Dean Baker on Choosing Between Digital & Offset Printing

Dean Baker, CEO of the Phoenix Group of Companies, was recently featured by direct mail archiver Who’s Mailing What! (WMW!) in an in-depth interview for their Meet the Mailers series.

The informative chat covered topics from choosing between different printing methods to navigating sustainability, cost control, personalization, and trends in direct mail marketing. Take a peek at some of the episode’s soundbites.

Below we’re highlighting some of the topics and questions Baker was asked and his responses. Please watch the full video of the interview at the end of this article.

Digital vs. Offset Printing

What exactly should marketing professionals consider as they decide between digital printing and offset printing?

Baker says knowing the amount of color you plan to have in your piece and whether it’s static or variable is essential, but it’s also smart to partner with a print provider that offers both so they can recommend a service that benefits each application.

“. . . the advice I would give is, first, begin with a print provider who can do either, so that takes some of the guesswork out of it for you because then they’re going to offer the solution that’s best based on the attributes of the package or the campaign rather than simply choosing which one they happen to have.”

Direct Mail Benefits

What are the general benefits of direct mail marketing?

Direct mail is more popular now than before the COVID-19 pandemic, open rates are increasing, and most Americans, 73% to be approximate, enjoy receiving direct mail and have a higher general trust in print mail versus digital. Printed mail stays in the house for an average of eight days, increasing the likelihood that the potential customer will become a buyer.

Printing Sustainably

How can print be sustainable today?

Baker discusses the circular nature of paper, how the industry has invested in planting more trees, and improved recycling practices across all mediums, from paper to ink, plates, and solvents. Additionally, many businesses are actively working to reduce their carbon footprints in other ways through improved energy usage tracking and using renewable resources such as wind and solar for product production.

Controlling Costs

How can marketers control costs when implementing direct mail campaigns?

Baker states that proper forecasting and flexibility are the keys to controlling costs during market uncertainty. Forecast print volume and paper needs quarterly. Place orders 6-8 weeks in advance. Be flexible about alternative paper choices if you first choice is not available. The future looks bright as constraints in the paper industry begin to recede. Planning for forecasted needs and accurately counting what you require for the foreseeable future can lower costs and prevent hiccups in your campaign efforts.

Personalizing Mail

What steps should marketers take to get the most out of personalized direct mail?

Many clients have boatloads of client data that can be utilized to personalize direct mail materials in countless ways. The key to properly leveraging this data, the Phoenix Group’s CEO says, is to properly segment your client or lead lists into Categories or subsets and select images and graphics appropriate for each subset and then weave in personalized text.

2023 Direct Mail Trends

What trends do you see in direct mail for 2023 and beyond?

Baker sees multiple trends on the horizon, including versioning or increased segmentation and personalization. Regarding products, Faux cards and oversized postcards are a big hit in the current market. The incorporation of trigger campaigns with other advertisements, like a TV ad, is also to be leveraged by marketers for lead generation and more personalized consumer engagement.

Watch or Read the Full Interview

Learn more about Dean Baker’s career in the printing industry by reading the WMW! writeup of Meet the Mailers: Choosing Between Digital & Offset Printing or view the full interview below. The wisdom he has can help marketers and other industry professionals discover how to best leverage digital and offset printing while remaining competitive in a market demanding sustainability and increased ROI.

Watch the Full Video

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