ncrease revenuewith full-color, direct-mail By Tom Wetjen April 28, 2006 -- It's 6 p.m. and you're getting home from a long day at work. You grab the mail on your way into the house and much to the dismay of direct marketers everywhere; you walk over to your personal sorting station --the kitchen trash can. Another subscription offer for a magazine you'll never read-- trash. A coupon from the pizza place all the way across town--thrown away. An endless stream of credit card offers all looking the same and visually unappealing --headed for the local transfer station. Direct-mail pieces that include data relevant to the recipient and utilize color can produce response rates that are 500 percent above that average Finally something catches your eye--a personalized, colorful, glossy mailing. It's a postcard from a local real estate agent who just sold the Johnson's house two streets over. Maybe you've always been interested in buying that house, or maybe the market is so good you want to look into selling your home as well. Either way, the direct-mail piece worked and the real estate agent has gotten your attention. She's put her contact information on the mailer and you put it on your refrigerator, because her enclosed car was magnetized. You may be giving her a call sometime soon. Print providers who educate their clients about the benefits of full-color, personalized direct-mail pieces can open the door to huge profits for both parties. According to INTERQUEST, the average industry response rate for standard, non-personalized direct-mail pieces is below two percent. However, studies show that direct-mail pieces that include data relevant to the recipient and utilize color can produce response rates that are 500 percent above that average. Of course, there are additional costs associated with adding full-color and customized marketing information to any printed piece. But print providers need to get their clients thinking in terms of ROI, not cost-per-page. Today's digital color presses are helping the cause as well --they provide the right combination of excellent image quality, fast processing and economical operation for profitable and affordable personalized printing. So what makes a full-color, personalized direct-mail piece so much more effective than the standard bulk mailing you may be creating for your clients every month? Color can draw a reader to specific details such as contact information or a special offer. Taking it to the next level, personalizing the piece leverages knowledge about each recipient. Individual customer characteristics such as age, income and past purchases are used to create unique, relevant and specifically tailored marketing communications. When you put these elements together, the results can be impressive and profitable. By using color and personalization, the direct-mail pieces become powerful marketing opportunities that enable print providers to deliver the greatest value to their clients. Let me give you a couple of examples. QuantumDirect Grows with Real Estate Market Founded in 1986, QuantumDirect Inc. has established itself as a premier direct mail provider to real estate companies and agents nationwide. With a roster of flagship customers including RE/MAX and Weichert Realtors, the Austin, Texas-based firm has experienced tremendous growth in print volumes and revenue. Since 1993, QuantumDirect has used Xerox digital production printing equipment to create millions of one-to-one marketing pieces each month that maximize return on investment for its customers. The company offers a full range of cross-media marketing, print services, direct-mail marketing and variable-data solutions and was recently named one of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the U.S. by Inc. magazine. Since its inception, QuantumDirect has remained true to its original mission of providing clients with inexpensive, high-quality direct-mail services that maximize lead generation. Having secured a position as one of the nation's leading direct-mail providers in the real estate industry, the company is now achieving success serving new markets like home remodeling, agricultural equipment and financial services. "Our core competencies in technology and development have enabled us to broaden our product and service offerings as a marketing technology company," The company averages more than 5.5 million pages a month on four iGen3 digital presses, at times printing more than 2 million pages a month on a single machine, volume that led to adding a 110-ppm iGen3 this past June. This all adds up to a 68 percent growth in total print volume in 2005 and the company expects a similar increase in 2006. The bottom line? QuantumDirect has seen a 70 percent growth in its overall business each of the last two years, and according to the company, it is poised for double-digit growth in 2006. "We need to be a step ahead of what our customers demand, keep costs down, and increase our print capacity to keep up with the explosive growth," says Steve Damman, CEO and president of QuantumDirect. QuantumDirect produces direct-mail pieces for the real estate industry through their and Web sites. These pieces include QuantumCards, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" full-color, personalized postcards, that have become the company's marquee offering. Over the past decade, growing customer demand generated a sharp increase in print volume, forcing QuantumDirect to purchase digital color printing technologies that increased productivity without boosting costs. According to Damman, his five digital presses deliver the productivity and image quality to meet this demand. "Our core competencies in technology and development have enabled us to broaden our product and service offerings as a marketing technology company," he says. Print runs range from 20 pieces to more than 100,000 pieces and nearly all orders are placed over the Internet using the company's automated Web-to-print digital workflow technology. According to Damman, this allows the company to keep costs down while maximizing productivity. By using the Web, national corporate clients can integrate and protect their branding standards with personalized options for local agents and affiliates. For example, a real estate agent can create a direct-mail piece with an approved corporate template to take advantage of brand notoriety, but tailor the content and images to a specific local housing market. Companies of all shapes and sizes are fighting to get a consumer's attention and a share of their wallet Carpenter Realtors, with 28 locations and 760 agents in central Indiana, has taken advantage of QuantumDirect's efficiency. "We needed a vendor to expedite direct-mail pieces with quick turnaround and high quality," says Eric Hopp, principal, Carpenter Realtors. "QuantumDirect's product stands out in the marketplace. They've enabled us to get our brand awareness out, while giving our agents the help they need to build their individual practices." Companies of all shapes and sizes --from the pizza parlor across town to a nationwide real estate company-- are fighting to get a consumer's attention and a share of their wallet. Using innovative, full-color, personalized direct-mail pieces, a savvy print provider can help a company meet that goal, while at the same time improving its own bottom line.