5 Advantages of Working with Nahan as a Direct Marketing Agency

Author: Melissa Fransen

We have many exciting things happening at Nahan!

In January, we announced an expansion of our services to include a full omnichannel suite of direct marketing services, including strategy, creative, data, analytics, and more! These new services are being offered as needed a la cart style or in a fully integrated approach. Where you need help, our team can plug in and bring our expertise to take your direct marketing initiatives to new performance levels.

For many of our customers, our business relationship will remain unchanged and we are proud to continue our relationship as a trusted print partner. For others, these new resources bring forth a whole new world of opportunity.

Our team has been thrilled with the buzz we’ve been getting in the marketplace regarding our new services and the excitement we’re hearing from our customers. We want to say thank you for all of the questions we have received thus far. Keep the inquiries coming!

Here are 5 advantages of working with Nahan as a Direct Marketing Agency.

1. We Are Direct Marketing Strategy Experts

For over 50 years, Nahan has been known as a world-class printer. We know direct marketing production inside and out. We know best practices, what works, postal efficiencies, and much more. With our strategy offering, we can work with your team to optimize your entire direct marketing strategy and/or plug in where needed. Here are some examples of topics you could expect us to cover and ultimately address:

  • Discussion of your current direct marketing go-to-market strategy
  • Understanding your top-line goals and provide recommendations for helping you achieve and exceed them
  • What do successful KPIs look like for you?
  • Introduction of omnichannel and integrated tools to provide incremental response and lowered cost per acquisition
  • What is your data strategy?
  • How we leverage a test and learn approach with data and creative to continually improve results

2. We Bring Design/Creative Expertise

When it comes to the design of your next direct marketing program, our design experts are at your service. Whether it’s building an entire campaign from scratch to helping with new, efficient format ideas, we bring an unsurpassed level of creative expertise to your direct marketing projects. We can help with design, copywriting, personalization, versioning, best practices, and more! Here are some examples of things we’d likely cover in a design/creative review:

  • Understanding your audience
  • Understanding what’s worked and hasn’t in the past
  • What is the action you want the recipient to take?
  • Reviewing the developed creative brief
  • Offer and supporting benefits development
  • Optimal design and content placement
  • Copy that engages, makes an emotional connection, and prompts action
  • Accommodating differences in how readers consume content
  • Communicating your unique selling proposition

3. We Can Help with Your Data, Targeting, and Analytics

Whether you are a seasoned direct marketer or are just getting started, our team can help with your data and targeting strategies. From list research in identifying your best target audience to predictive modeling tools, we love to help our customers with their data/targeting strategies. Topics surrounding data and targeting would include items such as:

  • Understanding your target market
  • Reviewing current and introducing potential new sources of data
  • Leveraging sophisticated analytics to boost response, cut costs, and lower cost of acquisition
  • Understanding your current CRM strategy and how we can enhance it
  • Leveraging your customer and prospect data to further enhance personalization

4. We Bring Analysis Experience

Once the mailing gets to the recipient, our team is equipped to step in to help you analyze results of your direct marketing campaigns. Examples of items we’d analyze include:

  • KPIs and what they tell us
  • What can be learn from what worked and what didn’t
  • Go-forward testing recommendations

5. We Take What’s Working (or Not!) and Build Upon It

The best part of working together is that you will realize . . .

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Are you interested in learning more about our direct marketing service offerings? Reach out and contact us today!

Bio: Melissa Fransen is our Marketing Manager. She started with Nahan in May of 2017. Melissa is responsible for Nahan’s marketing initiatives, which includes everything from conference planning to social media initiatives. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband and enjoying time in the outdoors with family and friends.

Looking for a Unique Take on Direct Mail? Try the Peek Fold Format!

Author: Laura Karels, Lead Designer

Check out our spin on a traditional direct mail format with the peek fold format. You’ll grab your recipient’s attention with a personalized headline as the first thing they see when they pull this peek folded letter out of the envelope. The longer form allows for a traditional letter using direct mail best practices along with extra real estate for a branded or promotional panel.

  • Unique folded letter peeks a large headline at the top
  • 14” long form for additional real estate
  • Tip on card for a tactile feel
  • 6” x 9” envelope stands out in the mailbox
  • Options: Fold style can be incorporated on other size formats

Watch the short video below to see the peek fold format in action!

For more inspiration, check out our other format ideas, including a double gate mailer, iron cross mailer, and 5 panel rollfold mailer.

Bio: Laura Karels is our Lead Designer. She is responsible for all things direct marketing design—from format sketches to final art—and truly enjoys the creative process of helping clients develop winning direct marketing campaigns. In her spare time, Laura enjoys great coffee and cross-country road trips with her family. She’s also getting really good at finding humor in her husband bringing home yet another “project” vehicle.

How To Build an Effective Direct Marketing Strategy

Author: Alan Sherman, VP of Marketing Strategy

How many times have we in business or marketing heard the word “strategy?” or “strategic?” or “strategic direction?”  It’s one of those common business buzzwords that we hear all the time, but when it comes to direct marketing, what does “strategy” really mean? Merriam-Webster offers up several definitions of “strategy,” but the one I think is most relevant to direct marketing is “The art of devising or employing plans towards a goal.” After all, successful direct marketing strategy requires effective planning – putting the components of a winning program together.

From Our Perspective, What is Strategy?  

Nahan provides Strategic Planning, which is most simply about enabling clients to achieve their direct marketing goals.  This means improving direct mail gross response, while lowering cost without corresponding drops in response. This can be a challenge, as adding package components, increasing package size or paper quality will often lift response, but add cost. Ultimately, improving upon both response and cost leads to an improved cost per acquisition and superior return on marketing investment. So how do we do this?

A Step by Step, Rigorous Approach Gets Results

We recommend initially approaching this from a macro level. Who will we target and why? If we are focusing on direct mail, what kind of package format is needed? What does our creative and messaging need to look like? What are our target metrics?

The answers to these questions can be found in a step-by-step approach to direct marketing performance improvement. We suggest beginning with a marketing assessment to best understand everything that has been done in the past, from creative, targeting, cadence and offers to the competitive landscape.

Based on our knowledge of data and analytics and an analysis of the marketer’s data, we will likely propose specific types of data and the right predictive analytic tools for data testing. On the creative side, although budget is usually a factor, when we can test more than one creative, we create more opportunities for success.

Finally, based on what we see in the data and from our knowledge of direct mail creative best practices, we design the creative, with the target audience in mind. The data analysis tells us quite a bit about our prospects. We develop messaging, the package design, articulate the offer, supporting benefits and Call to Action.

How Strategy is Rolled Out Against Data, Analytics, and Creative

The available universe is determined. Because we take a “test and learn” approach, a test plan that minimizes risk while testing creative, data, and analytics is developed. When results come back, we measure them and make recommendations for further improvements in targeting and creative. Feeling more comfortable in what works, we can invest more dollars in reaching more people, often expanding to an omnichannel campaign, particularly where we can simultaneously target the same direct mail recipients with online campaigns, can substantially lift results further.

A subsequent results analysis leads to additional improvement – ideally, a never-ending improvement process. Which is necessary, given that costs like paper and postage are always rising!

The Results

We can almost always improve response through our knowledge of what creative and data works, creative and data testing, and predictive analytics. We can also test less expensive materials to bring down package costs. When we work these “levers” in the right way, cost per acquisition drops.

Questions To Ask Yourself and Your Team

What are your acquisition goals for the year? Where do you think your program is working and where might improvement be needed? Are you testing creative and data on a regular basis? Do you rotate your creative to keep it fresh and performance up? If you would like to achieve better results or simply discuss your challenges and receive suggestions, give us a call.

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.

Direct Mail Design Best Practices: Personalization Matters

Author: Laura Karels, Lead Designer

Designers of all mediums have best practices they follow when creating their best product and direct mail designers are no different. One of the most important best practices in direct mail design is using personalization and using it well.

Direct mail personalization has come a long way from just using the recipient’s name and address. Digital print technology and highly targeted data has allowed marketers to personalize direct mail design in creative ways. Personalization is proven to drive better response rates and who doesn’t want that?!  

Ways to get personal…

Imagery

Images can be personalized based on segmentation data, business vertical type, location, and more. Visuals the recipient can relate to can be very powerful.

Offers

Targeting offers to a recipient’s consumer history or specific needs are more likely to get response from your direct mail. Response rates can increase up to 50% or more when targeting consumers on a 1:1 level. (thedma.org)

Geo-Targeting

One of the easiest ways to personalize and get impact is the use of maps and locations within the direct mail design and copy. This is also information that is part of the basic data—it can simply be pulled from the address block.  

Copy

The words you use can be personalized in so many ways. Using the recipient’s name, address, consumer history, business type, etc. in thoughtful ways within the copy can entice the reader and increase response. According to the ANA (formerly DMA) simply adding a person’s name can increase response by 135%!

Forms

If your direct mail format includes a form or response device, prefill out the form with the recipient’s data to make responding easier.

These are just 5 ways to use personalization within direct mail design but digital print technology has opened the door to so much more.

Check out this example of a mailer that was designed to contain 57 variable pieces of data and photos, resulting in increased engagement and a higher ROI per piece vs. previous direct mailers! Contact Us to see how we can help you effectively use personalization in your next mailing.

This is part of our Design Best Practices Blog Series. Look for more best practices in future blog posts.

BIO: Laura Karels is our Lead Designer. She is responsible for all things direct marketing design—from format sketches to final art—and truly enjoys the creative process of helping clients develop winning direct marketing campaigns. In her spare time, Laura enjoys great coffee and cross-country road trips with her family. She’s also getting really good at finding humor in her husband bringing home yet another “project” vehicle.

Expanding Our Portfolio of Services – Introducing Marketing Services

Author: Alan Sherman

For almost 60 years, Nahan has been known for an emphasis on high quality production, distribution, and design. Our clients are a blue-chip group of direct mail and catalog marketers.

In a marketing climate that is increasingly competitive and further challenged by a global pandemic, we are building upon our success and offering clients a true end-to-end omnichannel marketing solution, driven by a team of experts across strategy, data, and creative.

Crafting a Solution Around What Works

In doing so, we are positioning our marketing services around what drives client success. In direct mail, response is driven by 3 top-line components: the data, creative, and the offer. Supporting and “orchestrating” all of this is the strategy, with an overall plan of action that often optimizes all three of these elements for best results.

Targeting Crucial for Success

Research indicates that the right data or list, is the single most important factor in prospect or customer response. An investment in direct mail is wasted against the wrong audience. Proper data selection, whether it is a targeted list selection or through the application of predictive analytics, is essential for success.  We can drive enhanced performance via additional, proven sources often priced at levels that clients cannot obtain on their own.

Creative Designed Specifically to Drive Response

Our skilled and experienced team is highly focused on applying a series of creative best practices that get respondents to take action. High performance creative is much more than small, iterative changes to an existing creative control. It means re-tooled responsive design, copy and often the introduction of new direct mail formats. This is where the big gains in response are realized.  Depending on the client, it may mean development of a rotation of creative controls, especially when targeting an audience more than once.

Hooking Them With a Well-Written and Properly Located Offer

The creative offer is what hooks potential customers. Offers themselves may sometimes be limited by what a client is able to provide, but how they are presented, messaged and supported by benefits is key to response success. A well-constructed offer with supporting benefits is compelling, hooks the reader, establishes credibility, reverses perceived risk, and includes a strong, urgent call to action.

Tying It All Together with Strategy

Well-developed strategy effectively brings these key components together. It may include analyzing past performance, scoping and ranking the right universe, putting an A/B or multivariate test plan together, providing guidance on the campaign, measuring the results and then applying the learning for continued, ongoing performance improvement. This may mean expanding the marketing plan, utilizing various approaches to reach the same people with multiple contacts across additional, integrated marketing channels. We have long known that omnichannel programs perform best.

An End-to-End Solution Makes for Cost Efficiencies and Higher ROI

Pairing some or all of your direct marketing efforts with high-quality production and smart postal strategies produces cost and time efficiencies, which leads to greater Return on Investment. We are already hard at work helping clients achieve better results for 2021 and are eager to help you be successful as well! Please reach out to me at alan.sherman@nahan.com if you would like to learn more about our marketing services.

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.

Success Story: Creating an Award-Winning Catalog for the U.S. Market

Author: Melissa Fransen

Creating an award-winning catalog is one thing. Having the first catalog you produce for the U.S. market as an international brand win a Gold Ink Award, one of the industry’s most prestigious awards… that is in a class of its own!

At Nahan, we feel honored and privileged to have been a part of this success with our customer TriSyle Group and their Madeleine catalog. I had the privilege to chat with Niels Degen and Rob McMahon of TriSyle Group to learn more about their catalog creation and their success story with launching the Madeleine brand in the U.S.

Madeleine’s Award-Winning Catalog

Background

The Madeleine brand is a very strong fashion brand internationally. As a part of their strategic growth initiatives, TriStyle Group decided to launch this brand into the U.S. with a catalog pilot test program.   

The pilot program consisted of two distributions of 100,000 catalogs each. Everything was planned very carefully for the entire pilot program and then something happened in the world that shook all of us – the pandemic started the same week as their first catalog dropped! Scary? Yes! But, I’m happy to report that all went well. In fact, the catalog performed 10% better than planned; moreover, was 6% more profitable!

“At TriStyle, we are very happy with our first steps into the US market and are looking forward to our future journey.”

Niels Degen, TriStyle

And even better news… the second campaign came in with even better results than the first one!

Creating an Award-Winning Catalog in the U.S.

When creating a catalog for the U.S. market, there are many things to consider from SKU assortments that appeal to the U.S. fashion market to U.S. paper selection to the size of the catalog itself to ensure it is spec’d to co-mail efficient sizes.

Rob walked me through the process of creating the catalog pilot program and how Kelly Marthaler, our Nahan Sales Representative, flew to London to review the details and to strategize on a successful catalog brand launch in the U.S. Every aspect of the project was planned carefully and strategically. One of the ideas that came from the meeting was a “mini catalog” within the catalog itself that featured a range of their hottest selling products featured at special pricing. The mini catalog featured a thicker paper stock than the rest of the catalog to help it stand out. The catalog also featured a few variable special offers, specific to each customer from “free shipping & returns” to “$25 off and a free gift scarf.”

All of these details and more contributed to this successful Gold Ink Award win. Winning pieces for Gold Ink Awards are chosen based on print quality, technical difficulty, and overall visual effect.

Follow Up to the Test Pilot

Due to the success of the pilot program, TriStyle Group has expanded their print marketing efforts to include follow-up catalog strategies and self-mailers.  

“I’d like to personally congratulate TriStyle Group’s team on putting together an award-winning catalog! Well done! And thanks for choosing Nahan as your partner for this project. We are very happy for you and your success!”

Melissa Fransen, Marketing Manager

Interested in Learning More About Launching a U.S. Catalog Program for your International Brand?

If you are in interested in learning more about our marketing services, let us know! Feel free to contact us today! Plus, check out the Madeleine website at the following link: https://www.madeleine.com/

Bio: Melissa Fransen is our Marketing Manager. She started with Nahan in May of 2017. Melissa is responsible for Nahan’s marketing initiatives, which includes everything from conference planning to social media initiatives. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband and enjoying time in the outdoors with family and friends.

Do You Want to Get to Market Quickly? Consider a 5 Panel Rollfold Mailer!

We are putting together a series of “quick to market” direct mailer format ideas. From acquisition mailings to market recovery plan mailings, a 5 panel rollfold mailer is a great option. A lot of our customers are finding this to be a very effective format as a part of their marketing strategy. Size is shown as 5″ x 7.” Check it out!

Advantages include:

  • Rollfold is option is great for telling a story
  • 5″ x 7″ and 6″ x 9″ folding sizes. 5″ x 7″ offers excellent paper cost efficiency
  • Can attach a static or personalized card
  • Inline 1:1 personalized 600 X 1200 (high resolution) inkjetting for address and other panels
  • Produced in one-pass – printing, folding, gluing, inkjetting in one single pass through our press
  • Glues closed – no wafer seals or tabs needed
  • These can be produced on premium papers up to 80# cover weight stocks
  • Options: tipped cards added to panels, perfing, and adding an outer envelope

Interested in learning more? Contact us today to get a quote or visit our marketing services page!

Do You Want to Get to Market Quickly? Consider a Double Gate Mailer!

We are putting together a series of “quick to market” direct mailer format ideas. From acquisition mailings to Holiday mailings, a double gate mailer is a great option. A lot of our customers are finding this to be a very effective format as a part of their marketing strategy. Size as shown is 6″ x 9.” Check it out!

Advantages include:

  • Expanded selling space
  • Large, visual impact
  • Can be expanded to 6″ x 10.5″
  • Can attach a static or personalized card
  • Inline 1:1 personalized 600 X 1200 (high resolution) inkjetting for address and other panels
  • Produced in one-pass – printing, folding, gluing, inkjetting in one single pass through our press
  • Glues closed – no wafer seals or tabs needed
  • These can be produced on premium papers up to 80# cover weight stocks
  • Options: tipped cards added to panels, perfing, and adding an outer envelope

Interested in learning more? Contact us today to get a quote or visit our marketing services page!

Get to Know Nahan’s Marketing Manager: A Q/A Session with Melissa Fransen

Author: Tracy Tougas, Account Executive

Keeping Nahan’s name and quality reputation popping up on Social Media, planning events, creating eye-catching and poignant external marketing materials, and helping to retain Nahan employees is just part of the short list of what Melissa Fransen does here at Nahan. She is a burst of positivity and is always working two steps ahead. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Melissa and thought you would all enjoy getting to know her a bit too!

Marketing Extraordinaire

Melissa, why did you choose the marketing field?

I love to think differently. I love to create. I love to push boundaries and drive results. That is what I love about marketing and why I chose the career.

What is your favorite part about working at Nahan?

I can’t pick just one. First, and foremost, I love the people. The people at Nahan are truly outstanding and I’m thankful to be surrounded by great co-workers.

Secondly, since I love marketing, there is just something about seeing something come to life. Seeing a brand’s artwork go from a design to a beautifully crafted tangible marketing piece is something truly awesome. Day in and out I get to see what goes through the doors at Nahan, and it’s really something! I’m blown away with what we do. (Interested in seeing some of our work? Request a sample pack).

Tell us about one of your favorite Nahan capabilities?

I’m truly amazed at the capabilities of Variable Data Printing. I’ve been in the marketing field my entire career and before starting at Nahan a little over three years ago, to be honest, I didn’t know that technology like VDP even existed in print technology. It’s amazing how the power of data can be utilized to create a truly customized marketing piece. Instead of doing a campaign of 50,000 of the same exact artwork to 50,000 customers, you can do 50,000 customized unique pieces to 50,000 people and each one will be customized to that specific individual. I love data and the technology component of VDP. API integrations, CRM systems, and custom marketing programs get me excited since there is so much potential with it! 

Melissa Fransen with her husband.

What is the favorite project that you’d worked with in the last year?

I’d say it was our website launch.  We launched our new website in Sept. of last year and as anyone in the marketing field knows, it’s A LOT of fun and it is A LOT of work. I’m really proud of what the team accomplished and we worked with a fantastic partner to bring our vision to life! It was also really fun to discover some really amazing talent we have on our team from awesome photographers to fantastic writers and editors that are contributing to our blog. Check out our website!

On which social media platforms does Nahan appear?

We are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Follow us to stay in touch!

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love spending time in the outdoors! I like to fish with my husband Mark and we spend a lot of time with family and friends. We have large extended families and live an active life and I’m very thankful for that! There is always something or someone to celebrate. I enjoy traveling. I also like to play the piano and have played since I was six years old. I’ve really been enjoying teaching a few students of my own. With more time at home with the pandemic, I’ve been enjoying reading (which I haven’t done in a while), gardening, and planting flowers.

Melissa Fransen
Melissa Fransen with one of her great catches.

How has COVID-19 changed your role and the marketing Nahan is doing?

Over the past several years, we’ve had a big presence with conferences. Most of our largest conferences have been canceled and we’ll be participating in our first virtual conference this Fall. So, that has changed for us. Our social media presence has been growing, along with our followership, so we’ve been staying very active on our social media pages. We’ve ramped up our direct mail efforts since we are in the industry and we know it drives results. We’ve also kicked off an eNewsletter so we can stay in close contact with customers, job seekers, and more. Since we aren’t having client visits, doing in-person job fairs, and more, this helps us stay connected. (Interested in signing up for the eNewsletter? Sign up below in the footer of our web page).

Tell me something recent that you are proud of…

In 2019, I became a certified Social Media Strategist (SMS) with the NISM. I’m working on my CEU credits currently to keep up with my certification. With the marketing industry constantly changing, I think it’s important to continuously learn so I can stay at the top of my game. In the last 5 years, I’ve obtained this SMS certification and five HubSpot certifications.

I also enjoy volunteering and making others smile. I’ve participated in several volunteer activities over the last couple of years, including United Way volunteer events. Some of my favorites have included writing thank you letters to Veterans, an activity day at a local Nursing Home, and making tie-blankets for babies in the NICU.

Author: Tracy Tougas

Tracy works at Nahan as an Accounting Executive partnering with our National Sales Reps to build customer relationships and meet customer needs. She has been at Nahan 12+ years and another 2 back in the 90’s. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, gardening, hiking, cooking and spending time with friends and family.

Build a Dynamic Plan for Direct Mail

Are you familiar with the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing? It states 40% of your campaign’s success is the result of list selection, 40% is because of your offer and 20% is based on creative. But what does that mean, exactly? Let’s break it down with some quick tips you’ll want to keep in mind for your next campaign.

Know Who You’re Talking To

Owning the right list is vital whether you’re trying to grow your audience, communicate with current customers or reach prospects you already know. Knowing your market allows you to nail down the tactics. You don’t talk to car salesman the same say you speak to the neighbor kid at her lemonade stand, so why waste words with a blanket message? Secure engagement and responses by tailoring your advert to interests, location and purchase history.

Seal the Deal

Now that you know your audience, it’s time to reel them in with a killer call to action. The second 40% is all about getting the reader to do something. Which sounds obvious, but you’d be shocked by how many mailers don’t inspire clear action. Do you want them to complete a survey? How about redeem a coupon? Lead the reader towards your goal with action verbs and explicit, easy-to-follow instructions. Don’t waste time and money on bland, generic messaging.

Get Creative

Creative may only be 20% of the rule, but it’s the cherry on top of your ROI-driving sundae. Think outside the box to boost your open rates and catch scanning eyes. One tip: make your mail lumpy. Including any item thicker than the envelope it comes in piques the reader’s interest and turns your ad into a prize. After all, who doesn’t love getting a gift? Find out more about effective creative on our blog about direct mail personalization.

See some examples of the 40/40/20 rule in action on our work samples page. Can you pick out the audience? Is the call to action clear? Are you attracted to the creative? Put these rules into practice and you’ll be a direct mail master in no time. Check out our marketing services page for more on how we can help you get started.