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When to Use Direct Mail

Make the most of your direct-mail campaign

Q: Are some times of the year better than others for conducting a direct-mail campaign?

A: Timing can be everything with a direct-mail campaign. The worst time of year is during the December holiday season, due to the heavy mail flow. It's difficult to stand out in a crowd. There may be less competition during the summer due to vacations and travel. However, less business takes place during the summer, so you have a better chance of standing out during the fall or spring.

In addition to the appropriate time of year to send direct mail, think of how to make the strongest impression during your campaign. Plan to contact your customers at least three times. An advertising rule of thumb is that it takes at least six impressions before people connect your product or service with your marketing message.

I saw a great direct-mail campaign from the owner of a commercial cleaning company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who sent out three consecutive postcards to her prospect base. She canvassed door-to-door to meet with the appropriate business owner or office manager, left her signature postcard (a caricature of herself as the icon), and followed up with two others within two weeks.

The Direct Marketing Association is a great resource for other guidelines and resources available. Check it out at

Nancy Michaelsis president of, a marketing consulting company.

This story appears in the November 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »