Strategic Marketing and Mailing

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Welcome to our Direct Mail Services blog! We hope that you enjoy our direct mail marketing information and tips. To learn more about us, please visit our main site at StrategicMail.com. For further articles on the best mail marketing and promotions news, please visit MailMarketingSolutions.net.

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3002 N. Apollo Dr
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Strategic Marketing and Mailing

Tips For A Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

Strategic Marketing and Mailing offers people tips for creating quality direct mail marketing campaigns. One key element to creating an eye catching mailer is to know your audience. Targeting the right audience is important in order to receive feedback and boost sales for products or services. Creating a design for a mailer that appeals to the right audience is a great start to creating a great direct mail marketing campaign. Once a design is chosen, using the right words and correct grammar to describes a product or service is also highly important. Direct mail marketing will attract business if done accurately and here are 13 great tips to achieve a successful campaign.

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13 Tips for Better Direct Mail Marketing

1. Provide a strong call for action. Don’t use direct mail to say what a great salesperson you are. Instead, ask people to do something, such as visit your Web site for area home prices or order a free home buyer guide.

2. Edit and proofread. Don’t send mail with typos, factual errors, or sloppy grammar. Whatever good message you have will be negated.

3. Match design to your audience. Know enough about the people you’re targeting to have an idea of which designs work with them and which don’t. A design that attracts teenagers might not work for older households you’re targeting for second-home purchases.

4. Have a brand identity and hit that identity hard in your mailing. Your audience won’t remember you if you don’t have a strong brand identity to go with your message.

5. Make your mailing part of a broader strategy. Sending out one piece won’t accomplish much. Set up a regular frequency of mailings (if not other media, such as local radio or newspaper ads) to reinforce your message and brand.

6. Match mailer size with postage class. If you want to save by using standard mail (third-class) postage, make sure your design falls into the letter category. A half-inch too long will classify your mailing as a flat.

7. Use the right indicia. The indicia is the marking that shows you’ve paid the postage. Determine the appropriate class of mail—for example, first class or standard mail; then, be sure to print the proper indicia on the piece.

8. Fold self-mailers at the bottom. If your piece doesn’t use an envelope, be sure the opening is at the top so that only one tab (the tape that keeps the mailer closed) is required. That keeps costs down and ensures the piece doesn’t get snagged in the U.S. Postal Service’s mail-sorting machines.

9. Leave room for the address label. It’s easy to forget this from a design perspective. So, check with your mail house to see what size labels they routinely use and leave that space open in your design.

10. Keep copy out of the bar code area. This is another easy-to-forget design matter. The Postal Service stamps the bar code on the bottom, so keep that area clear; otherwise, their tape could cover your message.

11. Keep your return address out of the scanning area. The Postal Service uses an optical character recognition scanner that scans the center of a piece of mail, so make sure only the recipient’s address is in that area. Otherwise your mail might be returned to you.

12. Stay away from a square design. You could incur a surcharge if your mailer is out of the ratio for postal equipment.

13. Use the right paper stock. A glossy stock won’t hold meter ink. So, if you use glossy stock, use an indicia rather than having the Postal Service run your pieces through a meter.

To read the full article click here: 13 Tips for Better Marketing and Mailing

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Direct Mail Marketing vs. Junk Mail

Many people fear that their direct mail marketing campaign will be viewed as junk mail. Most junk mail is not personally addressed to the resident at a home. Direct Mail Marketing requires a more personalized strategy in order to grab the attention of the recipient. Strategic Marketing and Mailing offers tools and tips to help people create effective mail marketing campaigns. Here is some information on the difference between junk mail and direct mail marketing.

Strategic Marketing and Mailing

What is Junk Mail?

You usually know it right away when you see it. You may receive promotional material addressed to Resident. Or catalogs featuring products you would never buy in a million years. Some of it gets sent to you from big companies or retailers you may have heard of. Some of it comes from local businesses plastering your area with their marketing materials. Regardless of how junk mail gets to your mailbox or who sent it, you are not interested so it ends up in the garbage bin.

  • Junk mail is not targeted. It is sent to large lists of people or addresses. Its objective is to wind up in the mailboxes of as many people as possible without regard to demographics, needs or shopping habits.
  • Junk mail is not personal. It may come addressed to “Our Neighbor” or “Current Resident.” If you bother to read it at all, you will notice that it is filled with sweeping generalities designed to apply or appeal to as many people as possible.

Big companies with immediate brand recognition and millions to spend on marketing may be able to get away with mailing as many pieces as they can to as many people as they can. They are hoping that some small percentage of recipients responds. You, however, probably don’t have the budget to try to market your product or service to everyone via direct mailings. Besides, this is not the best use of your funds. Junk mail is no way for you the small business owner to build credibility and bring in more business.

Direct Mail Marketing vs Junk Mail

Direct mail advertising is much different. When done properly, direct mail marketing works very well for small business. Junk mail does not.

  • Direct mail is personal and specific. It speaks directly to the prospect by name. It addresses a problem that the recipient has, fills a need, or fulfills a wish. It compels them to act.
  • Effective direct mail advertising is primarily focused on the prospect, not on you or your business.
  • Direct mail advertising is targeted. The recipients have been identified and chosen for a specific reason. Direct mail is not sent to every address within a range of zip codes.

The difference between junk mail and direct mail should be clear in your mind before you start your first direct mail campaign. Before you stuff that first envelope or drop your postcard in a mailbox, ask yourself whether you’re sending junk mail or not.


To read the full article click here: Direct Mail vs. Junk Mail

 

Creating a Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

Strategic Marketing and Mailing provides all the tools necessary to create a successful direct mail marketing campaign. The most important aspect of creating an effective campaign is to target the appropriate audience. Research what efforts have worked in advertising to the target audience you want to reach. Personalizing the mailers by providing actual names is also important to help people feel that the message is directed to them personally. Another key element to direct mail marketing is to constantly test and change the strategy in order to improve results. Strategic Marketing and Mailing would like to share some tips today about how to create a strong direct mail marketing campaign.

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Five Tips for Direct Mail Marketing

1. Cultivate the perfect list and craft targeted messaging.

“Make every piece count. Instead of a spray-and-pray approach, go for a targeted approach looking for the best audience. Understand how subgroups within that audience differ and message appropriately. And for each subgroup, test multiple types of messaging, creative, offers to determine the winning formula for each subgroup in the target audience. Continually fine tune and refine future campaigns based on learnings.” Kamal Tahir, Management Consulting, Greater Chicago Area

2.  Personalize content and be personal.

“With digital print technology it’s so easy to tailor your direct mailing to your recipient. Use their name, business name, interests, any relevant information you have about them on your database to make your direct mailing personal, relevant and responsive.” –Amie Peters, Head of Direct Mail at An Post, Ireland

3.  Be specific with your call to action, and focus on just one.

“Marketers should be blunt and clear in describing what the next step should be for the recipient. Keep the design of the direct mail piece simple and uncluttered. Place emphasis on the call-to-action and make sure it supports the one main idea of the piece.” –Cynthia Fedor, Marketing Team Lead, QuantumDigital

4.  Include a way to track performance, then test and measure what works.

“Make sure your efforts are measurable. No matter how awesome your direct mail piece is, you’ll never know unless you can track it. Examples of the easiest ways to do this would be to have a question like, “How did you learn about us?” or have them enter a code from the direct mail upon registration.”  –Brittney Honkomp, University Student, Texas

5.  Continually optimize and be consistent with direct mail efforts.

“Prepare. Test. Measure. Analyze. Modify, Repeat.”

“Prepare by sitting down and working on a clear strategy with measurable goals and objectives so you can make an informed decision regarding the effort. You need to use historical performance along with your understanding of the current market (society, economy, political, competition etc.) so you can project what needs to happen in order for the campaign to succeed [ie] pay for itself or generate a profit. If your response rate won’t generate enough sales on an offer that is too inexpensive and has low margins…you might want to rethink the campaign.

To read the full article click here: 5 Tips for Direct Mail Postcard Campaign

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7 Direct Mail Service Tips

At Strategic Marketing and Mailing we are available to help you with every aspect of your direct mail marketing campaign. It is important to understand what works best for your direct mail marketing campaign and with our expertise and advice we can help create a great campaign that works for your company. Here is a great article we found that offers some great tips on how to create a successful direct mail marketing campaign.

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How to Find New Customers through Direct Mail Marketing

1. Save the postcards for vacation. The classic letter in an envelope has a much better chance of generating a significant response, in my experience. To most consumers, serious mail comes in a letter, which is private. The act of opening an envelope and unfolding the letter is engaging.

A few years ago my company created a two-page letter for a firm that was selling a $2,000 annual subscription service to advertisers and ad agencies. Our client had done fairly well with a post-card campaign. It was generating paid orders at a rate of about 0.75%. We thought we could do better. We created a letter to the ad agencies that said, “If you can send me an e-mail with the 4 letter code above, I’ll send you a secret that will help you land new business you didn’t even know was loose.” Each recipient had a private code, available only in the letter. Paid response increased to 11%.

2. Impose a deadline. Give recipients a valuable freebie that they can’t get any other way than by responding now. It should fit what you are selling. For instance, if you were a tax preparer trying to attract new clients for next year, you might send a mailing in January of 2008 offering the first 100 new customers a free leather binder to store their 2007 taxes – and tell them that the offer would expire on March 15. Potential customers who can’t procrastinate will act immediately.

3. Emphasize your product’s benefits, not just its features. Say you are selling a teapot with a spill-proof spout. Rather than simply mention the spout’s spill-proof shape, focus on the problems it will prevent: burned hands, ruined suits, etc.

How do find out what your prospects will value most about your product? Ask them. For instance, if you were selling the spill-proof teapot, you might want to chat with tea buyers at your local supermarket to find out what teapots they use and how these pots could be improved.

4. Outdo the competition. If you are a dry cleaner, and ABC Cleaners down the street is offering 20% off to new customers, give your regular customers 25% off as an incentive to stay loyal.

5. Use real people. I have found that when we include photos of actual customers or employees, rather than models, in our mailings, the response rates go up. Your direct marketing agency or art director can help you arrange an inexpensive photo shoot and get the permission you need to incorporate the pictures into your ad.

6. Rent the right list. List brokers will offer to sell you all kinds of lists. Ask for those with recent high responses to offers and products similar to yours. I suggest using a list broker who’s a member of the Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org), a reputable trade group.

7. Get personal. If it looks like your letter and envelope might have been in the hands of a real human being at some point, customers will be more likely to open it. Sign your letter in blue ink. Use the same ink to highlight a paragraph or to add a margin note. (The art director on your campaign can help you add your black ink “handwriting” on the layout and change it to blue.) Try a real stamp (or stamps) on the envelope. The more unusual the stamps, the better.

To read the full article click here: How to Find New Customers through Direct Mail Marketing

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E-Mail Marketing Strategies

At Strategic Marketing and Mailing we help people create compelling marketing campaigns for their business. These days the Internet is an important place for people to utilize for marketing purposes. You may want to consider investing in creating an e-mail marketing campaign in addition to the use of regular mail. Many people are starting to use e-mail and the Internet to receive any type of mail, so here are a few tips for people interested in creating a strategy for an effective e-mail marketing strategy to increase revenue for their business.

5 Effective Email Marketing Strategies: Send What Converts

1. Educational Emails:

This is my personal favorite type of email because these are the emails that help answer a question or solve a problem for your potential customers. You are providing a service by providing information. You should send educational emails whenever you have a new, compelling piece of content or a new bit of research to promote. These type of emails can often be developed by repurposing a popular blog article or even combining a series of recent blog articles from any education-based content that would fit together into a particular campaign.

2. Informational Emails:

Informational emails are short and don’t usually ask the recipient to take alot of action. In fact, sometimes the email’s subject line alone might communicate everything that is needed. Examples of information emails are meeting reminders, webinar invites or an offer to check out a particular post on one of your social media platforms.

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3. Promotional Emails:

While some people avoid this type of email, it is still very important to implement. Just make sure that you do your promoting in a professional, tactful manner. Promotional emails have a main goal of moving the recipient to take some action- usually around a new product, service, event, or special deal. As effective email marketing strategies go, these emails usually don’t have a lot of content associated with them. They focus on selling points and persuasion verbiage.

4. Newsletter Emails:

Generally, these are sent out by companies once per month and often include several pieces of content that you have already published over the course of the past month. Content for newsletters can include blog articles, videos, or many other types of pieces of content. We’ve outlined a few of these in our free e-book, A Comprehensive Guide to Internet Marketing.

5. Lead Nurturing Emails:

Every marketer knows that it can take a lot of time and effort to move a lead through your sales cycle. Lead nurturing emails are part of the cycle and a key to help you expedite the process. Once you have a workflow set up, sending out these types of emails will not take much of your time. In fact, the entire process should be automated. These should be short emails that are content rich. Their goal is to get leads to take some type of action on your website. Ask Farotech how we can help you can set up lead nurturing emails for each of your campaigns and schedule them out for an organized workflow through your sales cycle.

As mentioned above, the real key to effective email marketing strategies is know your audience. This will certainly help you determine what type of email you want to send and strategize for a better ROI. We recommend sending out permission-based emails to your recipients.

To read the full article click here : 5 Effective Email Marketing Strategies 

4 Ingredients of Mail That Sells

At Strategic Marketing and Mailing, we are experienced in all things related to direct mail marketing services. Our business not only involves marketing and mailing, but we love to help other people build brands through direct mail and marketing services by providing tips of the trade. To create a successful direct mail marketing campaign you need to grab the attention of your audience. If you are familiar with the group you are targeting then this will not be a hard thing to do with a little creativity. Here are some great tips on how to send mail that sells.

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1. Attention

If you know what your customers want, it’s not hard to get their attention. Just think about the biggest benefit your product or service can provide and dramatize it.

A gardener or landscaper, for instance, can get attention by mailing a bag of seeds. A fabric store can cut up scrap remnants and send them to potential customers as samples. Set your imagination free. Imagine a company that converts paper files to digital-they could send file folders overflowing with papers.

Words, too, can be powerful attention-grabbers. There’s nothing wrong with a big, bold headline that says something as simple as “January Sale.” Or as provocative as “Save Your Back.” Both sell snowblowers, but from different points of view.

Just be careful not to get too clever. A professional writer may know how to begin with “Think small.” Your beginning, however, will be much more successful if you get right to the point: “How much time do you lose to computer crashes every week?”

2. Interest

Now that you’ve got a customer’s attention, don’t disappoint. Hold their interest with important, relevant details about what you’re selling.

If you’ve used the “January Sale” or “Save Your Back” headline, show a picture of the snow blower. Or at least write a very clear, bold statement that you are talking about a snow blower.

Short, simple sentences keep a reader’s interest best. As does believable, everyday language. Readers, for instance, tend to tune out clichés like “We are committed to providing the ultimate in quality and service.” Instead try saying, “We have hundreds of satisfied customers. If you’re not happy with our service, we’ll give you your money back.” It proves quality and service.

3. Desire

This is where you really excite the customer for what you’re selling. It’s giving your customer an opportunity to imagine what it’s like to own and use your product.

You can build desire with a beautiful picture of a new ski jacket. You can use a detailed description of how the microfibers adjust to your body temperature, keeping you warm on the lift and cool on the slopes. Or you could use both.

The key to building desire is to focus on benefits, not features. A feature tells you what the product has, like a “hyper-fast Internet connection.” Benefits, on the other hand, tell you how that feature improves your life. A hyper-fast Internet connection lets you “listen to music on the Internet without jarring pauses, and lets you get more work done in less time.”

4. Action

Now that you’ve got people’s attention, interest and desire, don’t forget to ask for the order. It’s not enough to say, “Buy now.” Give a compelling reason to visit your store or call your company immediately.

For instance, “We only have 25 of these amazing ski jackets in stock. First come, first served” compels action. So does “This offer expires November 23.” Professional mailers have noticed that they get more responses when they put an expiration date on the offer.

You can even apply this urgency to a service business: “If you would like us to prepare your tax return, please call our office for an appointment before February 15.”

Just be clear. And be direct.

To read the full article click here: 4 Ingredients of Mail That Sells

Direct Mail Back to Basics: 7 Tips to Boost Response in Today’s Crazy Economy

At Strategic Marketing and Mailing, we are experienced in all things related to direct mail marketing services. Our business not only involves marketing and mailing, but we love to help other people build brands through direct mail and marketing services by providing tips of the trade. Today Strategic Marketing and Mailing is offering seven direct mail marketing tips to boost response in the new economy.

Direct Mail Back to Basics: 7 Tips to Boost Response in Today’s Crazy Economy

1. Sell Things People Want 
In general, direct marketing is not about creating markets but locating existing markets. It’s a business-to-buyer avenue of selling that is streamlined, efficient and profitable—but only when a market wants what you are offering.

For example, a few decades ago only hard-core geeks would buy a computer by mail. Computers were neither understood nor wanted by the general public. Now, such purchases are common because a wide market exists.

2. Sell Solutions to Problems, Not Products 
No one cares about your widgets. What they care about are their own needs and wants. Bob doesn’t want a drill, he wants a hole. Mary doesn’t want a dress, she wants to look thin at the party this Friday. Alice doesn’t want an investment newsletter, she wants to find a great investment that will let her retire at 45. Ted doesn’t want a recipe book, he wants new ways to impress his friends at dinner parties and generate the compliments he thrives on.

3. Appeal to Emotion First, Reason Second 
Most direct marketers are number-crunching, logical people. It’s easy for us to fall into a cold, left brain, bullet-pointed, 714-reasons-why type of sales pitch. However, people make decisions in the right brain based on emotion. Then they justify that decision with logic. To set up a sale, appeal to emotion first. Then, to close and confirm the sale, use logic.

4. Use Proven Techniques 
While there is no set of universal techniques for all circumstances, there are a few that are nearly universal. According to Bob Stone , the guru of gurus in direct marketing:

  • A yes/no offer usually out-pulls offers without a no option.
  • A negative-option offer usually out-pulls a positive option offer.
  • An offer with a time limit usually out-pulls an offer with no time limit.
  • An offer with a free gift usually out-pulls discount offers, especially when the gift closely matches your prospect’s self-interest.
  • Sweepstakes usually increase order volume, especially for impulse items (though sweepstakes customers will not be loyal).
  • Benefits out-pull features.
  • The more involved you can get people, and the more they read, the greater your chance for success.
  • Envelope packages usually outpull self-mailers.

5. Value Content Over Form

One of the primary reasons advertising fails is that ad creators often get caught up in a creative vision without having anything to say.

One agency has repeatedly sent me mockups of mailers and brochures with tiny blank spaces it wants me to fill in with copy. When I ask about the purpose of the piece or point out that the design should be based on what needs to be communicated, I am gently told to just write something the right length and everything will work out fine.

This is nonsense. Don’t start with a “look,” start with content. Allow your design to develop naturally from your copy.

6. Make Sure You’re Doing Direct Marketing 
Every direct marketing message includes three basic elements:

  1. an offer;
  2. enough information for immediate acceptance of the offer; and
  3. a mechanism for responding to the offer.

Without each of these, you are not doing direct marketing but merely using a medium associated with direct marketing.

7. Consider Two-step Sales 
There are two basic ways to make a sale in direct marketing:

  1. the single shot, where you get an immediate order; or
  2. the two-step, where you generate inquiries and attempt to convert those inquiries into sales.

If your product is expensive, complex, new, hard-to-understand, or requires a major commitment of some kind, two-step sales may net you more profit in the long run than single shots.

To read the full article click here: Direct Mail Back to Basics: 7 Tips to Boost Response in Today’s Crazy Economy

14 Responsive Direct Mail Marketing Tips

At Strategic Marketing and Mailing, we are experienced in all things related to direct mail marketing services. Our business not only involves marketing and mailing, but we love to help other people build brands through direct mail and marketing services by providing tips of the trade. Today Strategic Marketing and Mailing is offering some 14 responsive direct mail marketing tips.

1. Mail Often: Mail regularly and mail often, but make your mailings relevant and interesting. The more often you mail to your mailing list, the more you’re at the front of those customer’s minds when it comes time to buy.

2. Use Testimonials: Ask your customers to write a review of your business or product, then send a copy to your mailing list with an invitation to visit you … and throw in a coupon with an expiration date as an extra incentive!

3. Use a Loyalty Program: Reward your customers for continuing to do business with you. Setup triggers that alert you when customers have reached a certain purchase level (or track and collect 5 to 10 “punch cards”) and mail them out a note recognizing the accomplishment along with a coupon or discount as a special thank you.

4. Create a Referral Program: Ask your best customers to provide you with names and addresses of friends and colleagues whom they think would benefit from your products and services. Send these referrals a promotional offer and reward the original customer with a gift as well. Don’t forget to use an incentive to get your customers to join the program.

5. Hold a Seminar or have a Guest Speaker: Conduct a training seminar or organize a speaking event that ties into your product offerings and invite your mailing list. You’ll be educating your customers and your guest speaker gets exposure while you get increased traffic to your business.

6. Send a Monthly Newsletter: Feature new products, timely tips, employee of the month, ideas for products, upcoming events and seasonal sales. It’s great for getting new customers interested in your business while also keeping existing customers informed and involved.

7. Mail a Coupon Calendar: Send your customers a monthly calendar where certain days are coupons. You’ll be amazed at how many sales a single calendar mailing can produce. To cut down on printing and mailing costs, you can include this calendar as a page in your Monthly Newsletter.

8. Celebrate Special Occasions: Make sure you note special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries of customers and their significant others, then use that information to show your appreciation of them. About two weeks before a special occasion, mail out a couple of coupons … one for something FREE and one with a special discount.

9. Conduct a Monthly Contest: Mail your customers a contest slip they can fill out and submit for a monthly drawing. This brings people into your store and helps expand your mailing list for future promotions. This too can be part of your Monthly Newsletter.

10. Throw a Private Sale: Mail your loyal customers an invitation to a private sale and give them an extra discount, or a chance to buy at sale prices the day before a public sale. Customers appreciate you acknowledging their loyalty.

11. Have a Block Party: Get other businesses in your area to join forces for a block party. Bring in rides, games, clowns, or other attractions. Make a big sidewalk sale part of the event. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise! Before the big event, mail coupons and special discounts to your list and ask your partners to do the same.

12. Give back to the Community: Send out a letter to all your customers announcing that a certain percentage of sales during a specific period will be donated to a local charity and ask them to be partners in that endeavor.

13. Mail Customers convenient Reminders: “You’re due for an oil change”, “Time for Fido’s grooming again”, “Wow, Anthony’s turning 10! Time for some bigger shoes!”. Customers respond well to reminders like this and appreciate you taking the time and effort … even though it’s an ad, it’s still a nice  reminder for a product or service they know they need.

14. One final tip, if you offer a nice benefit for replying, then arrange for postage paid return … response rates can hit 8% or more!

To read the full article click here: 14 Responsive Direct Mail Marketing Tips

6 Direct Mail Mistakes That Could Cost Thousands

At Strategic Marketing and Mailing, we love to share tips of our trade. Today we would like to offer some information about mistakes that could cost your direct mail marketing campaign lots of money. Avoiding these six issues will help your direct mail marketing strategy become a success.

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6 Direct Mail Mistakes That Could Cost Thousands

1. Failure to Use the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) on Reply Mail
USPS rules dictate that any discounted mailing that has a reply vehicle inside must bear the proper IMB on the reply piece. This means that a business reply envelope or card that bears no barcode, or the old version of a barcode, is subject to non-automated postage rates for the entire outgoing mailing. Savvy inspectors will open a mail piece and check for reply mail inside. If it does not meet regulations, that will bump your postage up to “non-auto” rates … a big increaseMake sure your reply vehicle complies with the new IMB rules. 

2. Designing a Folded Self-Mailer Using the Old Rules
January 2013 ushered in new rules for folded self-mailers (not booklets) that reduced the allowable size, altered folding parameters, and increased tabbing requirements.  Now, a folded self-mailer can be no larger than 6″ high x 10.5″ wide and cannot be open along the bottom. The only options are that it is open along the top or the left (trailing edge). Also, tabbing has been changed to require more tabs for a piece that weighs over 1 ounce. Finally, be careful of paper stock: the minimum basis weight for a folded self-mailer is now 70# text (more if the piece is perforated or die cut). Insure mail piece design is presented to your mailing expert prior to finalizing the piece.

3. Nonprofit Issues
The USPS is strict regarding nonprofit (Standard) mail rates. A difference in organization name, return address, content in the mail piece or post office of mailing will—at best—delay your drop date. At worst, you could be forced to pay around 40 percent more in postage. Make sure you have your nonprofit ducks in a row when designing the mail piece and deciding to which post office your mail will be brought.  Remember that a small difference in organization name on the mailer versus what the post office has on file could raise a red flag.

4. Flat-Size Address Placement
This is a biggie, because the USPS charges First Class rates to any mailing that does not comply, even a nonprofit mailing. The rule is that any flat-size mail piece (magazines, catalogs, etc.) requires the address to be entirely in the top half. This is regardless of copy position or graphics. Generally, the top half is defined as the upper part when you hold the piece with the stitching to the right. The “top-half rule” is why you see so many magazines delivered with the address upside down in relation to the cover. (This rule does not apply to First Class Mail.)

5. Postcard Design
First Class postcards enjoy a low postage rate with speedy First Class service.  However, there are many limitations on the design of these pieces and, while they are an awesome medium in which to convey a message by mail, failure to properly design them can result in some big postage penalties. Here are some rules to keep in mind:

  • The maximum size is 4 ¼” x 6″, and it has to be a single card (unless the second-half is a reply card).
  • Designers must allow enough room (around 3.5″ wide x 2″ high) for the barcode and address.
  • The USPS mandates that either the entire right half or the entire top half be reserved for the return address, indicia/stamp and outgoing address.  Technically, no other copy is allowed in that area. If you violate this rule, you could be charged higher “letter-size” rates.
  • Do not design vertically (6″ high x 4 ¼” wide).
  • There is no “postcard” rate for Standard Mail. If you are a commercial mailer (not a non-profit), you should mail First Class when mailing a postcard. You will actually save a couple of cents and get faster, more predictable service.

6. Poor Merge/Purge or List Hygiene
Most folks want to believe their databases are clean and free of duplicates or other trash. Data processing (DP) experts in direct mail testify otherwise. It is a huge waste to mail two pieces to one person or to be mailing to outdated or bad prospects.  Mailers should be allowing time for the DP team to process the list and provide results so that issues can be corrected before the mailing. In many mailing environments, DP work is done the day before the mailing and National Change of Address (NCOA) results are not even examined nor merge/purge results checked. Each piece of wasted mail can easily cost 50 cents to $1 each in plus the missed opportunity of sending non-deliverable mailAllow more lead time for data processing if you want to make changes to your database prior to mailing.

Here are some examples of questions raised in the data processing step:

  • Do I want to mail to folks who have moved out of my service area or out of range of my locations (common in retail, nonprofit)?
  • Which deliverability indices do I delete? Can I get a listing of those records deemed “undeliverable”?
  • How do I handle borderline deliverable records (e.g., records missing apartment numbers)?
  • Do I want to dedupe by last name/address, full name/address, address only (different strategies for business files, residential files, etc.)?
  • Do I want any extra DP steps taken to update my database (DMA Mail Preference, Deceased Processing, additional address hygiene steps, etc.)?

Wasted money in direct mail can be attributed to poor mail piece design and sloppy data management. And often the dollars are not seen directly (since lots of undeliverable mail pieces are usually discarded). Postage is an ever-increasing cost, so it pays to be vigilant about getting the most bang out of every buck spent.

To read the full article click here: 6 Direct Mail Mistakes That Could Cost Thousands

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