JS Bin

No Matter How You Slice It…

As a advertising and marcom geek of great magnitude I take an active interest in what others are doing. I yell at commercials like some people yell at sports. I read ads like I’m proofing them and I don’t just look at the direct mail I get; I study and analyze it. I recently received a promo for a credit card. Inside the envelope I saw this:

Specs are critical to creative direct mail pieces like this

What initially drew my attention was, of course, the creativity and uniqueness of it. It’s different. It looked like a slice of bread among all of the other usual contents of a credit card pitch. I’m sure that was the intent and it worked! Realizing that this thing must have had one hell of a detailed set of specs was, however, what kept my attention.

This is a complex little piece. Since I am only a recipient of it and have no connection to its creation or production, I can only speculate that it was well specified. Given its inclusion in a prospecting mailing for a credit card, it was certainly distributed in healthy quantities. However, there is a reference date on the flipside of it, so has a use-by date of sorts and probably was not printed by the trainload for use over the course of a decade. A full-color job, printed on both sides on a hefty cover stock with a very smooth matte finish, it’s quality is more than respectable. None of these characteristics are particularly uncommon. But, without the right planning and specifications, quality, price and ultimately impact, could have suffered.

Knowing the nature of this piece’s use, I can’t imagine that ‘pricey’ was a characteristic its producers were seeking. With that being said, uniqueness was obviously being sought. Incidentally, uniqueness, especially in terms of shape, is what could have driven the cost of this piece through the roof!

Not too long ago, die-cutting with custom-fabricated dies,would have been the only means for attaining this unique shape and it would not have been cheap. Today there are alternatives to die-cutting that have the potential to be far more economical. Unless this piece was reverse engineered to utilize a bread-shaped die that was already existing, it’s specs would have needed to be detailed and clear as to both the shape and the process used to achieve it.

No matter how you slice it specifications are the heart and soul of successful marketing material production. It goes without saying that you need killer creative. And, of course, you want the finished product to look as awesome in real life as it did in the creative meetings. Kickass specs, however, ensure that your killer creative becomes awesome output without blowing the budget.

People who realize that specifications play a direct role they play in successfully connecting the message with the audience realize that precision specs, and the ability to create them with without worry or hassle, are truly, to borrow a phrase, the greatest things since sliced bread!