An easy renewal is a completed renewal


As one of Indianapolis’ largest performing arts organizations, the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is always looking for the most effective ways to fill the more than 900 seats between their two stages across multiple performances. Providing an easy way for season subscribers to renew their seats is a great way to fill seats, and the IRT uses Printing Partners’ variable data technology to do just that.

Starting a little more than six months ahead of the season’s first performance, the IRT begins with early bird subscription renewals before the upcoming season’s titles have been announced. The IRT sends personalized letters to each of its subscribers offering the best deal available on pricing with a sneak peak of a few of the titles for the new season. The key to the success of this mailing is how the IRT uses the information they know about their subscribers to customize the letter for each patron to make it both personal and easy to respond.

The IRT supplies Printing Partners with artwork that includes notations of where variable information is to be inserted. The variable information is provided as an excel document with each row containing the data for each subscriber. Printing Partners then generates a unique set of pieces for each subscriber using the data within the Excel document to create the mailing.

Here’s a breakdown of the different pieces within the mailing:

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Outer EnvelopeLetter Pg 1 for article

As the recipient sorts their mail, the outer envelope immediately lets them know what it is, who it’s from, and how long they have to respond. The design ­— although simple — is very effective in that the most weight is put on the call-to-action to draw the recipient’s eye and invoke immediacy.

Letter Front

The letter begins with the recipient’s address and name with salutation. The first couple paragraphs are common for all letters, but the following paragraph(s) change depending on what type of subscription the reader has. Some highlight special benefits that will be new in the upcoming season, others offer a subscription upgrade at a special price.

Letter BackLetter Pg 2 for article

The back of the letter is the order form. Variable data is used to complete the majority of the form, making it as easy as possible for the subscriber to renew. The data contains the subscriber’s name, account number, number of packages, pricing, and seat numbers. Including this data makes it so that all the subscriber needs to do to renew is check a box and complete their payment information.

In the case that the subscriber wants to modify their subscription, the options and pricing are clearly detailed in a way that allows the subscriber to make quick selections of their preferences.

Response Envelope

Once the form is completed, the next barrier to overcome is getting it back in the mail. The IRT supplied a business reply envelope to overcome this by making it so that not only does the subscriber have an envelope in-hand, but it’s already addressed and there’s no need for a stamp. The top left corner has a note “URGENT! Process Immediately”, which instructs the IRT to process the contents immediately – but it also reiterates to the subscriber that their response should be sent quickly.

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Another great tactic worth mentioning about this mailing is that the IRT provided multiple ways for the subscriber to renew their subscription. Aside from mailing in the form, a subscriber can also call, email, or visit in-person to renew their subscription.

This mailing is a great example of effective use of variable data printing. This concept can be easily translated to your mailings to create a personal and easy-response vehicle to meet your objectives.

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Tips to lower print costs


Ultimately, the most effective way to get the best price on commercial printing is to talk to your printer as early as possible. Just as every project is unique, so are the options on how to produce them efficiently. Discussing projects early allows us to provide you suggestions and options specific to your project that will save you money. Here are some of the most common money-saving techniques:

1. Discuss sizing with your printer before you get started.

Two things that drive down price the most are sheet optimization and production automation. The size of your piece determines how well each press sheet is utilized and whether or not your pieces can be automated through our equipment and the post office’s if they are being mailed.

Sheet OptimizationSheet Optimization 2

Paper is one of the main costs in print. Utilizing every bit of each press sheet is key to reducing the amount of total paper needed to complete a project. If you have flexibility in the sizing of your piece, adjusting the size slightly could increase the number of pieces that can fit on a press sheet. This reduces paper waste and the number of sheets needed to print your total quantity.

Production Automation

Any opportunity to complete a task with machinery rather than manual labor not only reduces costs, but also increases turnaround speeds. In-house considerations include ensuring panel sizes on a folded piece work with our mechanical folders, book signatures fit within our stitcher and pieces to be inserted into envelopes allow the necessary space for our inserter. The same considerations go for the Post Office as well; mailpieces that fall within particular standards can be automated, which leads to lower postage rates.

2. House Stock

Commercial printers purchase their most often used stocks in bulk, which allows for a reduction in price for both the printer and you. These stocks are called house stocks and can not only provide a better price, but also speed up the process since they’re readily available. Odds are one of the 10+ house stocks we keep available will suit your needs. We have swatch books available of Printing Partners’ house stocks – just ask!

3. Shells

If you often print items that utilize the same layout or background, pre-printing shells may be worth considering. Shells are produced in large runs and include all of the common areas of a series of pieces. Variable information is then imprinted onto shells in smaller runs.  This technique is often used to combine the cost-effectiveness of large-run conventional printing with digital printing’s variable data capabilities.

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4. Gang Runs

If you have multiple projects that will be printed similarly, it may be possible to gang all of your jobs together into a single project to reduce costs. Ganged jobs must at the very least run on the same press using the same type of stock. Any additional similarities would further increase your savings (ie. Trim size, folding, etc.). If you plan ahead and want to mail a series of postcards, submitting the artwork for all of the cards to be printed and trimmed together will reduce your overall printing cost.

Because business cards are a standard size, we offer clients the option to have business cards printed in our weekly gang runs along with cards from other clients to reduce costs.

5. List Hygiene

When printing items to be mailed, list hygiene is key to ensure that you aren’t printing unnecessary pieces. If you’re mailing through Printing Partners, duplicates are removed from mailing lists, but this is only effective if the names are exact. If one entry has the name “Bob Smith” and another is listed as “Robert Smith”, our software won’t remove the second listing as a duplicate. Good list hygiene starts during data input, and it’s good practice to set rules on how data is to be entered into your system. Choosing between formal names and nicknames and whether to always spell out “Street”, “Road”, etc. can save both time and money down the line. If you’re already past the point of data entry, looking through your list manually and flagging corrections to be made within your main database will save you the hassle of needing to do corrections more than once. Weeding out duplicate and bad records will reduce the number of pieces that need to be printed and mailed, reducing your print and postage cost.


The Printing Partners staff has the experience and skills to produce pieces in creative ways to reduce costs for our clients. Talk to us early on in your project for the best chance at being able to utilize our experience and reduce your printing costs.



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