top technology companies. Their platform lists over 9,300 agencies from over 50 different countries and is consulted by thousands of decision-makers looking to start a project.

“We’re excited for Nahan to be recognized for driving performance improvement for clients through our integrated suite of services,” said Alan Sherman, VP-Marketing Strategy. “We’re proud to be a true one-stop-shop for all of their direct marketing needs.

Nahan’s team of experts across strategy, data, creative, production, postal logistics and fulfillment enable our clients to successfully acquire, develop, and retain profitable customer relationships, while continuously improving Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).

To learn more about Nahan, visit: https://www.nahan.com/what-we-do/

To learn more about DesignRush, visit: https://www.designrush.com/

Halloween Special: Getting Started with Printing Isn’t “Scary”

Authors: Nahan Marketing Team

Halloween is right around the corner! Our business is “boo”ming this time of the year and our presses are running nonstop. So, we thought we’d have some fun answering some frequently asked questions with a few Halloween puns.  You’re in for a real “treat” and maybe a few “tricks.”

Why are so many of our customers starting to add print campaigns again into their marketing strategies, even if they have taken a break from print or have never printed before?

Many customers come to us because they have been under the “spell” of the same old marketing tactics and they are looking for something new to break it. Some customers are looking for strategies like loyalty mailings to bring their “zombie” customers back to life. Others are looking to leave their competition in the “shadows” with awesome new campaign strategies. No matter the circumstance, we always say don’t let print “scare” you. We’re here to help and have a “ghoulishly” good time at Nahan. We love new “tricks” on our equipment and love to “treat” our customers to amazing quality print. We also offer a whole “web” of services to our customers so they are well taken care of.

Once someone decides to add a print campaign to their strategy, what sort of things should they think about?

First of all, you’ll want to think about your goals and what you want to achieve. What do you want your print project to do for you – drive sales, acquire new customers, bring customers into your store, etc.? You will no doubt want to take advantage of our Mail expertise, as Direct Mail marketing has significant response rates and we want the project to be as successful as you do.

Once you have the details for the project, our team will create a quote for you and we’ll put together a project schedule.

How about paper selection?

While our industry is facing a “scary” paper shortage, do not “panic.” our Sales Representatives are here to help you work through any issues for your particular project. Our responsive and adaptable team is here to serve you every step of the way despite industry capacity shortages.

My catalog has MANY pages, does it need “creep?”

Depending on how many pages, your book may need “creep” because when taking a “face trim” off, we wouldn’t want to lose any “digits.” Creep refers to the moving of margins in the document when the pages are folded. The amount of creep varies depending on how many pages are in your catalog. Our team will then trim off an paper creeping out of the cover for a professional finish. Our skilled experts will take care of that for you.

My project has “bleed?”

Yes, if your image extends to the edge of the page, you will want 1/8” extra image so that your image can “bleed” off the page.

Will my project be prone to “ghosting?” 

When we talk about the term “ghosting back,” we are referring to an image being lightened up to use as a background or other light accent. However, there are many undesirable “traps” that can happen when printing large solids. If your solid image has reversed type or white knockouts a few different types of “ghosting” can appear.

Mechanical “ghost” is a “phantom” image on the printed side of the sheet caused by ink “starvation.” It can be quite “menacing.” You will need a well-maintained machine with highly skilled operators to help eliminate it.

Chemical “ghosts” appear ominously when the ink is drying, caused by a differentiated dry speed and gaseous emissions, leaving a “ghosted” image on the other side of the sheet (in the solids). Experienced operators with a lot of training, R&D, and quality products help eliminate this as well. This type of ghost generally only happens on coated papers.

So, if you’re concerned about “ghosting,” who you gonna call? “Ghostbusters!” Just kidding, you can call us and we will help!

Getting Started with Printing

Can I get help with creative design?

Does getting the best direct mail design seem too “mysterious?” We’re here to help! We have a team committed to providing creative services unique to your needs. With decades of experience, our creative department delivers impactful and targeted direct mail design focused on improving your Return on Marketing Investment. Whether we are providing format ideation or full creative development, we collaboratively work with our clients to help solve their marketing challenges.

Employee Spotlight: Lisa Palm

Author: Camille Lehmann, Marketing Coordinator

Our team consists of some amazing individuals, all dedicated to the Nahan mission focused on consistently exceeding expectations. Lisa Palm, one of our Production Managers, has been dedicated to that mission throughout her Nahan career and we couldn’t be more thankful for her commitment. We’re excited to share more about Lisa and her time at Nahan.


Lisa Palm, Production Manager

Lisa’s Career in Direct Mail

After graduating college with a degree in advertising and design, Lisa’s print journey expanded into multiple roles, including Prepress Production Specialist, Electronic Prepress Technician, and Production Artist. Her time in the print industry took her to various companies, including Nahan. After a few years away from Nahan, Lisa decided that she missed the sense of values, individuality, and worth that Nahan emphasized. In 2011, she returned to Nahan as a Customer Service Representative. Over the following five years, Lisa held the roles of Technical Service Rep, Project Coordinator, and was promoted to Account Manager. At the time, Lisa was confident her role in Account Management was her forever home. She enjoyed taking a project from point-of-sale to completion, along with the knowledge of the industry she was gaining. However, it wasn’t until she took a risk and applied to be a leader in Production that she realized her true calling. In 2017, Lisa became a Finishing Shift Leader, ultimately leading to her becoming Nahan’s first woman Production Manager in 2021. Her willingness to lead and participate in many workflow teams throughout her time at Nahan prepared her well to take on challenges and serve her team. Overall, it’s not Lisa’s accomplishments that make her proudest, but the growth of her team, emphasizing that it is the job of leaders to grow more leaders.

“Michelle Motschke, one of my mentors, taught me the value of tolerance, patience, and trust in business.”


Lisa Palm, Production Manager

Fun fact – Lisa and her husband, Tim, met at Nahan in 2009

Beyond Nahan

Lisa’s other greatest passion is her family, whom she describes as very close-knit and who taught her how to be courageous and have a kind heart. She enjoys getting to use her leadership qualities to support and cheer on her loved ones, whether it’s golfing with her husband or helping her son (who she says is growing up way too fast) with school and the challenges of being a teenager. She takes every chance possible to return to her roots in Madison, Wisconsin to spend cherished time with family. Lisa also enjoys spending time outdoors exploring with her family and two dogs, Freyja and Grizzly Bear, running half marathons, and cheering on the Packers.

 


Lisa’s son and their two dogs

“The best advice I’ve ever received is to be strong and listen to yourself, your value, and your worth. Don’t let others dictate your path. Rise above and make your dreams a reality.”


-Lisa Palm, Production Manager

Careers at Nahan

If you are interested in learning more about a career at Nahan, visit our careers page or contact us to learn more.

Bio: Camille Lehmann is on the Marketing team and started with Nahan in January of 2020. Camille is responsible for assisting in Nahan’s marketing strategies and goals. She graduated with her Master’s of Science in Marketing with a specialization in Project Management in 2020. In her spare time, Camille enjoys writing, going to coffee shops, and spending time with friends and family.

Playing Offense with Format Rotation 

Author: Steve Schoenborn, Account Executive

 

Everyone has a favorite season and for me, it’s fall. I enjoy the cooler weather (especially after enduring a hot summer), the comfort of jeans and a sweatshirt, the changing colors, golf, and especially the long-awaited football season. Now you might be thinking, “what does football have to do with direct mail format rotation?”

When it comes to football, do you ever get frustrated with your favorite football team’s offense because you feel like the plays they run are too predictable? When the plays are the same time and time again, the defense knows what’s coming, and when that occurs your team’s chance of winning is greatly diminished. The same occurs when format fatigue sets in for a mail piece.

What is Format Fatigue?

When marketers send the same piece of mail to consumers, again and again, format fatigue sets in. Once a consumer has seen the same mail piece multiple times in less than a 6-month period, they most likely don’t even open it. They’ve seen it before, know what to expect, and they no longer give it attention. This can be avoided when marketers build up their offensive strategy with format rotation.

What is Format Rotation?

For marketers that mail frequently to the same audience, developing and rotating a stable of control formats is critical to reducing package/format fatigue. Although it’s difficult to pin down specific industry statistics, we all know that format fatigue is real and measurable. As a result, we typically recommend a testing process to develop multiple effective controls that, at minimum, vary in some physical fashion. For example, a strong rotation for a monthly DM program could include a #10 package, a 6 x 9 package, a folded self-mailer, and a monarch-sized package.

Methods of Format Rotation

As mentioned above, the physical size of a mail piece is one way to switch up the format design. Other options include alternating imagery, messaging, as well as switching from a branded design to blind or a sophisticated design vs. promotional. Rotating the controls from one mailing to the next will help keep your audience’s attention and entice them to interact with your direct mail. Changing the look and feel of the content is also recommended. You can change the layout of the content by moving the sidebar, changing the look and/or location of the offer and changing the call to action, etc.

Marketers don’t have to call trick plays to be successful, but sometimes you need to mix in a reverse or a play action pass or a screen pass to keep the defense honest. Just be smart, follow testing best practices to establish a solid rotation of controls, and keep your audience on their toes.

If you’re looking for help in developing and/or expanding your rotation of controls, the Nahan team is here to help. Reach out today!

Pillars of Direct Mail

Author: Mike Dietz, Sr. Creative Director

I have been developing direct mail for more than 20 years. That’s right, before the digital age changed the way marketers connected with their customers.  To some, direct mail seems like an ancient marketing tool that should have gone out of style like pay phones. So why is it still such a critical channel for so many successful marketers today? The answer is simple…it works.

Creating direct mail campaigns in 2021 is dramatically different then creating them in 2000, but there are two pillars that remain the same and are the cornerstones to successful campaigns.

Get noticed.

The first pillar is the ability to create a physical piece that will stand out in the pile of mail that we encounter each day when we return from the mailbox.  We want to create a mail piece that makes it to the next round of scrutiny and not one that takes an express trip to the recycling bin never to be opened.

I want you to think about your personal process of sorting mail, what causes you to keep or to toss? How do you perceive size and weight? How do you interact with flashy promotional packages compared to simple plain envelopes with very little information on them? Unfortunately, there isn’t a black and white answer when it comes to selecting a creative approach. There are proven tactics that aid in the development of a successful mail piece, but each project provides their own set of unique factors. Brand recognition, audience, offer, budget and competitive pressure all contribute to the creative strategy that help shape the final product.

Convince me.

The second pillar is the challenge of motivating someone to engage.  To read or at least scan the contents of package and spark a desire that the product or service will save them money, create a sense of security or make their life easier.

Offer, benefits, and understanding the barriers that influence the consumers decision making process, make up the core considerations of messaging and positioning. These factors are driven by data and what we know about our audience. Much like the challenge of getting a mail piece opened, there is no magic answer. There are proven best practices that can be followed to establish a solid platform that you can build from.

Harder than you think.

Direct mail creation is hard. To be successful, the piece needs to capture the consumer’s attention in a short period of time. The wonderful thing about this channel is that everything is measurable. The other amazing thing about direct mail is that it will never be perfect. Ongoing testing is the lifeblood in developing consistent and healthy programs. Understanding what is working (and not working) is critical. Testing insights need to be strategically leveraged to improve controls or develop innovative creative challengers.

Experience Matters.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when you take on a direct mail project.  Life in the world of direct mail is never boring; each day brings new challenges and new puzzles to solve. I haven’t even mentioned production or postal requirements. I will save that for another blog.

Three Benefits of Working for Nahan

 

Author: Nick Hammitt, Marketing Intern

Nahan is an award winning company with amazing opportunities for its current and future employees. If you are considering joining the team at Nahan, I’d like to tell you about three benefits of working here. From the first time I walked into the building to interview, I could feel the family-like atmosphere. As I walked around the facility, every single person I came in contact with said hello to me. That truly mattered to me when making the decision to work for Nahan. 

Here are three benefits that I see in working for Nahan:

1. Leadership That Values Their Employees

Nahan has over 350 employees and we are ranked as one of the top 20 largest employers in St. Cloud, MN. We are thriving and are constantly looking for new team members. One of Nahan’s most valued traits is our ability to maintain a small company feel, while being a robust and growing company. It is a priority of Nahan’s leaders to be accessible to employees and the needs of our customers, and be willing to step in at any point to make decisions and to support the team. It’s part of the reason we’ve been able to be so successful over the years.

Our leadership makes sure to acknowledge the employees and their milestones. Whenever we have anniversaries and employee events, the leadership is here celebrating with the team. That is quite a good feeling to see that Nahan employees are recognized and valued for what they do.

 2. Values

Since I’ve been here, I’ve heard a lot about Nahan Values. These values were established by our owners and our leadership team. Here at Nahan we live by these values. When we recognize our team members, we always associate the recognition with upholding at least one of these values:

N = Never Stop Being the Best

A = Always Treat Others with Dignity and Respect

H = Honesty and Integrity

A = Amaze Our Internal and External Customers

N = Now is the Time

3. Culture

The last, but most important benefit I see in working at Nahan, is our culture. Culture is important to the owners at Nahan and it’s important to the employees as well. These employees have seen each other through milestones, growing families, successes, and challenging times as well. When we asked our employees to share their favorite part about working for Nahan. The resounding majority of our team said “the people” and since I’ve been here, I’d definitely agree.

Employees come for the work but stay for the culture. I had recently pulled a statistic and 28% of Nahan’s employees have worked here for more than twenty years! It’s incredible to see statistics like that and seeing the culture first hand, I believe it.

Learn more about Nahan’s culture and current job openings.

 

The Value of Triggered Direct Mail

 

Author: Sean Wambold, VP Client Solutions

What are trigger mailings?

How many times have you bought something online, looked up what a monthly loan payment would be or gotten an insurance quote, only to get follow-up offers in the mail? Or moved to a new home and received furniture offers? This happens every day and is known as trigger mail. Trigger mailings are “triggered” by an event – your behavior – and are the most effective type of direct mail campaign. Response is typically 40-70% higher than a typical mailing.

Trigger mailings produce superior results

Marketers that work with data know that prospect and customer behavior – whether it’s a credit inquiry, purchase or a life event, our interest in a product or service – is more relevant than our household income or which zip code we live in. But as marketers, we also know that consumer attention is fleeting – just because we’re looking at switching auto insurance because we received a rate increase – doesn’t mean we’ll still be interested a month from now.  The best trigger programs reach us quickly with personalized offers while the interest level is still high.

But how do you build an effective trigger mail program? Nahan’s solution is in combining both fresh and highly targeted trigger data and an efficient production process that reaches prospects quickly, with the right creative and messaging.

Trigger data sourcing

The two main trigger data categories are Credit and Invitation to Apply (ITA) data. Credit triggers typically come from the three main credit bureaus: Experian, Trans-Union and Equifax, and include auto, credit card, mortgage, personal loan, home equity, retail, and insurance inquiries.

ITA data is non-credit based, comes from many sources, and is driven by lifecycle events like age, marriage, employment, home purchase, moving or shopping. There are approximately 38MM to 65MM credit inquiries a month. ITA data ranges from 10-20MM monthly occurrences. Trigger data can also be web-based, such as cart abandoners or visitors to a website, captured via software or IP address.

Trigger data costs more than the usual compiled demographic data and non-triggered credit data. This is because of its credit bureau or multiple data sourcing and the extra work involved in capturing it daily, linking/deduping from multiple sources, cleaning it, and then delivering it for mailing, all within 24 hours. However, our clients usually find that the added benefit of far higher trigger response (+40-70%) greatly outweighs the additional cost. In some cases, it may be worth testing first class postage against standard class in terms of total ROI.

Nahan’s trigger data: faster, fresher, and more accurate

Nahan provides highly targeted triggered data via its credit data agent partners, who can also supply ITA lifecycle data. A credit data agent consolidates data from the 3 credit bureaus, providing real-time, deduped, and cleaned trigger data, delivered to Nahan for production within 24 hours. The “freshness” of this data means superior response results. Credit data agents have the ability to access all credit-active consumers, identifying the “best” address and info for an individual across the 3 credit bureaus. Because they source from 3 bureaus, they find 15-30% more net triggered data than is available from a single bureau.

Data can also be ranked and prioritized by the use of sophisticated predictive models during the 24-hour data processing period. These models leverage thousands of credit and non-credit data points, which dramatically increases the amount of available predictive data. Machine learning algorithms enable us to evaluate and sift through the data to find the right combination of data elements for the best model performance. Model performance continually improves as updated campaign results are added to the data.

Nahan’s trigger production: fast, flexible and nimble

One of Nahan’s capabilities that I’ve been the most impressed with is the agility of our platform and how well it can support the execution of high-performance trigger mailings. With our dedicated triggers team, we can provide flexibility and nimbleness unmatched by competitors. We convert the complex programming process into a simple, automated lights-out program.

Timing is everything and partnering with a solutions provider that delivers a quality product provides a major advantage. At Nahan, our 48-hour turn-around time, from receiving data to first mail-drop, sets us apart in our speed-to-market. Our experts can leverage the data to create a personalized direct mail piece based on the consumer’s behavior that arrives in-home as fast as 5-7 days after the event. We can also time triggers to an integrated mobile digital program.

What matters – the results

Analysis conducted across client products and industries has proven a Nahan trigger response lift ranging from 40-70% over traditional direct mail credit data programs. Analysis also indicates that it is crucial to reach recipients within 7 to 10 days after the behavior event. Nahan triggers average 7 days from event to in-home when first-class postage is used. After that, response begins to drop off. First class mail usually out-performs standard class mail on a cost-adjusted basis.

Nahan’s trigger programs are perfectly timed and managed to interact with prospects at the right time with the right offer. They work because they quickly and effectively identify and reach prospects that have expressed a need through their behavior. We understand that our clients’ offers are not the only ones out there and recognize that a program that brings together high-quality data, superior production, and speed to market is crucial for marketing success.

Employee Spotlight: Pete Schwarzkopf

Author: Camille Lehmann, Marketing Coordinator

Our employees are our greatest asset. We are so thankful for their dedication to the Nahan team and their commitment to going above and beyond for our customers. I’d like to introduce you to Pete Schwarzkopf, one of our Account Executives and someone who you can always count on to have a sense of humor. We are excited to be sharing more about Pete and his time at Nahan so far.

Pete Schwarzkopf, Account Executive

Pete’s Career in Direct Mail

Pete started at Nahan in December of 2020. Since graduating from the Western Wisconsin Technical College and University of Wisconsin – Stout, Pete has been a part of the print industry. He began his career running presses at a small print shop in Viroqua, WI, and went on to spend the next 20 years in positions ranging from Account Manager, to purchasing agent and Account Executive. Pete explains that the sense of accomplishment he feels booking a job for a new client after persevering in patience is his greatest work accomplishment.  He is passionate about exceeding customers’ expectations and says positive feedback from clients keeps that passion going. Knowing that the team knocked it out of the park on a project makes the job exciting and continually makes him committed to doing the same with every customer. Pete also enjoys the aspect of his Account Executive role that he likes to call being the “Swiss Army Knife” of the team – supporting and helping wherever he can to make each department successful.

Knowing that we both knocked a job out of the park and that it’s a win for our company financially, that’s something that keeps me passionate about growing and retaining our customers!”

Pete Schwarzkopf, Account Executive

Life Beyond Nahan

Outside of the office, Pete first and foremost enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He credits his wife as the person who inspires him the most – not only in her dedication to her career but her ability to keep the family organized and on task! He also enjoys being able to get outside and camp, fish, and play golf (although he admits golf can be a bit of a struggle sometimes). Visiting local breweries in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities and family vacations are also favorite activities. So far, a few of his favorite travel destinations have been the Rivera Maya region of Mexico and Ireland, and he hopes to visit Alaska and Hawaii sometime soon.

“The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given, as corny as it is, is that tackling something hard can always be broken down into smaller tasks so it’s not so daunting.”

-Pete Schwarzkopf, Account Executive

Careers at Nahan

If you are interested in learning more about a career at Nahan, visit our careers page or contact us to learn more.

Bio: Camille Lehmann is on the Marketing team and started with Nahan in January of 2020. Camille is responsible for assisting in Nahan’s marketing strategies and goals. She graduated with her Master’s of Science in Marketing with a specialization in Project Management in 2020. In her spare time, Camille enjoys writing, going to coffee shops, and spending time with friends and family.

Nahan Appoints Jim Andersen to Board of Directors

SAINT CLOUD, MN – August 17, 2021 – Nahan has announced that Jim Andersen joined its Board of Directors. In this role, Andersen will help Nahan chart its’ course for rapid growth. Andersen brings over 40 years of experience in the direct marketing industry, including leadership positions at Banta Corporation, and his most recent role as Chief Executive Officer at IWCO Direct, where he led the company to unprecedented growth for over 20 years.

“Jim is a legendary leader and visionary. His track record of success is unmatched in this industry, and he has an incredible passion for the business. We’re thrilled and grateful to welcome him to our board of directors,” said Nahan CEO, Mike Ertel.

Andersen’s accolades include being honored with the 2010 Harry V. Quadracci VISION award from the Printing Industries of America, as well as being inducted to the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame in 2008. He has served on the boards of the Printing Industry of Minnesota, the Envelope Manufacturers Association, Minnesota Business Partnership (MBP), and on the Direct Marketing Association’s finance committee.

For almost 60 years, Nahan has been known for providing the highest level of quality and innovation in the printing industry to some of the world’s largest and most recognizable brands. Earlier this year, it was announced that the company would expand its service offering to include marketing strategy, creative, data, and analytics.

“I’m excited to join Nahan at this crossroads in its’ history. We have a world-class production platform, a holistic, end-to-end marketing services solution, amazingly talented and experienced employees, and an entrepreneurial culture that fosters our ability to be nimble and innovative at a level most companies can’t match,” said Andersen. “And we have big plans for the future. I can’t wait to get started.”

About Nahan

Nahan is a world-class, privately owned, direct marketing services and print solutions company. Nahan produces integrated marketing solutions for their clients, enabling them to successfully acquire, develop, and retain profitable customer relationships. Nahan leverages the power of omnichannel marketing strategy, creative, data, and analytics coupled with exceptional production and postal strategies to closely connect brands with customers. For more information about Nahan and to learn more about joining the Nahan team, please visit http://www.Nahan.com.

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Employee Spotlight: Jim Dombrovske

Author: Camille Lehmann, Marketing Coordinator

A big part of what makes Nahan a great place to be is our amazing employees! I’d like to introduce you to Jim Dombrovske, our Shift Leader for 2nd Shift Finishing. We are happy to be sharing more about Jim and his time at Nahan.

Jim Dombrovske

27 Years of Dedication to Nahan

Jim began his career at Nahan in July 1994 as a Helper in the Bindery Department. Soon after, he was promoted to a Cutter Operator, which was the first of many promotions over the years. In his twenty-seven years, Jim has worked in the role of both Folder Operator 1 and 2, Stitcher Operator and has worked on various presses. Since October of 2019, Jim has been in the role of Shift Leader for 2nd Shift in Finishing. He considers his promotion to Shift Leader as his proudest achievement at Nahan. Additionally, Jim has loved the opportunities Nahan has given him to travel, including a memorable trip to Switzerland for training.

“I am most passionate about not only meeting the company’s expectations, but also the needs for the team I work with daily.”

Jim Dombrovske, Shift Leader, 2nd Shift Finishing

Beyond Nahan

When Jim is not busy working hard at Nahan, he enjoys spending quality time with his wife and three sons. In his extra time, Jim likes being outside either playing a few rounds of golf or relaxing with some fishing. His biggest passion is volunteering as a Peer Recovery Coach, spending as much time as he can helping anyone who struggles with substance abuse.

“While I’ve received much great advice in my life, the best so far has been to write down ten things I am grateful for if I am having a bad day. I had asked how this would help and was told a grateful thinking mind will replace a negative thinking mind. The two can’t exist at the same time.”

Jim Dombrovske, Shift Leader, 2nd Shift Finishing

Careers at Nahan

If you are interested in learning more about a career at Nahan, visit our careers page or contact us to learn more.

Bio: Camille Lehmann is on the Marketing team and started with Nahan in January of 2020. Camille is responsible for assisting in Nahan’s marketing strategies and goals. She graduated with her Master’s of Science in Marketing with a specialization in Project Management in 2020. In her spare time, Camille enjoys writing, going to coffee shops, and spending time with friends and family.

Nahan Takes Home Best of Category at 2021 PIM Star Awards

SAINT CLOUD, MN – June 22, 2021 – Nahan has received a Best of Category award win at the 2021 Star Awards, hosted by Printing Industry Midwest (PIM). The Star Awards is an annual five-state print competition that recognizes excellence in print quality in the printing, communication, and graphic arts industries.

Nahan was proud to receive the award for Best of Category – Booklets, which is the highest award a printer can receive in this category, for a mailer produced for an international natural fragrances company. Nahan also received four Awards of Recognition in the Booklet, Product/Service Catalog, and Consumer Promotional Campaigns categories, and three Certificates of Merit.

It was also an honor to have our very own, Aaron Weekes, Director of Technology and Service Operations, speak at the event on behalf of the PIM Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DE&I) Program. This program is a “coalition of graphic communications companies and professionals. The coalition works to solve the racial inequities in our industry and to promote diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace” (https://www.pimw.org/pim-diversity/).

(https://www.pimw.org/pim-diversity/).

About PIM Star Awards

The PIM Star Awards competition recognizes the companies, teams, and individuals who take part in the creation and production of print communications in the Midwest. For more information about the Printing Industry Midwest Star Awards, please visit www.pimw.org or call PIM’s office at 612.400.6200.

About Nahan

Nahan is a world-class, privately owned, direct marketing services and print solutions company. Nahan produces integrated marketing solutions for their clients, enabling them to successfully acquire, develop, and retain profitable customer relationships. Nahan leverages the power of omnichannel marketing strategy, creative, data, and analytics coupled with exceptional production and postal strategies to closely connect brands with customers. For more information about Nahan and to learn more about joining the Nahan team, please visit http://www.nahan.com.

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Nahan Announces New CEO as Mike Nahan Retires

SAINT CLOUD, MN – June 16, 2021 – After decades of leadership as Nahan’s CEO, Mike Nahan, the son of company founders Jim and Helen Nahan, has announced his retirement effective June 7, 2021. Nahan will serve as an active board member following his retirement as CEO.

Mike Ertel has been named as Nahan’s new CEO, effective June 7, 2021. Mike Ertel is a highly respected industry veteran who brings a wealth of industry experience and an entrepreneurial mindset that will continue to propel Nahan into the future. Mike is excited to join the Nahan team and to continue the legacy, momentum, and explosive growth that Nahan is experiencing.

“Nahan is well on its way to becoming the leading provider of direct marketing services and print in the country, and I am thrilled to join this award-winning organization,” said Mike Ertel, CEO of Nahan. “With double digit growth planned in 2021, major equipment investments underway, and a recent influx of new talent, Nahan is positioned for explosive growth, now more than ever before. And the best part is we are just getting started.”                

For almost 60 years, Nahan has been known for superior print production and distribution. With a client roster of legendary brands, Nahan prints iconic work that represents some of the highest level of quality and innovation in the industry. Nahan’s client base includes many of the most well-known brands across the U.S. and globally.

In January of this year, Nahan announced an expansion of services to include a Marketing Services division. Nahan now leverages the power of omnichannel marketing strategy, creative, data, and analytics—coupled with world-class print production and postal strategies—to closely connect brands with customers. Check out the video introducing Nahan’s marketing services here: https://youtu.be/2094UttFo1E

“After 37 years serving as CEO, I could not be prouder of how our company has evolved, and I am immensely excited for this next chapter in our company’s growth. I can’t wait to see Mike Ertel drive Nahan’s success to even higher levels,” said Mike Nahan.

About Nahan

Nahan is a world-class, privately owned, direct marketing services and print solutions company. Nahan produces integrated marketing solutions for their clients, enabling them to successfully acquire, develop, and retain profitable customer relationships. Nahan leverages the power of omnichannel marketing strategy, creative, data, and analytics coupled with exceptional production and postal strategies to closely connect brands with customers. For more information about Nahan and to learn more about joining the Nahan team, please visit http://www.Nahan.com.

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New at Nahan

Author: Nick Hammitt

Being “The New Guy” (T.N.G.) at a company can be a tall task for any person. I personally have been the new guy at several different companies in multiple types of industries. T.N.G is always a new and unique experience, but share that same common feeling of nervousness on that first day. You ask yourself, “How can I overcome being T.N.G.?” It wasn’t long before I quickly realized that I didn’t have to worry about that here at Nahan.

Nick Hammitt, Marketing Intern

Day 0

In the past, I’ve had some not-so-good experiences applying for jobs online, and with Covid happening, I found myself doing it more now than ever. That’s why it’s always a relief to me when the job application process is user-friendly. The Nahan careers website was exactly that. It was easy for me to seamlessly scroll through the Careers page, find the posted job, and complete the steps needed to apply. The website was smooth, easy to navigate, and was filled with useful information. Since I live so far from the company, being able to do all of this remotely was important to me. The teamwork between the marketing and recruiting team was unmatched making it easy for me to traverse through the hiring process remotely.

Day 1

On my first day at the office, as usual, I was nervous about what to expect. Most of the people I had never met before and let’s face it, I was T.N.G. It was a happy surprise for me when I was given such a warm welcome by everyone I met. They seemed just as excited for me to be there as I was, making for a great first experience I won’t soon forget. As much as this team was welcoming, they were also about getting right down to business. Just like the easy application and hiring process, the orientation process I experienced when I arrived here was just the same, smooth, concise, and filled with important training information that would further help me down the road. It will definitely take some time for me to learn the ropes, but the hands-on collaborative training I received just on the first day leads me to believe it won’t be long before I too am an effective member of the team.

Day 7  

In my first week, I learned a lot about not only my individual job, but I had a chance to meet team members in other departments to learn how everyone works together towards the same goal as a whole team. Nahan is a large company, and there are a lot of moving parts that go into making a quality product. One of the most important things I learned so far is that Nahan’s success is due to the complete collaborative effort between all the members of the Nahan team. Communication is key for any successful business to thrive. Things like the monthly eNewsletter, (subscribe at the footer of any page of the website) and weekly collaborative meetings, allow for the teams to be informed and aware of each other’s ideas and important events that are in the works. They also ensure everyone is set up for success.

Today

I was excited to start my job, now a couple of weeks later, I’m excited to start my career. I’ve been set up for success thanks to the problem-solving and detailed oriented teams at Nahan. The training I received was given to me by some of the most experienced and knowledgeable members of the team. Thanks to this team, I was able to quickly find my spot among them in a position that I feel is best suited to grow my creative talents inside an advancing industry. Nahan has given me the tools to be the best asset I can be. There’s only up from here. As Mike Logar, SVP of Business Development best put it, “Nahan is rocket ship launching ahead and we’re just strapping in preparing for the ride.”

Bio: Before Nahan I was T.N.G. at several different places. Right out of high school, I decided I wasn’t ready or wanting to go to college, so I joined the Army. I learned things there I wouldn’t learn anywhere else. It gave me the tools and confidence to do anything I set my mind to. It was shortly after coming home from the military that I decided I wanted to be a welder. I loved the thought of being able to take an idea from my head put it to paper and then create it. It wasn’t long before I realized welding isn’t something I wanted as a career though. I then decided to enroll in business school and last December, I graduated with a Marketing Degree from the University of San Francisco. Now here at Nahan, instead of me creating with my hands I’m creating with my mind. In my free time I like to spend it on the course, playing very mediocre golf. I grew up hunting and fishing so when I get a chance to do that, you’ll either find me on a lake or in the woods. SKOL!

Humor in the Workplace: It’ll Get You Through Pretty Much Anything

Author: Ben Schemelin, Account Executive

Earlier this year I was blessed to be sharing some laughs with friends and former colleagues while we attended a retirement party for one of my mentors. We recalled humorous stories from two decades ago – jokes, crazy circumstances, our various quirks – so many fond memories came rushing back.

As we departed with full hearts and our sides aching from laughter, my friend handed over one last piece of business (and life) wisdom from his four decades in the industry: “You know, as stressful as our business can be, laughter will get you through pretty much anything.”

As I walked to my car that evening, I started to reflect on how critical laughter and joy is to a thriving workplace environment.

Humor in the Workplace – The Benefits

It is no secret that strong communication is critical to any successful business. For anyone who has had to sit through a dull presentation, it’s probably safe to say that your mind started to wander and your retention of the information being communicated began to fade with each passing moment. Compare that experience to one where a masterful storyteller wove an engaging narrative mixed with humorous anecdotes. It becomes easy to see how our natural deeper engagement in an entertaining storyline facilitates our ability to pick up other important details along the way. The same principle applies in other communications we engage in: the right mix of humor will draw people in and ideas are more easily absorbed.

There are numerous studies that show that a healthy dose of humor actually increases brain function, boosts creative problem solving, deepens interpersonal connections, builds trust/collaboration, and breaks down barriers between individuals just to name a few of the additional benefits.

Leaders who utilize humor effectively in their roles often foster healthier work cultures where employees are more at ease, have higher morale, and are more productive overall.

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

The world renowned Mayo Clinic sites the researched physical and physiological stress relief that laughter has on our bodies. Our organs (namely heart, lungs, and brain) all see immediate, tangible benefits from a good amount of regular laughter. Tension and stress decrease as our bodies respond to humorous stimuli in the form of decreased heart rates and lower blood pressure.

The chemical response of our bodies over time to a humor-and-joy lifestyle can lead to improved immunity, natural pain relief, better coping stills, improved outlook on life, and deeper and richer connections with those around us.

In today’s crazy world, doesn’t that sound like a great prescription for a better, more fulfilling life?

Workplace Humor 101

With all of these benefits, there are some practical application items that we should all keep in mind:

  • Know Your Audience – The ability to “read the room” is key for any comedic endeavor. In my early 20’s I cracked a “Dumb & Dumber” type of joke at lunch during my first week of employment, and my two new colleagues looked at me like I had a horn growing out of my head. They didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them well enough – so it landed awkwardly. It may have gotten a chuckle six months down the road when we had an established rapport, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution if you think a wisecrack may not resonate with your audience.
  • Don’t Force It – Like the example above, don’t try to make a joke simply for the sake of being funny. Unless the sign outside your office reads “The Improv” – you are not being paid to be a comedian trying out cutting edge humor on colleagues. The best workplace humor should come organically and feel natural.
  • Laughing With, Not At – Self-deprecating humor can show you are relatable and do not take yourself too seriously, but humor at the expense of others is a completely different story and should be avoided. It’s always best for humor to be pointed at situations rather than people.
  • Keep it Clean – If you would not say something if HR happened to be walking past your office, it’s probably best to leave a quip on the cutting room floor of your brain.

Humor, laughter, and finding joy in the workplace every day can be an important pillar of a thriving business culture – as well as increasing job satisfaction. It’s one of the many aspects of Nahan’s culture that I’ve quickly come to appreciate and cherish.

It’s been said that the average 4 year old laughs 300 times a day, while the average adult laughs less than 20. I’d say it’s time for us to rediscover the simpler joys that can be found in our everyday lives!

What is one thing you can do to can bring an extra smile or laugh to someone in your workplace? Do it today – and make it a daily habit!

Bio: Ben Schemelin is a 28-year industry veteran and an Account Executive with Nahan. He’s passionate about taking a 40,000 foot view of projects, and then zooming in on the finite details to creatively problem solve, enhance workflows, and most importantly serve clients’ wants and needs above their expectations as a team. In his spare time, Ben enjoys motorcycling, grilling/cooking, woodworking, camping, fishing, & biking. He also likes cheering for the Green Bay Packers, much to the chagrin of his diehard Minnesota Viking-fan wife and daughter.

Direct Marketing Strategy: Direct Mail Testing

Author: Maggie Stack, Account Director

At least once a week, while doing homework, one of my kids will say “when will I ever use this in real life?” I like to point out to them how often I use my Algebra skills, but I never thought I would use science in my marketing career. As my colleague, Alan Sherman, mentioned in a previous blog, we use direct mail testing to determine the best direct marketing strategy. This is where science comes in. By following the steps of the scientific method with a continuous improvement mindset, we aim to exceed our clients’ marketing goals.

Purpose

When thinking about our clients’ direct marketing strategy, our question is always how can we improve results. The exact Key Performance Indicator (KPI) we are trying to improve varies by client, but it always means a better Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).

Research

We start by reviewing current marketing efforts. Who is the target audience? What motivates them to respond? What tactics are currently being used? How do those tactics work together?

Hypothesis

Once our research is complete, we make recommendations for the elements or options we believe will improve results. Sometimes this is the choice to reduce the cost of a campaign while maintaining response and sometimes it is a higher cost option that will improve response. This could be a new data source, a new offer positioning, a new direct mail format, or addition of a complimentary digital tactic. In direct marketing, the options are truly endless. Once we decide on what will be tested, we can begin the experiment!

Experiment

The two most commonly used experiments in direct mail testing are a split test and a multivariate test. Split tests, or A/B tests, involve testing the same package except for the specific element to be tested. Multivariate testing involves testing multiple elements at the same time. The right one to use is based on several factors: budget, available quantity, quantity needed for the result to be statistically significant, and the number of items we want to test. Once the experiment is in the hands of the prospects, we wait for results.

Analyze Data

Depending on what we are measuring, results could take months to gather. There must be enough responders to be confident in the results. Analysis comes in the form of charts and graphs. Our goal is to always improve results, but sometimes we learn what does not work. As my high school science teacher would say after a failed experiment, “if you learned something, the experiment wasn’t wasted.” In direct marketing, the win in a losing test is that it leads to better, more refined hypotheses.

Conclusion

While there is a conclusion to every individual experiment, direct mail testing should never end.  We believe marketers should always be striving to improve their data, improve their messaging, and improve the tactics they use. And we love partnering with those that feel that same. Looking to apply a little bit of the scientific method to your direct marketing strategy? We are here to help.

Bio: Maggie Stack is an Account Director with over 20 years of experience in marketing services and direct mail production. When she isn’t discussing data and creative with her clients, you can find her and her husband cheering on their children in hockey, baseball, and dance.