Advice and Information

From our unique and multi-vantaged position in both helping to create and executive direct mail campaigns, we've learned what works and - most importantly - what doesn't work.

Copy & Design

  • If your topic can be illustrated by a heart-rending photo, use it!
  • To get better results on reply devices, tie the amount you're asking contacts to give into a specific benefit - for example, helping you supply two bags of groceries each week to the homeless.
  • A lift note or a personalized buck slip - with customized ask amounts - can help lift your response rates.

Printing

  • If you have a four-color job with a quantity of 2,000 or under, digital printing may be a cost-effective option - and you can easily personalize pieces with this printing method. Plus, you receive a proof that looks exactly how the final piece will look.
  • When planning your direct mail package, using the same colors throughout- for example black and the same PMS - can help you save significantly on printing costs.
  • You can save considerably on standard items, like #10 carriers, renewal forms that don't change frequently and BREs, by printing a large run at once. If you're worried about storage space, talk to us about our low monthly storage program.
  • Ensuring that your appeal is machine-insertable can save on mail production costs and the schedule. Send us the mockup of initial designs and we can alert you to potential problems, such as an unusual-size brochure that might have to be hand-inserted.
  • If you need copies of a flyer or another insert made quickly, simply email us a PDF or Word document.

Lettershop

  • Take advantage of state-of-the art printing technology and completely personalize your letter, inserting giving history, ask amounts - or just about any other statistic - right into the body of the letter.
  • Always make sure you include a unique record ID or donor number when personalizing communications.
  • Make sure all your response devices - including reply envelopes, magazine blow-ins, press ads - have a source code printed on them so that you can track the source of income if you're not imprinting campaign/list-specific source codes on the piece.
  • Put an attention-grabbing tagline on the outer envelope - if you already have outer envelopes, we can easily print a tagline onto them.

Mailing

  • Have you checked your postage account lately? Is your indicia up-to-date? How about your mailing permits? We can manage all this for you…
  • When planning a direct mail campaign, always try to mock-up an early sample so that you can weigh the piece and aren't surprised with additional (unbudgeted!) postage costs.
  • When designing self-mailers, always make sure the wafer seal fits your design and configuration.
  • When designing postcards, leave room for barcoding to save on postage costs - we need 4 inches from the right-hand side and 1 ½ inches from the bottom.

List and Data Hygiene

  • It's often a good idea to re-code and mail your "dupes" two to three weeks after an acquisition mailing. The second package often closes the deal…
  • When mail is returned as "undeliverable" by the post office, don't always assume that's exactly true. When it happens a first time, add a flag to the supporter's record, but don't flag them permanently undeliverable until you receive a second notice from the post office.
  • If you rent or exchange your list with other organizations, make sure you "seed" your list with your own name/address and your colleagues (McV&H for one…). This way you can track whether your list is always being used with authorization.
  • Always remember to run a suppression of your house file supporters against your acquisition files before mailing.
  • Consider creating an HTML-version of your newsletters or magazines and converting some of your supporters to "e-subscribers". You'll save costs, time and the lucky opt-ins will receive your valuable info that much faster and in a more convenient format. We can help with this conversion/migration as well as with the e-production and distribution. 

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