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How Nonprofits Can Benefit From Working With a Digital Printer vs. Offset

January 8, 2015

Offset vs Digital Printing for Nonprofits

A lot of questions can come up when you start planning a direct mail campaign for your nonprofit. Should you mail to a wide audience or a targeted one? Should you aim to increase visibility and awareness or focus on encouraging donations?

One of the biggest decisions nonprofit direct marketers face is whether to use offset printing or digital printing for their nonprofit postcard marketing campaign. In this guide, we’ll look at both options to help you make the best choice for your nonprofit.


Offset printing is great for large campaigns, but slow and expensive

When it comes to direct mail postcards, offset printing is the traditional approach – a high quality printing option that many marketers swear by. The biggest benefit of offset printing is the high quality of the printed materials it produces.

Offset printing uses plates, which means that every design you print needs to have a unique plate made. It’s also fairly typical to have to order in large quantities in order to get the price down to something manageable, which means you can wind up with a lot of waste in unused product. Overall, this results in offset printing being quite a costly option, especially if the size of your campaign is relatively small.

Most offset printers will require that your company pay a setup fee before printing can start. This covers the production of plates and other materials used to prepare your direct mail postcards.

Because of the need to produce unique plates, offset printing can also take quite a long time. If you need rapid turnaround for your nonprofit postcard marketing, an offset printing run could delay your campaign launch and affect your results.


Digital printing is quick, inexpensive and customizable

For years, direct marketing “traditionalists” have argued that digital printing can’t match up to the quality offered by offset printing. While offset may have a slightly more refined look than digital printing, the difference in quality is very small.

Digital printing offers numerous advantages, especially if you are mailing direct custom postcards for your campaign. Digital printing lets you include customized data – such as names and other variables – in your postcard’s design.

This means that your postcards can be more targeted and effective, especially if you’re mailing to existing customers. Instead of generic copy, you can mention a person’s name and deliver a more personal, effective marketing message.

A second advantage of digital printing is its speed. While offset printing requires significant upfront time investment, especially in creating plates, digital printing takes very little time and means your nonprofit needn’t deal with slow delivery.

Finally, digital printing is extremely affordable, especially if you’re sending out a small direct mail campaign. Print runs of 500 units or less are extremely costly if offset printing is used, but inexpensive on a per-piece basis with digital printing.


Should your nonprofit use digital printing for its next campaign?

Digital printing offers numerous advantages over offset printing, particularly for nonprofits interested in sending out small, highly targeted direct mail campaigns aimed at existing donors and supporters.

From simple customization to quick turnaround and small print runs, digital printing’s benefits make it ideal for small nonprofits and marketers that prefer a focused, targeted approach to direct mail marketing.

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