When sending direct mail overseas, don't let your message get lost in theshuffle.

If your direct-mail audience includes a continental contingent, you might wantto heed these global warnings:

1. Plan ahead. Don't do a European mailing in August when the entirecontinent is on holiday in southern Spain. And make sure your mailing doesn'tcoincide with any national holidays or religious observances. Of course, beforeyou blanket the entire region, you might want to send out a smaller mailingfirst to gauge the potential response rate.

2. Be a polite American. When it comes to salutations, always take intoaccount any appropriate cultural conventions.

3. Be postal perfect. Rules change constantly, so you should check withthe international representative at your local post office to avoid anycountry-specific problems. Also, don't ever send anything without a ZIP code,known abroad as a "postal" code.

4. Learn the language. If your mailing calls for a translation, makesure you use a native speaker to avoid any embarrassing gaffes in your copy. Ifyou can, also print the address label in the characters of the local language.

5. Legal issues. Be aware that privacy issues and data protectionregulations are more strictly enforced in Europe.

6. Make response easy. Too often, U.S. entrepreneurs make it difficultfor foreign customers to respond. Short of a multilingual staff, allowingcustomers to use credit cards (Visa, MasterCard or American Express) resolvesmost language barrier and currency conversion issues.