A Guide to Direct Mail

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(1) Is DM for you?

(2) Choosing your list


(3) The Offer

(4) Call to Action

(5) The Package

(6) The Copy

(7) Testing

(8) Tracking

History of DM

What is a lettershop
List hygiene

What is a lettershop
Your lettershop or mail house are the people who put the paper in the encelope, stick the label on it, and take it to the post office. They earn very little money for all this and are the last step along the route, which means they can cause lots of damage if they don't do something right. When my mailings are at the lettershop, I am there as well, checking everything out. Believe me, they don't mind either. They have all these jobs come through there and the last thing they want to do is screw one up. They like you to come there and make sure everythign is being done just right.

Whatever you do, don't decide to do this step yourself. A good mail house, or even a mediocre one, should pay for themselves by the amoutn they will save you on postage. But I am getting ahead of myself.

List hygiene
Generally, when a list is delivered to the mail house, they do things to it. Often they will run it through NCOA, the National Change of Address Database. This will update the older names which have moved. This is imporant for consuer lists where people are always moving. If the list is 6 months old, then probably 10% of the people have moved. NCOA will find these and update them.

They will then CASS certify the list. This means that special software will standardize the address in a postal approved format, add ZIP plus 4, and sort the list in such a way as to give you postal discounts.

Finally, your mail house will de dupe the list, taking out duplicate names.

All fo this falls under the heading of list hygiene and is important to do.

OK. So now you have a list and it is at a lettershop and that part of your mailing is ready to go. It is important that you know what list you are using before you do anything else, because you must always keep the average person on that list in your head - they are your audience.

Having said all that, you are ready to consider The Offer: