Blog Activity

  • Digital Printing: Dynamic, Innovative, Flexible


    December, 2014

    Digital Printing:  Dynamic, Innovative, Flexible and the Wave of the Future 

    Every day someone is talking about digital, and for each person it can mean something different.  In general, digital means communication and distribution of knowledge through a variety of channels including on the computer, a mobile device, television, video, and audio.  In other words, anything that’s electronic.  The word also connotes communications that are efficient, immediate and impactful. 

    In the marketing world, digital means connecting with targeted audiences without borders.  In the printing world, it’s a means of printing where the images can be the same or variable from piece to piece. 

    Although digital printing presses have been around since the early 1990s, they are constantly evolving.  In the past 10 years as the quality, speed and price points have improved, the marketplace has been more and more accepting of this format.  And it’s no secret that all printing today starts in someone’s computer. 

    How does digital printing work?  Basically, on the press, a digital image goes into a computer and is then transferred onto a variety of surfaces and/or paper stocks, allowing files to be quickly and economically printed, usually in short run quantities of 5,000 or less—although this is changing.  This approach compares to color offset printing, commonly used for high-volume commercial work, which involves preparing and printing the artwork through a time consuming pre-press plate process that allows for very little flexibility. 

    So what does this mean to a marketer in today’s fast-paced environment?  It means that digital printing not only has arrived, it’s definitely the wave of the future.  To ride the wave, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

    Digital technology is a vital means of communication.  The use of digital technology is an absolute must in this age of targeting the customer and providing that customer with the information he or she will respond to. 

    Digital printing has become more competitive. Compared with traditional printing, digital printing becomes more competitive as the number of versions increase, and costs go down.  Until recently, the quantities were typically limited, but as new technology has come on the market, variable imaged programs are run as trigger campaigns and produced as the customer defines the criteria.  

    Be aware of the paper stock used for the campaign.  Whenever technology changes rapidly, it’s always a scramble to keep up with the ramifications.  In the case of inkjet technology, the paper companies are in some cases still trying to figure out how to provide the right stock to the printer.  Marketers should make sure they are in the loop on this topic.  

    Think through the whole campaign from beginning to end.  Digital printing provides the opportunity to use various marketing channels and make electronic changes on the fly.  As a result, it’s even more important to carefully think through a whole campaign.  The best advice is to work closely with your printing provider to take advantage of that provider’s technology, scalability and flexibility.     


    Patrick Beddor
    Patrick Beddor's picture

    Patrick Beddor is the National Sales Manager at Japs-Olson Company.  Reach him at

  • 14 Call-To-Action Tips to Boost Response


    May, 2013

    Think about the Call to Action (CTs) as an advertisement for your offer. CTAs are an effective tool to drive traffic to your landing page and increase conversion rates. Creating persuasive, powerful calls to action isn't easy, but here are some tips and practices that you can test.

    1.       Use value-laden and actionable copy such as “Download Now,” “Get Your Free Trial” or “Speak to an Expert.”  Your copy objective is to get to the point and create trust, urgency and value.

    2.       Use a CTA only to offer something of real value to your visitor. CTAs should not be used for branding.

    3.       Adding the specific offer in the CTA makes it stronger. For example: “Subscribe Now and Save 80%,” which is better than just “Subscribe Now.”

    4.       Place CTAs above the fold and along the visitor’s eye path.

    5.       Use bold, contrasting colors in your CTAs so they don’t blend into the content.

    6.       Make your CTA one of the bigger, more prominent objects on a page.

    7.       Design the CTA to resemble a button, by adding bevels, shadows, and hover effects.

    8.       Make your CTA stand out by surrounding it with plenty of white space.

    9.       Link your CTAs to a dedicated landing page, not your home page.

    10.   Too many CTAs will distract your visitors. A CTA is meant to direct visitors to a specific course of action, so limit yourself to a primary CTA and possibly a secondary CTA only.

    11.   Experiment with and test your CTAs to know what design, copy and placement works best.

    12.   Add keyword-rich ALT tags so your CTA adds search value to the page.

    13.   Mobile optimize your CTAs so any device can see them. 

    14.   Personalization is a good way to improve your CTA’s effectiveness. Create different CTAs for different personas. 


    Brian Snider
    Brian Snider's picture

    Brian Snider is president of The GRI Marketing Group, Inc., and past president of DMCNY.  Reach him at

  • What You Need to Know About DRTV Today


    February, 2014

    Today, $150 billion of consumer products in the U.S. are sold through DRTV, and between 20% and 40% of TV households buy from DRTV.

    1.    So, what is DRTV? And what's the difference between DRTV and regular TV? 

    Direct response television is a form of marketing used to generate responses from prospective consumers, as a direct result of the marketing campaign. DRTV is often broken down into three subcategories: lead generation, product direct sales, or service direct sales. The difference between DRTV and traditional TV is as simple as a URL or 1-800 number. Media that has been designated DR based on the presence of a URL or 1-800 number can be purchased at a discount, versus standard TV advertising (brand advertising), thus ensuring media efficiencies. On average, DR prices are 30-50% lower.

    2.    Who uses DRTV? 

    Chances are you've seen the old “yell-and-sell” infomercials, with pitchmen like Billy Mays, but those days have passed, and DRTV has taken on an entirely new tone. Today, it's used by more brands than you probably realize: Estee Lauder, American Express, L'Oreal, Bose, KitchenAid, Capital One, Hanes, Keurig, Vanity Fair, Dyson, Garnier, Fab, Travelocity, Playtex, ShoeDazzle, Maybelline, and many more.

    3.    Why DRTV? 

    Direct response television is a highly effective customer acquisition medium that offers broad exposure to build your brand while driving response and measurable sales. Tracking and measuring performance can be drilled down to the level of individual airings, allowing brands to cost effectively reach a segmented audience based on daypart, channel, location, or type of programming.

    4.    What should I know before considering DRTV?

    Step one is getting to know your customers and their journey. It is mission critical to know where your customers spend, what they watch, and how they are influenced by various media: print, radio, TV, direct mail, out-of-home, mobile, and social. Use data-driven insight, research tools, and emerging technology to create a holistic view of your consumer. Recognize that the overarching goal of DRTV campaigns is to either push continuity programs or drive to retail—or a combination of the two. Not only are these the areas that hold the greatest potential for profit, they are crucial to developing a business model that remains effective at scale.  

    5.    Give me a few hints! What are the keys to success?

    One major key to success is creating a seamless customer experience between TV, online, and retail, by streamlining messaging, creative, and in-store signage. To do so, you must surround customers with relevant messaging to ensure a frictionless path to purchase. In addition, establish metrics and benchmarks that ensure a clear line of sight to success. Savvy marketers will consistently test their campaigns to not only mitigate risk but constantly optimize campaigns to drive the highest possible level of ROI, retail impact, and scalability. 


    Monica Smith
    Monica Smith's picture

    Monica C. Smith is founder and CEO of Marketsmith, Inc., and a recent luncheon speaker at DMCNY.  Reach her at

  • Pre-testing: A Better Way to Beat the Control


    February, 2014

    The A/B split test is as fundamentally sound, as it is slow, expensive and inefficient. 

    Direct mail testing—even for high-volume mailers—means putting a finite number of possible tests in market.  These tests are either incremental changes or wholesale redesigns.  The former usually assures incremental gain/loss, and the latter requires a lot of risk and reputational capital.    

    Truth is, the vast majority of tests fail.  For two reasons.   
    1)   The control is hard to beat.  It benefits immensely from something your test package can never have—exposure.  Your target audience, however large, is still finite.  You mail the same people over and over.  Even non-buyers are exposed to the control. 

    2)   Coming up with a test, or 10 tests or 100, for a single campaign is like searching for a needle in the haystack.  The number of possible test packages is infinite, and you are forced to choose an imperceptibly small percentage of them to mail.    

    In split testing, the odds are against you.  With a complete redesign, the odds are even more onerous.  The A/B test will tell you if the new package test wins or not.  But it cannot tell you why.  Perhaps there are components within the complete redesign that are clear winners, but are getting drowned out by the weaker elements.  

    So, what is a better alternative?  Look no further than the consumer package goods industry for an idea.  CPG marketer do lots of in-market testing, also lots of product development work in advance.  By comparison, the direct marketing world does very little. 

    The methodology now available to direct marketers is sophisticated, but simple and intuitive.  In short, It is an online testing program through which your target audience evaluates thousands of different direct mail package ideas in mere minutes.  

    The secret to its success, and why this pre-testing matches up with live test results so well, is the ability to replicate real-world choice and decision making by:

    1-  Showing the target audience concepts, packages or offers holistically, just as they view them home. 

    2-  Asking the target audience answer one question—overall preference—within a few seconds, the same amount of time you get before your package is thrown in the trash.  

    Behind the scenes is very sophisticated statistical modeling to answer the question we really want to know, which is Why?  You end up with scores for every single test element, which may encompass 30 or 40 different component parts of a direct mail package (OE, letter, buck slip, reply form) and, in turn, thousands of package combinations.  

    The business upside is four fold:  
    - Test exponentially more ideas in a radically shorter period of time.
    -   Put fewer tests in the mail, and at higher volume, to get to rollout faster.
    -    Find out exactly what impact each component has on preference and response.  
    -  Test big ideas, those that would never make it in the mail unless you have empirical proof they can work, in a low cost, low risk environment. 

    A/B split testing method has been around for decades, and yet direct marketing has changed dramatically, with more channels, better targeting, better production methods and now, a better way to beat the control.


    Chris Locker
    Chris Locker's picture

    Chris Locker is EVP of marketing and strategy at The Consumer Voice, in the Minneapolis area.  Reach him at

  • Silver Apples at 29 – Looking Better Than Ever, a Fitting Tribute to DM Leadership


    November, 2013

    As Club president Cyndi Lee of SMS Marketing Services opened the 2013 Silver Apples Award Gala on November 7 at the Edison Ballroom off Times Square, she invoked the first Silver Apples in 1985, with a video showing past honoree and then president Mal Dunn relating how the award program got its start.  “Here we are in the greatest city in the world, the greatest center of direct marketing,” he said.  “And all we had to do was call on our most important talent, the people.”  Dunn also credited Tom Knowlton and Jim Prendergast for coming up with the concept. 

    How compelling to recall the origin of this annual celebration of direct and data-driven marketing leaders, as the Gala marked its 29th anniversary, with 370 in attendance, the largest turnout ever.  There are now 220 Silver Apples honorees, 5 Golden Apples honorees and 18 Corporate Award recipients. This is our heritage, and also our future.

    Co-emcees Pam Haas of The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks—and our next (2014) Club president—and Scott Fenwick of ValueClick, took the stage to bring the entire room to song, to the melody of Neal Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” with a new set of lyrics: “So it begins / It is our annual gala / Honoring those who give their all / DM leaders all / Tonight they get their Apples / And they are glad you came along. …“ 

    Tom Turner of Turner Direct presented Arthur Blumenfield with the Golden Apple, recalling Arthur’s tenure at the then Standard Oil of New Jersey where he launched their first data processing center with 42K of memory.  Arthur also worked with past honorees Lee Epstein, Ed Mayer and Pete Hoke to launch the Direct Marketing Days in New York conference.  Arthur and recounted the many men—and , he stressed, women—who helped to make his career and volunteer work so rewarding. “When you give back, you get back, over and over again,” he said. As is Arthur’s nature, he also shared a joke from a devout reader of The New York Times obituaries: “I find it amazing that people die in alphabetical order.”

    Honoree Liberta Abbondate of Hearst Magazines was introduced by past Silver Apple recipient Joe Furgiuele: “She is the 1% of the 1% in our field,” Joe remarked, “whose running of the numbers matches up with the best of computers.” Liberta shared five key rules from her years in marketing and publishing: (1) Learn as much as you can; (2) Commit to the job; (3) Challenge conventional wisdom, and be a catalyst for change; (4) Do good by being good; and (5) Surround yourself with great people.  We now know firsthand of the success she has brought to Hearst, Dow Jones, Forbes, and Smithsonian, among other publishers and dozens of titles.

    When the late Direct Marketing Hall of Fame member Rose Harper of The Kleid Company is your aunt, you have a running start in our business. That’s who honoree Richard Vergara of MeritDirect credits for his lifelong career, having led the DMA List and Database Council and the launch of DMA List Day, and, today, his current leadership of the Hudson Valley Direct Marketing Association. “[Rose] was a force of nature—and a teacher of business and life lessons.” Richard offered plenty of tribute to his family, his longtime clients (such as American Media, Bonnier, Playboy and Time), his colleagues at MeritDirect, and past honoree Ralph Stevens.

    Honoree and professor Richard Hochhauser, teaches both at Baruch College and NYU, launched the direct marketing division of Harte-Hanks in 1975, and later led the company as president & CEO. Richard told us how he co-taught a class with another professor, who would focus on the textbook content. When it was Richard’s turn, he said to the class, “That’s the theory. Now I’ll tell you what happens in the real world.” It’s that passion of passing on knowledge to others that’s earned Richard his reputation—as former chairman of the DMA and the DMEF (now Marketing EDGE), and on the board of Texas A&M’s Center for Retailing Studies. Richard on what helps build a career: “Choosing the right industry, and choosing the right company.” On teaching, his great motivator is: “Seeing a student’s light bulb go off.” Shine on, Richard.

    The West Coast was in the house that night. Irvine CA-based honoree Pete Carney of Carney Direct Marketing said his wife told him once, “There are no jobs in California, and you are unemployable.” So Carney Direct Marketing came to be, harnessing Pete’s experience as national sales manager at Equifax, and previous stints at Mal Dunn Associates and Mail Marketing. “All my life, I’ve been working with friends.  The people I work with are my assets,” he said, speaking of business partners, clients and colleagues. And then there was that story about Gary Laben and himself, getting a pair of pantyhose on a cow somewhere in Texas…

    And speaking of Gary Laben, does he ever age?   Gary, of KBM Group and Wunderman Data & Insights, also received a Silver Apple during the evening.  Gary got plenty of laughs, as he lamented no longer being a “Young Direct Marketer of the Year.”   Tireless in his commitment to marketing education, working with Marketing EDGE and the Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing on their respective boards, Gary also serves as a business leader in analytics and customer engagement at KBM. “I am humbled, being in the presence of such Silver Apple honorees as Lester Wunderman,” who in his 90s, still comes to work every day.

    “You may already be a winner,” but Publishers Clearing House’s Debbie Holland is now a Silver Apples honoree. “When I first started in this industry back in 1978, a four-page sales letter was the standard,” she observed. “In this day of flash mobs, speed dating, and Twitter, I should be able to get a message across in 140 characters, right?” So in just 3 tweets, @DeborahJHolland shared her philosophy: “#Respect all the links in your chain, big or small. Be a bright, shining link to #Inspire others & light the way for new directions. | Don't be the #WeakLink when someone pulls your chain. #silverapples13 advice | We're all connected in the #ChainOfLife & stronger together than 1 link alone. Thanks for being part of my chain & for supporting me! @DMCNY.”

    DMCNY also named a corporate Silver Apples honoree, the Target Marketing Group, publisher of Target Marketing, FundRaising Success, Retail Online Integration, eMarketing + Commerce magazines, the Who’s Mailing What! archive and Direct Marketing IQ. On innovation and reinvention, publisher Peggy Hatch—who, with past honoree Denny Hatch, joined the company 21 years ago—spoke of the transformation the company has undertaken as marketers’ needs for information and knowledge have changed. Today, the company offers case studies, blogs, webinars, virtual conferences, and video along with its magazines, to help make marketing smarter for a global audience. “Take risks and swing for the fences,” she urged.

    Altogether 40 past honorees were present, among them: Ken Altman, Stu Boysen, Reggie Brady, Jerry Cerasale, William Denhard, Phillip Dresden, JoAnne Monfradi Dunn (newly named DMA chairman), Scott Fenwick, Jim Fosina, Joseph Furgiuele, Richard Goldsmith, Joseph Gomez, Dennison Hatch, Peggy Hatch, Leon Henry, Don Hinman, Henry Hoke III, Marjorie Kalter, Brian Kurtz, Ray Longden, Harvey Markovitz, Neil Mason, Susan McNamara, Pegg Nadler, Edward Nash, John Pahmer, John Papalia, Christopher Paradysz, Jim Prendergast, Jerry Reitman, Adrea Rubin, Robert Sawyer, Ronald Sichler, Christine Slusarek, Brian Snider, Ralph Stevens, Ruth Stevens, Tom Turner, Penny Vane and Tom Zukas.


    There were no hurricanes to fiddle with the festivities—but there was plenty of momentum and cheer for the year ahead:  the Silver Apples will never be 29 again. A thank you to all honorees, attendees, sponsors, and the event committee – led by Sharron Mahoney of SMS Marketing Services and Dianne Petruzzelli of Fosina Marketing. We made quite a song, “Awarded to our Shining Stars.”


    Chet Dalzell
    Chet Dalzell's picture

    This annual celebration of direct and data-driven marketing leaders, marked its 29th anniversary, with 370 in attendance, the largest turnout ever.  There are now 220 Silver Apples honorees, 5 Golden Apples honorees and 18 Corporate Award recipients. This is our heritage, and also our future.