UPM Preprint: Using business forms in special ways for customer communication

Archive 15.10.2003 0:00 EEST

Invoices where the amount to be paid is printed in colour get paid faster.* If an advertising mailing arises interest or is binned is something that the recipient decides in an average of 2.5 seconds.** Business forms are often still the most frequent point of contact with the customer and are an integral part of Customer Relationship Management. For this reason their design is becoming increasingly important - and the most recent developments in printing and paper open up many new avenues.
The Drescher printing house, one of the biggest printers and service providers for business printing in Germany, has ascertained two trends in the design of forms. "Today forms either have a very simple or a very elaborate design", explains Hans J. Lattauer, Marketing Director at Drescher. "This means that there is either very little design, little colour, little time and effort and ordinary paper - or you will find that the opposite is the case. Then the forms are used for sales promotion and as a means of communication. That means the deliberate use of colour and paper and an elaborate design".

All the rage: colour and interaction
Colour psychology provides us with a great deal of insight that is relevant for the design of business forms. Colour attracts more attention than black and white. Colour produces stronger reactions and has a substantial impact on image. *** Thus in form printing we have noticed that there is an increasing use of four or five colours. This means that not only the company logo is printed in colour, but that designers are increasingly employing coloured elements and images.

Today's processing techniques also offer many different ways of attracting the recipient's attention. Integrated customer cards, tear-off stickers, detachable reply elements and rub-off areas are all instruments that encourage customers to concern themselves more intensively and actively with the form.

From personalisation to individualisation
The personalised way of addressing the customer in the forms is almost the standard today. In letters or circulars this personalisation is still mainly limited to the recipient's name and address. In the case of business documents, such as bank statements or telephone bills, there are now forms that are completely individualised.
But in the case of mass mailings the trend is also from personalisation to individualisation. The necessity of one-to-one marketing can be met with letters whose contents are finely attuned towards the person of the addressee. The main requirements are made of market research and data handling and not so much of printing. This personalisation also shows an increasing trend towards the employment of more colour.

However, nowadays the economic use of resources is also very much in vogue: forms are increasingly being printed on both sides. Optimum use can therefore be made of the available space for advertising and information, saving postage for the customer.

Paper: image carrier and printable material
Paper plays a major role as a factor in the design of forms and the effect that they have. Most customers are not consciously aware of this factor, but it certainly affects them on a subconscious level. Thus brilliant white paper is usually more suitable for a high-quality product than yellowish paper. To put it in a nutshell: the paper should positively and consistently support the corporate identity of a company and of the brand.

Woodfree uncoated papers are particularly suitable for business forms. They are available in several degrees of whiteness, surfaces, substance and thickness and can thus be adapted to the corporate design and the processing requirements. Customers should carefully inspect a number of optical paper characteristics before they decide in favour of a certain quality. In general brilliant white is advantageous because colour contrasts are more intense. If documents are printed on both sides a high degree of opacity is important so that the print does not appear on the reverse. Smooth surfaces improve the fixation of toner and ensure an appealing texture. The thicker the paper, the better the grip. An even sheet formation offers attractive visual appearance.

Functional requirements
Printing and processing make particular requirements of the paper. Preprint papers are usually pre-printed in an offset process, personalised in a laser printer, processed in many different ways and automatically enveloped in the final stage. Due to the twofold printing process and the ensuing processing, preprint papers are exposed to particular strain. Only a process that is completely smooth in all processing stages guarantees that customers receive their own personal bank statements at the end and not the statement of their next-door neighbour!
It is decisive for effective processing that the paper has a low moisture content. If it has excessive moisture, the paper can curl up at the edges or fail to absorb the toner in the correct way. In order for it to stand up to the high processing speeds of modern equipment**** the paper should have an even fibre orientation, a high degree of stability, firmness and stiffness. Nor should it be too porous so that the paper can be sucked up without any problems when it is being enveloped.

In order to guarantee a uniform optical impression in various applications UPM-Kymmene offers a full range of pre-print papers. All five qualities of UPM Preprint are suitable for different fields of application and have a matching optical design.

* According to NRG Group Benelux
** According to NRG Group Benelux
*** Monique Willemse: "Die Wirkung von Farbe in Geschäfsformularen.
**** The highly efficient roller laser printers can now print up to 300 pages a minute. The fastest inserters can now process a minimum of 26,000 envelopes per hour.