Balance Marketing with the Bottom Line

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 18 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

Direct mail is like walking instead of driving. It takes more out of you, but it’s worth it. You already know that you need a blend of high-speed digital and the appeal of the old-fashioned to maximize your outreach potential. But the truth is, well, mail isn’t your cheapest option. Direct mail means paying for higher impact, higher touch, and a slower build-up on return. Read on to learn how to balance marketing with the bottom line.

How to Balance Marketing with the Bottom Line

With direct mail campaigns, you always need the most bang for your buck. One of your best ways to create an effective mailer while keeping costs down is by taking special care with design. Here are some pointers on how to balance marketing with the bottom line.

1 – Sweat the small stuff.

In the excitement of getting your message out there, or launching a new campaign, it’s easy to let the moment override the inner editor. Begin designing your campaign with this principle in mind: sweat the small stuff.

This is not permission to stress out all your admins! But it is permission to look into every option for your mailer and to be persnickety with every aspect:

  • Spelling
  • Copy
  • Accuracy
  • Paper texture
  • Paper weight
  • Color
  • Printing options
  • Visual flow
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Envelope options

If you have to spell check twenty times, spell check twenty times. Re-adjust the brightness of photos until they’re perfect. Check what your mailer looks and feels like printed, and have them examined closely by at least five colleagues—ideally, a few that aren’t working for you! And compare, compare, compare prices.

I know we compared direct mail to walking. But if you’ll excuse the metaphor: you don’t just want your mailer to function; you want the engine to purr. Precision saves money.

2 – Choose size before content.

You have a lot of information to get out there. A lot of cool graphics. And a neat letter from the CEO. Oh, and what about those amazing testimonials? Before you know it, you may have created something unwieldy, and now need to spend more on postage and materials because of the weight, size, or shape of your mailer.

Avoid this temptation! If you calculate what weight, size, and shape you can afford, and build your mailer from there, you not only save money but force yourself to creatively work within parameters. This can result in far sharper language, far cleaner layout, and a more effective campaign. Lock down your size before you lock down content.

3 – Know your USPS options.

You probably know how to save on non-profit postage of bulk mailings. But do you know the difference between First Class, Marketing Mail, and commercial? And did you know that postcards, letters, and flats each come with their own set of potential money-saving advantages? It all depends on your budget and your goals. But knowing your options can greatly help you cut costs when it comes to planning design. So don’t be shy: get in touch with USPS and do your research!

(Or check out our great blog on the subject!)

For example, postcards aren’t just for advertising sales at furniture outlets (and there’s nothing wrong with that!). They can offer a lot of advantages to other businesses, non-profits, and churches in appeal, available size options, creative potential, and economy. And did you know you can mail something as “letter” that’s up to 11.5” long x 6.125” wide x .25” thick? Flats can give you good options, too, for size appeal and design area, as long as they don’t get too bulky.

How can you save money with direct mail?

First pick the size document that fits your budget, and then plan content around it, not the other way around. To maximize effectiveness: Paper, design, and packaging should reflect your brand. Make messaging as personal and local as possible. Prioritize proofreading and be perfectionistic. Love what you’ve created.

4 – Personalize.

There are simple ways to do this that don’t raise your price. Here are some ideas:

  • Ask USPS to affix pre-canceled stamps to your lower-volume mailings, instead of using the practical yet oh-so-utilitarian postage meter stamps. This makes the mail-out warmer and more high-touch.
  • Include the recipient’s name in the greeting and on the envelope—and make sure it’s spelled correctly!
  • Make reference to local detail or a shared community experience. Images that speak to local cultural details, like a city skyline or a seasonal flower, can work well as a design element.
  • Use a next step or CTA that you’re confident will appeal to this person.
  • Use demographic information to get the mailer speaking to things like age group, spending habits, lifestyle, industry, and previous interactions with your organization.

5 – Stay consistent.

When it comes to branding, you don’t have to get fancy, but definitely don’t get sloppy! If all your mailers look different, with no artistic or branding unity from campaign to campaign, you’re not allowing yourself to build on the trust and appeal capital of previous campaigns over time. You’re dividing up the effectiveness potential, and not being as wise with your money as you could be. The more your mailers are easily recognized as yours, the less work you’ll have to do overtime to get attention, and the more ability you have to avoid the recycle bin and build a reputation for a campaign that’s worth opening.

Places to create consistency include:

  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Layout
  • Logos
  • Slogans
  • Tone

6 – Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself.

If you’re trying to get a message across, consider creating two or more identical or nearly identical campaigns in a row. Your goal is to get through, and get through effectively, to a carefully-selected target audience. With direct mail, persistence and frequency outweigh reach alone. In other words, no matter how many people you send a campaign to, you’ll get more results by multiplying your message—saying the same thing over again—to the right people.

Raising appeal while keeping costs down? Definitely not impossible. At Letter Jacket Envelopes, we’ve got your back. We’re your one-stop shop for stocking up on everyday envelopes, as well as customized, full-color printing for that special—yet frugal!—campaign. Let us know how we can help!

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