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How to choose a direct mail company

Direct Mail Services Buyer's Guide

Matching your needs
You may be content to let a direct mail company handle everything from start to finish. You may, however, prefer to arrange certain aspects of the process yourself. For instance, you may work regularly with a graphic design company on other projects and want it to handle your direct mail design as well.

Any good direct mail company will be happy with such an arrangement. Just ensure all parties know
  • who is doing what part of the project
  • the deadlines that apply throughout the process

Generally speaking, the more experience a direct mail company has the better. This is because the company will have developed various contacts over the years that can help them get the best prices for related services such as postage, printing and mailing lists.

An experienced company will also have a good feel for what types of direct mail will work for your product or service. This sort of advice is invaluable if you're new to direct mail and need as much guidance as possible.

Customer service and support
The quality of such advice links directly to a company's level of customer service and support. You want a direct mail company you can discuss matters with and can trust. You want to feel the company is interested in your direct mail campaign and can make it as successful as possible.

To get an idea of a direct mail company's commitment to you, visit its premises and talk to the staff who may work on your project. You'll come away with a better understanding of the company's professionalism, organisation, knowledge and interest in you. If you go to meet the company's representatives and they fail to make an effort to learn about your needs and your business, you may do well to look elsewhere.

Price may not be everything
Be cautious about opting for a direct mail company that provides a quote significantly below those of their competitors. Ask for a breakdown of the costs and request samples of the finished product. You don't want a cheap-looking sales letter or a next-to-useless mailing list.

Always obtain references from the direct mail companies that interest you and contact the referees. You can learn a lot not just about the direct mail companies but about the whole business of direct mail when you speak to people who've run campaigns. If the referees are amenable, ask them questions along the following lines.

  • Did the direct mail company explain the available options and related prices?
  • Did it finish the work within your budget?
  • Was the company knowledgeable and interested in your business?
  • Did the company complete the project on time?
  • Did the company work hard to keep your costs down?
  • Did the mailing list work for you? If not, why?
  • Did the company inform you of any difficulties promptly?
  • How did they deal with these problems?
  • Would you use the company again? If so, what do you like about them? If not, why?
  • How do you rate the level of customer service and support?
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