Sometimes it's the simple stuff that just blows you away. Other times it's new approaches to old problems. And sometimes it's both.

The standard greeting among us analyst-journalist types at shows is "Hi, how are ya? What do you see that's new?" or maybe, "What do you see that you like?" This week in Philly there was some cool stuff in a number of different areas, including a couple of things that made you say, "Geez, why didn't I think of that?"

High Performance Business Cards

Business cards, for example, haven’t really changed since sometime not long after the earth cooled. Then came CaptureCard, the creation of Gary Zumberge, who has re-invented business cards to make them more effective. His "High Performance Business Cards" are a standard weight card with removable adhesive labels on the often-ignored reverse side. The design allows critical contact information, reminder stickers and various marketing messages to be conveniently and permanently transferred to the recipient's address book, appointment calendar, rolodex, or placed on collateral sales materials and products. And once the labels are removed the standard business card is still available to pass on to colleagues or for future reference.

How does this work? Consider making a dentist appointment. You typically are given a card listing the time and date for your next visit. Using CaptureCard, this information can be written on a peel off sticker which you can then transfer onto a calendar. Did you meet someone at a conference you need to follow up with in a couple weeks? Put that info on the back of the person's CaptureCard, then put the label into your date book. Or have the back of your card be a mailing label so someone can send you materials you need.

The substrates are the key. The cards are available in layouts; either three permanent labels or two repositionable labels. They come on 18 x 22-inch sheets of 8-point stock designed to be printed on both sides using digital presses. Print providers can buy various versions of the stock and manage layout via two different templates, depending on the format of the peel-off areas of the card. The paper is available directly through CaptureCard in various mixes and quantities.

CaptureCard is not some high-tech machine or gee-whiz software. It's just a new approach --and a great way for print providers to add value to an established commodity product--and make it more than a commodity. Check it out at or by calling Gary at 952-253-2771.

The End of Envelopes

The other "Wow" I saw this week came in the Kern booth. There was this boxy gray and black machine that redefines self-mailers and could make traditional envelopes as obsolete as carbon paper. It takes a sheet of paper, printed however you wish, makes four folds at unusual angles, does a little trimming, adds some adhesive, and delivers a mail-ready container for up to seven sheets of paper. Because the "envelope" can be printed on both sides and opens to a flat sheet, targeted messages can be placed on both the exterior and interior.

Consider a direct mail piece with a personalized teaser on the outside, a few pages of targeted copy in a letter and other collateral, and a final well-aimed call to action--such as a response URL--on the inside of the "envelope."

The Easy Mailer, from TPS Group is a product that can change the playing field for any direct mail firm, especially those using digital print technology. It gives them the ability to create and produce all the documents they put into the mail stream. Not only does it enable an unprecedented level of personalization potential for the envelope, it totally eliminates the time and cost of purchasing envelopes, managing inventory and waste. And it drastically reduces the potential for errors in matching.

A direct mail offer, for instance, can be printed--in a pre-sorted mail route sequence--on a digital press as matched sets of pages. When those sheets enter the Easy Mailer they are combined in a single pass and emerge ready for mailing.

There have been a wide assortment of self-mailing options around for many years but this is the first that truly leverages the power of digitally printed variable data documents while totally changing the playing field. The machine may be boxy, but the concept and execution is well outside the box.

And even though the show has ended there still more to come. Stay tuned.