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Beginner’s Guide to Print and Mail

Written by Michelle Toivonen Director of Strategic Marketing

How To Do Direct Mail

  1. Know your timeline.
  2. Know your quantities.
  3. Are your art files built properly for print? 
  4. Is your artwork properly designed to mail at the class rate you expect?
  5. Do you have a list? 
  6. Will you need help cleaning your list?

With all the recent news about printed catalogs and mail making or breaking retail sales (Nordstroms, JJill), and the proven uptick in print response rates (averaging 5%), many marketers are considering adding -- or expanding -- their traditional channel offering with print. We think that’s a great idea, but only if you’ve got a great plan to go with it. Without proper planning and execution, your campaign may fall flat. 

Here’s a quick overview of how we help our clients get started the right way with print and mail.

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

We know that planning for print production isn’t easy. We do it every day, so we’re well acquainted with the intricacies of print production. Here’s the good news -- you don’t have to be a print expert if you know one. All you have to do is ASK early so you plan correctly. When you include us in your upfront planning, we can save you time, money and a lot of grief. 

Just to get you thinking, here’s a quick checklist of items we’ll ask about when you call in. You should discuss these with your creative team as well.

Do you have a list? Will you need help cleaning your list? 

We will prep your list for mailing; however, if we run into issues we’ll have to contact you to discuss. This can delay your mail. Be sure to plan ahead and do a thorough quality check before you send in for mailing. If you’re not sure, send it to us for a quick review. We can help you prepare ahead. Learn How to Prepare Your Data.

Is your artwork properly designed to mail at the class rate you expect? (Example First Class vs. Marketing Mail)

We see it all the time. You think you’ll mail at Marketing Mail rates and you find out that the way the artwork was created the mail must go First Class -- and at a significant price increase. If you’re not an expert in Mail Piece Design, contact us during the planning stages and ask for advice or a review of the artwork you planned. 

Are your art files built properly for print?

Do you know the difference between CMYK and RGB? Do you have your fonts bundles correctly? Are you well-informed on the size, weight, and paper you’re selecting for your printed piece? (All of the above can affect the class your mail qualifies for and the price you’ll see on the invoice. If you have doubts -- call and ask for a quick review. Here’s a little hint -- the biggest and best mail clients ALWAYS send in the artwork for a preflight check up. They’ve learned a little planning is much better than a lot of explaining to your boss why you blew up the budget or timeline. Learn more here: How to Prep Your First Print Project Like a Pro.

What Are Your Quantities?

Believe it or not, the answer to that question is rarely as simple as the total count on your list. If you want us to seed your list, we’ll need those names and addresses included in your count.  Do you need extras on hand for distribution outside of the mail? Be sure to include that number as well.

What Is Your Timeline?

Planning the timeline of your print and mail production is critical. We recommend that you contact us at the very start of your project planning to help you thoroughly understand timelines. Reasonable timelines to begin a produce a project including data prep, print production and mailing are 5-7 business days from the receipt of your data and artwork until we drop your mail. But your timeline may include much more than that. Once we’ve dropped your mail, the USPS can take up to 7 business days to deliver First Class mail to the home and over 21 days to deliver Marketing Mail. Contact us as early as possible for the best possible mix of savings and timelines.

How to Prep for Print and Mail Like a Boss. So you want to be Boss of the Print Channel? We’ve got your deep dive covered:

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