Even though the way we communicate and do business is mostly online, direct mail still continues to be one of the most profitable marketing methods available. That’s why we’ve developed this 8-point list of direct mail services for marketing agencies, so managing your client’s campaigns is a bit simpler for you.
Here are 8 direct mail services tips that help solve common problems agencies face when working on mailing projects for your client:
1. Catch problems early while planning your direct mail campaign
The majority of problems happen as early as the planning stage and continue through all the stages of the project. As the project moves from one stage to the next, it’s important to have good quality control standards in place to avoid having things fall apart in pre-press or the post office line.
The design phase is the most common area where problems occur that could spell big trouble for your not-so-little project. These issues include:
Incorrect or no margins
Not enough room for personalization (long names or address that break to the next line)
Size does not meet USPS standards
Incorrect paper thickness
The good news is when these things are caught in the design phase, it’s significantly less expensive than if the presses were already running. A problem solved before ink hits paper doesn’t have the same financial and scheduling consequences as one that’s already made its way to the presses.
2. Use a certified direct mail print designer
The US Postal Service offers an inexpensive online certification program for graphic designers to learn the requirements of direct mail design.
Your designer could learn tricks that save your clients thousands of dollars and hours of sleepless nights. And they get a shiny new certificate for their wall 🙂
In addition to the certification, provide your designer with all the resources they need to be sure their designs will meet postal regulations. Plastic templates are available to measure a printed mail piece and ensure all the margins are set up correctly. If you work with an experienced direct mail services company they will be able to answer questions and ensure your project meets regulations.
3. Take advantage of your local postal customer council
Your local Postal Customer Council (PCC) is an invaluable resource for providing feedback to the Postal Service, as well as learning about upcoming changes and educational opportunities in your area. These groups are made up of local businesses and postal employees, hold regular meetings, and really give your agency a chance to dialogue with the USPS about the challenges you face, the positive interactions you have, and suggestions you have about direct mail.
4. Have your direct mail designs approved by a business mail specialist
Before you send your client their first proof, be sure to get a copy of your artwork to a business mail specialist at your local Bulk Mail Entry Unit (BME). They will review your artwork based on the type of mail and specs you provide, and then provide suggestions on what to do if it doesn’t meet the mailing rules for the class of mail you’re sending.
5. Let your mailer handle your direct mail list management
Mailing list management is a complicated process that requires expensive software and intimate knowledge of technical requirements. It’s best to leave it to your direct mail services company. Excel spreadsheets just don’t cut it. Improperly sorted lists can get your entire project sent back to the mailer.
6. Use an in-house mailing list instead of a purchased one
If at all possible, encourage your client to develop their own list rather than purchasing one. This isn’t always possible when working with mailings in excess of a million pieces a month, but the extra time and trouble is worth it. An in-house mailing list averages double the ROI than one purchased from a third party.
Your direct mail solutions provider will manage, clean and keep your list in the best possible shape. This process, known as “scrubbing the list,” removes duplicates, improper formats and checks addresses against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database. These practices ensure that the highest percentage of mail pieces get delivered every time.
7. Hire a direct mail company that has on-site USPS verification
Direct mail services with on-site USPS verification gives you peace of mind that your direct mail project will meet all of the USPS’s mailing regulations. It also will make it easy for high-volume mailings to flow smoothly from one phase of production to the next. And it saves money on transportation costs and coordination time between the two companies. This saves you the stress of having to collect multiple quotes from different suppliers and add additional transportation time and costs to the project, freeing you up to focus on higher level issues than logistics and accounting.
8. Design direct mail campaigns to drive website traffic
Catalogs are still big business. Don’t you find it funny that in an era when your computer has access to endless digital catalogs and reviews of hot new products, the catalog still hasn’t gone away?
That’s because catalogs drive online sales just as much as digital advertising. A person who gets a catalog in the mail doesn’t have to wait for the seller to receive a hand-printed order form and a check in the mail anymore. They make their purchase decisions with the catalog, go online and presto! Instant gratification. Products arrive in days instead of weeks. The buying cycle is shortened, and both customer and seller are happy.
Our Best Tip? Invest in Your Direct Mail Marketing Education
With a little bit of foresight and a lot of education, direct mail is a profitable venture for both you and your client. These suggestions are just a fraction of the things you can do to ensure a smooth transition from the client to the agency to the printer and mailer. We hope we’ve provided you with some valuable resources to make your job easier.
Direct mail doesn’t have to be problematic. Yes, it involves a hefty amount of coordination and a company with an eye for details, but following these suggestions will put your agency on the right track to a smoother production process with fewer bumps and more movement.