All posts by Ryan Neufeld

How To Instantly Improve Your Postcard

By | Mailing Services | No Comments

Junk, junk… no, Capital One, I’m not interested in opening a credit card… jeez Bed, Bath & Beyond, leave me alone… no, I don’t want to donate more money… wait what’s this? As you dump the rest of the pieces into the trash, you take a closer look at this attractive, sexy, eye-catching, eyebrow raising postcard…

Alright, alright, so I took it a little too far. But isn’t that how we feel sometimes when sorting through the mail? You have your usual suspects that you plan to see once a week that you pay attention to for half a second. But man, when you come across a nice looking postcard, it stops you in your tracks as you examine the contents.

Everybody wants their postcard to be the one that catches attention but too often they end up in the trash with the rest of the junk mail. So how do you get your piece to be the one that survives the purge and even more, prompts the recipient to respond?

Let me share with you three tips to help instantly improve your postcard.
  1. Catchy Headline
  2. Color Scheme
  3. Clear Offer

Catchy Headline

When looking at a postcard, the first place your eyes go to is the headline. Usually, it’s the biggest piece of text because that’s the first thing you want your recipient to read. Concerning placement, I would suggest having it toward the top of the piece because that’s how the eyes read. Left to right and top to bottom. You want it to be super easy for the reader to locate your headline because this is the starting point for selling your postcard. Your headline is the way to get your foot in the door and keep the recipient reading.

Now, regarding the content of your headline, you could go a million and one different ways. So I’ll try to offer a little direction for you. Make it attention grabbing. This is your hook so it must entice the reader to keep reading. It needs to be obvious they will benefit from what you’re offering. Here are a couple good examples: “Make your neighbors jealous with a luscious, green lawn in only 60 days!” or “Enjoy 50% off your next oil change with us!” From the get go, the reader understands what you’re selling and how they can take advantage of this opportunity.

Color Scheme

One of the most common mistakes that I see made with postcards are poor color schemes. It’s critical that your postcard needs to stand out from the rest with eye catching and aesthetically pleasing colors. According to Kissmetrics, visual appearance is responsible for 93% of a buying purchase. And consumers say color is 85% of their decision for why they buy a particular product.

colors

When designing your postcard, the first guideline you need to stick to is brand unity. You want to make sure everything a consumer sees or receives from you emanates a common theme or appearance. This will help with your brand recognition and association in the long run. Second, make your color decisions a priority. Don’t allow this to be an afterthought or picked by random. Analyze the different elements in your piece and find ways to incorporate a consistent color scheme that works. If you aren’t sure how to do that, google color palettes, and pick one. Then stick to those 3-5 colors throughout the whole piece. You don’t want your postcard to look like Joseph’s technicolor dream coat or the outside of a circus tent. By sticking to some basic guidelines, I am confident you can create something that will have an positive impact on the reader.

Clear Offer

At the end of the day, the whole purpose of your postcard boils down to this: prompting action. Regardless of if you’re driving prospects to your website or advertising a big sale, you want to motivate the recipient to act. The primary way to do this is with your offer. You’ve led them on a short journey from awareness to consideration so now you need conversion. Providing a strong offer that is easy to understand is the way you can do this.

First, make it easy to locate. This thing needs to be “large and in charge.” The reader should never have to search or squint their eyes for what you’re offering them. The easier they can find it, the better chance they will act on it. You can achieve this by creating a burst graphic, or a “clip out rectangle” or a strong contrast in color. You need to lead their eyes toward it so do whatever you need to for that to happen. Second, make it easy to understand. Nothing is worse than seeing an offer that you can’t quite understand what is being offered. Let them know how you want them to respond. If you want them to go to your website provide the URL nice and big. Or, if you want them to bring the postcard into the store, write that in big bold letters. If your reader has to work hard to find out how to respond, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Make it simple and obvious for them to respond.

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An Easy Guide To Choosing The Right Offer

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

You’ve finished writing out your sales letter or just finished the design on your latest postcard. Everything’s looking good but you realized you haven’t decided on what the right offer is going to be. You have a couple ideas but you need to finalize what you want to do. It’s time to set the hook to reel in the big fish with your mail piece. But first, what type of offer should you use?

Well, let’s explore a couple different types of offers that you could try out.

  1. Percentage and dollar off discounts
  2. Low or no risk experiences

choosing the right offer

Percentage And Dollar Off Discounts

As they say, “there’s nothing new under the sun,” and that definitely includes discount offers. But why are they so effective? We all know and understand that receiving 10% off or $5 off your first purchase might not save you that much. But it got you into the store, didn’t it? And you ended up buying more than expected didn’t you?

There’s something about a good sale or discount that makes it near impossible for our minds to reject. So when going about setting the right offer, how do you land on one that is effective for the customer, but also for you? If you’re going with the route of a monetary discount, always rely on this principle, “whichever one sounds like more.”

You want your offer to be irresistible so you need to choose the one that gives the highest perceived value. Consumers want to feel like they are getting the best deal and a large part of that is based on their initial impression of the offers. So, if your dollar amount is $50 off compared to a 15% discount, there’s a good chance that the $50 dollars off would outperform the percentage. Because a lot of people aren’t going to be doing that calculation of 15% in their head. The $50 off just sounds like a better deal. Studies have shown that even though two different offers give the same discount, whichever sounds like a better deal will outperform the other. And in some cases, as illogical as it sounds, a discount offering less, can still perform better because of the perceived value.

So how do you pick which one? The answer is to test them. Send out an A/B split on your next mailing. Make Offer A percentage off and Offer B dollars off. Compare how they perform and make adjustments with each mailing. The best way to find out which offer you should use is by testing.

Low Or No Risk Experience

But what if offering a monetary discount isn’t the best option for your business? Then, consider giving them a low or no risk experience. This could look like a “30 Day Free Trial” or a “60 Day Money Back Guarantee.” You have the greatest chance of making a sale when the consumer feels like it is a very low risk or no risk purchase. Ease their mind and concerns, by giving them the chance to try out your product without risking anything. And if your product and services perform as they should, you already have the sale made. You give them the opportunity to take it for a test drive. At that point, the odds are in your favor that they’ll convert into a sale.

Above all though, keep in mind who your target recipient is and what you’re trying to sell. If they’re spending several thousand dollars, they’re going to have more concerns thus needing less risk. Go with the free trial for them. But, if you’re selling a service that normally costs $75, use a monetary discount to get them in. Keeping these factors in mind will help you decide on the right offer.

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How To Create Deadlines That Drive Response

By | Direct Mail Marketing | No Comments

To this day, I still remember reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet in my English Composition class my senior year of high school. After we had finished working our way through the book, we had to write a comprehensive six-page report. We had to detail every nuance and writing strategy we absorbed from the book. Let me tell you something, the only thing that made me write that paper was the deadline given by my teacher. Because if it wasn’t for that, I probably still wouldn’t have written that paper to this day…

Deadlines are motivating factors to take action on things. They give us a sense of urgency to make an immediate movement toward a decision. Deadlines in offers do the same thing. They motivate people toward a decision or commitment, regardless if it involves a sale or not.

your deadline

So how do you choose the best deadline for your offer?

There are generally two different types of deadlines:

  1. Limited period of time
  2. Limited spots or opportunities

Limited Period of Time

Limited period of time is the one you’re most familiar with because it’s used more often. This could be an actual expiration date such as “expires 4/15/18.” Or, “order product Y in the next 48 hours to claim your special pricing.” A specific time where your offer ends gives a definite stopping point to your customer. This can motivate them to act quickly because they may have a fear of missing out on this good deal.

A factor to consider with a timing deadline is exactly that. How much time should you give in your deadline? Well, the answer depends on what you’re offering and how you want the recipient to respond to your offer. If you’re simply driving them online to your website to claim a limited time printable coupon, the deadline could be as short as a week. Because you know that it won’t take very long for the customer to perform that action.

But, if your offer requires your customer to walk into your store, then it’s a good idea to give them a couple weeks so they have ample opportunities. You don’t want to set the deadline too short for fear of not giving your customer enough time to redeem your offer. But, if your deadline is too long, there’s a good chance your customer will put your offer on the side of the fridge and forget about it until a couple months after it expires.

Limited Spots or Opportunities

The second type of deadline you can use is limited spots or opportunities. Here are a few examples of what that can look like. “We can only schedule appointments with the next five people who call this number.” Or, “Our inventory is running low and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t wait and place your order before we run out!” Or, “Limited seating available: only 12 seats left. Claim yours before it’s too late!”

As you can tell, these give the customer a great deal of urgency because they’re informed there’s a chance they can miss out on this opportunity. By limiting the number of people who can redeem this, you provide a more competitive feel for the recipients of this offer. Plus, it allows you to control how much you’re giving away with your offer. You gain control from both a financial perspective as well as a timing perspective. Especially if you can only handle a certain number of appointments in a certain amount of time.

Your Deadline

Lastly, when making the decision of your deadline, the important question to answer is this. What is the goal of your deadline? As we talked about, with both types of deadlines, there are different factors that come in to play. Understand how you’re wanting recipients to respond to your offer and pick the deadline accordingly. As always, be sure to test. Try out a two-week deadline and see how it compares to only allowing 10 spots. You can always switch up the type of deadline with each offer you send out. Find what works best for you to drive more traffic to where you want it.

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The Great Debate: Postcard or Letter?

By | Mailing Services | No Comments

Chocolate ice cream or strawberry ice cream? Red vines or Twizzlers? Milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Coffee or tea? And lastly…. postcard or letter?

Everyday we have to make decisions where we pair two things side-by-side, and then decide which one we’re going to choose. Now granted, it’s a little easier to make a decision when you’re deciding between two chocolates. But how do you make a decision when you’re planning a direct mail campaign that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars?

Let’s take a look at the age-old question: should I send a postcard or letter?

postcard or letter

Before we dive into this discussion, I want to bring your attention to three different questions. It would be wise for you to answer these, before making the grand decision.

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What is your goal for the mailing?
  3. How do you want your recipient to respond?

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Before starting any mailing, regardless if it’s a postcard, sales letter, newsletter or something else, you should always finalize who your target recipient is. This is critical for developing an effective and pointed mail piece.

The first place to start with, is this mail piece going to be B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer)? This is an incredibly important factor. If it’s B2B, then that probably means you’re trying to persuade a business owner, or higher-up executive. So, will you have a better chance with a multiple page sales letter or a 6×11 postcard? There’s no doubt that the sales letter will be more effective. Especially if you’re trying to sell someone on your services, there’s little chance you’ll be able to do it on a postcard. Because, you don’t have enough time or space on the postcard to give your entire spiel.

One other thing to think about is the delivery of your piece to the recipient. If it’s a postcard, will it even reach the desk of your target? Remember, nearly everpostcard or lettery business has a “gatekeeper” that determines if your mail piece is worth the time to read it. However, if you’re mailing to a consumer who doesn’t have someone screening their mail, it’ll be a lot easier for them to receive your message with a postcard.

What Is Your Goal For The Mailing?

Second, what’s your goal for the mailing? Are you just letting your customers know about the new location you opened up or are you running a special on one of your services? In these cases, a postcard is definitely more than suitable for the job. However, if you’re trying to sell a monthly service they sign up for and have to commit to for six months, it will probably prove beneficial to write them a sales letter. Determining the goal of the piece can provide great insight on how you want to send your message.

How Do You Want Your Recipient To Respond?

Lastly, how do you want your recipient to respond to your mail piece? Are you wanting them to bring the coupon into your store to redeem? Postcards would be an easy and cost effective solution. Maybe you’re trying to drive them to your website to order something, a postcard is the way to go. However, if you’re trying to capture more referrals, this is when a letter could be most beneficial.

As you can tell, there are a hundred factors to consider when deciding between a postcard or letter. But a general rule of thumb is this: if you’re mailing B2B, go with a letter, but if you’re mailing B2C, go with a postcard. And just remember, you can always test with a smaller quantity, before going big. Keep on testing until you find something that works, then stick with that for as long as you can.

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What Is NCOA?

By | Data Processing | No Comments

Last summer, my wife and I bought our first house here in Wichita. We bought it from a sweet, old lady named Karen. We love it and have done so much already to improve it and shape it into our home. However, fast forward about eight months to now, and we are still receiving mail in our mailbox with Karen’s name. Why the heck are we still receiving her mail?!

That is where our little friend called National Change of Address or more commonly known as, NCOA, comes into play. Let’s unpack exactly what is NCOA, and why it is important.

What Is NCOA?

It would probably be best to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth:

Every year, approximately forty million Americans move their place of residence and/or business, but their old addresses often remain in mailer’s databases. As a result, mailings continue to go to old addresses and not the new ones.”

The National Change of Address is a secure database containing approximately 160 million permanent change-of-address records. This is maintained by the United States Postal Service who track the records of names and addresses of individuals, families and businesses who have filed a change-of-address with the USPS.

How Does It Work?

With every job, our data processing department performs a series of steps to prepare and clean up your list. Obviously, one of these steps is submitting your list to the NCOA database. Using our exclusive mailing software, we submit all of the records in your list including these fields for each record: “Name,” “Company,” “Address,” and “Zip code” (+ 4 digits if possible). Then the NCOA data base compares and contrasts these records against what it has on file, and makes the necessary changes and returns the list to us with the updated records.

As well as updating the address, it also makes any corrections or address resolutions needed. Depending on the state of the list being submitted, there could be anywhere from 4-5 records changed to 1,000 records changed if it’s in poor shape.

Here is an example of the results of a list after being run through NCOA.

what is ncoa

Why Is It Important?

Let’s look at the importance of running your lists through NCOA with a few simple math problems. “Rob” owns an auto shop, and is mailing a newsletter to his customer list of 3,500. Well, Rob doesn’t NCOA his list and there are 42 undeliverable addresses, 78 people who have moved to a different address in town, and 24 that have moved out of state. So there are now 144 newsletters that he will be paying for, that will not be delivered to the intended recipients. First, from a financial standpoint, he is spending .84 cents per piece, which comes out to a total of $120.96 that he is pretty much throwing in the trash. Secondly, from a marketing standpoint, that is 144 people who aren’t receiving the offer he has in his newsletter. With each potential conversion netting him $45, that’s a lot of revenue he’s missing out on.

As you can see, it is extremely important to have the most current addresses for each and every record. Besides saving you money, the USPS actually requires your list to be NCOA certified if you’re going to be mailing at a discounted rate, i.e. Presort Standard, First Class Presort, etc…

So flashing back to my story about Karen, there could be two causes for why we’re still receiving her mail.

  1. She hasn’t submitted her new address to the USPS database.
  2. These various mailing companies, have not run their lists through NCOA.

If you’ve moved recently and realize that you haven’t submitted your new address to the USPS, here is the link for you to do it.

Just remember,  you don’t want to become a Karen for the person who moves into your old house!

If you’re still scratching your head with the question, “what is NCOA?”, please reach out to us and we would love to teach you more about it.

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What is Every Door Direct Mail?

By | Every Door Direct Mail | No Comments

Regardless if you’re a direct mail newbie or a veteran mailer, you’ve probably heard of it. But what is Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) and what should I know about it?

Let me share some information about the nature of EDDM mailings and how you can use it to market more effectively.

What is Every Door Direct Mail?

Every Door Direct Mail, or known as EDDM, is an affordable service provided by the United States Post Office, which allows you send a mail piece to every house on selected routes at the lowest postage rate without purchasing a mailing list or bulk mail permit.

The post office requires the mail piece to have the following requirements:

  • Minimum size: 6.125 inches high x 11.5 inches long or more than ¼ inch thick
  • Maximum size: 15 inches long x 12 inches high or ¾ inch thick
  • It can be a card, folded self-mailer, or an envelope with the same size specs as above
what is every door direct mail

EDDM Sizing Guide

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

EDDM provides some strong benefits to the mailer. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • You can saturate neighborhoods and zip codes at a postage rate as low as $.17 each
  • You can select routes by averages of age, income, or household size
  • Ability to mail a large mail piece, sure to grab a recipient’s attention.
  • Because you can select carrier routes for free, you don’t need to purchase a mailing list.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are some disadvantages to EDDM:

  • Since you cannot address the piece, it can feel impersonal
  • You can’t select individuals, so you may be mailing to people with no interest in your product or service.
  • It costs more to print, as the pieces are bigger than your average postcards

How to get Started on an Every Door Direct Mail Campaign:

First, on the USPS website, select the desired routes and map out who you’re wanting to mail. Once complete, you can filter by average age, income, and household size.

Second, send us the the route and recipient information, and we’ll take care of the required paperwork to get your piece in the mail.

Third, send us your designed mail piece. Or, if you need help with design, let us know and we can design the piece for you.

Fourth, decide on a date to mail your EDDM, and we’ll put it in the mail on that date. It’s really that simple!

To launch your next EDDM mailing, give us a call at 800-624-3622 and one of our customer service representatives will take care of you.

 

every door direct mail

What Is Data Processing?

By | Data Processing | No Comments

Let me share with you a scenario that happens every so often when I am giving a customer an estimate or an invoice.They will ask me about the line item simply named “data processing.” So what exactly is data processing? I’m gonna let you in on a little secret…

The list the customer gives us doesn’t magically transform into the list that is mailed out!

Allow me to walk you through the journey of your list. When our customer service representative receives the list from the customer, it is put into a designated folder associated with a job number on our server database. Once the paperwork is made up by the rep, the data processing department is the next stop along the route as the job passes through the shop. One of our data processors accesses the list with our advanced software and then begins to follow a series of steps and check offs that have been developed over years of experience. This list processing checklist covers each and every detail that goes into a developing a final mailed list.

For example, some of these items include: removing duplicates, correcting fields, removing floating fields, updating addresses from NCOA, unifying the case of the text, checking the length of the longest record, postage verification, etc… All in all, there are 31 different items on this checklist that they work through by the time they are done with the list.

This eliminates any opportunity of error for grabbing the wrong list, including bad records and addresses, or even sending an incomplete list. Working through this process can take anywhere from 45 minutes for a cleaned up list, to four or five hours for a complex, messy list. Other factors that can add to the length of the data processing are how many fields are being included with each record or the amount of lists being merged together to form the final mailing list.

If the customer’s spreadsheet list has four or five different tabs or several excel files, that can take a lot of time for our data processors to import into the mailing software we use to presort the lists.

Well, as you can tell, there are a lot of little steps that are taken to ensure your mailed lists are as accurate as possible. Because these steps are executed correctly, we can provide the best mailing list for your direct mail campaign.

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