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Direct Mail and Me, or Mailing By The Numbers


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Statistics, Basic How-To's, Design of Mail Pieces, and Bonus Tips, presented by Missy Blankenship to JMU's SBDC in 2005

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Direct Mail and Me, or Mailing By The Numbers

  1. 1. Direct Mail & Me or Mailing: By the Numbers Friendship Mail Management May 20, 2005
  2. 2. Mailing By the Numbers - 1 <ul><li>4 Billion more pieces of mail were sent in 2004 vs. 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>95 Billion pieces of standard mail were sent in 2004 </li></ul><ul><li>Email averages 27% “open” rate while direct mail can be </li></ul><ul><li>2-3 times better </li></ul><ul><li>Mail lists today offer in-depth information on 95% of </li></ul><ul><li>American households </li></ul><ul><li>Americans are subjected to an average 3000 marketing </li></ul><ul><li>messages DAILY </li></ul><ul><li>76% of consumers age 40-49 value privacy of mail; </li></ul><ul><li>71% value its security </li></ul><ul><li>$634 Billion total in direct mail sales for 2002, </li></ul><ul><li>including catalog sales </li></ul><ul><li>*Data from USPS , Direct Marketing Association </li></ul><ul><li> and sappi/BigResearch </li></ul>
  3. 3. Mailing By the Numbers - 2 1-2% Average response rate for broadcast “advertising” mail 3-5% Average improved response rate for personalized mail 6-17% Average improved response rate for customized mail 15-34% Average improved response rate for customized 4-color mail *Data from USPS , Direct Marketing Association and sappi/BigResearch
  4. 4. Mailing By the Numbers - 3 <ul><li>“ Do Not Call” has driven advertisers to web and direct mail </li></ul><ul><li>2004 Magazine ads up 3.1% and up another 2.5% through Feb 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>2004 Catalog mail up 6%; Advertising mail up 17% in </li></ul><ul><li>4th Qtr, 2004 </li></ul><ul><li>Multi-tasking is part of our busy lives! </li></ul><ul><li>Radio and TV have become secondary activities: </li></ul><ul><li>76% of radio listeners and 57% of TV watchers are doing something else (for instance, reading a magazine or newspaper); and thanks to VCRs, DVRs and Tivo, </li></ul><ul><li>Advertising is changing because it has to! </li></ul><ul><li>*Data from USPS , Direct Marketing Association and sappi/BigResearch </li></ul>
  5. 5. So, Why Do I Want a Direct Mail Program? <ul><ul><li>I. Yes, There are Pros and Cons… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A. Cons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1) Can be expensive </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2) Can be risky </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3) Requires continual maintenance and monitoring </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>4) May not be the right time for you to mail </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>B. Pros </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li> 1) Can provide a sound financial base </li></ul><ul><li> 2) Can offer opportunity to reach the masses </li></ul><ul><li> 3) Demands accountability </li></ul><ul><li> 4) Will enhance your image and visibility </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Here’s What You’ll Need… </li></ul><ul><li>A. List of Names </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1) Database Software – Exporting capabilities for names/addresses/salutations/other information </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2) Database Names – most important part you can control! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>a. you may be starting with no database, no probable internal constituents </li></ul><ul><li>b. you may have Internal Sources – board, family ALSO old minutes, vendor lists, bills, </li></ul><ul><li>c. You may need to Rent a mail list (yes, RENT) </li></ul><ul><li>B. Internal Housekeeping - A System </li></ul><ul><li>1) How will you handle the mail (or sales) once it comes in </li></ul><ul><li> if there’s a response requested? </li></ul><ul><li>2) How will you thank them…who will sign the letter, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>3) Are you a registered to mail at nonprofit rates, if applicable </li></ul><ul><li>4) If soliciting, are you registered to solicit in the states you are mailing? </li></ul><ul><li>5) Do you have a website to which they can refer? </li></ul>Well, What Do I Need for a Direct Mail Program?
  7. 7. What are The Parts of the Total? - Designing the Mail Piece <ul><li>Ok, So How Do I Put Together the Mail Piece (a Letter)… </li></ul><ul><li>A. Format </li></ul><ul><li> 1) Everything in a direct mail package must fit together </li></ul><ul><li> to form an effective whole </li></ul><ul><li> 2) Make sure it is mail-friendly and follows postal regulations </li></ul><ul><li> 3) Consider “live” postage for better “open” rate </li></ul><ul><li>B. Design </li></ul><ul><li> 1) What type of mail piece? Postcard, letter, newsletter? </li></ul><ul><li> 2) What colors, if any? </li></ul><ul><li> 3) Placement of items in the package can have a big influence on the outcome </li></ul>
  8. 8. What are The Parts of the Total? - Designing the Mail Piece <ul><li>Ok, So How Do I Put Together the Mail Piece (a Letter)… </li></ul><ul><li>C. Return mechanisms or Actions Required </li></ul><ul><li> 1) BRE (Business Reply Envelope) to stamp or not to stamp? That is the question! </li></ul><ul><li> 2) Response device (pledge card, etc.) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a. Match the look of the letter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>b. Match the tone of the letter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>c. Match the response request (or “ask”) of the letter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>d. Make sure the response repeats message of the copy in the letter </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. What are The Parts of the Total? - Designing the Mail Piece <ul><li>Ok, So How Do I Put Together the Mail Piece (a Letter)… </li></ul><ul><li>D. Additional insert </li></ul><ul><li> 1) Create an insert that emphasizes or supplements the information contained in the ask </li></ul><ul><li> 2) Great place to use graphics and color </li></ul><ul><li> 3) Observe the two rules of insert use: </li></ul><ul><li>a. make sure it's appealing and </li></ul><ul><li>b. make sure it’s connected to the letter </li></ul>
  10. 10. What are The Parts of the Total? - Designing the Mail Piece <ul><li>Ok, So How Do I Put Together the Mail Piece (a Letter)… </li></ul><ul><li>E. Outer Envelope </li></ul><ul><li> 1) Limit -- but don't eliminate -- teaser copy on the envelope </li></ul><ul><li> 2) Teaser copy shouldn't be crass. </li></ul><ul><li> 3) Teaser copy on the Envelope example: </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;New wing opening soon! Don't miss the opening!&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Inside the letter: </li></ul><ul><li>“ you'll miss the special, donors-only opening </li></ul><ul><li>if you don't make a contribution.” </li></ul>
  11. 11. What are The Parts of the Total? - Designing the Mail Piece IV. The Copy A. Don’t reinvent the wheel…the basic formula is: Attention! Problem. Solution. Close the Sale! B. Theme -- Every mailing must be built around a central creative concept -- a clear and powerful connection between the request for gift and the donor, request for action and the customer or member, etc.
  12. 12. What are The Parts of the Total? - Designing the Mail Piece <ul><li>The Copy </li></ul><ul><li>C. Copywriting - most direct mail experts consider the letter itself to be the single most important element in a direct mail package. The outer envelope, response device, and all other package elements should reinforce the central concept of your appeal. </li></ul><ul><li> 1) Don't use letterhead that lists your board members </li></ul><ul><li> 2) Open with an emotional or compelling story; don’t create guilt </li></ul><ul><li> 3) Keep it simple and direct; don't give too much information </li></ul><ul><li> 4) Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. </li></ul><ul><li> 5) Create a sense of urgency, but not a crisis </li></ul><ul><li> 6) Ask recipients for a specific response (example: to give a specific amount, even if it's a range) </li></ul><ul><li> 7) Highlight or underline your most important points </li></ul><ul><li> 8) Use both sides of paper; multiple pages pull better than 1 page </li></ul><ul><li>9) Add a P.S. </li></ul><ul><li>10) Read your letter as your intended recipient will </li></ul>
  13. 13. What are The Parts of the Total? - Designing the Mail Piece <ul><li>V. Segmenting and Personalization </li></ul><ul><li>That’s right, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Segment your list and write to each segment: </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A. Write/change your letters to compel each type of donor or prospect </li></ul><ul><li>B. Different segments need different approaches in the appeal letter </li></ul>
  14. 14. What are The Parts of the Total? - Designing the Mail Piece VI. Create a Schedule of Mailings A. Don't just send out one letter per year; Minimum for the most basic campaign is two correspondences per year B. Decide your best months 1) March, May, September, November and December best months to send general appeal letters 2) What are the best months for your market segment? 3) Some basic research will answer this question for you
  15. 15. What are The Parts of the Total? - Designing the Mail Piece <ul><li>Create a Schedule of Mailings </li></ul><ul><li>C. Types of Mailings 1) Acquisition 2) Special Appeals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3) Educational/Informative </li></ul></ul><ul><li> 4) Invitations </li></ul><ul><li>D. Plan all mailings for the year and STICK to it! </li></ul><ul><li> 1) Most effective possible sequence and combination of mailings-one mailing sets the stage for the next </li></ul><ul><li> 2) Maximize resources…minimize printing costs </li></ul>
  16. 16. So, How Do I Know if My Direct Mail Program is Working? <ul><li>Track and Test Each Mailing to Measure Success </li></ul><ul><li>A. Test new letters against previously successful letters </li></ul><ul><li>B. Divide list randomly; send a new letter to at least 25% </li></ul><ul><li> of your list – 50% is even better; compare the results </li></ul><ul><li>C. This is the simplest way for small organizations to test direct mail </li></ul>
  17. 17. So, How Do I Know if My Direct Mail Program is Working? VII. Track and Test Each Mailing to Measure Success D. Try this easy-to-use spreadsheet
  18. 18. And, What Do I Do When It Works? <ul><li>Acknowledgments </li></ul><ul><li>A. THANK YOU is the most important part of any </li></ul><ul><li> direct mail campaign </li></ul><ul><li>B. THANK YOU aids with retention for old donors, </li></ul><ul><li> members, customers </li></ul><ul><li>C. Consider sending a &quot;welcome package” to new donors, members or customers, too </li></ul>
  19. 19. Book & Web References <ul><li>Book References – for fund raising and for direct mail: </li></ul><ul><li>Penelope Burk , Thanks! A Guide to Donor-Centered Fund Raising (2000) dealing with her research in Canada and ” How to Hold on to Your Donors and Raise Much More Money (2003) which covers the United States. </li></ul><ul><li>Mal Warwick, Revolution in the Mail Box (2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Gil Effron, Direct Mail Success (2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Web Reference – for direct mail: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  20. 20. BONUS: 14 Tips for Writing Great Sales Letters Why are you writing this letter? Have a goal or objective clearly in mind before you write a word. Did you do your homework? Research every facet of what you're writing about? If not, dig in. You need to be a &quot;know-it-all&quot; in order to write an effective letter. Work hard on your lead. Whether you use a headline or a salutation, sweat over it. It's considered by some people to be the most important part of your letter. Use personalization , when possible, without over-using it. Too much personalization looks contrived and loses its effectiveness. Check for &quot;throat-clearing.&quot; Can you eliminate your first paragraph or first two paragraphs without missing them? Is the letter organized? Does it have continuity? How’s the flow? Did you use &quot;connectors&quot; to help the flow of paragraphs? Have you built in interest? Would you be interested enough to read the whole thing? If not, build it in. Did you build desire throughout? Why would anyone want to act on this letter? Did you answer that key question for every reader: &quot;What's in it for me?&quot; Did you ask for action? (And make it easy to act?) Does your reader know precisely what you want him or her to do? Did you give 1-2-3, A-B-C instructions on doing it? P.S.: Did you include one? Does it re-state your offer, or offer some extra benefit or reward for action? Use it. It's one of your most important tools. Did you give specifics on a guarantee? (If one is offered) It's a confidence-builder that can make a big difference in response. Can you use testimonials somewhere in your letter to advantage? If so, add them... but only if they fit in logically. &quot;Keep it simple, stupid!&quot; Did you use short sentences and paragraphs? Check for excess wordage? Do an &quot;enhancements&quot; check ...ways you can use bullets, color, underlining, handwritten items, etc. to emphasize or organize. Proof all of your package copy carefully ...and get others to proof it, as well... the most well-crafted sales letter can fall flat on its face with a silly typo or misspelling! For more interesting and helpful information on direct mailing and marketing, visit the National Mail Order Association at: .
  21. 21. BONUS: 2 Cost-Effective Ways to Use Direct Mail These are two of direct mail's biggest benefits: Pinpoint targeting ability and ability to deliver a full and complete sales presentation Here are two direct mail marketing strategies (as opposed to single-shot mailing ideas) that virtually any business can put to work to achieve better, more profitable marketing and lead-generation results: 1. Repeatedly mail the same letter or direct mail package to the same people. If your sales letter or direct mail package is generating an acceptable number of orders or leads, don't hesitate to mail it again and again to the same list. The basic premise for recommending this strategy can best be summed up in five words: &quot;People quickly forget,&quot; and, &quot;things change.&quot; Many highly successful direct marketing organizations, such as AOL, Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Co. and Geico Corporation, routinely practice this strategy of repeatedly mailing the same message to the same people. How frequently should you do your mailings? Quarterly is probably a good idea for starters. But, as with everything else, test to determine the optimum frequency. 2. Send a series of mailings to the same people. &quot;Sales is a process of communication, not an event.&quot; It's a smart move to plan and budget for a series of mailings to the decision maker and key decision influencers. In your first letter, highlight the three biggest benefits of your product or service. In letter two, take just one of these benefits and amplify and expand on it; focus the majority of your copy on this one benefit. In letter three, take another key benefit and do the same. And so on. And don't stop with just four letters; you may want to send six letters, four post cards, three cover letters attached to product reviews or magazine articles and eight emails (assuming your prospect has given you express permission to send her email.) In every mailing, always give a reason and a method for responding. Always ask for some kind of action. This is an ideal way to carry out the communication process while gaining top-of-mind awareness and building relationships that lead to increased sales. To Repeat... The bottom line, as any successful salesperson or marketer knows, is this: You've got to stay in front of your prospect through repeated contacts—whether that's in the mail, by phone, via permission-based email, in person or, as is most likely, a combination of activities. Not just any contact, mind you, but meaningful, informative, educational, persuasive contacts that address the issues and concerns of the crotchety executive in our ad. Direct mail—salesmanship in print—is one of the most effective, and profitable tools any business has at its disposal with which to achieve such repeated contact.
  22. 22. BONUS: 10 Top Mailing Design Mistakes! And how to avoid them... Everyone makes together with your Mail House and your Printer to avoid them, and to improve the quality of your next mailing project. 1. Incorrect (or no) permit indicia printed on mailpiece...this simple mistake can cause an entire mailing to be rejected at the entry point Post Office...and requires additional time and cost to fix, depending upon the option chosen to mark the mailing piece with the proper postage. 2. Return address left off a NonProfit mailing piece...this can result in having to mail at regular, higher Standard-A rates...good rule of thumb to always include the return address on the mailing panel of your piece. 3. We've run out of pieces!...all too often we run short on pieces before completing a mailing, because the print order (s) were too close to the actual mailing count...there is always some small percentage of spoilage during each sure to order a reasonable extra amount. 4. Incorrect postage estimate for type, class, and rate of mailing piece...often results in confusion and scrambling for additional postage at the last minute before mailing. 5. Too little lead time allocated to preparation of mailing list (s)...the data processing required for most mailing jobs these days is complicated, and crucial to the success of the mailing...send us your data files well in advance to allow for list counts, verification, merge/purge results, etc. 6. Too little space for the mailing label information on the mailing piece...this can cause a variety of problems, each of which can add time and expense to your mailing processing. 7. Verify ahead of time the exact weight of a First-Class mailing piece...postage increases dramatically for each additional ounce mailed at First-Class rates. 8. Not enough space for envelope sure to carefully verify with us all dimensions of your carrier envelope and each ensure &quot;machineability&quot;...and to avoid costly hand-inserting! 9. Check your spelling carefully to avoid embarrassing mistakes in your copy. 10. It's all in the details! Be sure to tell us if you want to mail any foreign or Canada records in your file (s), and how you want them mailed...and what you want done with any leftover materials at the conclusion of your mailing processing.
  23. 23. BONUS: 10 Fatal Mistakes in Direct Mail Programs…. Watch Out For Them! #1 - Fail to treat customers as “the one for whom we take responsibility, e.g., for their well-being and success.” Customers need to be nurtured and cared for. #2 - Fail to create an annual marketing budget and stick to it. #3 - Fail to create and stick to a formal promotion calendar. #4 - Think tactically rather than strategically. Don’t wait for an “opportunity” to come your way, that’s casual, unplanned “tactics” –– To think strategically means to plan, PLAN, PLAN. #5 - Not using the mail to promote. Yellow page advertising brings in all kinds of business –– often exactly the opposite of what you may want to attract. Word-of-mouth is great, too. But you can’t control when/if referrals will occur. #6 - Fail to position yourself as an expert…fail to wave your own flag high enough or often enough. #7 - Fail to educate customers about how to use you and your products or services efficiently and effectively. You want customers and prospects to turn to you as their primary authority. #8 - Fail to target the right kinds of businesses. #9 - Fail to invest in new data, acquiring new prospects and adding them to your “hot” list. MISTAKE #10 - Lack of frequency. In marketing, frequency is everything. Whatever you do to promote, do it frequently enough that it makes an impression. Set a goal that something from you gets into your customers’ hands 4 to 12 times per year.
  24. 24. So, What’s Next?...Easy as 1, 2, 3… Put Friendship to Work for You! Friendship Mail Management Toll-Free 800.777.9586 Local 540.434.9586 MARKETING VIA DIRECT MAIL & HOW TO GET STARTED: 1)  Have a MAILING LIST ?     NO?  Then decide WHO is your target?  Decide your parameters:  Residential (Ex:  Income Level, Geography, etc.) or Business (Sales Volume, Number of Employees, Geography, SIC Code, etc.)? 2)  Know what you want to mail – your MAIL PIECE ?     If YES?  Be sure to get a sample to your Mail House BEFORE printing!    NO?  Then decide your format:  a generic letter in a #10, a personalized letter in a #10 window or matched to a closed face envelope, a brochure in a 6x9, a self-mailer, a newsletter, a magazine, etc.?  3)  Know how to want to mail – your desired DELIVERY ?      NO?  You have lots of choices based on your goals.  is it fastest delivery? best guaranteed delivery?  or least expensive postage?  Ex:  1st class, presort, standard, nonprofit, media or bound printed, priority, etc.