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Author: Kristen Hollar

Outsourcing Utility Billing: 6 Reasons Why

Outsourcing Utility Billing: 6 Reasons Why

Outsourcing Utility Billing – 6 Reasons Why

The Perks of Outsourcing Utility Billing to a Utility Bill Printing and Mailing Services Vendor

bill printing and mailingOutsourcing utility billing has become a preferred way for cities, municipalities, and other utility companies to invoice their customers. That’s not surprising, considering the advantages that can directly impact an organization’s bottom line and level of customer satisfaction.

At Preferred Direct, we understand the challenges that your organization faces, and we have utility bill printing and mailing services—and electronic billing solutions—that will allow you to overcome them.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons why you should consider outsourcing your utility billing rather than handling it all in-house.

6 Benefits of Outsourcing Utility Billing

  1. Reduce operational costs.

Producing utility billing statements requires time, staff, and equipment. All of that can place a significant financial burden on your city or municipality. By outsourcing utility billing, you have an opportunity to reduce human resource expenses and eliminate the costs of maintaining hardware and software required to process and send invoices.

  1. Keep the cash flowing.

By outsourcing your invoicing to an experienced utility billing services provider, your billing statements will be sent accurately and on-time. Timely delivery helps keep cash flow consistent by decreasing days outstanding and reducing late payments. That can make a tremendous difference in your business’s bottom line.

  1. Maintain a consistent brand across all your services.

An experienced vendor will have the technology and skill to create a standardized bill format for all of the services you offer. No matter which services your customers subscribe to, you will have uniform brand recognition across all fronts. Having that brand consistency with your existing customer base can also serve as a foundation for your branding efforts beyond your borders, too.

  1. Improve customer satisfaction.

Outsourcing your utility billing to a vendor that specializes in custom invoices allows you to create bills that are easy to understand. It also allows you to include messages about upcoming changes and relevant news. This can not only increase customer satisfaction, but it can also reduce the workload on your customer service call centers. Clear and well-organized invoices lead to fewer customer questions and complaints.

  1. Generate more revenue per customer.

You also gain opportunities to customize your utility billing statements with marketing messages. Cross-sell your products and services to different segments of your customer base and upsell customers to higher tiers of service or new offerings. When partnering with a print vendor that uses variable data to personalize messages to individual customers, you can deliver the right offers to the right people for maximal impact.

  1. Eliminate barriers to growth.

Scale your organization’s offerings, customer base, and revenue without incurring a massive capital investment. With billing equipment in-house, eventually, you will face the need to upgrade machinery and software to accommodate growth. That’s not the case if you outsource your utility billing. A best-in-class utility bill printing and mailing service company will have solutions that fit your needs and grow as you grow.

Selecting a Utility Bill Printing and Mailing Services Vendor

Security and Versatility

A utility billing services provider should have all of the technology and measures in place to ensure that your customer data stays safe at all times. For optimal value, also consider if a vendor has the versatility to handle your organization’s diverse needs.

Preferred Direct has years of experience and a stellar reputation in managing variable data and sensitive information to generate invoices and other notices accurately and securely.

We guarantee prompt and confidential processing of your information while giving you flexible solutions to accommodate your unique requirements. We can replicate your existing invoice format, give you templates to choose from, or create a custom design to fulfill your vision. You’ll also have several options for submitting your data to us—via our secure FTP site in .xls, .txt, .csv, or .dat formats or send .pgp encrypted files.

We handle printing, folding, inserting, presorting (for postal discounts), and delivering your utility invoices to the U.S. Post Office.

As you know, the postage costs to send invoices can add up. Fortunately, because of the large volume of mail we handle every day, we get a discount. And we extend that discount to our customers when we manage their mailings. We handle all of the logistics involved in mailing your customer statements and ensure timely delivery. Better still, we cut your postage expenses in the process.

Thanks to our streamlined process, we do it all much more quickly than you can in-house. That means your customers get their bills faster, you get paid faster, and you save money.

 

Electronic Billing Capabilities

While a majority of consumers prefer to receive print invoices, many also expect the ability to pay their bills online. Electronic billing solutions give customers a convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to printed statements.

Preferred Direct’s e-billing services allow your customers to view and pay their invoices securely online. Moreover, our e-billing services can decrease your billing and payment processing costs significantly. They also help reduce the number of late payments.

Outsourcing Utility Billing: A Wise Choice for More Than Just Utility Bills

For even more cost-effectiveness and convenience, consider outsourcing not only your direct billing but also other customer communications, too.

  • Late payment notifications
  • Disconnect notices
  • Rate change notifications
  • Tariff notifications
  • Letters
  • Newsletters
  • Fliers
  • Direct mail marketing advertisements

At Preferred Direct, we offer a full range of print and digital solutions for public and private utility companies. 

  • Cities
  • Boroughs
  • Townships
  • Telephone companies
  • Water companies
  • Natural Gas companies
  • Electricity companies

 

When you work with us, you get a dedicated project manager who will see to it that every project meets your requirements and expectations.

Contact us to discuss how we can help you reduce your invoice processing and postage costs, improve your cash flow, and enhance your customer relationships.

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Five Creative Ways to Spice Up Your Marketing Print

Five Creative Ways to Spice Up Your Marketing Print

Five Creative Ways to Spice Up Your Marketing Print

direct mail servicesThe value of your marketing print pieces are dependent on both its content and presentation. Anyone can send a brochure or an explanation of benefits, but not every company can make the recipient wake up and take notice. Creative solutions for commercial printing are a way to overcome the saturation that your customers feel on an everyday basis. (This way, your audience doesn’t have to feel as overwhelmed as you do when you’re considering how to create a more effective marketing strategy.)

Some marketers may believe that the physical media they send will only end up tossed in the trash, but contrary to popular opinion, print can still be the best way to talk to your audience. But that doesn’t mean that companies can send direct mail, print posters, or design swag without thinking about the implications of their graphics, words, and choice of media. Preferred Direct has witnessed marketing campaigns succeed and fail based on the creativity of their commercial printing.

If you’re interested in how to extract the most value from your print, we’ll give you both the information and advice you need to get it right.

Why Marketing Print Matters

Commercial printing is the cornerstone for successful marketing today because it has the ability to cut through the virtual noise out there.
There’s no doubt that having a web presence is vital to your business, but with so much content out there, your message can easily lose information in a sea of text and graphics.

Your customers are used to ignoring ads online, but it’s not quite as easy to close out of something that’s in your hands or directly in front of your eyes. If you have a particular message you want to get out, it may even work better as a markting print piece. Instead of having to search for the right keywords or navigate through several sections of the website to find the information, you can say exactly what you want to say in black and white (either proverbially or literally).
Companies can use marketing print in an infinite number of ways today. From new digital technology to improved die-cutting techniques, it would be easier to list the things you can’t do! Once you understand the options available, you can determine how to apply them to nearly any campaign you run. Preferred Direct can show you how to do this without crushing your budget in pieces.

Conservation of both time and money starts with identifying the goals of each campaign. No matter how much you save on printing services, the money you spend won’t be worth it if no one remembers what you have to say. 

direct mail marketing estimate

Creative Solutions

Here are five creative ways to add some spice into your next marketing print or transactional print piece:
#1. Perforation: Instead of including a separate form, perforate your direct mail and let your customers interact with it a little more. Or score the letter so after they’re finished reading it, they can turn it into an origami swan or paper airplane. To stand up to the US Postal Service, you’ll need a printer that can design mail that can withstand the pressure without complicating the design and functionality of your letter.

#2. Graphic Design: The graphics of your marketing print can include anything from your logo to a sketch of a famous artist. When a picture can tell a thousand words, you typically want the visual components to reveal an easily discernible story.
Another tactic is to include an image that’s intriguing enough to spark the reader’s curiosity about the larger message. A 90-year old graduating from college may be unusual enough for people to stop and pay attention. If you happen to be advertising night classes for adults, this can be just what you need to get them invested.
#3. Bindery: This general service can refer to either the stapling or binding of your materials. If you need commercial printing for a presentation at a major conference, you can use a spiral or loose-leaf binding to give attendees a different way to interact with your company. Considering many professionals are visual learners, the right commercial printing can reinforce and drive home the key points of the presentation. Preferred Direct a man leaning over with his hands on a stack of colored printed materials
You can also use wire-bending for booklets and catalogs. If you want an even more lasting medium, a visually stunning calendar can be inspiring enough for customers to hang up at home or work.

#4. Finishing: Finishing includes die-cuts, collation, creasing, laminating, and gluing. Die-cuts are used to give your direct mail a unique shape. For example, inviting the form of a birthday cake to celebrate your company’s anniversary. Or maybe you want to print out coasters as a way to underscore a person’s transition into retirement. Preferred Direct can help you decide which finishing technique will strike the right chords with your audience.

#5 Inserts: Seeing a little tab peeking out from between an envelope can win customers over in spite of themselves. They may know it’s a marketing ploy, but that little tab presents an itch that nearly demands to be scratched. These kinds of creative inserts can be exact without a lot of time and hassle with the right printer.

Choosing the Right Marketing Print Partner

direct mail servicesThere are so many ways to change up your marketing without changing your brand or voice. If you’re struggling with how to present your ideas, the right printer can be the answer. Preferred Direct has the staff and the experience to help you strike the perfect balance. One of our main specialties is finding ways to bring a little imagination to more traditional businesses, such as insurance and healthcare.

So we know just how important it is to avoid violating HIPAA regulations without letting it slow us down. We print, insert, and mail your explanation of benefits, so customers get what they need.

Our direct mail connects with people on a different level because we take the time to understand both your company and clientele and offer creative ways to engage them. We give you the means to capture people’s limited attention span with marketing print, so you don’t waste a single cent of your marketing budget.

When choosing a commercial printing company, you can count on Preferred Direct to be cost-effective, speedy, and customer-friendly.

Call us toll-free today at 1-833-425-7007 or click here for an online quote.

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Tips to Build a Strong Direct Mail Database

Tips to Build a Strong Direct Mail Database

Tips to Build a Strong Direct Mail Database

Direct mail has been hailed as a great marketing tool to reach new customers, but those customers don’t just come from anywhere. You have to build a direct mail database before your marketing messages can be sent. Some companies make the mistake of putting all their efforts into their marketing materials, when in fact, who you target is just as important, if not more! Here are tips to build a strong direct mail database.

Know Your Target Demographics

Before you build your direct mail database, you’ll need to learn your target demographics and psychographics.

Demographics can be age, gender, ethnicity, location, marital status, education level, income, and occupation.

Psychographics can be interests, hobbies, lifestyle, attitudes, etc.

How do you figure out your target market?

1. Look at your current customers. Try to find threads of commonality in demographics and interests.

2. Look at your competition. Find out who they’re advertising to and determine niches within that market they may have overlooked.

3. Make a list of the benefits of your product or service. See if you can narrow down who your product or service will most appeal to.

4. Determine your geographic scope. How far in your area do you want to reach out? You can advertise on any scale from local to county to state to national depending on your company and budget.

5. Use trade journals specific to your industry for insights on industry consumers. Likely, your industry has already done their research on target customers and their behaviors, so why not use these very valuable insights?

direct mail marketing estimate

Through research and surveys, you can determine your target audience’s demographics and psychographics. You can hire outside companies to conduct surveys or you can conduct them yourself. 

Once you’ve identified your target market, you’re ready to build your mailing list.

Building Your Direct Mail Database

There are two ways to build a direct mail database: encourage customers to sign up and/or buy a mailing list.

1. Use promotions, newsletters, and incentives to encourage people to sign up for your mailing list. By offering a free product, service, or a sizable discount, you can gather information for your direct mail campaigns. The quality of your list matters. Gather information including, name, gender, and mailing address at minimum. If you can collect demographic information, that’s even better but be aware that the longer the form to fill out, the less likely a person is to complete it.

2. Purchase mailing lists. There are two types of mailing lists: compiled and direct response. A compiled list is usually pulled by geographic area and can be segmented by demographics, income, etc. A direct response list is a list made up of people who’ve responded to direct marketing in the past (whether direct mail, infomercials, etc.)

You can purchase mailing lists from direct mail companies like Preferred Direct.

Analyze your Database to Create a Better Campaign

graphic design servicesOnce you’ve created your direct mail database, how can you use your database effectively? Analyze it! Here are a few tips to utilize your database to identify better with your prospective or current customers and get a better return on your investment:

1. Analyze Demographics. Are the people in your database wealthier or more modest? What age range? Do they have children? What’s their ethnicity? When you create your direct mail fliers/postcards/mailers, choose images that appeal to their particular lifestyle. For example, if your list is mostly females with children, make sure any photos or images you use include this.

2. Analyze Geographic Data. Where do the people in your database live? Do they live in urban, suburban, or rural areas? Is there anything major in their local or state environments that you can mention that will help them connect with you? Use photos that reflect geographic region and lifestyle.

You can find ways to connect to the people in your database by appealing to them through database analysis. This makes your database work harder and better for you. When you are creating your direct mail piece, keep in mind opportunities for variable data. Variable data means you can print different offers, incentives, or information for different demographics or psychographics. 

Finding a Partner for Direct Mail Database

Preferred Direct is a commercial printer and direct mail company that can help you put together your mailing lists, and completes the direct mail process from start to finish.

direct mail servicesAt Preferred Direct, we make sure to keep your cost down. You will have a project manager who keeps your print jobs on track. Our project managers stay on top of your print jobs and can answer any questions you have along the way. We even provide emergency print services for those fast approaching deadlines. We also provide tracking so you can be assured that your shipment is arriving in a timely manner. One of our printers is the Xerox Impika®, a top-of-the-line machine that prints quality materials fast, ultimately saving you time and money. When choosing a commercial printing company, you can count on Preferred Direct to be cost-effective, speedy, and customer-friendly.

Call us toll-free today at 1-833-425-7007 or click here for an online quote.

Sources: crmtrends.com, wikihow.com, sageagestrategies.com, inc.com, smallbusiness.chron.com

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Supporting Charities Using Your Company’s Print Marketing

Supporting Charities Using Your Company’s Print Marketing

Supporting Charities Using Your Company’s Print Marketing

Looking for ways to raise money for your chosen charities? Are you wanting to brand your business as a philanthropic organization? Direct mail print marketing creates one of the best fundraising opportunities for charities. You can work with charitable organizations to promote both the charity and your business at the same time.

Supporting charities doesn’t have to be restricted to monetary donations. You can also support your choice charities by tying them into your current marketing campaigns or creating new campaigns based on the charity. It is very beneficial for companies to support charities. Here’s why: 

Benefits of Supporting a Charity

Charitable image – Your company shows commitment and interest in your community and in the well-being of humanity when it sponsors a charitable organization.

Increased visibility – By sponsoring charitable organizations and their events, your company’s name and logo appear in more places, increasing your visibility to potential customers.

Networking – Attending charitable organization events introduces your company to others that support the charity and can lead to networking opportunities.

Tax deductions – Your business receives tax deductions when supporting a charity. You can deduct up to 50 percent of your Adjusted Gross Income, but be sure to check with a tax professional for regulations.

Build stronger relationships with your customers – Your customers will like that your business is charitable and therefore will feel better about supporting your company.

At Preferred Direct, we have a full line of services available to help you design, print, and deliver your next project.  Contact us to receive expert advise and to learn which product is best for you.

direct mail marketing estimate

Ways to Tie Charities Into Your Marketing

You can make your charitable organization partnership beneficial to both the charity and your business through cross-promotional marketing.

Here are a few cross-promotional marketing ideas:

Promotional months – Does your company support a breast cancer charity, diabetes charity, or a pet charity? There are months in the year that are specifically designated for these types of charities. Breast Cancer Awareness Month, American Diabetes Month, and National Dog Adoption Month are examples of months designed for charities. Find ways to promote your business and theirs by tying marketing campaigns to these promotional months.

Give back on every sale – You can advertise a product or service and pledge giving back x amount of dollars to the charity.

Sell tickets for charitable events – To increase your business’s online and/or physical traffic, sell tickets for your chosen charity’s events.

Coupons – Give the charity coupons for your business’s products or services to distribute as added value for their donors. Added value can help the charity keep or entice new donors while giving your business exposure through print marketing. 

Types of Print Marketing to Support Charities

Whether you are tying in a charitable organization to a current promotion you have, or sending out information on your own products or services and mentioning the charity, direct marketing is a great way to benefit both the charity and your business.

Here are ways to use print marketing to support your choice charities:

Direct Mail Print Marketing – Let your customers or potential customers know about your cross-promotional charitable events, campaigns, products, or services through direct mail. Direct mail print marketing is one of the top ways charities fundraise, and your company can attract business and/or build your company’s reputation by using the same means.

Transpromo Marketing – Are you sending out statements to your customers? You can generously add an advertisement for the charities you support on your statements without spending additional money on postage. You can also promote cross-promotional charitable events or campaigns.

Newsletters –  Mention the charities you support in your newsletters. Whether you send out e-newsletters or mail out newsletters, you can support your chosen charity, or let your customers know about cross-promotional events or marketing campaigns.

Coupons and/or Tickets – Print coupons and or tickets for charitable or cross-promotional events.

 Preferred Direct provides print marketing and direct marketing opportunities for businesses and charities. Find a list of services here. For a quick online quote, click here or call toll-free 1-833-425-7007. 


 At Preferred Direct, we make sure to keep your cost down. You will have a project manager who keeps your print jobs on track. Our project managers stay on top of your print jobs and can answer any questions you have along the way. We even provide emergency print services for those fast-approaching deadlines. We also provide tracking so you can be assured that your shipment is arriving in a timely manner. One of our printers is the Xerox Impika®, a top-of-the-line machine that prints quality materials fast, ultimately saving you time and money. When choosing a commercial printing company, you can count on Preferred Direct to be cost-effective, speedy, and customer-friendly.

Call us toll-free today at 1-833-425-7007 or click here for an online quote.

 

Sources: smallbusiness.chron.com, kabbage.com, frugalmarketing.com

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Printed Collateral is Here to Stay   With the constant push for higher digital engagement, perfectly curated social feeds, and algorithm optimized content, it’s easy for businesses to focus...

Remaining HIPAA Compliant with Third Party Printers

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Remaining HIPAA Compliant with Third Party Printers Are you truly HIPAA compliant? Maybe you’ve set up certain measures of data security and protected your processes internally, but what about your...

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Nonprofits, Take Advantage of Direct Mail Fundraising

Nonprofits, Take Advantage of Direct Mail Fundraising

Nonprofits, Take Advantage of Direct Mail Fundraising

Direct mail fundraising is one of the best ways to increase giving and grow your donor database. Nonprofits depend on money and support from donors to keep an organization functioning. Out of all of the types of nonprofit marketing, fundraising by mail should be on your list of fundraising strategies. Here’s why:

Direct mail marketing helps you find potential donors. Targeted mailing lists can help your nonprofit to find new donors that fit your organization’s ideal demographics. Mailing lists can target by location, gender, income, etc. You can also target the homes within proximity to your organization using every-door-direct-mail tactics. 

Direct mail fundraising keeps you in contact with your current donors. When you send direct mail, you remind your donors of your organization and keeping it at the forefront of their mind. Many recipients keep direct mail pieces, if they are well designed, to remind them of the causes they support. At Preferred Direct we have graphic design experts ready to work with you to create a recognizable and memorable campaign.  

You can let your donors know what your organization’s current needs are. Is there something specific your organization needs to purchase? Is there something that needs immediate financial attention? Let your donors know your urgent needs in a visually and emotionally appealing way.

Connect with new and potential donors in a tangible way. Direct mail fundraising provides an engaging print piece that recipients can interact with. Whether posted on the fridge as a reminder or given to a friend, your nonprofit’s direct mail can be a great tool your advocates can use to spread awareness of your cause.

direct mail marketing estimate

Tips on creating direct mail fundraising pieces:

  • Suggest donation amounts on your mail piece. You can list the benefits of each to make it more effective. (i.e. $100 will allow an underprivileged child to attend summer camp. $50 will provide an underprivileged child a tutor for a month.)
  • Create multiple options for giving. Can they give online? Over the phone? Include this information on your mailing.
  • Thank your donor for their last gift and tell them why their next gift will help your organization.
  • Include the reminder that their donation is tax deductible.
  • Drive an emotional connection by personal stories of how their donations benefit real people.
  • Make sure to include the option of updating their mailing address, adding an email address, etc.
  • Be sure your mailing is appealing to the eye, with a clear call to action, and don’t forget to always include your organization’s logo and contact information.

Do you need help creating an effective direct mail fundraising piece? At Preferred Direct, our team of expert graphic designers can help. You can also check out our blog, 12 Tips for Creating Effective Direct Mail Print, for an in depth guide. 

Preferred Direct can help you through the entire fundraising by mail process, from creating mailing lists, designing artwork, printing products, handling postage, packaging, and shipping, Preferred Direct can do it all.


 

direct mail servicesAt Preferred Direct, we make sure to keep your cost down. You will have a project manager who keeps your print jobs on track. Our project managers stay on top of your print jobs and can answer any questions you have along the way. We even provide emergency print services for those fast approaching deadlines. We also provide tracking so you can be assured that your shipment is arriving in a timely manner. One of our printers is the Xerox Impika®, a top-of-the-line machine that prints quality materials fast, ultimately saving you time and money. When choosing a commercial printing company, you can count on Preferred Direct to be cost-effective, speedy, and customer-friendly.

Call us toll-free today at 1-833-425-7007 or click here for an online quote.

 

Sources: fivemaples.com

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How to Save Money on Your Commercial Printing

How to Save Money on Your Commercial Printing

How to Save Money on Your Commercial Printing

There are many ways to save money on commercial printing, but you want to make sure you’re not sacrificing quality over cost. To make sure you have a quality-finished piece that fits your budget, you need a printer with the most up-to-date equipment and technology.

You want:

  • The best-in-class high-resolution print quality
  • To print anything from transactional print jobs to graphic art quality prints.
  • Your choice in paper from uncoated, inkjet matte and silk papers and glossy inkjet coated.
  • Maximum uptime, reduced waste, and reduce production costs.
  • To save money!

Finding ways to save money is at the forefront of many business administrators, so is it really possible for commercial printing to save your company money? The Xerox Impika® (seen below) can, but why should you care about one printer over another? You should when it gives you high quality, at fast speeds and lower costs. That saves you money on your commercial printing!

direct mail marketing estimate

What does this mean to your company?

 

A Streamlined Process: It means the best possible return on your investment, you. The entire process of printing transactional statements, A4 booklets, or variable data mail pieces is completely streamlined with maximum uptime, reduce production costs, and reduced waste. Those savings are transferred to your company when the Xerox Impika® is utilized.

 

Drop On Demand Technology: This further enhances cost savings by only using the amount of ink needed for the commercial print job, no more and no less. This cost saving process does not mean that print quality suffers as a result. Instead, it uses only what is necessary to create the finished product that is needed by the commercial printing customer. Click here to learn how Preferred Direct can reduce your print costs. 

 

 

Various Printing Applications: This printer is fast and can handle any transactional, TransPromo, direct mail, or book printing applications.

 

Personalized, Custom Printing: Variable data has been shown to increase open rates and will set your company apart from your competition. Mailings are personalized from your company’s database and target only the customers desired by your company. Specialized texts and graphics can also be included, and let’s not forget the option for full-color printing. All of these make it easier to read and get your company’s message to your customer base.

 To sum it all up, you want

  • Lower costs
  • Quick turnaround
  • Terrific digital print quality
  • Duplex printing
  • Paper choices
  • And you want it at the best price.

With the Xerox Impika®, you can save money on your commercial printing. It is truly the best choice when it comes to a large print job that your company needs completed quickly, accurately but with excellent print quality.

Preferred Direct was the first to have the Xerox Impika® in the United States. It is important to us that we have the up-to-date technology and equipment to handle your printing needs.  


 At Preferred Direct, we make sure to keep your cost down. You will have a project manager who keeps your print jobs on track. Our project managers stay on top of your print jobs and can answer any questions you have along the way. We even provide emergency print services for those fast approaching deadlines. We also provide tracking so you can be assured that your shipment is arriving in a timely manner. One of our printers is the Xerox Impika®, a top-of-the-line machine that prints quality materials fast, ultimately saving you time and money. When choosing a commercial printing company, you can count on Preferred Direct to be cost-effective, speedy, and customer-friendly.

Call us toll-free today at 1-833-425-7007 or click here for an online quote.

Printed Collateral is Here to Stay

Printed Collateral is Here to Stay

Printed Collateral is Here to Stay   With the constant push for higher digital engagement, perfectly curated social feeds, and algorithm optimized content, it’s easy for businesses to focus...

About the authors

Read More