Strategy

How to Boost Your Direct Mail Profits by Spending More

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When times get tough, everyone wants to cut direct mail costs. After all, if we can bring in the same amount of money and spend less, our profits increase.

And there are ways to cut costs without necessarily hurting the effectiveness of your mailing.

Cutting Direct Mail Costs or Making Money

Cut Costs or Make Money?

You can, for example, trim your package format by ¼ inch or so to make it run better on your printer’s press, use a cheaper paper, test smaller formats, omit package inserts or eliminate the premium.

But don’t act too quickly.

Before getting caught up in the rush to cut expenses, we need to remember the objective (more…)

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A Copywriter’s Thoughts on Direct Mail Lists

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I still remember my first direct mail letter. I reworked it to perfection. Every word was just as I wanted it to be. The benefits to the reader were clear, the offer was strong and the call to action was unmistakable.

Then we mailed the letter, and I waited. And I waited some more. But nothing happened. Not even a single response. No one even bothered to complain about the letter.

About direct mail lists

Finding the right person to mail

Finally, after waiting a few more days, I went to see the agency’s owner and confessed my failure. I explained the letter’s objectives, my approach, the offer…how I had checked and rechecked every word but failed to get even one response.

Without even looking up, my boss said, “Check the lists.”

And I was ready for this. I’d already prepared a report on the mailing lists we were testing and started to go through the long list. But he said, “No, that’s not what I mean. (more…)

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How to Get More Value from Your Direct Mail Copywriter

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When I started my direct marketing career, I wanted to be a copywriter. Copywriters were the agency “hotshots”; it seemed like they were the star attraction.

Yet my mentor told me that the people of most value to the agency were direct mail “generalists.” Taking his advice, I spent the next six years learning how to initiate, develop and manage successful direct mail campaigns.

I studied list selection, graphic layouts, the letter’s structure, print production and lettershop capabilities. And I gave special attention to what and how to test.Empowering the Direct Mail Copywriter

Yet today, most of my income comes from direct mail copywriting.

Over the years, I’ve tested (more…)

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How to Edit Direct Mail Copy for Greater Response

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Just about every direct mail copywriter can benefit from a good editor. Yet many decision makers who approve copy—clients, compliance officers, board members and managers—aren’t trained to edit the copywriter’s work. How to edit direct mail copy

Here’s a simple 3-step method and checklist that might help.

Step 1

When reviewing a direct mail letter for the first time, sit on your hands.

One of the biggest mistakes is to pick up your red pen before you’ve reviewed the complete mailing package. Checking for errors in grammar, spelling and sentence structure is essential. But when you proofread (more…)

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Much of What I Know About Direct Mail, I Learned in High School

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Some of the best training I’ve had for becoming a direct mail copywriter came when I sold magazines door to door as a teenager.

I quickly learned that not every homeowner welcomed me. Some would not even come to the door, some would close the door in my face and others would listen but not buy.

Soon, I learned to how to better my odds. Each time I approached a house, I gathered all the available information on the homeowner and developed a plan before knocking on the door.

My marketing “data” came from what I could see in the homeowner’s front yard. Were there toys in the yard, indicating children lived there? Was a newspaper (more…)

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How a Guarantee Builds Direct Mail Profits

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Value of Direct Mail Guarantee

When it comes to decision making, I have a simple approach. If I believe the outcome might be something I wouldn’t want my mother to know about, I don’t do it.

And when creating a direct mail offer a similar rule applies. If you can’t provide a meaningful guarantee, don’t promote it.

You have two reasons to offer a guarantee:

First, it’s the right thing to do. A meaningful guarantee shows that you believe in your product. And, when you’re asking for someone else’s money, you should believe in what you’re selling—if not, don’t do it.

Second, you’ll want to offer a guarantee because it can build profits.

Buyers, whether online or traditional direct mail, have plenty of reasons—real or perceived—not to respond to your offer. After all, whether we’re fundraising or selling a product, we’re asking the prospect to trust us to do what we promised. (more…)

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17 Ways to Improve Your Direct Mail Offer

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How improve direct mail offer

Simply put, your direct mail offer is the “deal” you promise the recipient. It’s what you promise the reader and what you ask in return.

Your offer needs to be specific and to clearly state how it benefits the prospect. It includes the product—or for a fundraiser, the organization’s mission or project—the price or asking amount, terms, incentives, guarantee, etc.

And, of all the components of your mailing—other than the list—the offer is the most important element of your success. If you’re looking for breakthrough results, here are 17 quick ideas to consider: (more…)

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21 Basic Rules for Successful Direct Mail Testing

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We all know the importance of direct mail testing, but too often money is wasted on unproductive and unwise tests. Here are 21 basic rules worth reviewing to get the most from your marketing dollars:

1. Before you start production on any test, do the math first. How long will it take to recover your test costs, and what increase in results will you need to beat the control? Proceed with the test only after showing that there’s a reasonable chance that it can economically increase response.

2. Don’t test just because you’re curious to know “what if.” Have a solid plan of how you’ll turn the test results into a profit before you invest in the test.

3. Be sure you test a sufficient quantity to obtain reliable test results.

4. “Replicate” each test when possible—rather than mail one test cell of 10,000 names, split the names into two equal groups and mail the same test to two groups of 5,000. (more…)

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The What, When and How of Direct Mail Testing

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What to test

In his book, Secrets of Successful Direct Mail, Dick Benson states, “Any idea you honestly believe can economically increase response is worth testing.”

The key words are “economically increase response.” But what is economical? Typically, the more dramatic a change you make in a package, the more dramatic the difference in results.

For example, when you need a breakthrough, test the components that have the greatest influence on the mailing’s success—lists, offer, format and copy. Forget about testing minor changes on page three or the color of the return envelope. Test big things for big results.

However, for clients mailing larger volumes, “tweaking” the control for incremental gains often makes sense.

For example, Client A and Client B both have an average response rate of 1%, with a $25 average transaction. Both test a new package that lifts results by 10%. The only difference is that Client A has an annual (more…)

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Direct Mail Testing and
7 Costly Mistakes to Avoid

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J. Paul Getty once said the three keys to wealth and success are, “Rise early. Work hard. And strike oil.”
Direct Mail Testing
That may be good advice. But for those of us who must depend upon something other than striking oil, I say the three keys to success for a direct marketer are to TEST, TEST, and TEST!

But before we test, we must recognize that not all tests are productive or cost-effective. My next post will be “What, How and When to Test” but in the meantime, here are 7 costly mistakes that you’ll want to avoid when testing (more…)

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