Monday, December 27, 2021

Pantone Announces 2022 Color of the Year

Pantone recently announced its 2022 Color of the Year: Very Peri. The color was described in a press release as “encompassing the qualities of the blues, yet at the same time possessing a violet-red undertone, PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expression.”

Laurie Pressman, VP of the Pantone Color Institute, said:

The Pantone Color of the Year reflects what is taking place in our global culture, expressing what people are looking for that color can hope to answer. Creating a new color for the first time in the history of our Pantone Color of the Year educational color program reflects the global innovation and transformation taking place. As society continues to recognize color as a critical form of communication, and a way to express and affect ideas and emotions and engage and connect, the complexity of this new red violet infused blue hue highlights the expansive possibilities that lay before us.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

 AM Solutions Profile 

-October Issue of InBusiness

Our Promise to You Measurable Results Innovative Solutions Quick Turnaround Strong Communication Strategic Thinking Exceptional Service 

For over 25 years, clients and agencies have come to rely on AM Solutions to connect their mission to their customers consistently, professionally, and on time. We specialize in customized solutions tailored for you and your business or non-profit organization. We have provided trusted and leading marketing services throughout the years because we invest in our people, culture, and processes. 

Additionally, we continue to invest in new technology to create the best possible client experience. “We’ve had a tremendous response to our mailing. Donations and donors are up significantly! The quality and accuracy of mailings are huge contributors. 

Thanks again!” — Jackie 

Capabilities: • Targeted direct marketing • Data driven direct mail • Digital and commercial printing • Display signage • Large format printing • Promotional merchandise • Creative design • Online store platforms • Fulfillment. 

If you would like to see how we can create more engagement for your organization through direct mail, let’s talk. 

We will provide a free audit of your current print marketing collateral and direct mail campaigns. Connect with us, call Dean Gille at (608) 884.3452 or email 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Direct Mail Stands Out

WTT Younger Consumers1(1)

Younger consumers are always a topic of interest because they represent the next generation of preferences and are an up-and-coming source of spending power. Each generation has its own unique preferences in terms of how they like to shop, how they spend money and how they want to be marketed to.  

So let's take a closer look at:

  • The frequency of contact that younger consumers expect
  • How direct mail can inspire younger generations to engage with brand owners
  • The critical components of effectively marketing to younger generations

The Right Number of Touchpoints

For many years, some seasoned marketers have followed the rule that five to seven prospect touchpoints are required to convert a lead into a sale. With the constant barrage of marketing messages coming at us these days, some might think that today’s consumers prefer fewer touchpoints or contacts. As it turns out, though, recent research from Keypoint Intelligence reveals that most consumers would like to be contacted by brands on a regular basis (i.e., daily, weekly or monthly). Preferences varied by age, too. Regardless of whether or not they had a relationship with a brand, younger consumers wanted to be reached out to more frequently than their older counterparts. Who knew?

Figure 1: Desired Frequency of Contact by Brands

WTT Younger Consumers1(1)

Print service providers (PSPs) have an opportunity to talk to their prospects and customers about the value of a print marketing campaign as opposed to a single mailing event. Marketing communications can be made even more impactful by addressing the specific preferences of various age groups as well as the frequency with which they wish to be contacted.

Inspiring the Younger Generations to Engage with Direct Mail 

Understanding what’s important to each generation—specifically the younger generations—is a requirement for today’s marketers. Today’s print technologies offer multiple options to support the initiatives of each age group and improve response rates.  

Younger consumers (i.e., millennials and members of Generation Z) actively support businesses that work to make the world a better place. Rather than using the same images for all age groups, it is especially important for direct mail to reflect your company’s core values and beliefs. All consumers—and younger ones in particular—want the companies that they do business with to see the world through their eyes, rather than what it might have looked like for their parents or grandparents. 

Younger generations won’t simply take your claims at face value. You must earn their trust, and this means delivering transparent messaging that is void of hype and grand promises. Some important promotional keywords that communicate trustworthiness include savings, security and value. Testimonials are also considered gold in today’s marketing world; younger consumers place a great deal of credence in their peers’ opinions.

Interactive elements can also be quite impactful. Rather that incorporating QR codes that direct the recipient to email addresses, phone numbers or websites, create meaningful links that lead to a true online experience. Interactive print can create immersive sensory experiences that excite the consumer and prompt them to take action. Although novelty is huge with younger generations, their attention spans are short. What this means is that the interactive component must be seamless or they will quickly lose interest.

Younger consumers are also drawn to a tactile experience. Think of all the packages that are delivered to their door on a daily basis, then consider how you might be able to make their direct mail more dimensional to replicate the excitement they feel when unboxing an online purchase. Dimensional mailers are a dramatic departure from flat postcards or envelopes, so they really stand out in recipients’ mailboxes.

According to the USPS, the average American household receives only 454 pieces of marketing mail each year. In today's era of digital overload, a tangible piece of paper that lands directly in the hands of the right consumer can really stand out.

Respondents to a research report by Keypoint Intelligence were asked what actions they took when following up to direct mail. For consumers under age 35, the top actions included visiting the sender’s retail store, sharing content with others, learning more about the sender by conducting online research, and making a purchase from the sender. It is important to align your call-to-action with these natural consumer tendencies. For example, make it easy to locate the store (physical or online), or offer a “refer a friend” incentive. Younger consumers place a high value on word of mouth, and it is their natural tendency to share their own opinions.

This Isn’t the Time to Be Subtle!

Whether we notice it or not, age segmentation has been used for years as a marketing tool to gain our attention. When used correctly, it can provide a much higher return on investment than grouping all consumers into a single audience. Today’s consumers have come to expect marketers to engage with them on a much more personal level, and savvy marketers must respond in kind.

Figure 2: Younger Consumers Spend More Time with Personalized Messages

WTT Younger Consumers2(1)

Whether they are mailed or sent electronically, highly personalized communications go beyond generic categorizations like name, address and even age group. Younger consumers generally have much to learn, and in some cases they have little idea about where to start when it comes to educating themselves. A brand’s purpose and vision can be communicated via a series of educational direct mail pieces, and this type of messaging will resonate because younger consumers identify with brands that stand for something beyond their offerings.

The Bottom Line 

All marketers understand that one communication channel is not enough, and that blending multiple channels will generally yield the greatest rewards. Younger consumers expect and even want the brands they do business with to reach out to them via multiple touchpoints, and this calls for new and innovative methods of staying connected.

By combining digital inkjet technology, direct mail and digital components, businesses can connect with the younger members of their audiences, add more value to the customer journey, create more leads and ultimately drive more sales.

The opportunity with print exists across all generations, but it is more important than ever to address the specific needs of your intended audience. The preferences of Gen Z and millennial consumers provide a great example of how personalized, purpose-driven marketing can work.

Today’s PSPs have an opportunity to help brand owners tell a better story, connect with their prospects and customers on a deeper level, and stand out through the use of effective direct mail.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Calculated Digital and Direct Mail Integration is the Key

Direct Mail and Digital Marketing Integration

We are in the age of multimedia, diminishing attention rates, blocking, unsubscribes and the relentless volume of digital messages. Effectiveness of these channels have plummeted with attribution becoming more and more difficult. There has been a huge increase in the rates of bot responses, fraudulent responses and digital activity appearing in undesirable online media. It is therefore becoming harder and harder to truly cut through, hold consumers attention and measure the true success of your digital campaign.

There are growing problems with digital marketing. The consumers’ lack of engagement with the barrage of messages they receive – translates to the fact that direct mail is already offering marketers more impact, engagement, and profitability than could have been predicted even 5 years ago.

And perhaps more importantly, a new generation of young people are emerging who feel constricted  by a  ‘digital only’ world, and are looking to the tactile,  3 dimensional, and long lasting opportunity that mail items offer.  They are developing skills, gaining decision making roles, and will help drive new ideas and activities.

Consider the following:

  •  In 2016, over $45 Billion was spent on direct mail advertising each year and it continued to grow at a clip of close to 5%.
  • Epsilon surveyed nearly 5,000 customers and “60 percent said going to the mailbox and receiving a piece of mail provided an emotional boost.” Yes, people have a great connection with mail. It’s personal, tangible, and if done right, it can be highly targeted to individuals’ specific interests.
  • The Epsilon survey also revealed that, “Consumers said they found mail to be more trustworthy than other forms of communication.”

 The integration between other channels and direct mail is key:

So many companies are marketing with "omni-channel, multi-channel, opti-channel, integrated marketing, dynamic marketing" but fail to clarify the integration. Maybe it builds the mystique around it.  Bottom line integrating the digital channels with direct mail with proper understanding and strategy is the key to successful returns.

“Direct Mail Conversion Research,” in February 2019 by USPS found that a more dynamic approach to direct mail is the way forward. It’s established a new place in marketing strategies and yearly budgets, all thanks to its effectiveness.

  • 40% conversion rates when digital and direct mail are combined.
  • 68% of marketing respondents said combining digital and direct mail increased website visits.

In that research, here is how companies are coordinating the digital and direct mail integration:

  • 80% drive traffic from direct mail to digital channels.
  • 76% integrate a unique URL or discount code in direct mail.
  • 61% timing digital media once direct mail is delivered to customers.
  • 51% sending personalized direct mail based on online behavior.
  • 49% creating a digital version of direct mail.
  • 15% are using QR codes in direct mail.
  • 7% are embedding AR or VR in direct mail. 

In summary Marketers should use behavioral data from other channels to deliver direct mail communication just-in-time. But direct mail will increasingly be used as an engagement tool when brands lose permission to communicate via email or SMS. Eventually, the future of direct mail will necessitate educating a generation of “marketers” who have been ignoring the channel for the longest time. ‘

Steer your digital efforts to collecting data, asking not telling with a sledgehammer. When you know and understand consumers from their behavior, it becomes that much easier to build a direct mail marketing campaign around their specific needs. You know what they consume, how they engage with your brand, why they might be in the market for a certain product or service, and when they might be in the market to make the purchase.

KISS Principle

In one of the studies, 61% of marketing respondents said the length of a standard direct mail production cycle hampered the coordination of campaigns. 

Being in operations for as long as I can remember, I can tell you that direct mail campaigns don’t have to be long production cycles. Keep it simple. For starters, avoid odd mailpiece shapes and sizes as well as unnecessary finishes to save time and expense. Focus on efficiently getting your message out.  Better yet, work with a print service provider like us to plan out your campaign strategy.

Don't overlook the data going into the campaign and the data going out. Data going in can give you a glimpse into consumer preferences and the buyer’s journey, allowing for more relevant direct mail campaigns. You can offer the right promotion at the right time to the right person or the right neighborhood and can also have options to tailor your approach to specific households and their preferences. Each household or neighborhood will respond differently, so use a data-driven approach to build direct mail marketing practices that focus on relevant messaging and targeted media spend to drive results.

Work with us as your print and mail service provider to translate that data going out into intelligent direct mail. We partner with USPS to make sure you are getting the discounts that are available based on the needs of that campaign. The benefits of great data going in and going out is often overlooked and that translates into lost dollars.

-Martin Aalsma





Thursday, August 5, 2021


by Keypoint Intelligence/Eve Padula

Because electronic messages substantially outnumber printed communications, direct mail is now the less cluttered channel. Electronic communications also fall short of well-designed printed communications in terms of tactile impact. This article explores how marketers of printed communications can use the sensory elements of direct mail to their advantage.


Electronic messaging has become increasingly prevalent over time, to the point that it now substantially outnumbers printed communications. Email spam messages are considerably more numerous than printed “junk mail,” and direct mail is clearly the less cluttered channel. In addition, direct mail is a tactile form of communication that can appeal to multiple senses, including touch, sight, and even smell. Despite their popularity, electronic communications fall short of well-designed printed direct mail in terms of tactile impact. Marketers of printed communications can and should incorporate the sensory elements of direct mail to create messages that stand out and prompt engagement even in today’s digital world.

Cutting Through the Clutter

Savvy marketers understand that targeted and relevant direct mail can stand out and attract attention. When used correctly, direct mail communications can also be more impactful than electronic messaging. The statistics tell the story:

  • According to a report from Data & Marketing Association (DMA), up to 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20% to 30% of emails.
  • Data from Canada Post suggests that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than email.
  • Based on direct mail statistics from Marketing Profs, three-quarters of consumers can recall a brand after viewing a piece of direct mail. Meanwhile, only 44% can do the same after seeing a digital ad.

Because many consumers have become overwhelmed with digital communications, printed direct mail is considered a trustworthy marketing channel. When consumer respondents to Keypoint Intelligence’s most recent marketing communications research were asked to specify their reasons for reading direct mail rather than digital marketing communications, 15% believed that providers who sent printed communications were more serious about winning and keeping their business. It is now more important than ever for marketers to be smart and strategic in their use of printed communications.

Appealing to the Senses

Whereas most digital communications primarily appeal to the sense of sight, printed direct mail offers a tactile experience that electronic messaging simply can’t match. Thanks to ongoing technological innovations, today’s digital inkjet devices can now produce printed communications that deliver eye-catching special effects and embellishments. Images as well as text can be enhanced with attention-grabbing neon colors, an embossed finish for a 3D effect, metallic inks, or glitter effects that will really shine when exposed to light, or foil stamping for an elegant appearance. Because of the way it changes in certain lighting conditions, a direct mail piece with metallic ink, glitter, or foil stamping delivers a more interactive visual experience than an email.

Unlike electronic communications, printed direct mail pieces literally land in the consumer’s hands and therefore engage the sense of touch. Direct mail that is treated with a velvety coating will feature a highly appealing soft touch, but these communications can also be produced with a rougher coating for a different effect. Printed communications can also incorporate special textures to make certain elements stand out. Some examples might include a furry coating on an image of an animal or a dimpled rubber feel to enhance a picture of a basketball. Coatings or textures can create a unique look and feel that the recipient can’t help but notice.

Direct mail can also engage the sense of smell. Although many of us print geeks might say that we simply like the smell of paper itself, there’s really no reason to stop there as direct mail can be infused with all sorts of scents. For a personal example, I’ll admit to having a minor obsession with shower gels. I often wonder why the large bath care chains don’t send more direct mail pieces that highlight their newest scents. Think about it… emailing me about new fragrance has undertones of cinnamon and vanilla is a start, but even with that description, I still won’t know if I’ll truly enjoy the scent. If you send me a postcard that smells like the real thing, I’ll be able to tell in about five seconds if it’s something I’m interested in purchasing…and all the better if I can order said product online and have it delivered to my home!

The Bottom Line

With so many improvements to digital print technology over the past few years, marketers of printed communications are limited only by their imaginations as they seek ways to make their direct mail stand out. In today’s electronic age, we’re overloaded with images from computer screens and smartphones. This level of distraction means that we’re not always paying attention to what’s in front of us, but special effects in print can capture our attention. Tactile elements like textures, foiling, or scents are different and unexpected, and this can make people more likely to engage with the messaging. Competition is fierce, but the good news is that brand owners can create printed pieces that surprise recipients with unexpected elements and truly stand out as a result.

Eve Padula is a Senior Consulting Editor for Keypoint Intelligence’s Production Services with a focus on Business Development Strategies, Customer Communications, and Wide Format. She is responsible for creating many types of content, including forecasts, industry analyses, and research/multi-client studies. She also manages the writing, editing, and distribution cycles for many types of deliverables.


Our customer-driven culture is our first and number one priority for our clients success. Our dedicated team approach guarantees responsive, consistent results that deliver speed to market and forward thinking solutions.

Direct Mail Testing Guide

Direct Mail Testing Guide

by Erik Koenig

David Ogilvy, the Father of Advertising, once said, “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

Testing to optimize the effectiveness of your marketing efforts is a no-brainer. Yet, with so many elements to investigate, testing strategies to consider, and methods to measure performance, knowing where to begin can be a brainteaser. With the right guidance, you can build a sustainable testing program to discover your best audience, learn what motivates them, and refine your campaigns. The right strategy will allow you to maximize your testing budget and your program profitability. Here is how to get started.

Determining What to Test

Direct mail testing does not have to be complicated to be effective. However, it should be calculated and systematic. This takes planning and commitment.

Start by devising your testing ground rules. How often will you test? At what volumes? What is an appropriate test versus control ratio? How often will you test incrementally versus swinging for the fences? (Hint: you should do both.) Each of these depends on the maturity of the channel and how control performance is achieving the KPIs. Set these parameters and stick to them.

From there, identify the order of importance (potential impact) of your testing categories: list, offer, creative, and digital integration are the primary variables in direct mail and are typically tested in that order.

Take inventory of what has worked in the past, as well as what failed. Review competitive samples through a tool like Competiscan or Mintel’s Comperemedia.

Then, use this information to develop a testing roadmap to outline and prioritize test opportunities within each category, complete with a test rationale, hypothesis, and performance projection.

Generally speaking, your mailing list(s) has the biggest impact on campaign performance (optimization and scale), therefore, it should be prioritized and account for the majority of your testing. Testing new data sources, new modeling approaches, different customer segmentation, and more are sure fire ways to move the needle.

Also examine how you can integrate additional direct marketing channels, such as digital or CTV, with your direct mail to boost campaign performance. Scrutinize the creative package for enhancement opportunities, paying close attention to the offer, CTA, format, images, colors, and fonts. It is also important to consider the timing and cadence of your prospecting and retargeting campaigns, such as frequency, seasonality, and delivery day. All these variables can impact response rate, conversion rate, purchase value, customer lifetime value, and overall program ROI.

Testing Strategies for Direct Mail

With your testing roadmap in place, it is time to devise your direct mail testing strategy (design). The two most common designs are A/B and multivariate.

In A/B testing, you are testing two versions of one element (e.g., creative), with one single variance between them, such as the offer or personalization. Although an affordable testing option, A/B can be a timely approach to determining the best performing combination of list, offer and creative. This testing strategy works best for mature campaigns where the current performance is acceptable.

Multivariate direct mail testing allows you to test multiple components of your program at a time. This strategy accelerates the process but may also dilute the benefit, as tests are often conducted in small sets due to available budgets. New mailers who are working to quickly identify a control or those looking to achieve a step-change improvement benefit most from this strategy — provided they can afford the lofty price tag.

Recognizing a gap in the two approaches, some agencies offer proprietary testing strategies that aim to deliver multivariate test results but at a fraction of the cost. By isolating test elements and leveraging indexing, direct marketers can identify the variables that have the greatest relative impact on campaign performance to accurately identify a control combination — whether or not that particular combination was tested. This strategy is attractive to brands who are new to the channel, and to those who are looking to improve the performance of existing programs – even if they have more modest budgets.

Measuring your Direct Mail Test Results

The end goal of a direct mail test is knowledge, not profit. Regardless of the outcome, there are no wasted results. You will learn what works and what does not — and you should never have to spend precious budget to test non-performing data sets or combinations again.

Your overall test objective (i.e., lower cost-per-acquisition or improve ROAS) should not only drive which tests you prioritize, but also determine how you will measure and analyze your results. Rather than obsess over response rates or sales rates, we recommend you focus on striking the perfect balance between cost-per-acquisition and lifetime value. After all, one should inform the other.

To easily track your investment, certainly include directly attributable elements on your mail piece, such as a unique URL or promo code. But don’t stop there, be sure you pair those results with a matchback analysis comparing your sales file to the mail file for a comprehensive view of campaign performance and attribution reporting.

Take caution against making snap judgments based on directly attributable performance alone. Allow ample time to perform your matchback analysis. Due to its longevity, a direct mail read period often lasts 60 to 90 days. Performing a backtest to validate initial test winners can help bring statistical validity to your results. Finally, let the data inform your future campaign strategy, despite what your gut says. Log the results on your test roadmap – and keep testing!

Adopting a Results Mindset

Consumer behavior and preferences are ever evolving, and the direct mail industry is no different as marketers eagerly search for new ways to increase engagement and loyalty. The key to a sustainable and profitable direct mail program is commitment to a regular testing schedule and adopting a results mindset. Even if your current direct mail campaigns are successful, remember the words of David Ogilvy: continue to refine the elements that make your campaigns great and always watch for opportunities to improve.

Pantone Announces 2022 Color of the Year Pantone recently announced its   2022 Color of the Year: Very Peri.   The color was described in a ...