In direct mail marketing, there are three main leverage points to increase profits: improve the response rate, increase the sales price of the item, or decrease costs. While you can certainly take steps to tackle response rates and price testing may not be a bad idea, decreasing costs is perhaps the easiest to tackle. It offers an immediate impact on the marketing budget that even the grouchiest bean counters acknowledge. Here are three steps to saving money on your next direct mail campaign that you can do immediately.
1. Improve mailing list hygiene. Every returned piece of mail costs the company postage, printing and mail house fees. If you are using a house file, be sure that your mailing house or a list broker runs it against the NCOA list, or a list of people who have recently moved, so that you mail to their new address. If you are mailing to similar lists, such as two competing magazine subscriber files, merge and purge the lists against one another to avoid duplicate mailings. Be sure to ask your mailing list broker or processing service to have your list run against a file of recently deceased people so that you do not mail to people who absolutely cannot respond to your offer or anyone’s offer.
2. Check your creative against the U.S. Postal Service Domestic Mail Manual. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) frequently updates the domestic mail manual, the Bible for direct mailers. It’s a free book available online in PDF format that guides direct mailers in every aspect of preparing their mail for postal mailing. Check your creative envelopes, catalogs, self-mailers and postcards against their guidelines. Be sure that you pieces fall within the established guidelines and that your creative team designs them to maximize discounts.
3. Work with your printer and ask questions. If you use a particular paper stock because that’s what your company always uses, a change may be in order. Ask your printer if any comparable stocks are available on the floor. He may have remnants or open cases he can use of a similar paper that can decrease costs. Or perhaps he knows of another client that purchases the same paper, and you can purchase together at near-wholesale costs if you know the number of mailings you plan to do in one year. Great printing companies act like marketing partners, working with you on your campaigns to help you achieve your marketing goals.
Direct mail continues to be a viable channel for all businesses. Tune up your marketing programs and try these three simple steps today.
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