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The services available from direct mail companies

Direct Mail Services Buyer's Guide

Automated despatch
At its most basic, a direct mail company automates the despatch of letters and envelopes. For this, a company uses costly folding and enveloping equipment that many businesses cannot afford to maintain in-house. You can therefore save time when you compare the process to a manual exercise undertaken by your staff.

Designing and copywriting
Allowing the direct mail company to handle design and copywriting gives you a fast professional result (see Direct mail preparation).

Mailing lists
A direct mail company may not maintain a mailing list, but it will know companies who do. These lists contain the names and addresses of tens of thousands of potential customers. A good mailing list company will keep these lists up-to-date and categorise the customers into various target groups. These groups may include location, income, buying patterns, and credit rating.

When you purchase such a list, ensure you're getting exactly the target consumer you're seeking. You may pay more for this, but at least you stand a better chance of getting a reasonable response from your mailing campaign. You might even be able to get a list of people who've bought products or services that complement your own.

Make a point of asking the direct mail company if it can give you some sort of guarantee with the list. In other words, if some of your mail is returned as "No longer here", you want free replacement names and addresses.

Also use your in-house list of existing customers. You may want to tailor your direct mail campaign differently for these people rather than simply add them to the list you've bought. After all, existing customers are already interested in your business and what it has to offer.

Postage costs
Bulk posting of thousands of items will save you money. Many direct mail companies have long-term working relationships with at least one of the various companies that specialise in business postage; but if you have concerns about a quote, speak to the direct mail company and see if they can do better elsewhere.

Printing
Direct mail companies often outsource the printing work because they cannot keep the full range of print machines that different jobs require. You can, if you prefer, arrange for the printing yourself and ask the direct mail company to simply envelope and despatch your sales material. If you take this path, make sure you get at least three quotes from printers because prices can vary surprisingly. Also ask the printer to forward the work straight to the direct mail company.

You will usually give a printer your design and copy for the sales material on a computer file. Before you do so, check that the printer can accept the format of the file. Note that many printers can do the design work for you, if you wish.

The printer, whether they work directly for you or on behalf of the direct mail company, will send proofs before the final print run. Take these seriously and have at least two people check them for errors. Note that if you make any major changes at this point, you'll have to pay an extra fee.

Other services
Direct mail companies will gladly handle all the time-consuming tasks of

  • assembling your dimensional mailers
  • gathering the contents together
  • labelling your letters, envelopes, brochures or packages
  • stapling pages together
  • sealing packages and envelopes

They'll save you and your business huge amounts of time. They can deal with every aspect of the direct mail process, keeping you informed at agreed intervals of progress and success. For further details of such services, contact a range of direct mail companies, free of charge.

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