Three steps to a successful direct mail campaign when using variable data

I’m not the Unabomber!

My heritage has granted me the opportunity to be the recipient of endless spelling variations of my last name.  Some have been comical, some have been insulting, and some have been downright mind-boggling.  I do receive a lot of mail with simply

“Tim K.” This can be considered somewhat cowardly, but I’m at least a little less irritated.

I recently received a direct mail piece from a well-known Atlanta printer. I’ve done business with them over the years, so I wasn’t some blind prospect for them. They know who I am and where I work.  It was a nice design, and they used variable data throughout.  But there were some serious issues with the execution.

They totally massacred my name, along with using a former version of our company name. The printer was touting its ability to go the extra mile for its clients.  Do you think I believed them when they couldn’t take the time to check their information?  How much confidence would anyone have in a company that didn’t check its list?

This was totally avoidable.  A little front-end research could have planted the seeds of building on a client-vendor relationship. Instead, the potential business relationship is gone. Lost prospects mean lost dollars.

Here is my advice to anyone using direct mail with variable data:

1) Check your list!  If you are compiling your own list, hire someone to take the time to call and verify all the vital information.  It is pretty basic stuff, really. Name (see spelling), title, company name, address, etc.  You are investing a lot of money to promote your company in the hopes of gaining business. Take the time to earn the right to our business.

2) Check your list often!  If you work in the business, you know that your contacts can move around a lot.  Use some of the professional/social websites like LinkedIn or Facebook to keep up with your prospects.  Update your list and when you’re done – update your list again.

3) Proofread – I have received endless direct mail pieces that are currently in a landfill due to typos. The minute I see one, I toss it to the trash can. Don’t waste my time.

I’m done with my manifesto – off to my one-room shed in the woods.

— Tim Kedzierski, Production Manager


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Filed under Ad Agencies, Direct Mail

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