When you were in elementary school, someone probably told you that there is no such thing as a stupid question. That may or may not be true, but when it comes to business, there are certain questions that are more helpful than others. And if direct mail is part of your overall marketing strategy (and it should be!) there are some questions that you should definitely ask your direct mail fulfillment company if you want to get the most out of the money you spend on direct mail. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
1. How long have you been in the direct mail business? Just because a business has been around a long time doesn’t make them good at what they do. But as our economy got tough a few years ago, some businesses looking for additional revenue streams through their hats into the direct mail business. But there is a lot more to direct mail than just slapping a label on an envelope or ink jetting a card. Postal regulations have gotten increasingly complex. And companies that don’t prepare mail properly end up paying a lot more in postage than they should—and their mail doesn’t get delivered as quickly. Make sure you’re dealing with someone who knows the regulations.
2. What additional services do you offer? It’s one thing to successfully get your mail into the mail stream. But getting successful results requires more than that. A good direct mail company understands that good direct mail comes from a marriage of good lists, good copy, good design, and good offers.
3. How can you integrate my direct mail program with my other marketing efforts? Smart direct mail companies understand the importance of a multifaceted marketing strategy. Not only do you need variety in the ways that you reach out to customers, your efforts need to be coordinated to maximize their impact.
4. What kinds of formats can you handle? There are a lot of different kinds of direct mail—and different audiences may require different formats of mailing. Some businesses may just send out card mailings. Others may have catalogs. Still others require matched mailings for things like invoicing, or receipting in which personalized information on different pieces within an envelope absolutely have to match. You need to know if your mailer has all the capabilities you require—or if he is going to be sending your job to someone else if it’s too complex for him to handle.
5. What kind of relationship do you have with the local post office? Unfortunately, some mailers take a “dump and run” approach to the Post Office. Once the mail hits the Post Office dock, they don’t want to have anything more to do with it. The fact is that sometimes an issue may arise that requires your mailer to work out a solution with the Post Office. Knowing the regulations and having a reputation for problem solving (instead of blaming) is essential when you have a critical mailing hanging in the balance.
6. Are you a vendor or a partner? Is your direct mailer someone who partners with you to find the best possible solution for you—or are they simply interested in fitting your mailing into their system? The best equipment and the most detailed knowledge can’t take the place of a partner who helps you find the solution that’s right for your business.