Uncategorized | Direct Mail Journal - Part 3

Direct Mail Journal

Direct Mail and Marketing Tips

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Planning for a Bright New Year

Holiday decorations are out on display, there is cheer in the air, and very soon over one billion people will tune-in to see the ball drop in Times Square. There are lots of distractions for business owners over the holidays – personal and professional. If your business is B to B, then December can be a short (quiet) month, by nature. If you work with consumers, December can be booming; but there is still a relatively calm bubble the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Why not take this opportunity to reflect on the year, critique the results, and start off January with some momentum and a plan for success?

Let’s Get Started

Spend a little time to reflect on how the year went. What were your goals for the year? Were they strictly financial in nature or were there other strategic goals you wanted to accomplish?

A foothold in an important new market? The first order from a critical activity-based client outreach campaign? Public relations coverage in an important trade journal? With consumer products, a spot on Oprah could do the trick. The launch of a new product that could change the future direction of the company? These could all be legit goals for certain businesses.

If you started the year with a list (you should), then revisit it now. If you didn’t, that’s fine, build one now. Think back to last December and capture the essence of what you hoped to accomplish.

Examine the Numbers

Sometimes numbers can be a little intimidating, but they really are your friend. The numbers can tell a story that is clear and unambiguous.

The numbers can also be organized in different ways to focus on specific pieces of information. A simple income statement can show sales and expense results over the course of the year. It is best if the numbers can be arranged in columns by month so that we can see seasonal trends – one column for the entire year, does not tell us as much. If we use the numbers from each monthly column and divide them by top-line sales, this can give use a sense for the magnitude (importance) of each element in relation to sales. This called a common size income statement. We can also subtract the previous months number, from the current months number, and divide by the previous months number, for the numbers going along the horizonal, to get a sense for trends that might not be obvious from the raw numbers.

The most important numbers will depend on the type of business. It is common to track sales, even though growing sales may not be the primary objective of some all businesses. It can still be an important indicator of business health. Were sales up, down, or flat for the year? Is this part of a longer term trend (e.g., this is the sixth year of decline or another record year)? Were the results due to something within our control or larger environmental factors. COVID has taken a toll on many businesses over the past couple of years. Do we expect these challenges to linger, or do we see them as temporary in nature?

Pick Key Metrics

Most businesses and industries have mountains of data. We don’t want to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume. We just need to pick a few key metrics that we know are pivotal to the health of our business. These are often referred to as Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).

As mentioned earlier, it is common to track sales as a topline indicator. It is also common to track gross margin – the amount of money that remains once Cost of Goods Sold is deducted. This is often tracked as both an absolute number and as a percentage. It can be important to track expenses as a percentage of sales. If we have certain categories that make up a large portion of expenses, labor for example, then we can call those out and show them separately. Inventory levels and inventory turn-over can also be key metrics in manufacturing industries.

How Did You Do?

Once we know what we are tracking, and we have gathered the information, then it is time to evaluate our results. How did we do? Were we close or off by a mile? As Jim Collins says in Good to Great, we need to be brutally honest with the results. If the results are in-line with expectations, then how do we get even better? If we came up short, what concrete (actionable) steps can we take to avoid that outcome in the future?

Looking Forward

Now we are back to that list of goals – this time for 2022. What do we want to accomplish?

SWOT analysis is a great place to start. Create a list of all your (internal) strengths and weaknesses. We need to understand our core competencies, but we also should own areas where we are lacking as well. Then add (external) opportunities and threats. When using this tool, strengths and weaknesses should always be internal, and opportunities and threats should always be external. We can also rank each item on the list in terms of likelihood and magnitude. This will help to direct our focus to the most important elements of the list.

Now let’s make a list of SMART goals for 2022. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-based. There are a few different versions of this tool in popular media, but this is the version we prefer. Goals should be clear and unambiguous (Specific). We need to be able to measure the results (Measurable). The goal needs to be something that we can take concrete action to obtain (Actionable). Goals should be within reach (Realistic) – though we often want to raise the bar a little. If the bar is set too low, then it becomes less motivational; If the bar is set too high, then it can demoralize rather than bring focus. We also need a specific date (Time-based) when each item will be complete.

We don’t want to go overboard on goals for the coming year. There is really not pre-set limit. However, if we have too many, and get spread too thin, then we may not accomplish any of them. If we have too few, then we can grow our business in a very monochromatic way. Just as a general rule, three is probably too few, and a dozen is definitely too many.

Monitor Progress

That’s it. We are ready to hit the ground running in 2022.

Just remember, that we don’t have to wait until next December to check our progress. We should have defined our KPI’s in this process. We can monitor them on an ongoing basis to assess our progress. There are many companies that will add KPI’s in an automated dashboard so they can monitor the business continuously. You can experiment a little and find the right balance for your business.

Here to a healthy and AMAZING 2022!

Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.

Easy Ways to Integrate Digital & Direct Mail Marketing

Determining the right balance between digital and direct marketing can be a challenge for a lot of organizations. Issues can arise, when one form is seen as superior to the other, and half of the mix gets neglected. Businesses are now engaged in a very digital world – digital has become very comfortable. It’s easy to predict which form marketers might wish to push aside.

Still, for those in the know, the facts are hard to ignore. Direct mail marketing is much more powerful than many business owners realize. Seventy-three percent (73%) of consumers prefer receiving information from brands via direct mail because they can read it at their leisure. Despite being delivered right to the front door; consumers find this less intrusive than online pop-up ads or social media interruptions. The best part… on average, direct mail advertising is kept in the home for 17 days. The impression really lasts… stalking and retargeting are definitely not required for success.

So, what’s the best way to integrate both digital marketing and direct mail? Here are some simple yet powerful moves.

Allow Digital Response

When a direct mail campaign is received, customers need to know which digital forms of contact they can use to respond. Not everyone wants to make a phone call or go directly to a website first. Including a web address is, of course, a crucial piece of information today. Organizations that deal with a lot queries through WhatsApp or Facebook Chat might find this is the preferred form of response for mail campaigns as well. Direct mail links well with this form of social media when it is clear and easy to connect the in-home online piece with the online platform. We need to make sure that we align the visual content between platforms so the consumer can clearly see the connection.

QR Codes Bridge Gap

A QR code is a 3D barcode that can be printed and displayed online or offline. Anyone with a smartphone can use their camera to scan it, and they will be redirected to an online destination in their browser. Consumers appreciate the simplicity and instant access to information. In fact, QR codes represent one of the leading forms of payment in places like Asia.

A QR code can offer any business more cohesion when connecting offline and online worlds (promotions). Information can be stored in a QR code; to quickly link a person to pages on a website, to showcase discounts and offers, display menus, highlight products, or download apps. They appear technical and can seem intimidating to implement at first. However, there are many applications on the web that will generate them fast and free.

There is often an element of mystery or intrigue offered with a QR code. The recipient may not know where they will land until they scan the code. It could be a secret discount code for the first 100 people who claim it, or a special landing page only for the recipients of that mail piece. It can be a perfect opportunity to be creative and fun, or simply a method to relay important information quickly. Whatever the end goal is (online), it’s quite possible a QR code could help.

Synchronize Branding

Digital and direct mail marketing should not be treated as separate – they are two specific tools that belong in every marketing toolbox. Both tools need to communicate a cohesive and consistent message to clients both online and offline. To illustrate, it would normally be frowned upon to use one style of branding in an Instagram ad and a different branding entirely for the same campaign on YouTube. The same principle applies to direct mail marketing. It should be treated as a combined element of the overall branding; this will build consumer trust and reinforce brand messaging.

Digital Funnel Capture

When leads are captured, such as email addresses over the phone, or directly in-person in a physical store, they should be added to a digital marketing funnel. These leads can be nurtured over time with periodic messages and offers – leads have a cost, and we don’t want to lose them. Offline leads that are not converted, can slip through the cracks. It can involve more effort to manually capture the entry, but it can be well worth it over time. Even for those brands that have high quantities of digital lead generation, offline leads can often convert better, if they have been given in-person or over the telephone.

There will always be occasions where digital outperforms direct mail – and the reverse can also true. It is important to pick the right tool for the job and to use both to complement each other. This usually leads to much stronger results overall. Personalizing communication to align with each customer’s needs is the ultimate way to balance effectively and produce stronger results.

Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.

Avoid These Six Holiday Postcard Mistakes

Avoid These Six Holiday Postcard Mistakes

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Seasons Greetings!

Finding the best way to spread cheer during the holidays can be a tough nut to crack. If this year has been a challenging one for business, perhaps budgets are tight and you’re looking for ways to save costs, without compromising holiday cheer?

Holiday postcards are low cost, quick to put in motion, and best of all, customers love them because they feel so personal.

They are simple, yet they allow for a lot of creativity and they can even be sent in envelopes to maintain an element of surprise. To get the most out of your mailing, avoid these common holiday postcard mistakes.

Mailing Too Late

The holidays can be such a busy time for businesses, so it’s quite common for other things to take priority. Of course, when it comes to wishing your customers a happy holiday, it’s better late than never at all; but ideally, it’s much more effective if sent early! In the week right before Christmas, mail volume increases more than any other time of the year, as family and friends rush to get their greetings and packages to their loved ones (and clients).

If businesses can reach mailboxes in the first two weeks of December, the message is likely to encounter fewer competing distractions and receive more attention. Still, customers are eagerly anticipating mail and checking everything that comes through the mailbox. Your postcard will not be missed either way, but the optimal time to send would be the first week of December. Here at Zairmail, we can assist you with a holiday design and have your postcards in the mail within 48 hours. We are here to help and support you through the process every step of the way.

Not Going Jumbo

Share double the holiday cheer for just a nickel more. It now makes even more sense to go jumbo-sized on your postcards and really get noticed. Based on the specification changes that USPS made in August, the (in the mail) price difference is minimal, but the impact is twice as good! We highly recommend this upgrade for your holiday and new year campaigns.

For your reference:

Standard postcard size = 4 x 6 or 4.25 x 5.5

Jumbo postcard size = 6 x 9 or 5.5 x 8.5

Neglecting Design

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of choosing a design that looks like the front of every other holiday card. A postcard provides the unique opportunity to really pack a punch as soon as it’s seen. Even if you choose to send a postcard in an envelope, (which is a great option!) the goal is to get a spot on the fridge or somewhere memorable. Why not use this as a way to create an ‘out of the box’ Christmas design that is specifically made for the fridge? A shot of the team, a reminder of turkey (or roast beast) cooking times, or a special holiday recipe?

Sales Pitch Focus

A holiday postcard should spread cheer with no strings attached! This is not the time to mail a promotional offer or pitch your business services. It’s simply a way of staying ‘top of mind’, building rapport, and letting customers know you care. For promotional Christmas offers, October and early November are the best time to target those campaigns. These should not be confused with a holiday postcard.

Forgetting Contact Information

Even though the goal is not to sell directly through the holiday greeting, all relevant contact information should still be included. At the very least, the company name, website, phone number, and physical address should be included. A logo and company name will not be enough if customers do choose to reach out after the hustle and bustle of the holidays. It’s surprising how often important contact details are forgotten in the rush of December.

Sometimes knowing what not to do is just the ticket for success! We have also shared loads of great material on how to smash success with postcards and all of the things that should be considered for promotional postcard campaigns. December is an ideal time to start mapping out direct mail plans for the new year. If you need ideas or advice, or would like to order a free sample mailing kit from us, click here.

Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.

Have a warm, wonderful, and festive holiday season!

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Mail

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Mail
(or those who use it)

Elspeth Douglas McClelland (1879–1920) was an architect and a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) also known as the Women’s Suffrage Movement. In the late 1800’s women did not have the right to vote in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. The goal of the Suffrage Movement was to win the right to vote for woman using peaceful, and at times, even violent means.

Elspeth is most notorious for her creative efforts to grab attention during Suffrage. In 1909, after unsuccessfully trying to schedule a meeting with the Prime Minister of England, Elspeth, and fellow activist Daisy Solomon, mailed themselves to him. The postal service guidelines had been severely eased to allow people to be “mailed” by express courier. Elspeth and her companion leveraged these new rules to secure a covert audience with the Prime Minister.

Elspeth and Daisy were addressed to “The Right Hon H. H. Asquith, 10 Downing Street, SW” (London). The stamp for this journey cost only 3 cents at the time. A.S. Palmer, a postal boy, transferred the pair to Downing Street, where on-duty police officers permitted them through to number 10. However, a government official arrived and protested the delivery. The official told the delivery boy that the pair cannot be presented and must be returned to sender – “these are dead letters”.

Elspeth and Daisy were taken back to the office of the Women’s Social and Political Union. The delivery arrived at the office of the Prime Minister as planned and the public relations stunt won even greater attention for their cause. An image of this eventful day is in the British museum and the Prime Minister is said to have been “amused” by the occasion.

Based on the efforts of activists like Elspeth, woman made steady progress and won the right to vote in the British colony of New Zealand in 1893. Australia granted this right to non-Aboriginal woman in 1902. Voting rights were extended to woman in most western powers after the First World War. In particular, Canada (1917), Britain and Germany (1918), Austria, the Netherlands (1919) and the United States (1920). It is hard to imagine, but the mail also had a role in this process.

On Thanksgiving we want to say thank you to ALL who have fought so hard for the rights and liberties that we all enjoy today!

Daisy Solomon and Elspeth McClelland with a post boy, police and an
official outside 10 Downing Street, attempting to get themselves delivered as letters

Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.

What Does Thanksgiving Teach Us About Business?

What Does Thanksgiving Teach Us About Business?

It’s not often we stop to think about what a celebration like Thanksgiving actually teaches us. Rather, it’s something that businesses will jump on for their promotional messaging. The problem with this is… it often comes off as a bit flat. Holidays and celebratory days come around every year, and every year organizations will come up with methods and offers, simply because it’s a ‘special day’ and they feel obligated to do the same as everyone else. But consider this… if your business didn’t learn anything last year, what do you expect to gain this year? Here are four things Thanksgiving taught us.

Saying Thank you and Being Thankful are Two Different Things

It’s so important to stay connected with customers, build relationships, and reach out during special times like Thanksgiving… but you already know that. Have you ever opened a ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ email or seen a blanket Thanksgiving message on social media from a brand you follow? The chances are you probably have, but did that message evoke any emotion? Did it stand out from other Thanksgiving wishes?

Probably not!

What are you truly thankful for this year from a business perspective? Be specific. Maybe it’s a wonderful new employee who has completely transformed your organizational culture and motivation. Maybe it’s one special customer who was so grateful for your service they brought in flowers and made your week. If you’re a charity, maybe you received an unexpected donation that allowed you to change lives in a new way. These are real things that have happened, and they are heartfelt (authentic). These are the things your customers would love to read as you share why you’re thankful this year.

Making a Difference… is the Difference

Thanksgiving is about sharing, so it’s the best time of year for your company to do something without profit in mind. If you’ve gone the entire year without giving back as an organization, without working with a charity, rewarding your loyal customers, or taking the time to benefit a cause bigger than you, now is the time.

If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that these are the important things. Brands that are aligned with causes are winning right now, because being kind, giving and sharing, matter more to people than nice packaging and a well-designed website. The companies that know this are already making a difference in the lives of other people while simultaneously gaining long-term customer loyalty.

Your Employees are Your Life Blood

Build a team of dedicated employees and business partners who are passionate about customer success. Work together to devise strategies that find, delight, and retain fiercely loyal customers. This type of mindset, when authentic, can create a snowball that continues to build on itself. It also starts with caring – caring about each other, caring about our clients, and caring about successful customer outcomes. What better time than Thanksgiving to show we care?

It’s a Time to Reflect

This time of year is ideal for reflecting on the previous twelve months and looking at what worked and what didn’t in an informal way, before leading on to a more formal strategic plan for the new year. When we say a less formal way, we’re talking about something similar to gratitude journaling. Gratitude journaling is the process of creating a short list of items that we are grateful for. There are those who do a gratitude journal every day. We don’t need to go to that extreme, but it is good to take stock periodically.

When we exercise gratitude, it’s easier to accept the challenges ahead and acknowledge the problems that might have occurred. Gratitude often leads to optimism and positive thinking, which are so important for innovation and creativity. Without that, it becomes challenging to brainstorm for new strategies or overcome hurdles. Take some time to stop and reflect before mapping out plans for the future.

Business is of course business, but at the heart of that, we are all still people. That means that emotions can come into play – especially at this time of year. It can be difficult for a brand to show its “human” side without feeling exposed. To some, this may seem unprofessional; yet it is this vulnerability that creates the potential for emotional connection with the brand. Thanksgiving teaches us that these seemingly insignificant things, working together, all matter – a LOT.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.

Happy Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day From Friends At Zairmail

Zairmail Salutes the Brave Men and Woman Who Have Served Our Country

Veterans Day started out as Armistice Day on November 1, 1919. The holiday celebrated the first anniversary of the end of World War I – the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, of 1918. Armistice Day became an official national holiday in 1926 and was renamed Veteran’s Day by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all those who serve or have served in the armed forces of the United States.

The men and woman of our military serve to keep us free and protect our way of life. They come from all walks of life. They come together for a shared purpose. They are parents, children, grandparents, friends, neighbors, and co-workers – you cross paths with veterans every single day.

We are all forever in their debt.

Reach out to someone who has served and say thanks.

Veterans take 10% off regularly priced direct mail orders through Sunday November 14. Use promo code SERVE.

Thank you for all you have done to help keep us safe!

Back to the Future (Price Decrease)

The cost of First-Class postage was $.03 at the end of World War I (Armistice Day). The price went down to $.02 after the war, a price point that lasted through 1932. In contrast, the USPS raised the cost of a First-Class stamp to $.58 in August – the second increase this year.

You can count on Zairmail to do our part to battle inflation for you. We work hard to maximize your savings based on both economies of scale and postal discounts – while still providing the fastest and easiest way to send mail.

Zairmail is rolling back the price of jumbo postcards. Upgrade from a standard postcard to a jumbo postcard for just a nickel more. Talk about a blast from the past – what else can you do with a nickel these days?

We are always here to help. Just let us know how we can best serve you.

Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.

Happy Halloween From Your Friends At Zairmail

The stores are chocked full of scary costumes and treats. It seems to start a little earlier every year. Still, it comes not a moment too soon, Americans are more than ready for some fun social events with family and friends. We have seen 18 months of pandemic-driven mask mandates, stay at home orders, and political turmoil. The entire country is ready for some holiday fun.


We can take a clue from the consumer goods folks on this front. It is never too soon to plan for the holidays and get your holiday greetings in the hands of those who matter most to you and your business. We need to stay “top of mind” and be part of the glow.

Just in time for the holidays, the US Postal Service has extended the (discounted) postcard rate to jumbo postcards (5.5 x 8.5 and 6 x 9). That means that you can super-size your greeting for just a small amount more. Talk about a holiday treat! This one is super sweet!


You can also drop your holiday postcard in an envelope to get a high-end holiday card effect. Postcards in envelopes do not qualify for the postcard rate, but they still cost a tiny fraction of what traditional cards in the store run. They also have a personal and tactile feel that an email greeting cannot match.


Zairmail can also send more traditional greeting cards too. Come up with your own personalized holiday design and Zairmail will print and mail it for you. You can even personalize your envelope with a holiday stamp, a handwritten font, and a personal message on the outside.


Still not enough? We have one client who includes magnets for the fridge in her cards. These special greetings have a central place in the kitchen for months or even years.

Of course, since you are using Zairmail, the process will be faster, easier, and less expensive!

Let us help you ward off the evil spirits and spread the holiday cheer!


Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.

Person Holding his freedom

Going My Way?

There is an article in the Zairmail archives that explores the limits of what can be shipped through the mail. It is a truly entertaining piece that never seems to go out of style. We also stumbled into this list of 21 Things You’d Be Surprised You Can Actually Mail. The list includes a wide array of unexpected items, including a lime, an inflated beach ball, and a rose in a bottle, among others.

This made us wonder, is it possible to ship other things, like a human for example, through the mail. We might be able to include food and water right in the package to sustain the occupant – even when service slows down over the holidays. Other types of human needs might still remain a problem. Still, that didn’t stop us from looking.

The Smithsonian published a piece that highlights the launch of parcel post, for packages of less than 15 pounds, in 1913. The service started on January 1, in part to take advantage of the rapidly growing demand for mail order services to rural communities. Almost immediately people began shipping their children to relatives. An 11 pound parcel costs just 15 cents at that time – insurance, if any, was extra. Postmaster General, Albert Burleson, quickly put an end to that practice by June.

It turns out that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many curious (and humorous) stories about people being sent though the mail. Over the next few months, we will share several of these stories in this column.

The Shipping Journey of Henry “Box” Brown

Henry Box Brown was a slave who successfully sent himself to freedom in 1849. Brown hid in a wooden crate and arranged to be sent to slavery abolitionists in Philadelphia. Brown was a slave in a tobacco factory when he devised the perfect plan of escape to the freedom. However, brown was forced to leave behind his enslaved family.


James C. A. Smith, a free black man, along with Samuel Smith (aka Samuel the Shoemaker), aided Brown in his ingenious plan. Brown escaped in a wooden box just 3’ (w) x 3’ (l) x 2’ (h)wide, which was labeled “dry goods” on the side. Brown took a small amount of water and several biscuits with him. The wooden box had a single hole for air. The shipping box was nailed shut and then wrapped with straps.

Henry "Box" Brown Being rescued from his box.

The Escape

Brown’s trip to freedom lasted 27 hours during which, the box that held Brown was transported by wagon, railroad, steamboat, and ferry. Despite instructions on the box that said, “handle with care” and “this side up”, Brown was bounced around and placed upside down multiple times. Brown continued to stay still and went undetected.

After Browns impressive escape, he earned the moniker Henry “Box” Brown and spent years on the abolitionist speaker circuit, first in the northeast US, and then in England.

We have offer many other interesting posts this blog here are some:

  1. Conjure Some Postcard Magic With These Tips!
  2. Howl For Your USPS Postage Treats Now!

Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.

Conjure Some Postcard Magic!

Conjure Some Postcard Magic!

Are your direct mail campaigns meeting your sales objectives? Give yourself a powerful treat this season and boost your ROI. These three simple techniques can help improve the effectiveness of your campaigns. Put them in your sack and take home the potential for supernatural returns.

In that spirit, Zairmail once again shares the 70/20/10 rule. The success of any direct mail campaign is based on the list (70%), the offer (20%), and anything left, the creative (10%). This can be a little counter-intuitive. There are many direct mail advertisers, and agencies, who focus on creative first – of course, that’s the fun part. Still, we all know from experience, if we put the right offer in the hands of the right prospect, good things tend to happen.

1. How is your list?

The list is often the most overlooked piece of a mailing campaign. Yet, it is the single most important ingredient for success, and often the easiest to adjust. With the rising cost of postage, the last thing we want to do is send a letter or postcard to anyone who will not be motivated to action, now or sometime in the future. Remember, it is a-okay to use direct mail to establish a brand and solidify a rapport, even if prospects will not purchase today.

Is The List Defined?

Just ask yourself, who is your ideal client? How do you define them? We often define consumers in terms of demographic characteristics such as geography, gender, income, family characteristics, … If our customers are businesses, then we can look at factors such as geographic region, size (e.g., sales, employees, offices, …), industry, growth rate, … The more specific that we can be when it comes to defining our ideal customer, the better opportunity we have to find the right list and create winning offers.

Do you have a house (customer) list? This can often be a good place to start. The people who have purchased your product(s) or service(s) in the past, can provide a snapshot of what our best future prospects look like. We need to nurture those relationships and then continue to grow our base of potential clients. If we don’t have a house list, or the list we have is a little starved in terms of reach, then we can always purchase additional contacts. One of the key advantages to direct mail is that demographics for lists are extremely well developed. We can pull lists based on any/all of the criteria outlined above – and a lot more!

List Health?

How healthy is your list? Harvard University tells us that over the past five years, each year more than 13% of the US population has moved. Over a three-year period of time that means 40% or more of your addresses could be bad. If you are using Zairmail for your mailing, then we automatically run each list (over 500 records) through the National Change of Address (NCOA) database and Coded Accuracy Support System (CASS) to assure that we are using the most current address and it’s deliverable.

Still, since postage represents ~70% of the cost of any direct mail campaign, we don’t want to burn postage on any mail that can’t be delivered. We need to keep all our lists updated and accurate. It can often be less expensive to replace an old list, rather than spending money on postage, just to see piles of undeliverable mail return.

Spend a little time reviewing the Zairmail Mailing List Boot Camp for more tips on how to find the perfect mailing list.

If you need more help, Zairmail provides electronic access and real-time counts for consumer lists from Acxiom, and business lists from Dunn & Bradstreet, as well as thousands of other specialty lists.

We can definitely help you rattle some chains and scare up the right list.

2. How compelling is your offer?

If we are sending mail to an existing or prospective customer, then we want them to do something, right? What do you want your customer to do? Do you want the recipient to send you a check? Do you want them to pick up the phone and call? Do you want them to visit your website? Do you want them to keep you in the mind for some future need? Do you want them to tell their family and friends about you? These are all legitimate goals for a direct mail campaign…of course, there are many more outcomes we could consider.

What will motivate the recipient to take that action?

Do we want to offer a one-time discount to get them used to purchasing from us and experiencing the benefits first-hand? Do we offer a free no-cost “analysis” so we can show the customer what to purchase and how they will benefit from our offerings? Do we offer a referral program, so that those who know us best, will send us qualified prospects that they know well?

There are also different styles of offers. One technique in sales is to start with a small “ask” to win the customer’s trust with minimum perceived risk. Another technique is to start with a big “ask”, and then rachet back, to let the customer discover their own comfort zone. Of course, we can mix and match these types of techniques to align with our products, services, and audience.


Once we have a potential formula in mind, then we need to put that message into bold and action oriented words. We need to state (a) what action we want them to take, and (b) what benefits they will receive in return. To the extent the benefits (far) outweigh the actions/cost, the results should be significant.

It is not unusual to have a few different ideas. One of the other benefits of direct mail is that you can test. Break your list into pieces, try different offers with each list, and then continue to refine the one that pulls best. Once we get a piece that performs well, then we can really step on the gas. However, this really should be a process of continuous improvement – we can always get better.

We need to make sure that any offer is time limited. Offers that don’t expire usually just gather cobwebs on the counter. We know, as a general rule in sales, that the further we get from the initial point of engagement with the client, the less likely they are to take action. We need to make sure that we provide a deadline to serve as a motivating force and remain top of mind.

3. Let’s get creative.

Creative might represent only 10% in our formula for success, but it can still be critical for success.

Consider a direct mail postcard. The first thing that must happen before your client can take action is they must get your message. Postcards have the benefit of being a small billboard in the mail. We still need to claw through the clutter and come out on top. This quite often entails a show stopping image and a compelling teaser (text).

There are many creative appeals that can be used: shock, emotional, humor, artistic, … We have covered many different ideas/approaches over time in this blog. The list is quite literally endless. We just need to make sure the appeal, image, and the copy text, all play well together and communicate a singular message and call to action. We also need to avoid clutter. Often, in this environment, less is more. People are busy, they have limited time to spend; be simple, be direct, make your offer pop.

We have offered many other tips on this blog here are some other interesting posts:

  1. Top tips on how to conduct an effective direct mail marketing campaign
  2. Stay ‘Top of Mind’ During the Holidays
  3. Howl For Your USPS Postage Treats Now!
  4. Going My Way?

By all means, be creative, super creative even; but don’t let your message get lost in the art or elegance. We have seen simple black and white postcards with a clear and powerful message that summon up astonishing results.

Now, how is that for a sweet treat?

Happy Halloween!

Howl For Your USPS Postage Treats Now!

Howl For Your USPS Postage Treats Now!

As reported in the last issue of the Direct Mail Journal, The USPS increased the cost of postage in August based on approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Postage increases are usually announced in November and take effect in January. This is the second price increase this year.

One source of positive news is that the First Class rate for postcard postage has been extended to jumbo postcard sizes. This is great news for all organizations that use postcards for marketing, notifications, or seasonal greetings.

Domestic Mail Postage  

Here is a little context for those who may not be as familiar with the structure of postal rates. There are many different postal rates and a dizzying array of rules. The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), the USPS bible for all things postage, contains hundreds of pages, each with detailed specifications on mail formats, processes, and charges. This is an extremely technical topic area that overwhelms even postal employees. Thankfully, all but the largest mailers, can focus on just a few key elements of the DMM.

There are two basic classes of postage: First Class and Standard A – the USPS is in the process of re-branding the latter to Marketing Mail. There are also special services such as certified mail, and different classes of service for parcels, but we will focus on letter (and postcard) prices in this article.

Mail Classes

First Class postage is what most people think of when the discussion shifts to postage. If you visit a post office to send a card or letter, the Forever Stamp that you receive at the retail counter, represents First Class postage. This covers the cost of sending a mail piece of up to 1 ounce anywhere in the United States. There are additional charges for additional weight up to the maximum of 3.5 ounces. Just for reference, a 1 ounce letter is ~4 sheets of paper in a standard #10 envelope.

Standard A (Marketing Mail) is what most consumers used to refer to as bulk mail or even junk mail in some circles. Standard A is used by mass mailers to send marketing materials, in volume, at significantly reduced rates. Postage often represents over 70% of the cost of sending mail, so mass mailers are hyper-sensitive to the cost of postage. A change of $.01/piece in postage, when sending millions of pieces, can be significant.

Direct Mail Features and Discounts

The core features of the different service levels are easy to outline. We usually expect First Class mail to take ~3 days for delivery anywhere in the US – often faster for local mail. The USPS also provides a return service, so if the piece cannot be delivered, it is returned to the sender. On the other hand, with Standard A, delivery can times typically run 7 – 10 days, and there is no return service. If the USPS cannot deliver it, they will automatically recycle the mail piece for the sender.

There is one other source of savings that commercial mailers, and Zairmail customers, can access called pre-sort discounts. Pre-sort is a form of postal discount based on the concept of work-sharing. The commercial mailer (or service provider) processes the mail in advance, corrects the list for recipients who have moved or addresses that are undeliverable, assures that all mail pieces are machinable and have a bar code, and then places the mail in trays in carrier route delivery sequence.

The higher the delivery density in specific carrier routes, the greater the level of discount. This saves the USPS time and money, and these savings are shared with the mailer based on pre-determined pre-sort rates. Because the mail is pre-processed, and bar codes are added, delivery times tend to improve. The mail can also be tracked based on USPS barcode scans.

Pre-sort discounts are only available for jobs that are greater than 500 pieces for First Class Mail or 200 pieces for Standard A. Zairmail automatically pre-sorts all mail that qualifies and passes along the savings to our customers.

Direct Mail Postcards

The one other happy wrinkle in postal pricing is that the USPS offers a discount First Class Postage rate for standard postcards (4” x 6” or 4.25” x 5.5”). This represents a great value for those who use postcards. The discount postage is very close to what clients would pay for Standard A, but they get First Class postage performance. To illustrate, the current price (after increase) of a First Class stamp is $.58, the cost of a First Class postcard is only $.40 (retail). In the past, if the size of the postcard increased beyond the standard postcard size, then the postage would go up to standard First Class postage rates.

Jumbo postcards are very popular with many Zairmail clients. The larger message area (6” x 9” or 5.5” x 8.5”) provides additional freedom to deliver a compelling offer and include vibrant graphics that really pop in the mail. One common benefit provided by a postcard is that we don’t have to worry about it getting opened – each postcard is like a mini-billboard in the mail. Still, we still need to make sure that it stands out and gets seen – bonus points if it earns spot on the recipient’s fridge!

That is where the larger size comes into play.

Zairmail clients can now order both standard postcards or jumbo postcards and the pricing reflects the discount postcard rates (with pre-sort greater than 500 pieces).

Here is a comparison of the new pricing based on these changes.

If you are using small postcards today, and you have toyed with the idea of using the larger format of jumbo postcards to increase your impact; this is the perfect time to give it a try – there is very little difference in price. If you are already using jumbo postcards to spread your word, then enjoy an early holiday treat from Zairmail and the USPS.

Let’s save some money (and grow your business) for the holidays and beyond!

We have offer many other interesting posts this blog here are some:

  1. Conjure Some Postcard Magic With These Tips!
  2. Going My Way?

Zairmail (www.zairmail.com) is the fastest and easiest way to send (real) postal mail. Give us a call anytime at 888.898.0066, we would be happy to help with your direct mail needs.



About the Author

Wilson Zehr is a Direct Mail Industry Expert, Direct Marketing Specialist, and CEO of Cendix (www.cendix.com), the leading provider of Web-to-print solutions that increase sales both online and offline. He is also the founder of Zairmail (www.zairmail.com), the company responsible for many "industry firsts" in direct mail.


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