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T-DOT tip for a more effective Direct Mail Campaign

How do I put a direct mail campaign together? Remember T-DOT: Target, Design, Offer, Timing.

  • Target: Do you know who your target audience is? Have you identified a target area? Do you have their names and addresses? The first important step is to identify who you want to target and what their characteristics are. From this, you will need to develop a mailing list. We recommend Computer Mail South – www.computermailsouth.com
  • Design: Will it be a postcard, folded brochure, letter, envelope? Does the package meet US Post Office requirements for the optimum postage rate? The contents and how they are to be delivered needs to be defined. If it is a sealed package, such as a tabbed brochure or envelope, what will make the recipient open it? If a postcard, will it get a second look?
  • Offer: A mailing needs to have a call to action; an offer that will make the customer want to rush to the phone to respond. Just announcing your services are available will not provide the payback response you will be looking for.
  • Timing: Consider when the mailing is sent out. Is there a season for your product or service? Is there a trade show planned that will draw their attention? Are you sure your mailing will not get lost in high volume holiday mail?

These are some of the elements to consider when putting a mail campaign together. Let Advantage Print & Design help you navigate through these questions.

Technical Terms

What is Bleed? Bleed is a great graphics effect for many situations. A design is said to have “bleed” when the color elements or background run to the edge of the sheet. Artwork created for such a file must contain a border of at least 1/8 inch all around in which the color is extended. This allows us to print beyond the border and trim back for a precise, controlled output.

PMS Color
What is a PMS and why should I care? A PMS color is a standardized tint specified within the Pantone Matching System. Many corporate logos are designed with a specific PMS color that is part of the corporate identity. When a PMS color is specified for print on an offset press, that ink is premixed using specified tints, guaranteeing that exact color is printed. Note that PMS colors are run on 1-color and 2-color offset presses and NOT on 4-color or Full Color presses.

Full Color/4 Color Printing
With the rapid evolution of affordable full color printing, the use of 2-color offset presses is diminishing. “Full Color” is synonymous with the term “4 color” since it can produce the full range of colors using  a mix of only 4 standard colors – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black – CMYK, for short. The results can be a stunningly high resolution color print. Add to this the capability to coat the product with UV Gloss (high gloss) or Aqueous Wash (satin, dull finish) and these colors can really pop.

While the range of colors that can be produced is extensive, not every PMS color can be faithfully produced and color matching to a PMS color is not guaranteed with the 4 color print process.

Color Matching
Will my colors be exactly what they are in the proofs? The answer is “it depends…”. “Yes!”, if you have specified a PMS color and the piece is being printed on a traditional offset press using pre-mixed inks on bright white paper. The color WILL match the PMS color swatch, when properly applied. For all other situations, the answer becomes “Yes, with some variation possible.” If the proof is being viewed on a computer monitor, printed colors can vary significantly since the monitor only uses Red, Green and Blue (RGB) to create all colors displayed as opposed to the CMYK scheme used to print Full Color. Add to that the variation inherent in ALL 4 color print machines – ink, laser or ink jet. There will be some color variation in the final output but it should be within acceptable limits. If you absolutely need “THAT shade of red”, please let us know IN ADVANCE.

Booklet Binding Options

There are many ways to bind pages in a multi-page document. Each with its own cost and advantages that you may want to be aware of. Three of the common bindings we deal with are:

  • Saddle Stitch This is the simplest and most cost-effective means of binding booklets.  Because pages consist of larger sheets folded together, the total number of pages must be a number divisible by 4, such as 8, 12, 20, 24, etc.  If the outer sheet is made of the same paper stock as the inner sheets, the booklet is termed “self cover”.  If the cover sheet (outer 4 pages) are of heavier stock, it would be specified as “”N” plus cover”, where “N” refers to the number of inner pages.
  • Coil Bind typically this binding would consist of a black plastic coil wound around the edge of the sheets.. As the book is opened, the pages can completely open and the booklet can lay flat open as well. Pages are in pairs (back-to-back). The front and back cover can be of different materials, including a clear plastic sheet.
  • Perfect BoundPerfect binding is similar in appearance to what you see with a paper bound book. The edge is squared off and all the pages are glued inside. This has a very professional look to it. The front and back covers are made of one continuous sheet of cover weight stock. The minimum thickness for perfect binding is approximately 1/8 inch thick and a minimum number of pages varies depending on the weight of the paper stock used. For catalog and magazines, this can be a cost effective alternative. Feel free to inquire about switching to Perfect Binding.

Paper Thickness or Weight

Which paper stock should I use? Paper is typically specified by its thickness (weight) and finish or texture. Weight can be divided into 2 basic groups – LIGHT and HEAVY.

  • Within the Light group, the terms Bond, Text, and Writing are used. Bond papers are the typical papers used in copiers and desktop printers, usually 20lb in weight. Writing paper is typically 24lb bond and commonly used for letterhead stock.
  • Within the Heavy group, the terms Cover, Tag, Index and Vellum are used. While the latter three stock types are primarily used for, as their names may suggest, tags, tickets and low end report covers, Cover stock is typically the thicker stock of choice for custom printing.

Finish and Texture refer to the surface quality of the paper. The most common paper is uncoated, matte-finish stock. A gloss finish is readily available in the heavier Text weight papers (80lb, 100lb) and in Cover weight stock (again, 80lb, 100lb). Trifold brochures, for example are typically printed on 100lb Gloss Text for good feel to the touch. Short run postcards are commonly run on 100lb Gloss Cover stock. Our high quality business cards are printed on 14-16 point card stock which is much heavier. These are typically coated during the print process to achieve a gloss or satin finish. For fine writing papers and for some business cards, a textured paper such as linen or laid is common. Many other variations are available.


Before we print any piece, an electronic version of the artwork will be forwarded to you via EMAIL, unless other arrangements have been made. It is the client’s responsibility to check the spelling and correctness of all phone numbers, names, addresses, URL’s, etc. printed within. If acceptable, you will be asked to sign the proof or reply to the specific EMAIL accepting the proof. Then, and only then, will the artwork be printed – in the form accepted by the client. A fee will be assessed if a reprint is requested due to errors in the above-mentioned information on the printed peice.


Refer to this section in the About Us page.


Advantage Print & Design offers a full range of graphics and typesetting services. Fees for these services are assessed according to the work required and are in addition to the prices quoted for printing.

TYPESETTING: $10 – $35 per page, text only
BUSINESS CARD DESIGN: $30 – $60, according to the detail of graphics required
BROCHURE DESIGN: $100 – $300, depending on the level of design work required
Other graphics fees will be discussed at the time of order placement.

Contact Joe!