Check. Check. Check.

Daniel Dejan breaks the direct mail process into four general steps
Dec 16, 2014 8:30 AM ET

Are you a list maker? I love lists. They remind me of what I need to do, how I should prioritize my time, and what promises I’ve made. In other words, they keep me on track.

I’ve spent a great deal of time this year focusing on direct mail. Direct mail campaigns can display some of the most creative and successful uses of paper and print. And, even more importantly, they are proven to perform better than online activities!

Of course, since I have a list for everything, I have one to share with you for direct mail. It was developed by my colleague, direct mail expert and frequent presenting partner for Act Now!, Trish Witkowski. Trish often helps the audience think about direct mail by breaking the process into four general steps one needs to consider. By using the steps as guideposts, you’ll be sure to do everything possible to make your direct mail project your most successful mailing yet.

Which markets are important to you? Can you divide your market into segments that are more likely to be interested in your message? Do you need to saturate the market or use a targeted method which tailors your message to the needs and interests of the recipient? If you are like many businesses you’ve built a home-grown mailing list. Consider contacting a list services provider to run a profile on your list so that you know who your customers are and to ensure your list is current. With a proper base you can start to build on what you have. Don’t have a list? Don’t sweat it. There are list managers, list brokers and list compilers that can help you find the perfect audience.

It’s important to strategize how you will define the success of your mailing. Are you looking to convey a specific selling point that will lead to a bump in profits or is your strategy more long-term, which means your focus will be on building your brand? Knowing your budget beforehand will allow you to make informed decisions at each point in your campaign.

And then you must work out a schedule for the campaign. It’s best to take the time to map out a full campaign which can be more successful. In general, you should craft a plan to send mail every 4-6 weeks. Whether it's a special offer or an expert tip or newsletter, the idea is to keep the relationship going and stay top-of-mind.

The key to choosing a format is to make sure the content squares with your objective. For a one-day sale you’re not going to announce it in a catalogue. Just as when you want to show your whole new spring clothing line there is no way a postcard is going to do the trick. And just as you want to make sure your format fits with your message, it is equally important to create a visual style that corresponds to and also enhances your message.

After working out the details of format and style, it’s time to turn your attention to optimizing production of your mail piece. The most critical element—the one that will help you get the most out of your direct mail marketing budgets—is POSTAGE. If you're looking to spend as little as possible on postage, start with machinable sizes and formats. You can always ask your printer for recommendations.

Testing, tracking and measurement is often overlooked in mail campaigns, however, knowing exactly how your campaign performed in terms of costs and responses will help you quantify the value of your organization’s marketing efforts more dimensionally. Unlike many other forms of direct marketing, direct mail in particular lends itself to the testing process, which allows you to manage the campaign and control expectations AND results. And don’t forget that tracking allows you to evaluate your campaign so that it reaches its full potential.

Do you need more detailed information on Direct Mail? This list is part of a primer, called Act Now! which Sappi created that includes everything you need to know about designing and formatting mailings, as well as, tracking and measuring your results.

Order it now and check that off your list.

Or perhaps you are part of a group that would benefit from a session on Direct Mail led by me and Trish Witkowski, contact Sherry Tenhundfeld to see if we can offer that to your group.

Check, check, and…….check.

Does that make sense?