Inkjet technologies continue to transform production strategies for direct mail service providers. Inkjet is enabling further transformation to create more complex data-driven direct mail. The dynamic mail programs are omnichannel, to support marketing acquisition and retention programs and deliver an ROI. Direct marketing firms have been early adopters of digital and inkjet technologies. Digital enables complete customization and personalization of every message, each component and outside envelope. Newer inkjet platforms now deliver speed and quality that meet toner and offset standards.
This is the first article of a two-part series on how next generation inkjet is delivering results for direct marketing firms. I recently spoke with Bob Anderson, CEO of Prisma. Prisma is a growing technology enabled service provider with three production facilities in Phoenix and Nashville. They have a successful record in leveraging multiple technologies to deliver marketing programs with an ROI for their customers. They produce complex multi-channel programs as well as traditional direct mail, catalogs, signage, and fulfillment across their offset, digital toner and inkjet platforms. Prisma’s revenue growth has exceeded 10% per year for the last ten years.
Why Next Gen Inkjet?
Prisma invested in Screen Truepress Jet520HD with the SC ink set in 2020. They chose this device to improve speed to market for their customers. Their goal was to automate their workflow and eliminate steps to get to finished pieces. Printing on shells requires several more work order steps including: pulling and staging materials from the warehouse, managing inventory, and QC for alignment. This Screen device produces excellent image quality on coated stocks. The ability to run standard coated papers without the additional need for pre or post coatings or for treated papers were the best fit to align with the rest of Prisma’s production presses and finishing workflows.
Continuous Feed Workflows
With long time experience running a heatset web press, Prisma knows how to effectively buy paper by the roll and inks by the drum. While running a different ink set than a web press, the Screen device has a similar production process to their web press. The increased speed and overall cost with inkjet provide a better ROI model for their customers. They have changed their approach to inline and offline finished to make the best choice based on number of workflow steps and speed to get to finished pieces in the mail.
They have moved many jobs from cut sheet toner devices and away from pre-printed shells to the continuous feed inkjet platform to achieve lower overall cost and increased speed. They are running many types of direct mail and other applications like books on the Screen press with shorter cycles for end-to-end production. Their account management team is educating clients on how best to leverage the width of each roll to optimize production for each application.
Direct Mail Delivers ROI
Prisma’s customers are focused on ROI for their complex omnichannel marketing programs not what technology it is printed on. As their clients began using mail to get consumers to engage and buy products and services on the web, Prisma saw increased mail volumes in 2020 and 2021. Thanks to a demonstrated ROI from direct mail, Prisma’s customers are planning for increased mail volumes in 2022. The throughput of the Screen press is delivering timely relevant direct mail to support acquisition, retention, loyalty programs and improved customer experience. Prisma provides their clients omnichannel services with their Direct Mail 360 program and the USPS Informed Platform. These customer focused programs include a direct mail piece, a USPS Informed Delivery email as well as digital and social media ads to increase the number of touchpoints. The result of the additional touchpoints has improved the impact and attribution for their clients’ direct mail programs.
Inkjet in the Future
The Screen Press has delivered on the promise for exceptional quality and high throughput without pre and post coatings. Prisma hopes there will be improved tools to predict ink usage and enhanced models for ink costs in the near term. They plan to make future investments in finishing to drive additional throughput from their inkjet platforms. Additional optimization will come with adding a second inline finishing option to the Screen platform to accommodate more complex finishing.
In part 2 of the series, Darwill, another direct mail service provider, will share how they have expanded their capabilities with the Canon ProStream 1800.