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

Introduction
>>The Outer Envelope<<
The Letter
The Brochure
The Order Form
The Return Envelope
The Self-mailer
Your Printer

(6) The Copy

(7) Testing

(8) Tracking

History of DM
Links


Contents
2 Kinds of Outer Envelopes
Envelope Copy
Postage
Live Stamp

2 Kinds of Outer Envelopes
First, let's talk about the outer envelope - the first thign peope see when they get your mailer in their mail box. Gerneall speaking, there are 2 kinds of envelopes - window envelopes and closed face envelopes. Window envelopes offer some interesting advantages to the direct marketer - you can preprint the recipiants name and address on the order form and can tease the recipiant with a sneak peak of something inside the envelope. The downside is that they genreally label your mailpiece as a solicitaion or junk mail. Windown envelopes cost very little more than closed face envelopes and deserved to be considered if you can think of something interesting to do with them that ties into your message.

Envelope Copy
If you do not use a window envelope, chances are you will do some printing on your envelope to help get it opened by the right people. There are many, many techniques to try to do this and we can talk about a few of them. First, there is the technique of making your correspondence appear important. There are lots of techiqes for this, including the old "open immediately, dated material" or " Last reminder" and so on. Next, you can use targeted teaser copy, like "Do you own a home in Texas or For Fathers of Young men". This has the added advantage of getting the right person to open the envelope. If you are selling to Texas homeowners or fathers of sons. This works best if you tie your copy to your list. If you mailing to lefthanded masons, then For lefthanded masons eyes only would do well.

Next, you can use questions or facts to arouse interest. Questions are like "How you can beat traffic tickets" or facts like 7 ways to lower your car insurance or "Read inside to learn what 3 things in your house are making you sick. It is easy to get carried away with the envelope, and generally few words do better than more. It is important to keep in mind you want to get not only lots of people to open it, but the right people as well. Another thing - there are postal regulations regarding the location of artwork on envelopes. However, instead of learning them all, just take your artwork or sketch to the post office and let your local postmaster tell you if you are complying with regs.

Postage
Finally, you need to consider the issue of the postage on the letter. Believe it or not, it makes a didfference in whether the mailer is opened. There are two issues - how to apply the postage and what class to mail the letter. Let's talk about the latter. Should you mail 1st or 3rd class - an age old question, and it makes a big difference in price. Well, it depends on the list and the offer. TO begin with, if the offer is time sensitive, you have to do first. 3rd class is delivered by the post office when they get aroudn to it. In fact, that is what makes it 3rd class - when the sorters finish the 1st, they work on the 3rd. Sometimes, it whips right on through, other times it languishes forever almost.

So, if you have a 1 week sale, time does matter and therefore you have to go 1st class. The other issue is deliverability. The post office says over 97% of 3rd class mail is eventually delivered. Some people claim only 80% of it is. It makes a big difference. But certianly, some 3rd class mail doesn't make it. So, if it is your house file of your best customers, again, consier 1st class. Also, if you are mailing to big companies, some of them have policies not to internally deliver 3rd class mail. The mail room doesn't even sort it. So again, you might cosider 1st. Aside from those 3 things, however, look closely at the price savings for 3rd class. Plus, as an added benefit, you can go over an ounce without the rate going up - unlike 1st class, which nearly doubles in price if you go over an ounce.

Live Stamp?
Next is the issue of the stamp. You can print an indicia on your envelope, you can meter the enveloep, or you can apply a "live stamp" - that is, a kind of stamp you actually place on the envelope. Clealry, the indica is the chepaest if you are printing envelopes. But it also says "junk mail." The meter looks a bit better. I personally use live stamps. First, the psot office has nice stamps for blk mail now, so it's a way to add some color and a personal touch for no extra money. But for maximum effect, I like to use the latest commerative stamp or 3 or 4 small denomincaltion stamps. Like 1 dime stamp, a nicel stamp and a 3 cent stamp all on the envelope. This makes it standout in the mail box - not and easy candidata for immediate tossing - prospects feel they must at least figure out what is in it. I think the envlope has a lot to do with the response rate because the envloep determines if 3% of the mailers get opened or 30%. So give this some thought. Also, condier some off the wall envelope sizes - but be careful and make sre the post offiec wont charge you extra for them. But a slightly different size sticks out in the mailbox and helps get you opened. Next, let's look at the letter/. Direct mail is a written medium, obviously, and so the copy matters more in mail than anywhere else.

Five-piece mailer:
The Outer Envelope
The Letter
The Brochure
The Order Form
The Return Envelope

The self-mailer:
The Self-mailer