Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Direct Mail



Designing Direct Mail

People frequently make the silliest mistakes. We’ve seen more than one direct mail piece without phone numbers or other contact information. We’ve seen direct mail so “busy” that you can’t read it. We’ve seen people refer to holidays and use the wrong date. And whenever someone tries to take an image from the Web, it invariable prints “fuzzy.”

However, the most common mistakes we see are spelling and grammar errors. I don’t think we can stress this enough: your printed matter represents you, and if it’s poorly done that is how your business will be perceived.

The second biggest mistake we see is not offering something that is sufficient to entice a potential customer to actively do something or to change their purchase behavior. We’ve seen too many direct mail pieces basically telling the world, “We’re here!” And the world usually responds with “isn’t that nice.”

Another deadly sin is not using an appropriate list. We had a consortium who had a designer work their direct mail pieces and had us print them. But to save a few dollars, one of them had a list they had purchased of high income area residents, so they used that list. There was no relationship between the group’s services and high income and their return was very poor.

The greatest mistake in direct marketing has to do with expectations. Customers very frequently ask what kind of return they should expect. Or they tell us they expect 1% – 1.5% based upon what they have read. And those percentages are real – but only for those companies who have tested and tested and tested different graphics and copy in their mailings. Companies who have in-house advertising departments with copywriters or who use advertising agencies see those results.

How should you determine your ROI? Add up all our costs for a direct mailing, your expenses for design, copy, printing and postage. Now determine your average sales ticket, and divide the former by the latter. That’s how many sales you will need to cover your costs. If you get that many sales, you’ve broken even. If you get one more, you’re ahead of the game. And if you get repeat business from each client, be certain to factor that into the calculations.

Now a bit of technicality: images on the Web are generally 72 dpi (“dots per inch”). Images that have a higher resolution do not appear any sharper on your monitor, but take longer to load, so web designers always reduce their images to the 72 dpi level. However, for clean, bright images, printers require resolution of 300 dpi or higher.

Although it is possible to take a large image from the Web and increase its resolution by reducing its size, it seldom works well.

Solution: use only high resolution graphics when designing your postcards or other printed marketing materials.

How to avoid these errors? Proofread, over and over again. Better yet, have someone else do it for you. You can do it yourself, just take your time.

And please proofread it one more time!

Direct Mail Sizes and Shapes

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