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Direct Mail Industry News
Desktop Marketing: Doing More with Less
Addressing Delivers Productivity Improvements and Results
Author: Charles A. Rothofsky
Business has changed. Bigger demands and tighter staffs are driving companies to continuously search for ways to improve productivity without sacrificing quality or missing deadlines. Changes in government legislation have impacted businesses and changed the way they communicate with customers. Marketing is one area that has really felt the pinch. Telemarketing legislation and the national Do Not Call list that is maintained by the Federal Trade Commission and overall customer perception of unsolicited commercial email (SPAM) is causing marketers to reevaluate their communication channels and look for viable alternatives. This search for effective media has resulted in a resurgence of direct mail marketing to reach their customers.
As a communication medium, direct mail is cost effective, can be highly targeted, has excellent reach, can be tracked and can help maintain and build a relationship with customers. Additionally, it is a medium that can clearly communicate a companys message. Desktop marketing software enables even the casual user with the tools to accomplish their goals effectively. However, once the message is created, getting the communications out to the prospects is where the work begins. For many companies the options are either to outsource this work, or tie up valuable resources.
Advances in technology are helping to make desktop marketing more efficient and productive. Easy to use direct mail tools are available that help marketers with this final mile of the job. Whether mail is being sent to generate leads, raise funds, distribute catalogs or magazines, or simply to communicate with field offices, customers, or channel members, address printers help reduce the time spent addressing mail and ultimately getting the mail into the mail stream. Printing addresses directly to the mail piece helps companies beat deadlines and save money by providing them with the tools to eliminate the multi step process of labeling. When combined with mail list processing software, address printers are equipped to deliver substantial results that directly impact the bottom line in any organizations mailing operations.
All printers are not created equal
Address printers differ from the standard office inkjet or laser printer in a variety of ways. The first and most obvious difference is the physical construction. Many desktop address printers come with integrated display screens to control internal firmware that allows for the adjustment of the address position, orientation, print resolution, and a host of other features. Desktop address printers now come with Windows?-based print drivers that open up the graphical interface of Windows?, providing more control options for these printers.
Desktop address printers use specially formulated inks developed to deliver crisp legible addresses that do not break down as mail is processed through high speed USPS automation equipment, a distinct advantage over laser toner. The inks used in desktop address printers are designed to dry quickly and adhere to a wide range of mail-oriented media.
Address printers are designed to print at high speeds and handle considerably larger volume runs than the standard office printer. Depending on the model and the mail piece, desktop address printers can print at speeds ranging from 2,000 to 30,000 pieces per hour. Some desktop address printers can even handle monthly volumes up to a million pieces per month, depending on the printer.
Unlike traditional office ink jet printers that are primarily constructed of plastics and lightweight materials, the typical address printer is made of heavy duty industrial components and designed to be used in more abusive environments. Sophisticated circuit boards, media sensors, and heavy-duty rollers and belts are used in address printers to provide smooth running, consistent operation.
Like other business and office machinery, address printers do require regular preventive maintenance for consistent operation. Most are designed to be very service-friendly and parts can be quickly replaced to keep mailing operations moving. With proper care and scheduled maintenance, desktop address printers are able to deliver years of trouble-free operation.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
When a decision is made to add an address printer to your mix of office technology there are several factors that should be considered. These factors include: What types of jobs will need to be run through the printer? What are the smallest and largest pieces that will need addressing? How much information needs to be printed on the mail piece? Where does printed information need to be? How much do you mail on either a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Questions such as these help determine which address printer will best help solve your mailing challenges.
Once determining answers to the above questions, the print head technology can be selected. There are two types of print head technology used in desktop address printers, shuttling head technology or fixed head technology.
Address Printers: Shuttling head vs. Fixed head Printers
Shuttling print heads utilize a design similar to that of the typical office inkjet printer. A print head shuttles back and forth across the mail piece to print the necessary information. A major benefit to this design is it equips the printer with the ability to print a wider area of the mail piece. Since printing occurs as the mail piece is feeding through the printer, virtually complete coverage can be achieved.
Speed on shuttling head printers is affected by the size of the mail piece, resolution of the print, and how much information is being printed. Typical speed on desktop shuttling head printers can range from 1,000 10,000 mail pieces per hour. The design and mechanical process of shuttling head address printers can be limiting on the size and thickness of the mail piece.
Unlike shuttling head printers, fixed head printers involve the use of an array of stationary inkjet print head banks mounted on a shaft. A fixed print head bank is a series of ink jet cartridges that are mounted together. Fixed print heads are manually adjusted by moving them along a shaft to position them over the media, so that print is applied where it is needed. The average desktop fixed head printers would consist of one or two fixed print head banks, with each print bank consisting of two to three inkjet cartridges. Each printer cartridge can deliver ½ of print and the typical setup includes a three cartridge print head that can deliver a height of 1-1/2 of print. Having multiple print banks enables a fixed head address printer to print different information in different places on a mail piece in a single pass. The same technology used on desktop fixed head printers is also used on large console inkjet print systems.
A major advantage to desktop fixed head printers design over shuttling head printers is the speed at which they can print. The typical desktop fixed head print systems operate at speeds from 5,000 to 30,000 pieces per hour. A second advantage to the fixed head printer design in general is the capability of handling larger and thicker mail pieces than a typical shuttling head printer. Since the print head bank can accommodate more than one cartridge, spot color can easily be incorporated to allow for further customization of the print.
Mailing today is a far more efficient process than in years past. Printing directly onto the mail piece has helped companies become more efficient and save money. Address printer technology provides businesses with the tools to operate at their pace, drive costs down, and beat their deadlines. With the increased popularity of desktop marketing, the address printer is another tool that can help make marketing departments more productive. Addressing technology has advanced to become user friendly, simple to integrate into an office environment and to help deliver solid results to an organizations bottom line.
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