Design 101: Why and How to Make Great Direct Mailers

Design 101

Think back to when you first started your graphic design courses. Printing your work out and holding it in your hands was something you couldn’t explain until it happened. So why not make print material for your clients and share that feeling with their customers? It’s something you should seriously consider, and if you’re wondering why keep reading.

 

Why Should I Bother Making Direct Mailers?

Yeah, it’s the digital age… but that sweet joy I talked about of holding tangible printed design work in your hands is something technology can’t do. Like I said, that feeling is your chance to help your clients capitalize on that feeling by targeting their audiences with your design work! Did you know 92% of young shoppers say they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions? The number across all ages is 67%, second only to newspapers at 69%. That’s a big enough statistic to work with in my opinion, so where do you start?

 

Did you know 92% of young shoppers say they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions? Click To Tweet

 

Step 1: Pick Your Printer

We all know design works best with a layout, so you’ll need to figure out what the client will want the end product will look like and the quantity they’ll need. Start by finding a good printer. It’s best to solidify your printer before you get started so you will know what products and services they can offer you. Plus, every printer is different so you’ll need to know the exact specifications for designing (dimensions, bleeds, etc.).

At Red Branch Media, we use a local company called GTI. I recommend finding a local printer so you can meet in person to discuss paper quality, services and products they offer. This way, they can work more closely with you to provide you with tangible mockups so you can craft the end product precisely.

 

Step 2: The Mockup Process

Once you finish your printed design, you’re going to have to go through what I call the “mockup process.” This is the part where you’ll be spending time both mocking up the design you made and getting a test print from your printer once you’ve got client approval on your designs. This process eliminates any outstanding mistakes, because when you print you won’t want any mistakes… especially if your direct mailer is getting printed in hundreds or even thousands of copies. Let me walk you through a great process we have here at Red Branch Media:

  1. If your printer doesn’t offer mocking up your design on their product, I recommend making your own mockup on Photoshop so you can show your client what their direct mailer will roughly look like. This way, you can help cut down the amount of time and cost you would have used to make test prints.
mailers

(Above) Here’s a direct mailer mockup we made in Photoshop at Red Branch Media for one of our clients Reviewsnap!

  1. Once your client approves the mockup, send your approved design to your printer to get a test print.
  2. After you get your test print from your printer, check it immediately for typos, correct bleeds and that nothing of your work was printed incorrectly.
  3. Show your client the test print to ensure it’s exactly what they want. If they’re not a local client, take a few great photographs (making sure you shoot in a well-lit room) of the test print in different arrangements (folded, unfolded, both sides, different angles, etc.) and send them to your client.
  4. After the final approval, you can work with your client to either send them the correct PDFs they will need to purchase the prints themselves or you can order them up on your end!

 

Direct mailers are a great way to help your client further their business because 70% of Americans say mail is more personal than the internet. Print work is tricky, and you’ll want to make sure you work with your printer to get the exact results your client wants. Pick a local printer, work with your client and send them mockups and a test print before you get it printed on a large scale so there are no mistakes. Get designing… you won’t regret it!

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