Author Archives: Marv Makofsky

Conformer Attends MTAC Innovation Symposium

At the invitation of Susan Plonkey, President of Mailing and Shipping Services, I attended MTAC, the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee for the United States Post Office. This group consists of suppliers and customers of the USPS and has been operating for more than 40 years. The Aug 11th and 12th meetings were held at the headquarters of the USPS in Washington, D.C.

My experience was an eye opener as I watched as the Post Office’s top leaders — Jack Potter, Postmaster General and Susan Plonkey — ask this important committee for ideas on how to reshape the way the Post Office is operating today. The USPS is now in crisis mode as the volume of mail has been shrinking at an alarming rate. Leaders of the Post Office explained many of the recent steps taken to tighten operational cost and efforts to bolster business. The committee was asked to participate in breakout sessions to come up with ideas that Postal management promised to consider and act on.

I was amazed at the scope of innovative suggestions offered, from electronic business transacting to the very products that the Post Office retails. I just sincerely hope that the level of commitment to change that the USPS expressed in that meeting is met equally with action.

Marv Makofsky at mmakofsky@conformerinc.com

The Question is ‘What Are the Right Questions’

Let’s talk about one of the most important subjects that all companies tackle; how to deliver a corporate message to customers using clear language and compelling graphics.  Here are five primary questions that should be addressed by management and creative staff regarding the look and feel of a marketing kit–

1 – Delivery – How is the package going to be delivered to your clients and prospects? Is the package going to be hand delivered by a sales representative?  If so, can the portfolio be designed for storage and filing for future reference.  If the package is sent via USPS, FedEx, or UPS it will need to be constructed to withstand the wear and tear of deliver. Light colored and solid dark color graphics show lots of marks and tearing or paper cracking.

2 – Protection – How are you going to make sure that the contents of the package arrive in perfect condition?  Too little protection and the package arrives damaged and reflects poorly on your corporate brand.  Too much protection and the package and your company will appear fiscally wasteful and environmentally careless.

3- Visual Impact – When your marketing kit is mailed, does the envelope or mailer deliver a message that compels the recipient to open it?  All too often business-to-business packages are delivered in plain white envelopes, brown corrugated boxes or padded envelopes.

4- Shape and Size – What shape, size, and weight parameters do you need to follow to avoid unnecessarily high postage and courier rates?  Square envelopes, packages over 16 ounces, and thicker than ¾” should be avoided if possible.

5 – Environmental Impact – Is an environmental consciousness message important to our prospects and clients?  If so, incorporate materials that are made from recycled content and can be recycled after use.  Also, look to reduce stock weights and eliminate unnecessary void fill materials.

While many of these questions seem obvious, all too often they are overlooked.  With proper project planning you can avoid basic pitfalls allowing your corporate messaging to reflect the high value your company offers its clients.

Marvin Makofsky’s “10,000 Solutions” series reveals tips and tricks he has learned in his 38 years (10,000 days) of working on the bleeding edge of the printing and packaging industry.

10,000 Solutions: Don’t Let Marketing End at the Mailroom Door

Companies invest countless hours and great sums of money to make sure their brand is expressed correctly through their printed marketing materials, but more often than not, I find smart marketing people relying on “the mailroom guy” to determine which envelope, mailer or box to use when marketing material go in the mail.  I find myself repeating nearly daily, “Don’t let marketing end at the mailroom door.”

What do I mean by that?  In talking to hundreds of marketing and creative directors over the years, I find that mailroom packaging is almost always overlooked in the creative process.  Not only that, these packages are rarely tested to make sure the contents arrive in respectable condition, on par with the corporation’s brand image.

The direct mail world lives by the adage, “Test, test, test.”  I advise clients to mail test packages to themselves to make sure the packages hold up.  This testing must take place before production orders have been placed.

by Marv Makofsky

Marvin Makofsky’s “10,000 Solutions” series reveals tips and tricks he has learned in his 38 years (10,000 days) of working on the bleeding edge of the printing and packaging industry.

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Marvin Makofsky’s “10,000 Solutions” series reveals tips and tricks he has learned in his 38 years (10,000 days) of working on the bleeding edge of the printing and packaging industry.

10,000 Solutions: Use Your Best Bait When Fishing

We all know how difficult it is to get business these days.  Those of us in the printing business have to be ready to provide our clients with anything they want printed.  I think it’s clear that we need to do more.  We need to find a way to set ourselves apart from the competition.  It’s called the “differentiator.”

We know something about a lot of things, but we also know a lot about a few things.  Put your best bait on the hook, and give it a good toss.  It’s a great way to pull in a big fish.

by Marv Makofsky

Marvin Makofsky’s “10,000 Solutions” series reveals tips and tricks he has learned in his 38 years (10,000 days) of working on the bleeding edge of the printing and packaging industry.

10,000 Solutions: Why I’m Allergic to Corrugate Boxes

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After 35+ years of inventing packaging and printing solutions, I think I have developed an allergy to wasted money. I can smell it from a mile away. My all-time favorite overspending faux pas is the over-use of dependable, ever-present, and most importantly, cheap corrugate boxes to mail small items, reports, presentation folders, books and the like.

Here are 5 reasons boxes give me hay fever :

1.  Its basic physics.  Boxes are always bigger than their contents, requiring “void fill” materials like bubble wrap, air bags, foam peanuts. Void fill = wasted money.

2.  Lack of flexibility.  An assortment of different-sized boxes are required to handle a range of tasks. Ordering small quantities of different sizes costs more money then buying a few sizes in greater quantities.

3.  Wasted space.  Corrugate inventory takes up a ton of space in your office or warehouse.

4.  Excess postage.  Boxes shipped via USPS fall into the most expensive postal category, parcels. No matter what you put in a box, it will be a Parcel and will cost you more to ship.

5.  Weight.  Even small boxes are heavy. In first class mail, each ounce costs $0.17; standard class mail costs roughly $0.05 per ounce.

Don’t get me wrong; boxes have their place. I just find them often used where they are not appropriate. As a packaging innovator, my goal is to overcome the legacy of these products. Maybe it is the thrill of the hunt and finding the right solution, but I say, the greater the challenge, the more pleasure I find in creating the solution.

If you really want to ruffle my feathers, ask me what I think of bubble mailers…

by Marv Makofsky

Marvin Makofsky’s “10,000 Solutions” series reveals tips and tricks he has learned in his 38 years (10,000 days) of working on the bleeding edge of the printing and packaging industry.