What is Real Pen? Should You Use it for Personalization?

By: Andrew Glover
September 26, 2019

Visual delivery is an essential aspect of direct mail. Every detail, including the coloring or the style of paper, can influence response rates. But many times, there’s an oversight in the font style. In fact, the font style may result in more recipients tossing your mailer in the trash.

You can achieve a high level of personalization by using handwritten technologies. The handwritten approach is well-received and appreciated by audiences. Your audience is more likely to remember and value your communication when it appears to be handwritten.

Mail pieces that look and feel like real letters appear more personal and can lead to better response rates. When people check their mail, they are more likely to open a letter that seems handwritten instead of a letter with a generic computer font. As you might expect, there are technological solutions that let you send handwritten-style letters without having to employ an army of calligraphers.

What is Real Pen?

Real Pen is a well-known method to create handwriting for direct mail. This option uses a writing machine (also called a plotting machine), that uses an actual pen to hand address envelopes and mail pieces. The writing machine moves a ballpoint pen across the envelope to create the visual impact of a human writer.

Most Real Pen operations can write text up to 8 inches wide and 15 inches long. The machine uses multiple handwriting fonts and signatures, which allows you to customize down to the smallest detail. You choose the type of pen and ink and the machine does the work for you.

Real Pen Limitations

The Real Pen writing method works, but the process is slow and time-consuming. Writing too fast can produce jittering or skipping in the printed text. The jittered font appearance will result in a project delay as you go back to create a smoother font appearance.

The quality of the pen used can significantly impact the products finished result too. Someone needs to closely monitor the machine because it holds a minimal amount of ink. These aspects make it difficult to scale plotting machine solutions and integrate them into manufacturing, sorting, and inserting processes for direct mail.

The benefits to using something like Real Pen make it attractive to add to a direct mail campaign. However, getting the proper ROI out of it might be difficult given the associated costs.

Real Pen Alternative: Valtim MyFont

You may feel hesitant to choose Real Pen based on some of the limitations. There is a better alternative offered by Valtim called MyFont.

MyFont is Valtim’s digital technology that provides handwritten capabilities. Unlike Real Pen, MyFont is fully digital. MyFont doesn’t use an actual ballpoint pen to write on paper, instead it uses a combination of computer software and high-end print hardware to imitate real pen at-scale.

Myfont consists of a font set with 4 slightly different versions per character – just like every time a real person writes the alphabet, each letter is “slightly” different. During the printing process, the machine randomly selects one of the available character versions and then images it on the material with slightly different letter kerning and spacing.

Valtim uses MCS Eagle InkJet technology which produces higher resolution print quality compared to traditional heads to better mimic penmanship – including using “Ball Point” blue ink (PMS 285) . MyFont is a superior alternative compared to Real Pen because of the slight variations in spacing, high-quality ball-point ink, and improved printing equipment. Since MyFont is part of the manufacturing and inserting process, it completes at operational speeds and scales at a fraction of the cost. MyFont is often a few pennies per piece depending on the application.

MyFont Example
MyFont Example – Click to enlarge

Using Valtim’s MyFont in Your Mail Campaign

If hand addressing envelopes and hand addressing letters were cheap, everyone would do it. But you can save time and money by using Valtim’s MyFont. Valtim’s handwritten alternative is the best option to choose for your next direct mail campaign. MyFont allows you to personalize your mailers with words that appear handwritten without the need to hire someone to handwrite on envelopes and letters.

MyFont provides a level of personalization that promises an increase in response rates. There are many additional benefits to MyFont as well. Valtim’s MyFont is an easy, fast, and more cost-effective alternative compared to hiring individual people to write every piece of mail.

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