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Old 11th September 2010, 06:00 AM   #1
resilien7
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Default My First Direct Mail Campaign

Hi, I'm starting a digital media / e-business consultancy (brand building, web strategy, graphic design, web/intranet application design & development), and I'd like to get our name out with a direct mail campaign. I've read the other thread about postcard mailing, and I've gleaned a lot of good info there, but I have some questions specific to my situation; here are the brochure details:
  1. closed size: around 7"x8"--maybe smaller
  2. open size: 14"x8" or smaller
  3. format: 4 page half-fold (front A [cover], reverse A, front B, reverse B [back cover])
  4. paper: 80lb matte cover stock
  5. options: custom die cut (logo-shaped window in front cover)
  6. colors: B&W outside, full-color inside
  7. units: 500 to 1000, depending on cost of print job

Here is a rough sketch of the design (the layout/copy/dimensions will be changed, and the second image is a design showpiece, not the primary brochure content, which will be printed in the black area and the other pages):
front cover
front B
If you look at them one after the other, you should see how the logo window works.

So here are my questions:
  1. Most of you seem to agree that the best value is to use a professional direct mail service for everything from printing to mailing. Does this still apply with atypical designs requiring custom die cuts?
  2. If not, where is the best place to rent or buy a targeted mailing list for the volume I'm looking at?
  3. How is a carrier route the cheapest method? Is it because the post office gives discount rates for them or just because they're shorter lists?
  4. I keep hearing about multi-touch marketing. Does this just mean launching separate simultaneous marketing campaigns on different channels (direct mail, adwords, email, etc.), or does it mean targeting the same set of people using each of these channels (e.g. Mr. Smith gets a direct-mail ad, prompting him to go to my site and submit his e-mail, with which I send him e-mail offers and newsletters)?
  5. I got a quote from PsPrint.com for the project, and with the custom die cut it's like $600+ for 500 units and $650+ for 1000. Has anyone else dealt with these types of higher spec brochures?

My initial plan before coming here was to, either hand-compile a list of 500 local businesses, or buy/rent a targeted mailing list of local businesses; then I would pick about 5 to 10 of them to send sample brochures to and get their feedback on it (what is their first impression? is there enough info? what info is irrelevant? would they actually read this or just toss it in the trash immediately? does the brochure quality make them look upon the brand more favorably? etc.) in exchange for free logo design or discounted web design. Then based on their feedback, I'd have 500-1000 brochures made and send them out to the rest of the list.

I know I can launch a larger campaign if I just used a standard brochure, but I figure, for the market segment I'm aiming for, it would be worthwhile to make the brochure nicer so it doesn't get tossed out as junk mail. And if I just get 1 client out of the 500-1000 mailings, then I would still make a profit. Also, my intention is to promote the brand and capture the attention of the audience. I want to position our firm as a smarter alternative to traditional web developers or graphic designers and emphasize the value of hiring a full-service e-business consultant. That is why I opted to go with a more costly brochure.

What do you guys thinks?

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Old 14th September 2010, 06:39 AM   #2
PTF
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Default

This isn't really an answer to your question, so feel free to ignore what I'm about to say!

However, I fear you may be about to fall into a rather expensive "marketing" trap that a lot of businesses encounter... "Getting Your Name Out There".

Here's the deal:

The design for the flyer is top quality. But, it doesn't tell your prospect anything about exactly what you do, why they'd want to contact you, or what it is that differentiates you from your competitors.

It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with brand awareness, but while you're going to all the trouble of contacting 500-1000 people who may have a budget and a need for your services, why not take the time to give it to them with both barrels?

Imagine if one of them phoned you today and asked you to come down to their offices... would you sit quietly in the chair and simply pass them a flyer - or would you go all out to sell yourself?

This could be your one and only chance to pitch your business to some of those contacts (if they're not blown away by your first pass, it's unlikely they'll pay much attention to later efforts)... I'd be inclined to add into the existing excellent design something like "5 great reasons to call us", or "Our clients come to us because...".

Just something to consider.

Pete

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Old 15th September 2010, 12:47 AM   #3
resilien7
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Default

I actually completely agree with you. What I posted was the original mockup. And it was intended mainly to generate brand recognition and the "wow" factor--which is why I had considered going with an even more elaborate pop-up based design. However, I've decided to be a bit more conservative on my first direct mail campaign and go a slightly more conventional route.

In the original concept, there would be very little room for copy (just 3-4 short lines on the backside of the cover and the top and bottom margins of the second inside page. However, this is what the current design looks like.

As you can see, there's a lot more info on what we do and why the customer might want to hire us. There's still not enough on what differentiates us from our competitors, but I'm pretty sure none of our cost competitors even come close to us in terms of design quality, which hopefully the brochure will get across.

I'm thinking of making this a booklet on the second run, or maybe just jump right to a pocket folder marketing kit where I can include a lot more info.

And just as an update for everyone on my progress, here's what I'm looking at in terms of numbers:

If I drop the custom die cut, then the pricing for 500 and 1000 units are as follows:
  • Printing: $239.56
  • Mailing: $107.50
  • Postage: $140.00
  • UV coating: $18 (one-side)
  • Total: $505.06
  • Cost per unit: $1.01
And for 1000 units, it's just double that. And that doesn't include the cost of the mailing list itself, and the brochure is treated as a self-mailer (which doesn't work with my design), and it'll be printed on 100lb text stock (which actually is thinner than 80lb cover stock).

I'm not too thrilled with that pricing.

My other option is to go with PsPrint.com, which has the following numbers for 500 units:
  • Printing: $372.09
  • Mailing: $392.10
  • Total: $764.19
  • Cost per unit: $1.53
and for 1000 units:
  • Printing: $396.00
  • Mailing: $771.00
  • Total: $1167.00
  • Cost per unit: $1.17

And they want to charge $260 for the die, and I'm not sure if that includes the cost of the mailing list.

So right now I'm talking with a local printing company to see how much it'll cost to print with them to the exact specifications I want, and also to mail it through them. Right now the list brokers I'm looking at are DirectMail.com and GeoSelector.com. I think both of them offer lists of businesses in my area for about $20-30 for just the mailing address and name.

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Old 15th September 2010, 08:35 PM   #4
JohnFenton
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Looks like the copy is coming along. I'll take a stab at your questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by resilien7 View Post
Most of you seem to agree that the best value is to use a professional direct mail service for everything from printing to mailing. Does this still apply with atypical designs requiring custom die cuts?
The advantage to using a shop that does both print and mail is mostly one of convenience, and some times (but not always) price. Your design looks top end so I would look for a high end printer to do the printing. If the printing isn't done right you won't get the impact you want. So quality printer over convenience and price in your case.

At 500, you may just want to do the mailing yourself, a mail house isn't going to save you much other than your not having to do the labor. At a thousand pieces, a mail house becomes a little more interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by resilien7 View Post
If not, where is the best place to rent or buy a targeted mailing list for the volume I'm looking at?
InfoUSA or AccuData are both good, if you get your quantity up to about 2,000 give me a ring ;-)

At 500 I'd be tempted to just compile the list myself. Chances are you can find 500 well targeted businesses just by using google and hand picking the names.

Quote:
Originally Posted by resilien7 View Post
How is a carrier route the cheapest method? Is it because the post office gives discount rates for them or just because they're shorter lists?
There is a postage discount for the density, the lists them self can be way larger.

You don't want to worry about using carrier routes, go for high quality targeted names.

Quote:
Originally Posted by resilien7 View Post
I keep hearing about multi-touch marketing. Does this just mean launching separate simultaneous marketing campaigns on different channels (direct mail, adwords, email, etc.), or does it mean targeting the same set of people using each of these channels (e.g. Mr. Smith gets a direct-mail ad, prompting him to go to my site and submit his e-mail, with which I send him e-mail offers and newsletters)?
You would be aiming at the same target group on each of the channels. But it wouldn't necessarily mean the same set of people.

And I would incorporate some of this in your plan. Telephone follow up would be good with the small quantities you are doing. But also make sure your SEO and PPC is setup for the keywords you are using. You might also want to look at other channels that can reach your target.

Quote:
Originally Posted by resilien7 View Post
I got a quote from PsPrint.com for the project, and with the custom die cut it's like $600+ for 500 units and $650+ for 1000. Has anyone else dealt with these types of higher spec brochures?
Custom die cuts are expensive.

One comment, your postage is going to be way higher at 7x8 than it would be at 6-1/8 x 8. Look at letter vs flat sized postage rates. You probably should also consider incorporating a mail panel (i.e place for the name. address and postage) if your doing this as a self mailer.

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Old 16th September 2010, 08:41 AM   #5
resilien7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnFenton View Post
At 500, you may just want to do the mailing yourself, a mail house isn't going to save you much other than your not having to do the labor. At a thousand pieces, a mail house becomes a little more interesting.
Yea, I'm starting to realize that. The only reason I hesitate to go to 1000 pieces is that our staffing is still very limited at this point, and I'm worried that if we get more than a 2% response rate, we will be overloaded (which is why I'm also trying to find other firms/freelancers to handle possible overflow work). I'd thought about doing the mailing myself, but I couldn't find exact figures on the USPS site for what's the cut-off point at which you need a bulk mail permit. But I'm heading to the post office today, so I should be able to find out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnFenton View Post
InfoUSA or AccuData are both good, if you get your quantity up to about 2,000 give me a ring ;-)
I will definitely keep that in mind. =]

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnFenton View Post
At 500 I'd be tempted to just compile the list myself. Chances are you can find 500 well targeted businesses just by using google and hand picking the names.
Yea, that was our initial plan. And I have been looking for leads myself. It's just rather time consuming. Another idea I had was to just buy 2000-3000 leads (or whatever the minimum order of ~$350 gets you for specialty lists) that come with psychographic info. And work on them for the next 2 years. But then I found out that the lists I was looking at are for one-time use and cannot be kept for more than 6 months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnFenton View Post
There is a postage discount for the density, the lists them self can be way larger.

You don't want to worry about using carrier routes, go for high quality targeted names.
Ah, I get it now. Yea, I guess that applies more to saturation mailing for consumer products/services than for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnFenton View Post
You would be aiming at the same target group on each of the channels. But it wouldn't necessarily mean the same set of people.

And I would incorporate some of this in your plan. Telephone follow up would be good with the small quantities you are doing. But also make sure your SEO and PPC is setup for the keywords you are using. You might also want to look at other channels that can reach your target.
Yea, we will definitely put some resources towards SEM. As for other channels, I'm not sure how we could do e-mail marketing at this point without buying a list, which I'm hesitant to do as that seems very spammy to me. Aside from that, I was also considering getting some promotional coasters made and try to convince a few local bars and diners to let me leave a stack of them on the counter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnFenton View Post
One comment, your postage is going to be way higher at 7x8 than it would be at 6-1/8 x 8. Look at letter vs flat sized postage rates. You probably should also consider incorporating a mail panel (i.e place for the name. address and postage) if your doing this as a self mailer.
Yea, I just realized that simply by making it an inch wider, I'm having to pay double for parcel rate. I guess that's why most businesses use traditional-shaped tri-folds.

And I've decided not to do a self-mailer, as I can't think of any way to make room for the mail panel without compromising the design. I've also read that people are less likely to toss out enveloped mail without reading since it looks less like an overt ad.

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Old 16th September 2010, 09:25 AM   #6
Slippery Slope
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Quote:
Originally Posted by resilien7 View Post
I know I can launch a larger campaign if I just used a standard brochure, but I figure, for the market segment I'm aiming for, it would be worthwhile to make the brochure nicer so it doesn't get tossed out as junk mail. And if I just get 1 client out of the 500-1000 mailings, then I would still make a profit. Also, my intention is to promote the brand and capture the attention of the audience. I want to position our firm as a smarter alternative to traditional web developers or graphic designers and emphasize the value of hiring a full-service e-business consultant. That is why I opted to go with a more costly brochure.

What do you guys thinks?
Your brochure screams JUNK MAIL! Within milliseconds, after opening your direct mail piece, your effort will be making its way into the circular file.

Your "intention is to promote the brand and capture the attention of the audience." First of all, no one gives a flying f#@k about your brand. The only thing your audience is interested in is: WIIFM (what's in it for me). And you don't get that message across using coporate speak like this:

"Intergrate your internet assets into your business process to increase efficiency and leverage real-time business intelligence."

WTF does that mean? Do you talk like that in front of real people?

Dump the brochure. Dump the coporate speak. Write a sales letter explaining what you can do to help your potential customer get more SALES and why he needs to call/email you right now.

Save the artsy-phartsy design stuff (without the corporate speak) for your website.

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Old 21st September 2010, 04:51 AM   #7
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While I agree with SS, I'm not sure I'd put it that bluntly.

I agree with testing the water before you waste a brochure that many people will not want. I good/great sales letter may be a better investment. Sell them on the WIIFM and then they'd be good prospects for a company brochure. Your brochure does little to convince me why you'd be a better choice for me.

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Old 21st September 2010, 10:17 AM   #8
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I have to start by telling you that I have NOT read all the posts and details about your questions. I just needed to 'chime in' about the design and layout.

Here's the problem that I see... and I see it alot in websites. People want to be cute and fancy about what they say... and how they say it to their prospects. Much like a website, you have about 1/2 second to either get my attention... or you are going straight to the old circular file... if you know what I mean. (read that as garbage can!)

Your headlines do not 'touch your prospect's pain'. They don't scream at me about how you can solve my problem. It's all about YOU!

If I were you, I wouldn't worry about 'building a brand' only because you don't have the money to do that. How do I know that? Because you're here and not in your board room talking with advertising professionals.

What your postcard or mailer needs in not another die or fancy something-or-other... it needs a headline that tells me EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO FOR ME. What problem are YOU going to fix and how are you going to do that.

Look, I am sorry to rain on your parade, but your ONLY reason for sending this mail out is to gain prospects. Get rid of all the junk and NAIL MY PAIN! What are you going to do for ME??? We can talk about you later. Get the phone to ring by creating that pain.

Also... I would stop and set up a website where people can get more info. Be sure that you have an opt-in e-mail list set up. Nothing fancy. But create a report about what you do.. .something with 'sex appeal'. Something like 'The 3 Things you need to know before...' and make that a downloadable report. Give the prospect as many different ways to contact you as possible.

Hope this helps. I honestly didn't mean to rain on your ideas... I just thought that the basics were way, way off.

Good luck!

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Old 13th October 2010, 08:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by resilien7 View Post
Hi, I'm starting a digital media / e-business consultancy (brand building, web strategy, graphic design, web/intranet application design & development), and I'd like to get our name out with a direct mail campaign. I've read the other thread about postcard mailing, and I've gleaned a lot of good info there, but I have some questions specific to my situation; here are the brochure details:
  1. closed size: around 7"x8"--maybe smaller
  2. open size: 14"x8" or smaller
  3. format: 4 page half-fold (front A [cover], reverse A, front B, reverse B [back cover])
  4. paper: 80lb matte cover stock
  5. options: custom die cut (logo-shaped window in front cover)
  6. colors: B&W outside, full-color inside
  7. units: 500 to 1000, depending on cost of print job

Here is a rough sketch of the design (the layout/copy/dimensions will be changed, and the second image is a design showpiece, not the primary brochure content, which will be printed in the black area and the other pages):
front cover
front B
If you look at them one after the other, you should see how the logo window works.

So here are my questions:
  1. Most of you seem to agree that the best value is to use a professional direct mail service for everything from printing to mailing. Does this still apply with atypical designs requiring custom die cuts?
  2. If not, where is the best place to rent or buy a targeted mailing list for the volume I'm looking at?
  3. How is a carrier route the cheapest method? Is it because the post office gives discount rates for them or just because they're shorter lists?
  4. I keep hearing about multi-touch marketing. Does this just mean launching separate simultaneous marketing campaigns on different channels (direct mail, adwords, email, etc.), or does it mean targeting the same set of people using each of these channels (e.g. Mr. Smith gets a direct-mail ad, prompting him to go to my site and submit his e-mail, with which I send him e-mail offers and newsletters)?
  5. I got a quote from PsPrint.com for the project, and with the custom die cut it's like $600+ for 500 units and $650+ for 1000. Has anyone else dealt with these types of higher spec brochures?

My initial plan before coming here was to, either hand-compile a list of 500 local businesses, or buy/rent a targeted mailing list of local businesses; then I would pick about 5 to 10 of them to send sample brochures to and get their feedback on it (what is their first impression? is there enough info? what info is irrelevant? would they actually read this or just toss it in the trash immediately? does the brochure quality make them look upon the brand more favorably? etc.) in exchange for free logo design or discounted web design. Then based on their feedback, I'd have 500-1000 brochures made and send them out to the rest of the list.

I know I can launch a larger campaign if I just used a standard brochure, but I figure, for the market segment I'm aiming for, it would be worthwhile to make the brochure nicer so it doesn't get tossed out as junk mail. And if I just get 1 client out of the 500-1000 mailings, then I would still make a profit. Also, my intention is to promote the brand and capture the attention of the audience. I want to position our firm as a smarter alternative to traditional web developers or graphic designers and emphasize the value of hiring a full-service e-business consultant. That is why I opted to go with a more costly brochure.

What do you guys thinks?
Your concept is most excellent! As a direct mail house, my recommendation would be to do a lot of research and select a "Museum Quality" print facility. We have two such print facilities here in Greater Buffalo NY USA, and there are printing trade organizations that can help you in this selection.
The mail list may be obtained from one of several sources available online. There are some better than others, but will not name here. Your search may cost ten-fifty cents per record. Do your research to make sure the company is reputable and furnishes you with live addresses rather than closed businesses.
Instead of using the POST for delivery where you want to "test" the waters, for 10-50 test recipients, I would use a courier service such as UPS or, even bigger, hire a limousine service and deliver by a tuxedoed delivery person.
When doing a mass mailing of 1,000 pieces, I would suggest not being concerned about Carrier Route as much as looking as personalized as possible. For your high end sale, put on full First Class postage. Don't cheapen yourself by Presorted anything! If it's cheap; you will be perceived as cheap.
Hope this helps you.

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Old 14th October 2010, 01:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slippery Slope View Post
Your brochure screams JUNK MAIL! Within milliseconds, after opening your direct mail piece, your effort will be making its way into the circular file.

Your "intention is to promote the brand and capture the attention of the audience." First of all, no one gives a flying f#@k about your brand. The only thing your audience is interested in is: WIIFM (what's in it for me). And you don't get that message across using coporate speak like this:

"Intergrate your internet assets into your business process to increase efficiency and leverage real-time business intelligence."

WTF does that mean? Do you talk like that in front of real people?

Dump the brochure. Dump the coporate speak. Write a sales letter explaining what you can do to help your potential customer get more SALES and why he needs to call/email you right now.

Save the artsy-phartsy design stuff (without the corporate speak) for your website.
Rather harsh words, but I agree with you all the way up to save the artsy-phartsy design stuff for your website... It doesn't work there either!

Here's the deal with brand marketing, it mainly entertains people and in the case of this postcard it doesn't even do that, it is definitely a recyclable.

Tell people what SS is talking about what's in it for them, Benefits, benefits, benefits. and by benefits I don't mean that your website will look good or be ranked high. It should be more like your customers will be pulled into your sales funnel and gush money into your pockets with your new website. you'll get more visitors to your website and we'll convert them into paying customers.

I personally think investing in a branding campaign (if you don't have 7 figures to put in it), is a waste of time and more importantly cash.

Get a benefits driven direct mail piece and be sure to have a call to action, call me now, email me now, whatever it is you want them to do, say it.

Hope this helps.

David

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