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Postal Power

Secrets to boosting your direct mail's effectiveness

This story appears in the July 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Dubbed junk mail by some, direct mail is the Rodney Dangerfield of marketing. But this don't-get-no-respect medium is actually one of the most effective, precise and economical ways to get your message to key audiences. Jack Rein, a direct-mail marketing consultant and owner of Rein Associates, a direct-mail consulting firm in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, says there are several mistakes entrepreneurs make when launching their direct-mail efforts. Knowing these secrets to success can help you avoid some direct-mail pitfalls.

  • Converse first. If your mailing is going to require a team effort--a printer, list broker, mailing house, graphic designer and writer--be sure to consult in detail with each person at the project's onset. Discuss your goals and invite feedback. Ask the mailing house whether the list should arrive on disk or on labels. And make sure your graphic designer knows the size and weight restrictions for the postage classification you need to meet before he or she starts designing.
  • Buy from a broker. Because selecting the right list is the single most important element in your direct-mail effort, consult a reputable list broker. To find a broker, one good resource is the Standard Rate and Data Service's (SRDS) direct-mail book, which can be found in many libraries. You can also ask your local chamber of commerce or post office for recommendations. A knowledgeable broker will be able to help you find a list that will meet your criteria with minimal waste. Be sure to ask what the "deliverability guarantee" is--in most cases, it's 93 percent. Find out whether you'll be compensated if your return rate from incorrect addresses is higher than that.

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