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Sabine Lenz

Making the Grade

By Sabine Lenz

About Sabine

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 


You Can Get Away with Using the Minimum, but Is It Worth It?

The lock was broken. The bag just would not shut properly anymore. Granted, this fine specimen of a leather bag was 10 years old. But it had done me great service carrying my laptop through numerous travels and countries, and I was having a hard time letting go.

I knew there was little chance of finding a replacement lock after all this time. (I was residing in Australia at the time, but had purchased the bag prior to that while living in Germany.)

I am nothing if not persistent...if you haven’t noticed yet ;-) So I called up the company and boldly asked if there was anything they could do to help. 

Long story short, they actually sent a replacement lock all the way from Germany to Australia. And on top of of charge. Wow! This company had really gone the extra step, and as a result, had gained my enduring trust and loyalty.

Now, I understand it’s not that easy to create loyal customers these days. But one way, to my mind, is always taking that infamous extra step. Its the way you show you care and that your customer or potential customer is worth it.

Case in point (size).

I get a lot of extra-large postcards in the mail these days—a trend you’ve probably noticed as well. The larger size garners more attention.

Of the nine cards I collected in one week to test for this post, most had at least a 10-pt. caliper, likely because of their size (up to 6x11˝). The U.S. Postal Service asks for a minimum 7-pt. caliper for regular-sized postcards and a 9-pt. caliper for letter-sized cards.

But because of their larger size, the 10-pt. postcards still felt rather floppy. Sadly, the most flimsy of the cards—a bare-minimum, 9-pt. caliper—was from a printing industry association. (Don’t get me started.)

Yes, you and your client can get away with this, too. But remember, it’s the MINIMUM requirement. If you really want to create trust and a lasting impression with your customers, go the extra caliper.

Hello insurance company...

I’m sure you know who you are. If your insurance is as unsubstantial as your letter-sized postcard, I for one am not inclined to take you up on your offer to cover all my insurance needs. I want to be with a solid company; a company I can trust.

Theoretically, the USPS allows letter-sized pieces to be up to 0.25˝ thick. I know that the thicker the paper, the more expensive it usually is. But keep in mind...the thicker the paper, the higher the quality perceived by the recipient.

Recipients might not know about paper cost or paper quality across brands, but they do sense it with their fingertips. And they perceive the company that sends a thicker card to be the one that is more dependable, honest and service-oriented.

So for your next postcard mailing, try a nice 14- to 16-pt. paper that oozes the subliminal message: “We are substantial.” And if you want to take it one step further, I dare you to print on an uncoated sheet.

Out of the nine cards I mentioned above, only one was printed on uncoated stock, and this warm texture just pushed the personal connection and trustworthiness level up that extra notch.

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