Who Says Direct Mail Won’t Work in Recession?

The first thing that will perhaps come to your mind in a downward economy is to cut down on your advertising and marketing budget. And experienced people can tell you how harmful it would be to invest in direct mail. But wait a minute before you reach any conclusion! Is direct mail really not going to work in your favor? In fact, many experts believe that if used intelligently, direct mail is the perfect tool that can help you to come out of a bad business situation. In any circumstance, a growing business can benefit a lot from the strategic use of direct mail.

So what is Direct Mail?

Direct Mail is the way to reach your prospects or customers by delivering a hard copy (paper + ink) to their mail box by US Postal Service. Few e.g. are

How much does it cost?

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Cost depends on the following 5 things

1. Graphic Design: Very important.. please do not cheap skate on this. If you are not going to spend money on this, then DO NOT DO DIRECT MAIL AT ALL. It is the most important piece. AND GRAPHIC DESIGNERS are not the best person to come up with the correct message.

Then you would think who it is?

IT IS YOU. DAMED!! Who knows about your business better that YOU. So do not leave it just on your graphics designer to come up with the message. Work with the designer, give him or her the ideas about what you want to promote. Then let the designer come up with the correct piece. If you are dealing with an experienced graphic designer then usually he or she will come up with a good one in maximum of 2 revisions.

If you have already done 4 or more then find another graphic person who can do this job.

By the way our graphic design professionals are the best. Usually my senior graphics person (David) comes up with the correct message in maximum of 2 revisions. By the way check out our graphics offering.

2. Mailing List: You will need a list of people to whom you will send the mailers. Don’t start by opening up yellow pages and start typing them up. You will need it in a soft copy format. Prefreably comma seperated or excel format.

Best vendor for this is www.infousa.com . Go to the website or call them to get a proper mailing list based on your needs.

For e.g. if you own a business to repair residential garage doors (I had a customer yesterday asking about it), your target customers should be having homes with garage and located very close to where your shop is, i.e by zip codes and have a certain income range.

You Get the Point!! PrintPapa does not provide any mailing list, but we will need one if you want us to handle the direct mail campaign for you.

3. Printing : Alright!! So now you are ready to print.

Choose the right kind of paper. Get some samples or even look at a proof. Postcards are very common as it is the most economical and most effective method for direct mail campaign.

By the Way Did I tell you that we specialize in that. We print literally millions of postcards per month. We offer 6-7  standard sizes and these are printed on nice thick (14 point card stock) with UV Coating on the non-addressed side. The UV Coating actually protects the postcard from the harsh handling by USPS mailing system, that way your customers gets a postcard which looked the way it came out of the press.

4. Preparing mail for USPS : This is where we take the printed piece, your address from the mailing list, and our permit number and print them up on the mailer.

Sounds simple? Right!! Not that easy!!

To get the discounted mail rate or bulk mail rate the addresses have to go through few validation process. For this we have to use USPS certified software solutions (licensed yearly – can cost anywhere from $1500 – $5000 /year) which takes your Excel file or mailing list and goes through each record and validates the zip code, address, city, state.

Then it starts doing the Move Update process (new thing started this year by USPS and is mandatory for mailing providers). This move update process check each address against the USPS database of all the addresses and makes sure that the address is correct for that person.

For e.g. if the Joe was living in San Jose and moved to New York last week, and the mailing list which you provided to us is 2 months old, according to which Joe is still in San Jose, this move update process will update the address to the correct one. (this will only work if Joe did submit a change of address form). So this kind of validation not only ensures that the mailer reaches the recipient, it also gets you the best buck for you money.

BTW did I forget to mention that you get anywhere from 30 to 40% discount if you choose bulk mailing.

5. Postage: Yup you need to pay USPS some money to get the mail delivered. Right!! So how much will be the postage??

For e.g. I have 1000 postcards 8.5×5.5 – by first class it will cost 44 cents per mailer. So around $440.00? CORRECT??WRONG? – You will get a disocunted rate if you let us do the part #4 above. As we are doing lot of work which otherwise the post office has to do you get a better discount, roughly anywhere from 30% to 50%.

So to get an total postage amount – we have to pass the mailing list thought the software which will then provide the total postage cost.


When it comes to building relationships with your customers, there’s perhaps no better way to promote your products than through direct mail. It helps you to reach your target audience at an individual level and address them directly with the benefits of your products and/or services. If you are a small business owner, try adding specials with your direct mail piece so that your mail will be remembered by your potential customers when they actually make any purchase decision. The results won’t be far away if you concentrate on using the direct mail option intelligently. Don’t shy away from innovative ideas!

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Date: 4th August, 2009 | Under: Marketing 1 Comment

One Response to “Who Says Direct Mail Won’t Work in Recession?”

  1. Larry says:

    Great Post. Also Isn’t it true that you have to do at least 6 mailing. So make sure to have that in your budget.

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