31 Dec What is so Manic about Postcardmania?

I recently handled an outbound marketing campaign for a client who is opening a new Gold’s Gym in Middletown, NY. We decided to work with gold's postcardPostcardmania.com to send out a “Coming Soon” postcard to targeted households in the geo area within reach of the new gym. There was nothing really to get “manic” about except the deadline.  The project required much close attention to detail.

The results of the mailing won’t be known for a few months after the gym opens in 2014, but I have to say the product itself, a 6″ x 8 1/2″ full color front and back, glossy card was of very nice paper and print quality.  The colors popped and the images were very clear.

Now about the process. The sales contact, Elizabeth Bates, was terrific.  I loved the fact that I had a project manager who I could contact by email or phone and that she would respond quickly.  She was knowledgeable and proposed an excellent service at a great price.  In addition to the printing, we ordered a mailing list and all in all, everything went smoothly and the piece parts were integrated nicely.

Gold's postcard backThe timing from start to finish was quite efficient. I requested a proposal on or about December 12, and the Postcards were mailed on December 20th.  They provided a nice client interface at www.MyPostcardmania.com where I could download proofs and approve and check the status of my job.

No review would be complete without a bit of criticism though.  Let’s face it, postcard printing and mailing is not rocket science any longer.  The process can be pretty much automated these days so I’m not sure why 4 people were involved.  “The more the merrier” saying doesn’t apply here. There was a sales associate to work with on the proposal.  Then there were 2 people to work with for the Mailing List process, another person for the Printing process and still another sent me receipts.  Seems a bit bureaucratic and staff-heavy to me– I’m just sayin’.  And, as it happens when too many people touch the process, at times, everyone didn’t seem to have the same information about the details of the project.

In speaking with the sales associate, I had hoped that the Postcardmania.com art department would take my artwork (.psd format) and adjust it for bleeds, sizing etc.  However, all they did was point out the errors and then they told me to fix it.  So I revised the artwork and sent it back. When I sent the revised artwork back, the Print associate told me it would take a few days for me to receive a revised proof.  I had to remind her that my client paid for “RUSH” services.  This should have been clear from the start.  Weird.  She checked on that “rush” status, and sure enough, I received the proof that same day.

So what I learned: when you tell Postcardmania that you will be providing “camera-ready” art, that’s what you need to provide.  Don’t expect them to adjust anything for you. In the final proof a yellow border that I created in the original artwork somehow disappeared, but it turns out that it looked better without that border anyway, so I wasn’t that concerned, but if that was a more important element of the design, it would have been a problem. The Print associate told me that the .pdf I sent did not contain that border; so I agreed to disagree.  Because the design element wasn’t critical, I didn’t pursue the argument any further.

Personally, I prefer to work with a print company that will take my source files (photoshop or illustrator files) and adjust the margins etc. to meet the size and bleed specifications.  Every print shop is different and although they provide templates for design, it’s best to have your printer’s artist provide the final camera-ready copy to ensure the optimum result. The closer the design work is to the production dept., the better. Problem is, design services can be costly. You could hire or use your own graphic artist, but again, that adds to the cost.

So in general, I would definitely recommend Postcardmania.com, but I advise you to be clear about communications and don’t assume that each person in the process has all the right facts about your project; it’s worth the time and effort to confirm the assumptions with everyone involved.  Print is forever, so managing print projects takes extra attention to detail.

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