Direct Mail Made Easy

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Please read my articles which appear at These are updated weekly.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Do You Have a Question?

This blog is devoted to answering your questions. If you have a question please askl me by going to the "Comments" area of the most recent posting and state your question. We'll get back to to as fast as we can with an answer.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Should I Pay The Postage on a Business Reply Card or Envelope or Let the Customer Pay for It?

When it comes to getting people to respond to your direct mail efforts, the easier we make it for them to do so, the more responses we're likely to get.

Whenever we ask someone to do something, some people aren't going to do it. For example, if we ask people to fill in a lot of information, some might not have a pen handy or just might not want to take the time to do so.

Likewise, when it comes to sending in a reply, if they have to get their own envelope or provide their own stamp, some of them aren't going to do so and your response will suffer.

That's why we recommend the use of Business Reply Mail. You obtain a permit from the Postal Service to use Business Reply Mail and then you either deposit money into an account or pay the letter carrier for the replies you receive. You only pay the postage on the actual replies...not for putting the permit onto the outgoing envelope when you send out your mail.

It is well worth the effort to pay for the postage on the replies. Your results will improve.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

What's the Best Day of the Week to Mail?

This is a frequent question. There are lots of theories but we don't really subscribe to them. First of all, it is difficult to control when the Postal Service delivers your mail so you cannot specify a particular day even if you would like to do so.

Second, we all receive mail every day. Many people feel that Mondays and Fridays are bad days. Monday is the first day back after the weekend and Friday is the day before the weekend, so the theory goes, and therefore people are too busy to have time to read mail.

We believe that a well presented offer sent to an appropriate audience has a good chance of being read regardless of when it is received.

Of course you'd want to avoid mailing before a major holiday and certainly not into a problem area such as New Orleans.

But trying to second guess the best day of the week is generally a waste of time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

How Much Does a Postal Permit Cost?

Users of direct mail who mail more than 200 pieces at a time should consider mailing at the advertising rates which can save a considerable amount of money on postage.

In order to do this, you must obtain a permit from the Postal Service. This permit costs $150 for the initial application plus an annual charge of $150. So, for the first year, it will cost $300 and then $150 per year, every year thereafter.

Postage rates are determined by the weight and size of the mailing piece. Your local Post Office can give you the exact rates.

In order to use the advertising rates you must meet the following conditions:

Your mailing must have a minium of 200 pieces or 50 pounds.
All mail must be the same type (200 postcards, 200 envelopes,etc)
You must mail at the Post Office where you have obtained your permit.
Every piece must have a correct zip plus 4 code and be sorted appropriately.

If you are in a city that has more than one Post Office, you must take your mail to a Business Mail Entry Unit. Call or check with your local Post Office and they can direct you to the proper location.

If you mail in quantity and mail regularly, a permit is likely to save you a considerable amount of money.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

How Long Should a Letter Be?

Whenever I speak to a group about direct mail, I raise the question, "How long should a letter be?" Almost every time a get a few comments that a letter should never be longer than one page because people will not read more than that. I don't believe it.
I normally then ask the respondent if they have a hobby. Most people do. I comment that if I were to write them a letter that told them how they could be the best at whatever their hobby was...say playing golf...and I got to the end of the first page, would they stop reading? Invariably they say, "no"...they would continue.
That brings me to the moral of the story....there is no such thing as a letter that is too long or too short. There is such a thing as a letter that is interesting and a letter that is boring. Make your letter interesting to those who are reading it and they will keep reading as long as you hold their interest.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Targeting Your Prospects

One of the beautiful things about direct mail advertising is its ability to enable you to specifically target your best prospects. Through the skillful use of mailing lists you can direct your message to those most likely to be interested in your product or service.

What a great benefit.

Think about this. Suppose you are a realtor seeking listings. Chances are you operate within a limited market. It could be a single town, a county, or in a major city, maybe just a few neighborhoods. If you advertised your services in the newspaper or on the radio, for example, you would reach an audience much larger than the one you are interested in. You would have plenty of waste and would be spending money needlessly trying to reach people who have no interest in or need for your services.

Direct mail, on the other hand, enables you to select a list of people located specifically within your market area.

Residential markets can be targeted quite specifically. You might select an entire town, if you live in a suburban area. Or you could select specific zip codes. You can even select by specific streets or other boundaries that you determine. And that’s not all.

Once you know the general area you want to reach, you can further select by individual household characteristics such as the following:

Single or multiple family dwelling units
Length of time the family has resided there
Neighborhoods having homes of a particular value
Families by age of the head of the household

With this information you can tailor your message to the specific interests of the audience you are reaching. This eliminates waste and makes it much more likely that you will gain a higher level of response and at a lower cost.

When I lecture to audiences about direct mail, I often ask the question, “what is junk mail?” The answer I usually get is that it is “mail that doesn’t interest me”. So, when we take the time to carefully select our target audience we are much more likely to avoid our mail getting tossed in the “junk” pile…and instead we stand a good chance of having it opened and read.

Many advertising experts attribute as much as 60% of the success or failure of a mailing to the choice of mailing list. You may have the world’s most attractive mailing package, a sensational offer, your copy written by the best copywriter around….but if you send that mailing package to the wrong audience chances are high that you will not achieve the results you’re looking for.

On the other hand, a very ordinary looking mailing package, an average offer and a writer with no special talent can produce a mailing that, when sent to the right audience, can still produce a very satisfactory level of response.

None of us would think of advertising our local business in a newspaper that serves a market 200 miles from where we are….yet, if we select a mailing list of people who are not appropriate for our offer we’re doing about the same thing.

So, before you put pencil to paper on your next mailing ask yourself one simple question…

“Who am I trying to reach with this mailing”?

When you answer that question, get with a list professional and select your list FIRST. .

It will pay off…big time.
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