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Hey everyone,

Thanks to all who viewed and replied to my first post regarding direct mail.

This will be the second of three posts/topics regarding this issue. In part 1, we dealt with THE LIST, the differences between the types of lists, and some things to be aware of when dealing with mailing lists. For argument's sake, let's say that you have resolved all your mailing list issues and know WHO you're going to be mailing to. So, WHAT are you going to send them?


Let's consider four common types of mailpieces: the postcard, the tri-fold brochure, the letter mailer, and the newsletter. As previously indicated, an underlying question regarding which type of mailpiece to send would be "what" (or how much info) do I want to say to these people? What's the message?
  • If the message is: "I'm here. I exist. Give me a call" - short and sweet - then that can effectively be transmitted via postcard.
  • If the message is: "We're now offering a comprehensive maintenance program" - lots of benefits and features - then perhaps a tri-fold brochure.
  • If your message is: "I'd like to introduce myself and get to know you" - definitely more personal - then consider a personalized letter.
  • If your message is: "Thanks for being a loyal customer...we haven't heard from you in a while" - then a quarterly newsletter may do the trick.
Now these are just some examples and certainly you can convey any of these messages with a variety of mailpieces, but the point is that there's a connection between what to send and what your message is...and the best person to answer that may be you.

Postcards are popular (and effective) so let's look a them a little closer. First off, we're not talking about the small "vacation-sized" postcards. While this size does have some practical applications for some projects (jobsite proximity mailers), for the most part when we talk about postcards we mean oversized postcards, 8.5" X 5.5" or larger. Lots of reasons for this: "bigger is better" thinking, stands out in the mailbox, cost-effective from a printing standpoint and from a Postage standpoint, etc. In fact, most of the time Postage is actually less for a larger card than for a smaller card.

Color is good when it comes to postcards and other mailpieces too, especially in your industry. As previously indicated, a lot of what you sell is color related so...

Use high resolution (no web) graphics and photos and if you're doing it yourself, educate yourself on the printing process itself (CMYK or 4-color process vs. spot color; offset vs. digital; professional grade software vs. common-ware office programs) as well as your print provider's capabilities, strengths and weaknesses (offset vs. digital; gang-run vs. single-run etc.). If this seems like a lot of is. The world of printing is complex and everchanging. However, there have been some amazing advances in the industry, and when utilized properly, they can lead to large cost reductions, quick turnaround and highly cost-effective print runs.

Three more things and then I'll wrap this novel up! Every mailpiece should have an offer and a call to action (what's in it for them - the recipient?) Offers can be subtle, given (or understood) or outlandish (and bizarre):
  • FREE Estimates
  • Quality Craftsmanship
  • 50% OFF!!!
But every mailpiece should have one. The same goes for the call to action:
Attaching a sense of urgency, or putting timeframe or deadline on the call to action helps with effectiveness:
  • Hurry! Call TODAY!
  • Click on our Spring Specials!
  • Show us this card before June 1st!
The last thing I want to mention is that beautiful, cool-looking, expensive and effective mailpieces DO NOT EQUAL "mail-able" mailpieces. In other words, check with the person/company who's actually doing the mailing before physically printing the piece. A lot of people have spent a ton of time and a ton of money designing and printing mailpieces that are not compatible with the USPS' sortation equipment and have paid dearly. Imagine finding out that the cool-looking mailpiece you designed/had designed was either completely un-mailable as is, or would cost you an additional 35 cents each to mail, all because your address area was 1/8" too far to the left or that the card was 1/4" too tall, or that you folded it the wrong way. Sure, 35 cents may not be a big deal on 100 cards, but how about on 10,000?

The fact of the matter is that when you mail lots of stuff, you have to mail it with the USPS and you have to use their rules. Who else are you gonna mail it with?

I know I haven't covered everything but hopefully have provided some useful info. (If you're still reading at this point, you're probably interested but make sure you haven't got a puddle of drool on your keyboard!) Again, feel free to let me know what you think about the post, about the topic, or if you have any questions.
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