Category Archive: Uncategorized

Bridging the Digital Divide: The Vital Role of Print in Reaching Everyone

In today’s digitally driven world, it’s easy to assume that everyone is connected, but the reality is quite different. Millions of Americans still lack access to high-speed Internet—42 million Americans, to be exact. (The FCC defines “high-speed” as download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps.) This underscores the importance of keeping print in the marketing mix. Printed marketing materials like postcards, sales letters, and other direct mailers reach every American, regardless of their Internet connectivity.

Where Is the Divide?

When we think about the digital divide, we tend to think about rural areas, but the lack of high-speed connectivity isn’t just a rural issue. It impacts a diverse range of communities and demographics. Those most likely to lack high-speed Internet access include:

Rural and tribal communities: Remote areas often suffer from limited or no high-speed Internet infrastructure, leaving residents with slower and less reliable connections.

Low-income households: Internet service can be costly, making it a luxury many low-income families cannot afford.

Senior citizens: Older individuals may be less tech-savvy and have limited access to digital resources.

Minority groups: Disparities in Internet access disproportionately affect minority communities, exacerbating existing inequalities.

People with disabilities: Those with disabilities may require specialized technology or face accessibility barriers when using the Internet.

Printed Marketing Materials: A Universal Reach

Amidst this digital divide, printed marketing materials reach every American, regardless of their Internet access or tech proficiency. In essence, they bridge the digital gap. Print is also dependable. It relies on something other than a stable Internet connection, ensuring that your message is delivered consistently.

In a world where the digital divide persists, print remains a reliable and inclusive way to engage with your customers and prospects. By recognizing the importance of this channel and employing the right strategies for creating relevant, engaging communications, you can ensure that your message has the most significant impact!

Advantages of Localized Sourcing

In today’s highly competitive, global marketplace, it’s more important than ever for businesses to optimize their operations and gain a competitive edge. One effective strategy is by adopting localized sourcing. This practice involves partnering with local businesses for goods procurement and other services. In this article, we will explore the various benefits of localized sourcing, as well as the risks non-regional partners can bring.  

Advantages of Localized Sourcing

Whether your business requires direct mail services, web-to-print services, or kitting, choosing a local partner who can help you meet these needs offers many benefits you may not have previously considered.

Economic Benefits

Localized sourcing is an important method of supporting your local economy and injecting capital into your community. This means you are not only playing an active role in maintaining a thriving community but you are also supporting local job creation and retention. Keeping resources within your region ensures you’re doing your part to maintain economic stability and prosperity. It also looks great to your customers and can be a key factor in why they choose you over your competition.

Quality Assurance

When it comes to maintaining quality standards, proximity matters. Businesses that source goods locally gain the benefit of direct oversight over production processes. This means they can better ensure products adhere to their quality specifications and respond promptly when problems occur. For these reasons, local sourcing greatly reduces the risk of faulty or poor-quality products reaching your customers. 

Cultural Understanding

In any type of business partnership, establishing effective communication is crucial for success. Compared to overseas partners, local service providers have an intimate understanding of local business practices and cultural nuances. This not only ensures your interactions are smoother, but more productive as well. Cultural awareness also plays a role in enhancing customer satisfaction, since it means that your products and services can be easily tailored to align with local preferences. 

Environmental Sustainability

Establishing environmentally friendly business practices is more important today than ever before. Environmental awareness is of huge importance to today’s customers, and businesses that can demonstrate their sustainability efforts are reaping the biggest benefits. Localized sourcing allows businesses to lower their carbon footprint by reducing transportation distances. This is a big stride towards reducing your overall environmental impact and meeting your sustainability goals. Opting for a local supplier demonstrates that your business aligns with your customers’ preference for eco-friendly practices. 

Localized Sourcing vs. Non-Regional Partners

While the benefits of localized sourcing are important to consider, it’s also valuable to be aware of the ways non-regional partners can be holding your business back. One issue is that non-local partners typically involve longer lead times and shipping delays. In addition, any trade disputes or political instability that occurs in your partner’s region can quickly disrupt the supply chain, causing production setbacks and cost increases.

Quality Control Issues

Maintaining quality control without direct oversight is challenging. Many businesses struggle to monitor the production processes of non-regional partners, and the result is increased product defects or subpar quality. These issues can quickly damage your business’s reputation and lose your customers’ trust. 

Dependency on External Factors

When you partner with a non-local supplier, your business becomes exposed to many potentially harmful external factors. Fluctuating exchange rates, international regulations, and unpredictable geopolitical tensions can all influence trade and result in unnecessary financial risk.

Strategies for Implementing Localized Sourcing

If you’re ready to experience the benefits of localized sourcing, there are several simple strategies that are a good place to start:

  • Identify your local partners and evaluate them carefully
  • Build a strong relationship with your local suppliers
  • Invest in the technology needed for remote collaboration, if necessary
  • Diversify your sourcing options to disperse risk

In addition, you might want to establish a team dedicated to localized sourcing. They can identify your local vendors, develop partnership expectations, and handle the bidding and onboarding process. 

Work With ImageMark for Localized Sourcing

Localized sourcing is a convenient way for businesses to eliminate potential problems while establishing themselves as an environmentally-focused community supporter. If you’re interested in gaining greater quality control over your products ImageMark is here to help you gain a competitive edge. Our kitting, direct mail, and promotional product services have been helping local businesses outpace their competition since 1996. To learn more, contact our experts today.

Print Fulfillment in Charlotte, NC

Growing businesses depend on printing services to create products and packaging that meet customers’ expectations. Outsourcing your print fulfillment needs to an experienced and reliable partner can help you save a significant amount of time and money. At ImageMark, we offer a range of print fulfillment services for customers in the Charlotte, NC area. With over two decades of experience, we have the necessary skills and resources to deliver high-quality printed products for diverse industries.

What Are Print Fulfillment Services?

Print fulfillment services involve picking, storing, packing, and shipping various printed products for clients. These processes can be time-consuming and complex to complete in-house, especially for small or rapidly growing businesses. As such, many businesses in the Charlotte, NC area are turning to print fulfillment companies to help with their printing needs. By outsourcing these services, Charlotte businesses can benefit from quality printing solutions without having to invest in costly labor and equipment.

Benefits of Print Fulfillment in Charlotte, NC

ImageMark’s print fulfillment capabilities offer the following benefits to Charlotte, NC customers:

  • Reduce time and cost. We have the necessary expertise, equipment, and facilities to meet all of your print fulfillment needs. This helps you save time and money while allowing you to focus on more important areas of your business.
  • Optimize resources. Outsourcing your print fulfillment to a professional allows you to allocate resources to other business operations, such as product development, customer service, and marketing.
  • Enhance customer satisfaction. Our print fulfillment services ensure your customers receive their orders on time and with optimal quality. This results in improved customer satisfaction, retention, and brand loyalty.
  • Extend your reach. By using a print fulfillment provider with a global or national network, you can expand your reach to customers worldwide.
  • Expert printing and shipping capabilities. We have access to advanced printing and shipping technologies to ensure your products get to customers quickly and efficiently.

Types of Print Fulfillment Services Offered in Charlotte, NC

We offer various types of print fulfillment services for businesses in Charlotte, NC. These services include:

  • Web-to-print service. Web-to-print, otherwise known as web2print, print e-commerce, or digital storefront, is a solution that helps companies create, produce, and manage marketing materials while maintaining an on-brand appearance. 
  • Wide-format printing. Using industrial large format printers, we can print large-scale materials with widths ranging from 18 to 96 inches.
  • Print-on-demand. This service involves only printing products once they’re ordered. This can help you save on inventory costs and offer a wider range of products.
  • Warehousing and shipping. We can store your printed products in a warehouse and ship them to customers once ordered. This allows your business to keep a larger inventory and ship to customers all over the world.
  • Kitting and assembly. We can assemble various products into individual kits. This is a great option for businesses selling products made up of several parts.
  • Custom packaging. At ImageMark, we can design and create tailored packaging that meets the needs of your product while ensuring a unique experience for your customers.

Work With ImageMark for Print Fulfillment in Charlotte, NC

Print fulfillment services give businesses access to the printing solutions they need while helping to save time, money, and resources. At ImageMark, we serve the Charlotte, NC area with superior print fulfillment services that ensure your customers receive high-quality products quickly and efficiently. For more information about our print fulfillment capabilities, contact us today.

Data-Driven Marketing: The Key to Achieving Business Success

In today’s marketing landscape, the importance of data-driven marketing cannot be overstated. Gone are the days of relying solely on intuition and guesswork to make marketing decisions. Instead, successful businesses harness data’s power to drive their marketing strategies and achieve remarkable results. What are some of the benefits of building your marketing strategy on data?

1. Precision Targeting

Data-driven marketing allows businesses to target their audience precisely. This precision ensures that marketing efforts reach the right people at the right time with the right message. As a result, businesses can maximize the impact of their marketing efforts and minimize waste.

2. Informed Decision-Making

Data provides insights into customer preferences, trends, and market dynamics. With this information, businesses can make more informed decisions about product development, pricing, promotion, and distribution. This reduces the risk of costly missteps and enhances overall business performance.

3. Improved Customer Engagement

Data-driven marketing enables businesses to engage with customers on a deeper level. By analyzing customer data, companies can gain insights into individual preferences, purchase history, and behavior. This allows for personalized communication and offers, which resonate more effectively with customers, resulting in higher loyalty and increased customer lifetime value.

4. Cost Efficiency

Businesses can significantly increase cost efficiency by targeting the right audience and refining marketing strategies based on data insights. Data-driven marketing reduces spending on ineffective campaigns and helps allocate resources more effectively. This cost-conscious approach leads to higher returns on marketing investment.

5. Competitive Advantage

Businesses that leverage data effectively can outperform competitors by delivering more relevant and compelling marketing messages. This differentiation can lead to increased market share and customer loyalty.

Businesses that embrace data-driven marketing have a distinct advantage in a world inundated with data. Companies can succeed in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment by leveraging data for precision targeting, informed decision-making, improved customer engagement, cost efficiency, and competitive advantage. No wonder data-driven marketing is the cornerstone of modern marketing strategies and a pathway to remarkable marketing success.

“Get More” with USPS Informed Delivery

Did you know that the United States Postal Service offers a free service that gives you an additional digital touch in your postal marketing? This extra touch boosts response rates and increases marketing effectiveness. Did we mention that it’s free?

This service is called Informed Delivery. It uses the scanned images of the mail taken during regular postal processing and inserts them into a daily email digest delivered to the postal customer every morning. Package tracking information on Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and other trackable parcels is also provided. Images can be viewed on the user’s USPS online dashboard or in the mobile app, as well.

While Informed Delivery has been around for over five years, many businesses still don’t know about it.

Currently, 56+ million people are signed up for Informed Delivery, and the digest emails have open rates of 65.2%. Most Informed Delivery users check their digests first thing in the morning, so recipients can see your offers on their way even before the physical mailpieces arrive.

With a little extra time and effort (but still free), businesses can mail what the USPS calls “interactive campaigns.” In interactive campaigns, you can add full-color advertising images and clickable links, allowing recipients not just to see but to respond to your offers even before the physical mailpiece hits. You can also check clickthrough rates and other statistics to see how your campaign is working.

How do you maximize your mailpiece for Informed Delivery?

  • Keep your design uncluttered and with enough contrast so that your pieces are readable even as grayscale images.
  • Make sure that the key elements of your offer are visible on the addressed side of the piece.
  • Consider using the full-color image and landing page options in the interactive campaigns.

USPS Informed Delivery is a free service, and you don’t have to optimize your designs in order for it to benefit you. But it sure works better if you do.
Want to learn more? Contact

ImageMark Business Services, Inc. Strengthens Direct Mail Offerings with the Acquisition of Alpha Printing and Mailing


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GASTONIA, NC – In an exciting consolidation of expertise and technology, ImageMark Business Services, Inc., a pioneer in integrated print and marketing solutions based in Gastonia, NC, has officially announced its acquisition of Alpha Printing and Mailing. This union is set to revolutionize direct mail marketing, promising even quicker turn times and enhanced capabilities for clients.

ImageMark’s progressive investment in digital printing technology has positioned them as the preferred partner for marketers who are keen on variable data printing options. Merging with Alpha Printing and Mailing, a trusted partner with advanced machinery and a skilled team, is a strategic move to further boost efficiency and turn times for direct mail campaigns.

Walter Payne, CEO of ImageMark, said, “This acquisition is more than just a merging of two companies; it’s about harnessing the power of both entities to redefine what’s possible in the direct mail sector. With ImageMark’s strengths in digital printing and the additional capacity that the Alpha Mail team and equipment bring, clients can expect unparalleled speed, precision, and innovation for their direct mail projects.”

Both firms have been praised for their respective strengths: ImageMark’s forward-thinking approach to print solutions and Alpha’s reputation in mailing services. This integration not only ensures the retention of the excellence both companies are known for but also paves the way for an enhanced direct mail experience for clients.

About ImageMark Business Services, Inc.:

Founded in 1924, ImageMark Business Services, Inc. is a leading provider of specialized printing, direct mail, and packaging services. With a commitment to innovation and unmatched quality, ImageMark has catered to a broad spectrum of clients, delivering value and results every step of the way.

To learn more, visit

For more information, contact:

Cindy McKee, Director of Sales & Marketing



Five Elements That Make Print Shine

In the ever-evolving marketing world, getting caught up in the digital buzz is easy. However, there’s a timeless charm to a well-executed print campaign that captures attention and makes a lasting impression. Print has unique qualities that can elevate your direct mail efforts. Let’s look at five elements that make print special.

1. Texture: The Tactile Experience

One of the most alluring aspects of print is its tactile nature. The feel of a quality paper stock can engage the senses in a way that digital can’t replicate. When recipients run their fingers over textured paper, it adds depth and memorable character to your message.

2. Scent: Evoke Emotions

Print has the unique ability to incorporate scents, turning a piece of mail into a multi-sensory experience. Infusing your direct mail piece with a relevant fragrance can evoke powerful emotions and trigger memories. For example, imagine the power of a bakery sending out mailers with the delightful scent of freshly baked bread!

3. Color: Vibrant and Impactful

Print allows you to use a rich palette of colors to capture attention and convey your brand’s personality. Unlike the limitations of digital screens, print can reproduce colors with a vividness and precision that captures emotion, not just attention.

4. Incorporation of Video Through QR Codes

QR codes enable you to bridge the gap between print and digital by providing a direct link to video content. This interactive element allows recipients to engage with your message dynamically, providing a unique blend of the physical and digital worlds. QR Codes can do more than send people to web pages. They can launch emails, make phone calls, and add events to recipients’ marketing calendars.

5. Dimension in a 3D World

Print isn’t confined to a flat screen. It has depth. Die-cutting, embossing, or even folding techniques can create dimensional elements that demand attention. When your direct mail piece pops out of the envelope or unfolds unexpectedly, it surprises and engages the recipient, making your message unforgettable.

Even in today’s digital world, direct mail holds a special place in buyers’ hearts. You can impact recipients at multiple levels by leveraging these five key attributes. So, don’t forget about direct mail next time you create your marketing calendar.

10 Items for Your Pre-Design Packaging Checklist

Whether you are sitting down to design your first folding carton package or your hundredth, it helps to have a pre-design checklist. This ensures that your packaging looks and performs its best. Here are ten considerations you don’t want to overlook.

  1. Target audience: Who is the target market for your product? Your packaging has the same target audience! What design elements are most likely to catch their eye?
  2. Branding: You are marketing a product, but you want to maintain your brand identity, too. Ensure you consistently use your logo, brand colors, and themes to maintain a cohesive brand experience.
  3. Structural considerations: Understand the many folding styles, closure mechanisms, and assembly processes available. Consider the functionality, durability, and ease of use for the end consumer and the supply chain.
  4. Packaging materials: Consider material strength, sustainability, printing compatibility, and cost-effectiveness.
  5. Printing and finishing techniques: How will the package be finished? What types of coatings, embellishments, and special effects (e.g., embossing, spot varnish) will give you the desired visual impact?
  6. Legal and regulatory requirements: Familiarize yourself with any legal and regulatory requirements that apply. This may include adherence to safety regulations, labeling requirements, nutritional requirements, country-of-origin markings, etc.
  7. Sustainability: Opt for recyclable, biodegradable, and renewable materials wherever possible. Ensure that the packaging design allows for the efficient use of materials, reduces waste, and considers the entire product lifecycle, from production to disposal.
  8. Usability and consumer experience: Design user-friendly packaging that enhances the consumer experience. Consider factors such as ease of opening, resealing options, clear instructions, and any additional features that could improve convenience or functionality for the end user.
  9. Production and cost considerations: Work closely with a reliable partner from the outset to find the most cost-effective ways to bring your design to life. Make sure you explore cost-saving alternatives when available.
  10. Testing and prototyping: How will you test and prototype your design? Before you go into full production, it’s always recommended that you test the design’s functionality, structural integrity, and visual appeal. This way, you can identify and address potential issues before finalizing the packaging design.

Just like a beautiful diamond, product packaging has many facets. Use this Top 10 list to ensure every facet of your packaging shines.

Avoid the USPS’s Top Mailing Mistake

In the world of direct mail, creativity is everything. You want to design pieces that stand out and catch the customer’s eye. But be careful! Sometimes this leads to designing mail pieces in nonstandard sizes that, in some cases, can make the mailpiece undeliverable. Failure to meet minimum mailing dimensions is the number one mailing mistake cited by the United States Postal Service.

The USPS minimum dimensional standards for mail pieces are as follows:

  • Minimum height: 3.5”
  • Minimum length: 5”
  • Minimum thickness: .007”

It’s critical to keep these minimums in mind when creating your designs. Even if you know the dimensional standards, making assumptions about meeting them is easy, which can have very bad outcomes.

Real Life “Oops!”

For example, when one postal customer wanted to create a unique piece, it designed a 4” x 4” card that it intended to send using Marketing Mail (Presorted Standard) non-automation letter pricing. The customer expected to pay more because the design did not meet the required aspect ratio but did not realize that the piece fell below the minimum sizing and could not be mailed.

In another example, a customer used lightweight paper to create a letter-size, bi-fold self-mailer to obtain commercial letter pricing. The customer figured the mail would be considered non-machinable because of the thickness of the paper. Still, they thought minimum thickness would be fine with the folded design. In reality, the thickness did fail to meet the USPS minimum mailing standards, and, again, the piece could not be mailed.

Ask Before You Mail

Any time you create a new mail piece design, run it by our experts before you mail it. Unique, creative pieces grab attention and can get terrific results, but they must arrive in the customer’s mailbox first!

Converting Leads to Clients with Referral Kits

In today’s world of business and sales, companies are constantly seeking impactful ways to attract new leads and convert them into clients. While digital marketing strategies have their place, there is a power in traditional, hands-on promotion. That is where referral kits come into play. Referral kits are internally curated packages containing promotional items that offer potential clients a glimpse into what a company can do. In this article, we will explore why referral kits are a strong tool for attracting new leads and why businesses should consider investing.

What are Referral Kits?

A sales or referral kit is a comprehensive kit designed to introduce potential clients to a company’s products, services, and expertise. It includes items such as branded brochures that highlight the company’s core offerings, product samples displaying their solutions, promotional merchandise, and clear contact information with a compelling call-to-action. Referral kits provide a tangible and immersive experience that effectively communicates the company’s value proposition, establishes credibility, and engages potential clients.

Key Elements of an Effective Referral Kit:

  • Branded Brochure: A professionally designed brochure that highlights the company’s core services, success stories, and unique value proposition. The brochure provides an overview of the company’s expertise, establishing credibility and trust.
  • Product Samples: The referral kit includes product samples that represent the company’s offerings. For example, if the company specializes in printing services, the kit may include a piece such as a sign printed on a certain material that is desirable in the market. This will build credibility and give a small sample of a bigger picture project.
  •  Promotional Merchandise: Branded promotional items such as pens, keychains, or notepads are included to reinforce brand awareness and leave an impression. These items can be used in daily activities, keeping the brand top of mind.

Referral Kit Best Practices:

  • Contact Information and Call-to-Action: The referral kit should include a prominent section displaying the company’s contact information, website, and social media handles. A clear call-to-action prompts potential clients to take the next step, such as scheduling a consultation, requesting a quote, or exploring more resources on the company’s website.    
  • Targeting Your Audience: To optimize the results of a referral kit, it is essential to focus on tailoring the kits to specific target audiences, ensuring that the design is a true reflection of the company’s brand identity. By following these best practices, a well-optimized referral kit can significantly enhance its impact, effectively attracting new leads and converting them into loyal clients for the business.

Referral Kits from ImageMark

Referral kits are innovative tools used to gain new leads, establish interest and credibility, and convert leads into clients. Their physical and interactive nature creates a memorable first impression, demonstrates expertise, boosts engagement, and separates your company from competitors. Investing in sales kits yields impressive returns, gaining brand advocacy, expanding your customer base, and driving long-term business growth.

For more details on how ImageMark can help your business create referral kits, you can learn more by visiting our kitting services page, or you can contact our experts today.