Direct Mail Printing Checklist – Items to consider before printing

direct mail plastic postcard with simple direct mail printing checklist

What do you need to do to make sure that your next direct mail marketing piece is a success? What things do you need to consider and what steps should you take? Use this direct mail printing checklist to make sure that you’ve covered all the main points.

1. Direct mail printing with a purpose

The best way to ensure failure of a direct mail marketing campaign is to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars without having a game plan or reason as to why you are sending out the piece in the first place. Are you trying to drive more in-store traffic to your business? Maybe you want to drive more traffic to your website or let people know about a holiday sale that’s coming up. Whatever it is just make sure that there is a reason and purpose behind your direct mail efforts before spending the money.

2. Set goals for your direct mail piece

Have you ever gone on a diet only because you know you should but you don’t really have a goal weight or measurement to push for. You do it for a little while and since you had no goal in mind to reach you start to slip here and there eating things you shouldn’t and eventually you just give up and go back to your old ways. It’s kind of the same way with direct mail printing.

Marketing and Strategy Street signs at an intersection

A business making their first foray into direct mail marketing moves forward with trying it out because they’ve heard of other businesses having success with their direct mail campaigns. They go to a printer and get a postcard designed, a list purchased, and then the postcard goes out to homes. The results are less than stellar and now that business owner or marketing person is wondering what went wrong and whether or not they should consider using direct mail again.

If you’ve done the first step in this and created a purpose for your direct mail piece then you have to make sure to set a measurable goal for your postcard as well. That goal could be any of the following.

  • increase in customers over a certain period of time
  • % increase in average ticket totals
  • amount of sales for a specific product
  • increase in referral traffic

As long as your goal is something that you can measure then you can begin to formulate ideas and make improvements to your direct mail campaigns going forward. Change up the offer or some of the text on your design and see how that effects your goal the next time you do direct mail printing.

3. Demographics and Mailing Lists

Who you send your direct mail to is an extremely important piece of the direct mail marketing puzzle. If you have a business that is trying to sell high end jewelry to affluent people you don’t want to use a list that doesn’t target a high household income. Take a bit of time to decide who your target audience will be for your direct mail campaign. Look at your purpose and decide what type of person is most likely to take an action that moves your marketing efforts towards meeting your goal. Is that person a home owner, maybe they have 3 or more kids, perhaps you want to target a specific zip code.

Little boy looking in mailbox

If you have an existing customer list consider merging them into whatever list you are buying. If you aren’t collecting customer information yet to make a list then you should start. Check out our article on building your own customer mailing list using MailChimp for a good way to get started with that.

4. Use an enticing offer

The offer on your direct mail piece is probably the most important part of your campaign aside from who you send the postcard to. An offer can determine whether your marketing gets noticed or goes in the trash. Buy one get one free offers are good choices for restaurants using direct mail printing. A specific dollar amount of a minimum purchase amount is another good option. Using a laminated direct mail postcard can increase the odds that your offer will get noticed, and don’t be afraid to go with a direct mail piece that has multiple break off pieces or places for offers on it.

5. A direct mail printing budget is a must have

Don’t forget that for any successful marketing campaign even direct mail, you need to have a budget set. Without a budget how are you going to determine whether or not your direct mail campaign was successful. A budget should take into account all of the costs associated with a direct mail campaign. This includes but is not limited to the following.

  • design costs
  • list purchasing costs
  • Costs to print and manufacturer postcards
  • postage
  • any tracking or analytics services you use on your direct mail

6. Size and shape

The overall size and shape of your direct mail piece can greatly effect many aspects of your direct mail printing and marketing efforts. A larger direct mail postcard can certainly increase the chance that someone notices your postcard over other stuff in their mailbox, but a regular sized laminated postcard may do just as good. You also need to keep in mind your budget at this point as well, bigger means more expensive and could also increase the cost of postage as well. Talk with your direct mail printing provider as they can help you determine what your best options are when it comes to the type of direct mail piece you should be using.

retail and restaurant laminated direct mail postcard

7. Design and Branding

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when sending out direct mail is not spending the extra effort on the overall design of the piece. A direct mail postcard needs to be an attention grabber, but it also needs to clearly point out what you want the end user to do. Do you want them to come into your restaurant and use a BOGO offer? Well then you should probably use enticing pictures of your food. Don’t use bad photos, or photos that are to small for the printing process.

Make certain that your business name or logo is prominent on the card somewhere. If there are break off cards or coupons that get cut off make sure that the logo and contact information is on that piece as well. If you offer is for a specific location state that clearly with the store address and text telling the customer that information. Brand your marketing efforts appropriately and design with your end goals in mind to maximize your direct mail response rates.

8. Timing is everything

Timing is an important factor when it comes to direct mail printing. The following items all need to be factored in when considering turn times and in home dates for your direct mail marketing postcards.

  • design time
  • prepping the mailing list
  • production time
  • time it takes for the postcards to get to the homes

Some of these items take less time than others but every single one should be considered when deciding whether or not you can hit a specific date to match up with a marketing campaign such as Black Friday, Valentine’s Day, or any other holiday really. You probably want to get your postcard in someone’s hands the week before a major holiday. In order to do that you should be contacting your direct mail printer at least 1 or 2 months ahead of time. If you wait too long you could be in a long line of customers all trying to get their direct mail marketing printed at the same time.

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