1st of Four Basics in Direct Mail Makeover

1st of Four Basics in Direct Mail Makeover: REVIEW THE PROCESS

Some believe that creating direct mail is as easy as following directions for making chocolate chip cookies. Just gather the ingredients, mix them up and drop spoonfuls on a cookie sheet, stuff them in the oven to bake, then sit back and wait for them to cool and wallah … Everybody’s favorite treat!

NOT QUITE! It’s a bit more complicated than that. You need to go through a specific process to create direct mail and that’s what we’re talking about today – The 12 Step Process for Creating Direct Mail.

Since we don’t know what your specific product, service, or unique appeal is, use these steps as a general guide or checklist for your own campaign. You will see practical ways to modify these steps to suit your objectives, so think of them as just a basic recipe to begin the makeover process.

So let’s begin. Here’s the key ingredients:
1. Decide which service or product to offer. Write a complete description. In one column list the facts/features about it, ranking them in order from most important to least. In a second column, translate each fact/feature into an end-user benefit.

2. Determine your marketing and sales strategy. Review your market research and make sure you have clearly defined measurable goals (objectives), planned actions (strategies to meet your goals), and tactics (details for executing your strategies).

3. Identify Your Target Audience. Write down every characteristic of your audience that matters: gender, age, education, income, occupation, interests, hobbies, children in the household, car(s) owned, pets, vacation and leisure activities, health or disability, buying habits for your type of product or service, etc.

4. Decide How You Want the Prospect, Customer, or Donor to Respond. Memorize this right now: Make it easy for people to respond. Regardless of what kind of response device you use (coupons, phone numbers, internet addresses, etc.), you need to make sure that responding is easy.

5. Create the Offer. Write down the offer as you would on an order card included in your direct mail piece (more about this in next week’s Blog message).

6. Write the Draft Copy and Design the Graphics. Decide on and rough out all the components of your direct mail package. Thumbnail sketches will do at this point, but be sure to include sizes, number of colors, etc. (more about this in next week’s Blog message).

7. Select the Paper, Design Elements, Production Methods and Production Partners for Printing and Mailing. Identify the suppliers you want to work with for print, design, lists, etc. Talk with your printer and mailer and explain what you are planning. Ask how long it will take to print and produce each component (especially if any special die-cutting, gluing, special finishing), and ready to mail. The objective is to determine which components take the longest to produce so you can create a reverse timetable and have all the pieces finished and ready to mail on time. Rely on your mailing service partner or postal service for answers to questions about postal regulations and mailing permits.

8. Finalize Copy and Graphic Design. You can engage an outside freelancer, a graphic design agency, a direct mail agency, or you can finalize the copy and design yourself (more about this in next week’s Blog message).

9. Determine Whether You Need to Test. Remember that direct mail is measurable. That means that you can find out what’s working and what isn’t; it also means you can fix what’s broken. When you send direct mail you need to test, test, test; and you need to test everything from offers, creativity, lists. Caution, you can only test one thing at a time, or you will not be able to discern what part of your campaign contributed to the results (more on this in two weeks from now).

10. Get It Mailed. If you are using the postal service, you need to check into the various specifications and rates. Most of all, to ensure proper and expedient delivery of your mail, you will need to make sure your targeted list is up to date. If planning a massive mailing, tens of thousands, for example, you will want to use a professional mailing company (letter shop) to help you get your large mailing into the mail (see more on this in two weeks from now).

11. Review the Orders. Track who your orders are coming from; keep a database with that information. Track what people are buying and how much they are spending. All of this information will help refine your next direct mail campaign. Remember, your goal is not only to make a sale, but to achieve a client.

12. Fulfill The Orders. Throughout the entire planning process, take the time to think through “what you want the process to accomplish.” The goal in this 12 step process is to trigger a direct action, a measurable action, at the right cost.

13. Now that you have all the ingredients for your direct mail makeover … tune in next week when we delve into the 2nd of the four basics of Direct Mail Makeover – Develop Your Game.

This blog contributed by Sue Chamberlain, Marketing Consultant for A&H Lithoprint. Contact Sue at sue@ahlithoprint.com for more information on your Direct Mail Makeover.

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