December 2017

Dec 18, 2017

We are excited to continue a series of articles that we’re sure you will find informative. The twelfth and final is at the bottom of this e-mail. If you missed the previous articles, please visit our website at and click on the Newsletter tab.

The 12 Most Common Direct Mail Mistakes
And How To Avoid Them

Mistake No. 12: Creating and reviewing direct mail by committee.
Do you know what a moose is? It’s a cow designed by a committee.
Perhaps the biggest problem I see today is direct mail being reviewed by committees made up of people who have no idea (a) what direct mail is; (b) how it works; or (c) what it can and cannot do.
For example, an ad agency creative director told me how his client cut a three-page sales letter to a single page because, as the client insisted, “Business people don’t read long letters.”
Unfortunately, that’s an assumption based on the client’s own personal prejudices and reading habits. It is not a fact. In many business-to-business direct mail tests, I have seen long letters outpull short ones sometimes dramatically.
Why pay experts to create mailings based on long years of trial-and-error experience, then deprive yourself of that knowledge base by letting personal opinions get in the way?
Here are some things you can do to become a better direct-mail client:
  • Reduce the review process. The fewer people who are involved, the better. At most, the mailing should be checked by the communications manager, the product manager and a technical expert (for accuracy).
  • Resist the temptation to meddle. Point out technical inaccuracies and other mistakes. But don’t dictate the piece’s content, tone, or style.
  • Make a commitment to judge direct mail not by what you like or by aesthetics, but by results—which can be measured accurately and scientifically.
  • Become more educated in direct mail by reading books. I recommend “Successful Direct Marketing” by Bob Stone (NTC Business Books, Chicago, Ill. (800) 323-4900; 496 pp.; $29.95) as a good place to start.
  • Know what’s going on in the industry. Subscribe to at least one of the direct marketing magazines: Direct Marketing, Zip Target Marketing, DM Nexus. Also, keep in touch with industry developments by reading the more broadly based marketing publications, such as Business Marketing and Advertising Age.
  • If you challenge your direct mail pros, be willing to spend for a test. In direct mail, the answer to “Which concept is best?” is the same as the answer to the question, “Which mailing piece pulled best?”
Because nobody can argue with results.
-Robert Bly
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