"Ganging" up on High Costs
There is no denying that calendars continue to do their work as an important annual mailing for many charities and organizations. Sometimes referred to as an anchor or pillar mailing, a calendar appeal or acquisition mailing is one that is regularly scheduled in the rotation of typically high-performing direct mail formats with a mission-focused “freemium” insert. Some shy away from testing a calendar format due to a lack of understanding stemming from two big fears: cost and the lack of experience needed to accurately and efficiently manage the overall production, from paper purchase through press checks and postal efficiencies. If you’ve mailed calendars as part of your direct mail program in years past, you know the calendar start-up is just around the corner.
For first timers, let’s look at how easy it is to find out if a calendar mailing is within your budget:
Let’s start with cost. That’s likely the biggest factor that limits calendar innovation or closes the door on it altogether. Stock, color and format are all factors that can drive up costs, especially for small to medium sized organizations but PS|PS Digital has developed a cost-efficient way around it – the annual Gang Calendar Print and Mail Program. 2016 will be our 6th year of offering this program with, quantities ranging from 50m to over 2mm. And we continue to push the envelope on savings by offering the added benefit gang-printed opportunities for the letter/reply form, return envelope and outer envelope.
PS|PS Digital’s Gang Calendar Program offers both savings and options including paper, press times and mail date. With the kickoff in February (and paper order in March) we’re poised to support mailings as early as June. And we’re seeing some of the best results from calendar efforts mailing earlier in the summer.
Keeping an eye on trends – and not dismissing the overwhelming majority of groups whose control is a traditional wall-size calendar size calendar measuring 8-3/8” x 10-1/2” and mailing in a 9 x 12 envelope – this year you might want to consider the benefits of testing an alternative layout by changing your design from a wall layout to a desk top planner. Still 24 pages + cover, the format is horizontal and lies flat on a desk top. The 4 color images are minimized and screened back, allowing for maximized grid layout with lots of real estate for notes and appointment reminders.
Another alternative calendar format provides the best of both worlds: the value of a calendar “freemium” while mailing at letter rates. The digest calendar (measuring approximately 5-3/8” x 8-1/2” to fit a 6 x 9 envelope) allows for significant postage savings as compared to a flat format. One more twist on the ‘letter size calendar’ is the slim line, typically measuring 6” x 10-1/2” to fit a 6-1/8” x 11” letter size envelope.
Each year the number of organizations joining our Gang Calendar Program increases. A few calendar programs do not participate in the gang program because of their large quantities and unique attributes, but we still print and mail them because of the bundled value we provide: aggressive cost-saving strategies, years of experience with color correction and press inspections, and diversified postal logistics to minimize postage costs no matter the mail quantity.
The calendar mailing trends reflect the importance of including a follow-up mailing as a component of their overall calendar strategy. A #10 or as small as a #7-3/4 envelope with a simple ‘reminder’ letter (and perhaps an inexpensive sticker sheet of calendar reminders) is the workhorse format most often used for the follow-up.
So, are you thinking differently about calendars now? You should be! There is still time to ask questions and secure your spot in this year’s gang printing program.
There are so many nuggets of calendar production wisdom worth sharing. Just reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more behind the scenes intel.
PS – A last thought; don’t just recycle your left-over calendars. Use them to cultivate and convert! Examples: Give them to your online hand raisers as a special thank you for signing a petition or taking a survey. With this approach, your constituents are opting in to provide you with their mail address! If the calendar mailing is to prospects, include an added value offer of additional calendars with a simple dedicated web page link. The opt-in approach, in which the prospect self-identifies their comfort level with online transactions, is an easy way to grow your multi-channel data base of contact information.