When you’re planning a direct mail campaign, it’s a good idea to make sure you have all your bases covered (even if you’re an old pro). Use this checklist as you go through the creative development and print/mail process to stay on schedule and stay on budget. You might even end up saving some money in the end.

___Start planning sooner than later.

There are many reasons to plan ahead. Paper is harder to get. The paper you want may not be an option, or it may take time to get it in stock. It may also be more expensive. If you plan in advance, you’ll be in a better position.

Depending on the kind of business your company does and the frequency of your campaigns, planning ahead can mean planning the year. If you know you’re going to send out six campaigns, and you’re going to use the same kind of paper and the same envelopes every time, ordering in advance can save you money (and insure you have what you need on hand). Working with one production agency might help you to negotiate a better deal.

In short, a long-term strategy is in your favor.

___Think cost-effective.

In terms of budget, every little bit you can save counts. And there are choices you can make when designing a package that will save you money. Your production agency can help you develop a cost-effective package. This includes the design itself, the type of paper stock, and paper finish. It’s common sense to avoid unusual shapes and sizes that don’t print efficiently and folds that take time and cost more.

___Choose the right printer.

If you have no experience choosing a printer, it’s time to do some homework. Pick five to six you are interested in working with and learn about them. Check reviews online and examine their website. What are their capabilities? Do those capabilities match what you need? What do customers say about working with them?

Keep in mind, printers generally are not advisors and don’t guide you through the process. They take orders and they print them according to your specifications. If you need more help than that, a production agency can manage this whole process for you from step one to the customer’s mailbox.

___Proof, proof, proof.

Remember, the printer’s job is to print. They’re not going to proofread your job and make sure everything is reader ready. Before you send your work to a printer, it’s of the utmost importance that you thoroughly examine it, looking for typos, checking the design specs, going over any variables. A printer will send you a proof before printing—go over that with the same magnifying glass.

For big jobs, especially four-color jobs, do a press check. Go to the printer and look at the preflight proof yourself, checking for color accuracy, sharpness, bleeds, and blemishes.

___Choose the right mail shop.

This is similar to choosing the right printer. The most important thing here is to make sure the mail shop is up to date on the latest postal regulations and can help you save with a savvy postal strategy. Other than that, make sure the mail shop can handle your job. Some mail shops only handle smaller jobs. Other shops excel at larger jobs. You need to make sure the mailer can meet your needs. The more aligned your needs are with their capabilities, the more you will save.

___Check your data.

Data changes all the time. Avoid sending duplicates or sending to an undeliverable address. Make sure, if you’re personalizing, all your files have the correct names and variable data. Good data hygiene can help you cut costs and ensure a positive customer experience.

___Take advantage of postal logistics.

Postage may be the most expensive part of your project. Study up on the latest postal logistics, which encompasses strategies to help you save money when mailing large campaigns. This includes sorting, commingling, drop shipping, and tracking. The right postal strategies can help you save on mailing, and it can help your mail arrive faster.

___Review the results.

Direct mail can be tracked in different ways, so make sure you use this technology to see how well your campaign succeeds. Do your customers/prospects respond to your offer? Sign up for an account? Take the action you desire? Based on results, you can tweak campaign to increase ROI in the future.

___Consider a direct mail agency.

This is a comprehensive checklist, and reading the checklist is easier than actually going through all the steps. An experienced production agency can do all of this for you, taking the production process off your hands and letting you focus on your job. Because the print/mail side is a job in itself. 

Call EdgeMark Partners today and see how we can help.