Direct MailPrintResults

Case Study: Rethinking Print Strategy

By | November 11, 2019

Doing the same thing – differently!

UMC annual report - spread focusing on donor impact on agriculture and development

This is not the end of the printed piece. Print pieces need to be evaluated and optimized for our digital world.

I have been asked many times if it is wise to convert all printed communication to digital. The better question is what communication should I print? Print is still a valuable channel, but how to use it effectively has changed as technology has overtaken our lives. Print pieces need to be evaluated and optimized for our digital world. Used well, print communication can be a powerful tool to reach goals. Even if you never print anything as large as an annual report or think you don’t mail anything at all, keep reading. There are many ways to rethink print communication, and hopefully this example will inspire you. And even if you don’t use print communication, you might discover a hidden mailing within your organization.

Rethinking an annual report

When asked to produce the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) annual report the client was already boldly rethinking the approach. We converted what used to be a documentation of what the organization did into a celebration of what the donors accomplished. A wise move for any nonprofit, and a very strategic move for UMCOR. In our post project review, my client shared that we were chosen because he knew we could help him attain the creative goal he desired, but he commented how he especially appreciated the support and confidence we offered through the process. Making big changes is always met with resistance, and we helped him defend the direction and complete the vision we set out together to accomplish.

UMCOR annual report interior spread featuring project information

Print in a digital culture.

I recently read a research report on digital ads on Youtube. It is no surprise, but a series of short digital ads is much more effective than a 30 second ad. Yeah, 30 seconds is too long! So print needs to work hard. In designing this annual report we wanted to make sure you got the point even if you did not “read” it. We created pauses in the design (very few words and stunning images) to encourage people to look closer and we greatly enlarged numbers. If you only flipped through the annual you will still be left with a strong impact – that donors made a difference around the world in big ways. Even though my client faced internal resistance through the process, the end result has been wonderfully received. My client’s superior even highlighted it in a board meeting as an example of fresh thinking.

spreads showing how donors supported refugees

Is there a mailing hiding in organization?

I regularly give blood and instead of being handed a free t-shirt, I received an email asking me if I wanted the t-shirt. Smart money-saving move — give it to the people who really want it. I am usually the one who doesn’t want the shirt, but my son wanted it. I received the shirt recently stuffed in a  yellow envelope with poorly applied labels. Inside was a note that was clearly photocopied and poorly cut into fourths. What if they had folded shirt in tissue paper with a sticker and a note that made me feel special? What if they asked me to get a friend to join me in giving next time or to take a picture on social media with my new shirt and tag the organization to win some a collection of gear leftover from other promotions? In a world were people watch other people unbox purchases (strangely watchable) you can turn a mailing into a powerful brand experience. Even if you are sending a bill, you can make that into a powerful brand experience. Don’t waste any opportunity to make a great impression.

Did you discover a mailing? Want a fresh perspective? A conversation is just a phone call away. Call Jeffery James at 630.923.5009 ext. 700.

Jeffery James
Jeffery James
Jeffery is the Creative Director and Principal of Spire2. He brings marketing expertise from a variety of industries. He excels at understanding clients' corporate objectives, translating them into brand positioning and executing marketing materials that exceed expectations.