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Commentary & Analysis

Patent 5,971,260

By Frank J.

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: November 1, 2004

By Frank J. Romano It is generally agreed among direct marketers that a professionally-addressed envelope gets opened more often and personalized content reaps larger returns. November 1, 2004 -- The invention relates to a continuous strip of detachable consecutive interconnected products manufactured by folding, such as envelopes and the like, and to a process for manufacturing the said strip, two of those consecutive products being inter-connected through a joint which is not part of the products themselves and links up detachably, through successive lines of demarcation, with each of those two consecutive products in such a way that, on removing this joint, the said two consecutive products are entirely separated. Such is the abstract for United States Patent 5,971,260 by Belgian printer Luc Mertens. It details a method for producing both an envelope and its contents in one manufacturing operation based on a roll-fed printing system and an inline finishing operation. Although some direct-mail printers have developed specialized systems to match up an addressed envelope with personalized content, this is the first approach that could make the process more efficient and generally applied. The requirement to apply labels to envelopes or address them with other methods is a time-consuming and ineffective process. Window envelopes provide a solution by skipping the separate addressing of the envelopes and that is how most transaction documents are handled. Using labels or opaque envelopes generally results in putting the contents to be sent in the envelope by hand in order to match the contents to the proper recipient. Although there is little research, it is generally agreed among direct marketers that a professionally-addressed envelope gets opened more often and personalized content reaps larger returns. Put those two factors together and you have a powerful combination that can boost direct mail response. This invention provides a solution to the above-mentioned problem. The technical problem the invention solves is that the separate envelope "may be formed from a continuous strip of paper and remains interconnected, while, in spite of that characteristic, it is being made fully ready for use and finished without there being any division lines or cutting marks on the edges of any part of the envelope. This is possible through leaving the chosen basic forms of the envelopes interconnected by means of a joint piece which, even after the forming of the finished product, is preserved as a joint piece." That is the technical verbiage of the patent. Why all this fuss over envelopes and contents? Opaque envelopes tend to be opened more readily if the address is personalized--not "resident" or "occupant." Once opened, the trick is to present personalized content, such as "Dear Frank." Put those two factors together and you have a powerful combination that can boost direct mail response. Plus, there are cost savings in the automation that allows both envelope and contents to be produced in one automated run. The savings for most transaction printing could be impressive. There may be some limitations in that the paper for both envelope and contents must be the same and inserts may be a challenge, but overall, this patent is worthy of interest and application.

 

 

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