Safeguarding Your Brand Reputation Throughout The Direct Mail Process
Written by Robin Sumner, Managing Director Romax Marketing.
At Romax Marketing & Distribution, we work with you to create, print and distribute your Direct Marketing Campaign throughout the UK and overseas. We want to deliver the shortest turnaround whilst ensuring accuracy, quality and security.
How quickly we can process your work depends upon its complexity. We offer a highly flexible schedule and production plan, but to ensure quality and accuracy, due process must take place.
During peak times, turnaround may be longer than usual, being aware of this and approaching Romax early in your planning will allow us to guide you to ensure a timely, successful and cost-efficient campaign.
To help you better understand how the end-to-end Direct Mail process works, we present our simple guide to Direct Mail, divided into six key stages:
- The Spec!
- The Drop!
- The Wait (Complicated Bit!)
- The Print and Fill
- The Despatch
- The Delivery.
- The Spec !
To quote the Spice Girls – “So, tell us what you want what you really, really want”
It is quite normal to want to understand the implications and cost options associated with various volumes, job specifications, paper and format types. A great start to this is to discuss the parameters and reasons for your project with our Client Services Team. Once we understand in full what is needed we can make suggestions that will ultimately improve the outcome, adding value to your campaign.
Don’t leave it too late. The mind works in a logical way – you start working on the first bit ‘first’, leaving the last supplier in the chain to be approached ‘last’. Through experience however, we know that by working back from the desired doorstep day through print and fulfilment processes, will not only provide a schedule, but in most occasions, highlight ways to improve the job and reduce the cost.
- The Drop
Once the final ‘Spec’ and schedule is agreed with our Client Services team, You need to make ‘The Drop’. We need your data and artwork and final instructions. How do you get thatinformation to us in a secure and efficient way?
You will receive log-in access to our online Romax Resource Centre, a secure and encrypted Approval Pipeline. Here you upload data and artwork files for us to access and work on. This provides a secure platform for managing the data and print proofing process.
- “The Wait” – The Complicated behind the scenes bit
This part of the process is called “The Wait” as there’s a lot going on but as a client, you don’t get to see much activity! During “The Wait” your campaign documents will be reviewed and processed by the Romax Data & Pre-Press Technical Teams.
If technology driven data and software process is your ‘bag’ then this is actually a fascinating and highly exciting part. The creation of workflows and multi-layered data driven processes that will produce highly targeted print and digital communication is your dream ticket!
Our team checks that your data is accurate. A 21 point data check is completed, ensuring postcode and address accuracy, duplicate removal, and questioning data anomalies. We split, mailsort and re-combine data to create the ‘merge’ fields within your final document. Splitting out UK, and Overseas, sorting for postal discounts then formatting the data so that the address and personalised content reflects the campaign message.
If you have variants of your text, such as different images per gender or customer type. This will be scrutinised and implemented at this stage. This process is THE WAIT, is the MOST IMPORTANT stage as data drives everything we do for you and ensures that the right message is received by the right person (In post GDPR terms – The Data Subject!)
The “cleaner” your database, the less time is needed to process the data, however, you can add data management services here, such as profiling your database, to help to target your communication and increase your response rate. We can also offer a free data analysis that checks for deceased, gone-aways and movers.
“The Wait” continued…..Proof Set Up
When the Data and the Artwork are finalised and cross-checked, we create a “Proof Document.” A proof document contains a minimum of 10 randomly selected records from each ‘data cell’. If there are multiple variants on your communication, both on text and images, this will generate multiple proofs per version.
Before we upload Proof Documents, each is checked internally by two Romax employees for formatting and data accuracy. We take this process seriously because you need to send the correct document to the right person and address.
“The Wait” – is over now it’s your turn for – Proof Approval
A pdf proof document of every version is uploaded into our Resource Centre to be verified and approved by you. The Resource Centre will send you a notice email once files are uploaded.
Nobody knows your business like you do. You may have particular preferences for layout or formatting, or you may spot a required amendment. If an amendment is needed, you can reject that proof and leave a comment, we will make the necessary changes, recheck and upload a further proof.
Please take your time with proofing, check the data against the original files, check that the address formatting and artwork across all variants is as you want it. Once you approve the job it will go straight to print.
Should you wish to see a physical print proof or complete Sample Pack, this can be arranged after the pdfs are approved, please allow time in the schedule for this process.
- The Print and Fill – Like a High Speed Action Movie!
If you like to experience high speed paper and mail print and enclosing machinery in action then this is where it starts to get really quite exciting!
Our digital print presses, finishing equipment and enclosing lines are best quality. Our teams that operate them are highly motivated and experienced. They want to get your jobs printed and despatched without delay.
Machines only run at a finite speed, so we can only print, cut, fold, match, enclose, seal, sort and process the packs at a maximum volume per hour. To adhere to our ISO 9001 accreditations, we also check every 500 data records for print, finishing and enclosing accuracy and quality.
Our team of technical experts, create millions of items of mail per month and the production department is a buzz of activity, as the daily challenge is on to get the job done!
5. The Despatch
After all the hard work of creating the mail-piece, it is critical that the mail is delivered by the best postal suppliers around whilst ensuring that price is keen.
The postal market for the UK and overseas is ‘complicated’ to say the least. The industry is full of jargon and the ‘products’ or services available to move your mail from mail producer to addressee, are both numerous and ‘content’ related. If you are advertising a product/service or requesting a donation, then your mail will be ‘cheaper’ than a non-marketing communication for example; then there’s formatting; then there’s mailsort…
…Lucky for you then, that we are expert in obtaining the best postal service at the best price for your campaign.
Large volume mailings are not handled the same way as Greetings cards posted at the post office. The postal delivery network is flexible based on forecast volumes, we simply cannot post large scale volume mailings without forecasting it to the distributors. This too is an often unknown element to the despatch process.
- The Delivery
Depend on the postage service you choose for your mailing, mail can take around one day for first class, around 2-3 days for second class and approximately 3-4 days for economy. Overseas can take 4-10 days on a priority service subject to final destination.
According to the “Advertising Mail Guide” by DMA, 2017:
- 94% of First Class mail arrives next working day
- 92% of Mail through downstream access operators arrives within two working days
- 99% of Second Class mail arrives within three working days
- 96% of Economy class arrives within four working days. Find more Facts about Direct Mail here.
We love Direct Mail Marketing, its creation, delivery and success that it creates for our customers. Our aim is to supply a seamless and efficient service and this overview aims to help you, to help us, to help you!
The direct marketing process from planning to delivery, varies depending on a significant number of factors. We have ‘scraped the surface’ of some of these factors, but to achieve the best chance of success in your campaign, we recommend asking your Account Manager for advice and insight – our knowledge we let you have for free!
Romax Marketing & Distribution has more than 20 years of experience managing membership and client printing and communication services for organisations such as Southbank Centre, DKMSand PlusNet. Contact us for a bespoke Membership Marketing Solution: firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0) 20 8293 8550