Direct Mail Projects Require a Group Effort
From graphic design to postage regulations, direct mail sales test distributors' resourcefulness.
What, exactly, are distributors' responsibilities in facilitating direct mail campaigns for customers? How knowledgeable must they be about target market profiling, mailer design and content, database management and postage regulations? It all depends on the customers' experience with direct mail and the particular projects being worked on.
Here, three suppliers specializing in direct mail—Stephen Wertz, president of Hampton Business Forms & Mailing Services, Conklin, N.Y.; Kathy Poirier, marketing manager for B&W Press, Georgetown, Mass.; and Bob Nesbit, president of SourceLink, Andover, Mass.—discuss ways to ensure a positive experience that leads to future collaborations between the distributor and the customer.
Know Thy Supplier
Nesbit observed that while it's typically the end-user—perhaps working with an ad agency—who handles mailer copywriting, distributors will occasionally have to handle this aspect of a project, as well as layout and design elements. In addition to copywriting, SourceLink's creative services include 2-D and 3-D direct mail piece designs, with the 3-D mailer designs proving especially effective at generating high response rates. "Distributors who can assist with copy and design to improve response or reduce costs add value to the relationship and secure the customer," said Nesbit.
Obviously, first-time direct mail customers will tend to require help in all facets of the job, and all three contributors strongly recommended partnering with an experienced, reputable supplier.
For example, Wertz stressed that "mail piece design is critical," and that distributor involvement in this area is a huge responsibility. "Chances of a successful campaign increase if the piece is uniquely designed and makes a stand-out impact. But, an improperly designed mailer can get held up in the postal system and can cost the customer major money in additional postage," he cautioned.
"Suppliers can provide distributors with key questions to ask their customers and offer guidelines to avoid problems," Wertz added. "Key areas we focus on with our distributors include design, timing, making an impact statement and the overall appearance of the piece."