In Direct Marketing News

Best Practices: Plan your Direct Mail Campaigns in December

Most of the people who run their businesses, also do marketing on their own. Fortunately, direct marketing can be done in advance, unlike other daily operations. But you have to start direct mail planning perhaps during your Christmas Eve dinner if you want your first campaign delivered in the spring.

That’s why you have to start marking dates in your direct mail calendar for the next year in December. A schedule with all your marketing campaigns can make or break your future campaigns. When it’s done properly, it gives you a grandiose vision for the next year and also makes things magically happen. It’s known that if something is on the calendar, it has bigger chances to be done.

If you are pursuing a consistent marketing planning, here are some actionable steps and best practices to follow:

1. Start by writing down your business goals for the next year. The first step in setting up a successful direct mail campaign is to define your SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Once you have SMART goals, you will know what actions you need to take to achieve them.  

2. Set down in your calendar significant dates and special events for your business. Use a Calendar sheet to enter for each month or quarter the campaigns you want to run. Choose dates like holidays as direct mail opportunities.      

3. Set a realistic calendar. It takes from 5 to 10 weeks to plan, create, print, process and another week up to three for mailpieces to be delivered from the post office to the homes or businesses’ mailboxes. Rush services are available if needed for additional fees but don’t rush things from the planning phase. Keep the rush option for the contingency plan. Consider the steps to be taken and estimated time for completion. Plan carefully your campaign at least three months ahead.  

4. If you have to schedule time-sensitive campaigns for events and promotions, calculate your project milestones backward from the day you want your mailpieces to reach the mailboxes. Also, plan in advance your evergreen campaigns with a frequency of one campaign per quarter.

The list of tasks and estimated time of completion

Mailing list – Research of mailing list sources, mailing list report request, profiling, cleaning up the list, purchasing the list ./ 1-3 days

Budgeting – Request and approve the estimated costs for the project, based on business targets and the resources assigned to the project. / 1-2 days

Concept development – Brainstorm ideas and make mood boards or write rough story comps. / 2-4 days

Creative brief – Keep the people involved on the same page with a project overview and a list of deliverables, key selling points and other critical details necessary for timely completion. / 1-3 days

Ad copywriting – Depending on the format of the mailpiece, the text can be concise up to 100 words or extended on several pages. Professional writing services might be necessary. / 1-2 days

Graphic design -It takes time to create original artwork with an embedded creative concept. Don’t push pressure on the creative team. /3-5 days

Feedback, revisions, approvals – The revisions are part of the creation process, but don’t make them endless. Additional revisions are charged accordingly. / 5-7 days

Printing and Personalization – Postcards can be printed in 2-4 days, but other direct mail more complex formats may need additional time. /4-7 days

Mail Processing – Addressing, folding, envelope inserting, tabbing, stamping and drop off to the post office. /1-2 days
Delivery – First class /3-4 days or Standard or bulk mail that is less expensive / up to  3 weeks.

It seems that your postcard campaign started on 1st January will reach your prospects’ door somewhere in the middle of February. Having already everything ready, you can prepare the subsequent mailing to the first one in 4-6 weeks. Send the same mailpiece to the same mailing list or a different version with different variables changed (headline, offer, call-to-action, and so on).

An example of planning for a month:

direct mail calendar

At the end of the planning, you’ll have a valuable document to keep on track. And you’ll know exactly what you have to do with what results, as part of your communication strategy.

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