Author: Rachel Acevedo

Preferred Direct’s, Kristen Hollar, featured in HP Graphic Arts Article titled “Fabulously Focused”

Preferred Direct’s, Kristen Hollar, featured in HP Graphic Arts Article titled “Fabulously Focused”

February 10, 2021 – After the success of the HP PageWide T240 installation at Preferred Direct, HP reached out to the company to discuss the history of Preferred Direct and the ROI of the new print technology. Here’s the article content:

If Preferred Direct can be described in one word, it’s surely passionate.

As an industry-leading print, direct mail and digital communications company, the Norfolk, Virginia company thrives on an innovative spirit – something their Director of Operations carries in abundance. Kristen Hollar has worked at Preferred Direct for 18 years, standing ready to meet the marketing and communications needs of any commercial organization in direct mail, digital or, mixed media. She continually looks for new ways to help her customers succeed on all marketing fronts with the help of the HP PageWide We Press T240 HD. But forward thinking has been Preferred Direct’s hallmark for 34 years.

The company was started as a mail shop by owner Bill Nee’s parents out of a spare bedroom in 1987. Bill Nee, Sr. spearheaded the company’s entrepreneurial drive, having worked for years with different mailing, printing and software firms. He determined to write his company’s own software and streamline as many processes as possible. By 1992, the Nees had expanded their offerings into printing, as they found themselves waiting constantly for printers to deliver, which impacted drop rates.

In the ensuring years, as has been their history, Preferred Direct kept innovating, quickly adopting personalization and incorporating variable data processing into production. That dedication to forward thinking served the printer well in a challenging economy. Kristen saw how the 2007 recession impacted competitors that had not yet transitions to digital printing. Kristen kept fulfilling orders, handling runs of any size on short deadlines, and helped her company get through tough times. She believes strongly that customers will always choose vendors with newer ideas, lower costs and speedier turn arounds.

As digital printing came of age, Preferred Direct’s next step was the installation for the HP PageWide Web Press T240 HD. Of its speed and versatility, Kristen says, “It allows us to print on a much larger scale, the color is tremendous, and we can print roll-to-roll on different substrates. When someone comes to us with a need for 100,000 pieces in two days, the HP press makes all the difference.”

Today, with the T240 HD at hand, customers can bring in complete integrated campaigns. With the advent of email, display ads, and SMS, Preferred Direct has watched digital communications grow to 40 percent of their business. But direct mail will remain the heart and soul of their operations.

As Kristen says, “Our evolution into digital marketing happened because we’re always staying on top of technology as it comes to market – always reinvesting in the company and our processes, procedures, and equipment. We believe it’s important to have everything under one roof.

Preferred Direct is an industry-leading commercial print, direct mail and digital communications provider founded by Bill Nee, Sr. in Norfolk, Va. in 1987. Now in its second generation of family ownership, Preferred Direct is a HITRUST-certified, HIPAA-compliant partner to the healthcare, insurance, finance and other industries nationwide. Learn more at


Read More
Preferred Direct Enhances Speed and Efficiency with Transformations’ Uluro Customer Communications Platform

Preferred Direct Enhances Speed and Efficiency with Transformations’ Uluro Customer Communications Platform

Preferred Direct Enhances Speed and Efficiency with Transformations’ Uluro Customer Communications Platform

July 22, 2020 — Transformations Inc., a software solutions company based in Franklin, TN, announces that Uluro, its front-to-finish customer communications management (CCM) platform, has been selected by Preferred Direct, a full-service print service provider based in Norfolk, VA. Preferred Direct is a family-owned company launched in 1987 by Bill Nee, Sr. As the management of Preferred Direct passed to Bill Nee, Jr. in 2015, the company, known for its end-to-end offset and digital capabilities, recognized an opportunity in offering high-volume transactional services for its clients that encompass a wide range of industries. Preferred Direct chose Uluro for its advanced automation, which is making it possible to eliminate manual processes and enhance the speed and efficiency of the company’s print and electronic services.

“We produce customer communications for a lot of non-profits, health insurance and mutual fund companies, which means we work within very tight SLAs. As the volume of work from these clients began to increase, we knew we needed a more advanced technology for document processing, especially when you get into processing multi-million pieces within a month’s time,” said Kristen Hollar, director of operations at Preferred Direct. “Expanding our capabilities with Transformations’ Uluro software was a no-brainer for us because everything’s automated with Uluro. Not only does it open up the ability to take on multiple files and projects, but our printers are also able to access files and start processing and printing and inserting immediately. We are going to press with a multi-million-piece file approximately 24 to 48 hours sooner than before by using this software.”

The Uluro platform is delivering on Preferred Direct’s requirements for speed, efficiency and productivity, not only in its production environment but with its data as well. The company processes variable data applications with multi-sheet variables of data included, a plethora of statements and invoices, postcards, newsletters and even incorporates variable data into booklets and surveys. With the increased productivity Uluro is delivering, Hollar predicts they will be able to take on twice as much work as they have been able to handle in the past.

Preferred Direct’s president, Bill Nee, added, “Streamlining workflow and enhancing efficiency are two of the biggest initiatives in our company. Uluro isn’t a product that’s off-the-shelf—it can be customized to fit a company’s unique requirements. With that in mind, we worked with Transformations to configure the best solution set that would satisfy our existing customer needs as well as those of potential new customers. This is a very exciting time for us. We’re really looking forward to taking advantage of everything that Uluro has to offer.”

“We strive to meet the current and emerging communication needs of our customers, so the fact that Uluro is able to help make Preferred Direct’s production processes easier and more efficient for both print and electronic delivery is an excellent example of the platform’s flexibility,” said Bill Tidwell, CEO of Transformations. “We look forward to helping Preferred Direct continue to be successful and innovative in meeting market demands as they grow and change in the future.”



Transformations, Inc., based in Franklin, Tennessee, is a software solutions company and developer of Uluro. Uluro is an award-winning, comprehensive front-to-finish Customer Communications Management (CCM) platform for creating, producing, delivering and tracking critical customer communications. Uluro’s mission is to provide the most secure delivery solution available and provide customers a significant competitive advantage that can help them grow their businesses and increase their market share. For more information visit: and LinkedIn.


Preferred Direct is an industry-leading commercial print, direct mail and digital communications provider founded by Bill Nee, Sr. in Norfolk, Va. in 1987. Now in its second generation of family ownership, Preferred Direct is a HITRUST-certified, HIPAA-compliant partner to the healthcare, insurance, finance and other industries nationwide. Learn more at

Read More
Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant

Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant

Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant

Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant, even in the digital age in which we live, is because many people still prefer to get communications from companies by direct mail in print form. This is especially true when messages are tailored specifically for them.

A majority of respondents to an online survey conducted by Consumer Action said that they prefer to receive all types of bills by mail—even if they’ve opted to pay the bills online. For medical, utilities, insurance, property tax, mortgage, and credit card notifications, 45 to 74 percent (depending on the account category) said they choose paper over electronic communications.

And even with brands leveraging digital marketing and mobile apps, 73 percent of U.S. consumers still prefer to receive direct print mail. Why? because they can read it whenever they want.

As you can see, direct mail is still relevant, especially when it’s personalized through variable data printing.

What Is Variable Data Printing and Why Is It So Important for Direct Mail?

variable data printing HP

HP Digital Printer at Preferred Direct

Variable data printing (VDP) is a digital printing technique used to personalize print communications. VDP allows for various page elements, such as text and graphics, to be different on each piece of a print run. 

 Variable data printing can involve something as simple as changing the greeting or name on each copy of a print piece (akin to a mail merge). Or it may be more complex, involving the customization of other text and graphic elements, according to customer information, address, or other data. For example, at Preferred Direct, our variable data detailer allows us to add custom messages, coupons, maps, and other elements to invoices, letters, notices, and more.

 The ability to tailor print messaging to individual recipients has become essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and generating revenue. Customers expect brands and organizations to send personalized communications. And personalized communications mean that customers receive relevant content that drives them to action (e.g., pay a bill, purchase a product, or do something else that the sender desires).

 Variable data technology has become essential for many different applications—such as statement generation, collection letters, and more—in a wide array of industries. Examples include:


  • Account statements from banks and credit unions
  • Investment portfolios 
  • Credit card statements

Man in blue scrubs with a stethoscope holding out a prescription RX sheetHealthcare 

  • Medical bills
  • Medical EOBs (Explanation of Benefits) 
  • Patient appointment reminders 
  • Collections letters 


  • Invoices for premiums 
  • Policy updates 
  • Insurance EOB Statements 

Municipal and Energy 

  • Invoices for gas, water, sewer, electric, trash 
  • Collections letters 
  • Special Notices 


  • Cable TV invoices 
  • The phone company and wireless provider invoices 
  •  Collection letters 

Sales and Marketing 

  • Targeted direct mail marketing campaigns 
  • Sales letters

Nonprofit Organizations 

  • Fundraising campaign letters 
  • Event invitations 

Colleges and Universities 

  • Financial aid statements 
  • Admissions letters 
  • Invoices 


  • Revolving credit statements
  • Direct mail marketing pieces

The above examples are just a sampling of the many types of direct mail print communications that leverage variable data to make them more effective. 

What to Look for in a Direct Mail Printing Provider 

direct mail services

Some Preferred Direct Team Members in front of our HP Digital Printer for VDP

When choosing a direct mail printing services provider for your organization’s communications, there’s much to consider. Not all printing resources have the expertise or equipment to handle the demands of variable data printing. Using variable data is one of the reasons Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant. 

Below are some key characteristics to look for: 

  • Ability to handle a wide array of variable data printing applications
  • Flexibility in how they can receive your data
  • Experience with variable data printing applications in your industry
  • Compliance with HITRUST and HIPAA 
  • Advanced printing technology to ensure the utmost accuracy and print quality
  • Services beyond printing  

Ability to handle a wide array of variable data printing applications 

Your needs may evolve over time, so look for a direct mail print partner that has the knowledge, experience, and equipment to handle all types of variable data printing applications. 

No matter what your organization requires, at Preferred Direct, we are equipped with the expertise and technology in-house to create all varieties of personalized print pieces.

 Flexibility in how they can receive your data  

Find out if the commercial printer you’re considering will allow you to send your information your way.  

When you work with us, we will accept your information via a secure FTP (file transfer protocol). We aim to make the process convenient for you. 

Experience with variable data printing applications in your industry  

Every industry has unique concerns and nuances to address. Therefore, industry experience matters when selecting a print partner for your variable data, direct mail projects. 

Preferred Direct has vast experience and a proven success record in many different industries, including those that must meet strict privacy and security requirements. 

  • Healthcare providers
  • Insurance companies
  • Financial services providers
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Businesses and Retail
  • Nonprofit organizations 

Compliance with HITRUST and HIPAA 

Blue images with the words Database Security HIPAA Compliant HITRUST CSF Certified with a graphic imagePreferred Direct is HITRUST CSF certified. We approach every project with the HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF), the most widely adopted security framework in the U.S. healthcare industry, in mind. Following HITRUST CSF standards means we handle our customers’ data in a way that meets regulatory compliance requirements and reduces risk.  

We also adhere to the latest HIPAA regulations for protecting sensitive patient data. We apply the necessary security measures so that organizations have compliance with peace of mind.  

Advanced printing technology to ensure the utmost accuracy and print quality 

Technology changes at a rapid pace. To ensure you get the best quality outcomes and efficient pricing from direct mail production runs, make sure your commercial printer has the latest equipment and software. 

Preferred Direct has cutting-edge digital printing technology. Our HP T240 HD and Xerox® Impika®, presses deliver optimal production speed and cost-effectiveness for continuous feed inkjet printing. We specialize in accurate, high-speed lasering and ink-jetting, with the flexibility to communicate custom, personalized messages, thanks to our state-of-the-art equipment, software applications, and skilled team.  This is Why Direct Mail Is Still Effective. 

Services beyond printing  

In addition to mailing database management, customization, and printing of your direct mail, we also: 

  • Match mail
  • Fold
  • Perforate
  • Insert
  • Postal discounts
  • Deliver mailings to the post office
  • Manage inventory 

We also offer expert design services to give your direct mail the visual appeal needed to attract your recipients’ attention and engage their interest.


Direct Mail is Here to Stay

Why Direct Mail Is Still Relevant?  In summary, direct mail—particularly, personalized direct mail—remains an essential tool for building customer loyalty and improving bottom-line results. Keep in mind that working with variable data requires making privacy and data security a priority. Therefore, it’s critical to work with a commercial printing company you can trust to uphold the highest standards of quality and protect customer data. Fortunately, you don’t have to look further for a reliable partner for your personalized direct mail solutions. Preferred Direct has all of the experience and capabilities necessary to handle all of your direct mail and variable data printing needs. Contact us to discuss your next project!

What to Look for in a Direct Mail Printer

What to Look for in a Direct Mail Printer

What to Look for in a Direct Mail Printer When choosing a direct mail printer for your organization’s communication projects, there’s much to consider. Not all printing providers have the expertise...

Envelope Press

HP 240T HD Roll to Roll Press

Xerox Roll to Roll Press

High Speed Mail Inserter

Read More
The Power of Digital Marketing

The Power of Digital Marketing

The Power of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is no longer a matter of companies jumping head-first into a brave new world of advertising. Today, it’s all about finding ways to distinguish one company from its competitors in a crowded landscape. And it’s not because companies are busy jumping on the bandwagon. The reason the paradigm has shifted so far to the other side is that digital marketing is proven to work. If you want your efforts to come across on the page — whether in physical or virtual form — you need to focus on what your audience is expecting. You then need to give them what they want while still thinking outside the box. It sounds impossible? It can certainly feel that way for many marketers, but it doesn’t have to be. See how digital printing can augment your digital marketing campaigns and help you come out ahead.

business marketingAn Omnichannel Foundation

There has been a lot of chatter about omnichannel marketing today, mainly because the saturation for consumers has reached the level of a Soaked Sponge. Marketers have to begin addressing their stagnation or slowdowns from every angle if they want the company to thrive and survive. When you combine platforms and integrate consistent messaging from one type of media to the next, you increase the odds that your audience will remember who your company is and how it works. (Most marketers may understand this on a fundamental level, but the actual practice of it tends to be halfhearted at absolute best.) The other core tenet of omnichannel marketing is the idea of 1:1 messaging for the audience. (When a rideshare company sends you a text message to let you know that your car has arrived, this is as one-to-one as it gets.) That kind of personalization may be outside most marketer’s realms, but electronic marketing is slowly moving closer to that eventuality. Your audience doesn’t want to be informed of every last event or promotion. They want to know about the things that will benefit them.

The Power of Online Marketing

Companies are spending more time on pinpointing their audience, so they are never left in the dark about what customers crave. In addition to using this data for virtual marketing or Digital Marketing, they’re using it for physical printing, as well. Digital printing can use variable data to customize your materials, so you’re not sending osteoporosis literature to young parents with toddlers. The data you collect should be drawn from a variety of sources.  It is used to help shape everything from your automated campaign solutions to your company postcards. Data-driven customization doesn’t mean you’ll never miss, but it does mean you’ll get more hits than you would without it. If you’re skeptical about how printing can benefit your company, consider the fact that even digital-based companies have seen benefits from producing physical magazines and brochures. Today it is too easy to become distracted on the web, Digital Marketing marketers tap into their audience’s desire to slow down and absorb more information by offering more than one vehicle for their message. Even the U.S. Government uses Digital Marketing.

 Use of Variable Printing

variable data printing HP

Data-driven Marketing or customization makes it possible to target your audience in new ways.

For example, let’s say a financial firm has two main audience segments: recent college grads who don’t know the first thing about the market and hardcore investors who attack their portfolio like it threatened their mother. You already know that the hardcore segment makes up about 70% of your revenue, and the youngsters make up for the other 30%. When you have the right data at your fingertips, you can further divide your two main segments into different categories. So you might divide the portfolio optimization people into those who take chances and those who play it safe. You might divide the grads by their professional industry, so your advertising can drive at the specifics of the opportunities and challenges they face.

One way people collect this data is through social media campaigns or QR codes. Holding a contest or offering incentives on Twitter and Facebook can encourage people to share what they think without becoming resentful of the intrusion. QR codes on digital print material also give you an idea of when a person is interacting with your company and where they are when they access the code. View Variable Data Printing Services 

Connecting It All Together

While your approach for digital printing and digital advertising may be different, the bigger picture needs to remain the same for both: Email signups: One simple way to integrate direct printing is to create a different kind of email signup. Instead of asking people for their email addresses for your mailing lists, consider asking people via digital or electronic mailing if they want to receive print publications through your email lists.

Crossover CTAs:

Your call-to-action on a print material doesn’t have to be for the reader to call to learn more or to make an appointment. It may be even more effective if you direct them to your website or your app. Doing this gives your audience two ways to check out your brand without ever feeling pressured. Share and share alike: If your company is big enough, there’s always going to be some degree of separation. But if your departments aren’t finding ways to share the data, it will eventually come back to haunt you (and not in a friendly ghost type of way). Marketers need to find ways to harvest data wherever they can — it’s the only way to keep the message fresh without sacrificing the core characteristics of the brand. It may mean finding more efficient ways to post data that everyone can use.

Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Partner

The bottom line for marketers is that it hurts the company’s bottom line if no one is taking advantage of the many avenues available to them. If you feel as though you’re staring at a map that was created by a madman, though, you’re not alone. Trying to decide on a strategy is like trying to make everyone in the room happy when you can only choose one pizza topping.

direct mail services

 If you need a little guidance, Preferred Direct is here to help. We’re experts at integrating your variable data into your printing materials. We also have serious digital printers that are capable of handling your on-demand printing. Trust us when we use the old cliche that ‘no job is too big.’ We also know how to work with companies with highly sensitive data. So if you have HIPAA or HITRUST guidelines that you need to follow, you don’t have to worry about violations (or those pesky fines) with Preferred Direct. Contact us today and let us know more about your response rates, customers, and future goals.

Read More
Preferred Direct adds HP PageWide T240 HD to deliver high-quality color direct mail

Preferred Direct adds HP PageWide T240 HD to deliver high-quality color direct mail

Preferred Direct adds HP PageWide T240 HD to deliver high-quality color direct mail

direct mail services

September 14, 2017 – Preferred Direct Marketing Services purchased its first HP PageWide Web Press at PRINT 17 Chicago to expand its direct mail color printing capabilities and deliver high-quality, color direct marketing applications with increased content variability.

The Norfolk, VA-based company chose the HP PageWide Web Press T240 HD for its ability to print on any substrate usig HP Thermal Inkjet technology, allowing use of cost-effective off-the-shelf paper.

The HP PageWide Web Press T240 HD uses High Definition Nozzle Architecture (HDNA) printing with 2400 nozzles per inch and dual drop weight to deliver benchmark inkjet quality.

“High-quality color, especially flesh tones, are incredibly important to our customers. The new HP PageWide Web Press T240 HD will enable us to deliver the value they require,” said Kristen Hollar, Director of Operations.

Preferred Direct Marketing Services, founded in 1987, is a full service printing, mailing and fulfillment house that serves customers nationally. It specializes in managing variable data for the healthcare, insurance and financial service industries.

The new Performance HDK mode announced at PRINT 17 for the HP PageWide Web T240 HD offers improved quality in color or mono at full press speed of 500 feet per minute. As a result, more high-quality digital pages can be economically produced on inkjet for publishing, direct mail and commercial print.


Preferred Direct is an industry-leading commercial print, direct mail and digital communications provider founded by Bill Nee, Sr. in Norfolk, Va. in 1987. Now in its second generation of family ownership, Preferred Direct is a HITRUST-certified, HIPAA-compliant partner to the healthcare, insurance, finance and other industries nationwide. Learn more at

PRESS RELEASE originally published on

Read More
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?

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. Click here to learn about Preferred Direct’s direct mail services.

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 1-844-719-1848 or click here for an online quote.


Read More