Despite all the dire predictions, direct mail is alive and well. In fact, the Direct Marketing Association forecasts 2012 ROI for direct mail at $7.25 (catalog) and $15.40 (non catalog) on each dollar spent. One of the reasons the ROI is so high is that the cost to deliver direct mail is still relatively low compared to other marketing methods. Why? It’s partially because the Postal Service has mastered the use of automation – using high speed, efficient machines to help sort and route mail.
Now in order to take advantage of these cost savings, marketers have to follow a few rules so these machines can actually sort their pieces. Here’s one of my worst stories from 20+ years in the print industry: a hysterical client called to demand her money back because the all the postcards she mailed came back to her instead of being sent to the mail recipient. All the money spent on designer fees, mailing lists, printing, and postage, EVERYTHING went down the drain.
The culprit? Her return address was located too far down. Since postal machines aren’t human and couldn’t differentiate between the return address and the mailing address, it read the return address as the mailing address and all the postcards were mailed back to her. All I can say is, “Thank God I didn’t design that piece!”
Today this type of headache can be avoided by doing a little homework first to ensure your mail design meets postal requirements. There are several variables in addition to the mail panel layout that affect whether you will get automation discounts, including weight, shape, and thickness. It’s best to get professional help with this. Fortunately, that’s pretty easy.
Just show a sample to the Postal Service. Even if you’re familiar with direct mail, they have Mailpiece Design Analysts that will review your design and double check that everything conforms to current requirements. You can find one to help by calling 855-593-6093, Monday through Friday 8 am – 5 pm, CST, or by emailing your request to email@example.com. With their assistance, you will have done your best to keep costs down and you’ve pretty much guaranteed your marketing piece will be received by your intended recipients.
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