I’m Not Madly in Love With Their Mailbox. Really.

By Beacon Staff

I’m not madly in love with their mailbox.

Really, I’m not. You’ll see.

Last week, my comments about direct mail mistakes were far from complete. We could discuss that stuff for days, maybe longer. None of us have time to do that, but I do feel obligated to elaborate a bit.

Stamps vs. Indicia

While I don’t recommend the use of indicia, if you carefully plan your use of indicia, you can get away with it.

For example, if you’ve already established a relationship with a client and you’re sending a monthly newsletter, using bulk mail indicia makes financial sense if you’ve cleaned your list using software or a service, or if you’ve mailed to that list recently using a stamp.

I recommend to clients that if they want to use bulk mail indicia, they should do so on a quarterly rotation for a monthly newsletter. IE: first month, use a stamp. In months two and three, indicia will be

OK as long as they are updating their list with the return/change info that comes back on returned mail from month one.

A different type of mailing might require a different plan, so don’t assume that my newsletter mailing postage rotation schedule is perfect for every kind of mailing. It isn’t.

Deliverability is still a concern with bulk mail, so make sure that bulk mail pile doesn’t have to cover payroll this week.

Sending the same mail to everyone

The only exceptions to this that I can come up with are things like “Hey, I’ve sold the company and I’m moving to Costa Rica” letters.

Measuring Response

I really can’t imagine a day when I wouldn’t mention this. Except for the Costa Rica letter. That’s one that I wouldn’t care about measuring, but the new owner should.


One of the things I didn’t have room to mention in the 5 mistakes post that it is critical to make sure that you don’t look like a putz by sending the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th mail pieces in your mailing sequence to a person who responded to the FIRST mailing.

It sends such a message that you aren’t paying attention and that the mail isnt…personal. Put things in place so that you can avoid doing this – it’ll pay for itself in postage and printing saved, much less in aggravated clients and your reputation among them.

Response percentage vs ROI

A few people asked me privately about my assertion that response percentages are meaningless.

It depends. If you get a 20% response, but you lose money on the campaign, did it work?

First, you have to keep in mind that a mailing’s goal might not be directly financial – ie: it might not be a sales piece. In that case, your ROI is measured by asking yourself: “For this customer, did the mailing piece accomplish its goal?”

And in that case, the response percentage might prove to be of the same usefulness as the ROI.

ROI *is* still most important, but response percentages are one of the things that you simply have to sweat over the long term. You have to test (that goes back to the measuring issue) carefully to see what improves response.

For example, you might test the difference in response is between a letter with a printed, barcoded label and one with a hand-written address. Assumptions are cheap. Testing is accurate.

And then there’s conversion – but that’s another whole set of discussions on its own:)

I’m sure a number of readers are wondering why they should care about direct mail. After all, direct mail is dead, and it’s all about the internet, right?

Regardless of the reason, if you’re convinced that direct mail is irrelevant, these last two weeks were a big waste of your time.

Or not. Think about these two columns again, replacing “direct mail” with “email”. Or “face to face sales”, “telephone”, “television”. Likewise for radio, newspaper ads and any other media you use to communicate with your clients and prospects – including Twitter, blogs, video and other social media tools.

Each of these tools are simply another way to have or start a conversation with a person.

Don’t ever forget that, regardless of the media you use to communicate.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at [email protected].