It’s time to put together our direct mail budget. As we do, it’s a good idea to remember that direct mail is subject to the same principles that determine the effectiveness of all advertising. Once a year I like to remind myself, and our clients, of those principles. They’re easy to forget. Of course, I’m talking about frequency, reach, and consistency. While there are certainly other considerations as you drill down your marketing plans, concentrating on those three will help with determining a direct mail budget.
The question of frequency should come up more often when it comes to any direct mail budget. It’s doubtful that an advertiser would consider running one radio or one TV spot and expect to see results. So it’s surprising when a new client expects one direct mail campaign to make their year or, even worse, save their business. It’s just not going to happen. It’s a rare product or service where the manager doesn’t need to ask, “How many times a year should I mail?” My answer is almost always the same, “As many times as you can afford to.” OK, it’s a bit of a joke but really, within reason, it’s true. And part of knowing how much you can afford is knowing how many people you’re going to mail your ad to. That’s called ‘reach’.
See also Pricing your Bulk Mail Project
The reach aspect of direct mail is usually very specific. You’ll know exactly how many people are on your mailing list and the post office will charge you to mail each and every one of them. So you’ll want to determine how many people you really need to mail to. There are various ways to narrow a list down and your Accurate Mailing representative can help you with that. But for the purposes of this article, the reach aspect of your mailing plans should be balanced with the necessary frequency. And in most cases, the frequency will trump reach.
The toughest part of your direct mail plans will be the follow through. And it’s helpful to remember the power of frequency when you’re doing that. So you’ll want to think of ways to ensure that your mailings go out on regular bases. Depending on your circumstances, there are several ways of maintaining consistency in your direct mail advertising. One of the most common methods is printing your mail pieces in advance. That removes what is often the biggest challenge in staying on a schedule- waiting for the printing to be completed.
Postage can be another source of delays. It’s usually the most expensive part of the project so it’s the hardest check to write. By replacing the money in your postage account as soon as possible, you’ll be ready to mail the next round on time – as scheduled.
Consistency in your mailings builds credibility with your prospects and it allows you to operate your business more efficiently because you’ll have a reliable cash flow that you can depend on.
So in your mailing budget, consider how the principles of frequency, reach and consistency should be balanced so that your budget is not just affordable but effective. And remember that the Accurate Mailing staff is here to help you with your planning.
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