The Art Has It – Tips For Effective and Cost Saving Direct Mail Marketing

You’ve done your homework and decided that a direct mail marketing piece would be the best marketing strategy to acquire new customers. You’ve carefully worked the numbers and figured out your marketing allowable, or how much you can spend per piece to create a wonderful marketing campaign. Now with target audience in mind you hire the very best marketing firm. And then the troubles begin.The copy is great, but the design…oh, the design! The design is not only gorgeous, it’s also designed to be the most expensive size to mail through the United States Post Office. Worse, the design doesn’t appeal to your target audience.Before firing your creative team, use these tips to ensure effective and cost-saving direct mail marketing pieces every time, and get the best from your creative department.Write a Creative BriefThe creative brief has gone out of fashion lately, and that’s a shame. A solid creative brief can set the stage for a wonderful coalescence of copy, design and marketing strategy.  If you’re not familiar with the creative brief form, find one or ask a friend to share the format his agency uses. Most briefs contain background on the piece, the desired look and feel, the copy strategy, and any ‘must airs’ or must-haves in the piece, such as corporate logo, certain fonts, etc. Using a brief to communicate the basics with the creative team can safe a lot of time and headaches.Check the Latest Domestic Mail Marketing Manual on the U.S. Postal WebsiteIf you don’t have a copy of the majestic tome known as the Domestic Mail Manual, go to the post office’s website and search for it online. It changes frequently, so bookmark the page and especially mark the pages you refer to frequently. The Domestic Mail Manual tells marketers the size categories and specifics to achieve postal discounts. You can always break the post office’s rules and mail the oddball piece, but you’ll pay for it.  Learn what the generic sizes are now for things like post cards, flats and packages, and make sure your graphic design department knows too. Share this information in the creative brief to make sure it’s communicated throughout the team.Leave Michelangelo Out of It: The Image Is Pretty, but Does It Work?Graphic designers worked long and hard at their craft, the same as you. They take pride in their artistic achievements and often go to great lengths to create beautiful works of art on marketing pieces. The image and design may be artistic, but is it effective? If the direct mail marketing piece is covered by a huge photo of a daisy but you’re selling shoes, is it working? Will your target audience understand it? Make sure you never sacrifice clarity and coherence for artistry.Check Readability of All Direct Mail PiecesFonts go in and out of fashion about as rapidly as hemlines change each season, so be careful about trying to use the latest, greatest and snazziest font.  Make sure your direct mail piece is readable above all else.  Never drop body copy below a 10 point font and ideally, keep it at 12 points.   I remember working on a direct mail catalog for an education company. To save paper and get the catalog size down to a lower price break from the printer, the designer dropped the font to 9 points. One of the book editors flagged it and passed it back to me with a note that read in part: “The average age of our customers is 55.  If they have to put on their eyeglasses to read more, they’ll just throw out the catalog.” She was right!  It was better to spend the money and go for the bigger font size than make our customers struggle to read the print.Creating an effective direct mail piece is a fine balance between solid marketing skills, creative copy writing and design.  Yet by remembering these major points when you’re working on your next direct mail piece, you may end up saving the day by boosting response rates and saving money in the long run. And that’s the name of this numbers game known as direct mail marketing.

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