Tom Kubinski
Printing Consultant
Direct: 651-255-1225
Fax: 651-457-7040
Cell: 612-760-3700

Sheila Stai
Customer Service
Direct: 651-255-1222
250 East Lothenbach Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55118
Phone: (651) 457-9255
Fax: (651) 457-7040
Toll Free: (800) 388-2914

Branding - 22 Laws Of
Brand Warfare
Creative Coatings Techniques
Desktop Techniques
Digital / Variable Printing
Direct Mail Raise Response, Lower Costs
FSC Certification
For Direct Marketers
In House Mailing Capabilities
Ink Tour
Paper Mill Tour - Coated
Paper Mill Tour - Uncoated
Picking the Right Paper
PDF Formats
PDF Info & Quark vs. InDesign
PODi - Digital Print Success Story
Postal Increases & Requirement Changes
Post it to the Web vs. Print
Press Check Tips
PURL - Avoid Dog House Campaign
QR Codes
Save Disk Space
Social Media -- The Basics
Social Media vs. Print
Top File Issues
UV Burn
Ways to Save Money
What Sets Sexton Apart?
Why Print in a Down Market?
Why Work With TK?

September 2012 TK's Korner

Direct Mail – Raising Response, Lowering Costs



Many of you may be currently involved in a direct mail campaign or are considering one. In either case...


Here Are The 10 Most Commonly Asked Questions:

1)   Is Direct Mail the Right Medium? (See case studies below)

2)   9 Benefits of Direct Mail

3)   How can I ensure my mail Stands out from the Rest?

4)   What can I do to make the Best Impression?

5)   What are the Critical Elements that I should consider?

6)   How can I obtain the best Response Rate?

7)   How do I Measure the effectiveness of the program?

8)   How important is my Mail List Selection or Database?

9)   Should I Personalize or Customize?

10)   Paper Selection, how critical is it?



More To Consider:

Testing is Crucial

4 P's of Direct Mail

19 Commandments of Direct Marketing           

What is MGM? (Member-Gets-Member)

What is One-to-One Marketing?

11 uncreative (but tested) ways to make your layout work harder

Permission vs. Interruption Marketing




In this issue of TK's Korner, I'll give you helpful suggestions, important information along with sources, and case studies to further research questions you may have. 



To Start, Let's Dive into Direct Mail:


Direct Mail deals with building and maintaining one-to-one relationships between brands and customers, with the purpose of establishing an image for the brand and selling products to customers.



Why Direct Mail?

Interactivity A 2-way communication (push/pull strategy)

Consumers are willing to take on at least twice as much direct mail messages as any other medium. It might be that they find it obtrusive when contacted by telephone or email, on the other hand, they can sit and review when convenient for them.

Acquisition The ability to attract new customers

Retention "Direct Mail left a deeper footprint in the brain...
In other words, media that consumers can touch and feel resonated and touched more emotions than those of the digital variety." According to Direct Mail; Alive and Kicking of Market Share Advertising Marketing & Media.


CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

ROC (Return on Customer)
LTV (Life Time Value)


Loyalty Customer Satisfaction!
Direct mail is important in building a relationship and engaging your ambassadors properly.


Sense of Ownership
By adding the customers name and pertinent information to the piece, it gives them a sense of ownership in the brand.



While the brand perception should be identical, the objectives per target group will be differentiated, and therefore also the investment level, media, messaging and offer. Consumers can expect offers and messaging to become more comprehensive and over a period of time each receives a variety of direct mail communications about their particular objectives, offer and messaging?

Using Integrated Marketing or Multiple Channels and touch points, you can also keep them interested. Synchronizing campaigns, utilizing Ôif this, then that occurs' etc.


Media is Complementary instead of replacing one another. 

ie. Offline direct mail drives web traffic.


Yet, overcrowded email queues only adds to the appeal - even though direct mail seems old school, it's very sexy for the marketer. The reason being - less cluttered and more effective impressions.


Advertisers and consumers prefer a tangible object, something that can be held or touched. People prefer paper to something that exists only electronically. How many of us read an entire document on the computer screen?


"Mail is essential to the multichannel mix. Many believe mail is uniquely positioned to play a major role in a National economical resurgence in 2012" Modern Mail quote.


Next...Follow-Up is Key
To direct marketing activities and therefore direct mail.

A mailing invites customer to react and informs them of your intentions.


>> If this, then that can follow:
If no response, then an e-mail or another mailing, either static or personalized.

>> If response, then-
Another mailing follows their reaction.

All of these steps are measured and can guide future action.

By tracking the results, you can easily calculate the cost per response, inquiry or sale.

This measurability is a major advantage for marketing compared to other communication tools.


Using Alerts in Real Time of when a site has been visited, and what responses have been given, gives the ability to follow up in a timely manner. This is critical for marketing managers, as well as sales reps and others to gather info quickly and accurately and respond as needed.


Utilizing Dashboard Technology-data being generated, gathered and formulated into track able, measurable and informative formats in real time. Each opportunity, what products or services they are interested in, as well as giving you the ability to monitor your sales teams efforts, follow-up and sales. Integration of online tools is inclined to make your direct mail stronger than ever.


Developments in Information Technology
Providing direct mail professionals with a wealth of possibilities and propelling the use of direct mail/direct marketing:

Increased computer processing power

Availability of customer addresses

Software to help identify and select the right customers

Ability to digitally print variable personalized data

Expanding number of mass media options

The Power of Direct Mail

Address every customer as one person vs. the mass media "One size Fits all". Customers appreciate direct mail when it's relevant, respectful and rewarding to them.


Closing Rates by Selling to People you Know is easier -

New Customer = 5-20% closing rate

Repeat Sale to Lapsed Customer = 20-40% closing rate

Repeat Sale to Existing Client = 60-70% closing rate


Closely related to customer satisfaction, companies need to be better at anticipating consumer questions and complaints.


Response Rates of Direct Mail depend on:

Integrity of List - Are you marketing to your target audience, and has the list been run through an address updating software?


Profiling - How to quickly and accurately profile clients that can dramatically improve response rates.


When client or prospects responds to surveys, PURL, QR codes, offer etc. through a direct link to a micro site-landing page of some sort, it gives you a demographic breakdown about who used the promotional item, which offer they used, plus the response spend rates and each individuals demographics.


Timing - What's going on with world events, business cycles, marketing cycles, sales cycles, etc?


Offer - Is it something of value or interest to your target audience?


Incentive - Is it worthwhile to them?  Will it make them act?


Call To Action - Are you telling them what you want them to do, when you want them to do it by, and how you want them to do it?


Creative Execution - Design, copy, layout, vehicle, etc?


Odd Shapes - Have been found to give higher customer satisfaction via non-traditional, die cut mailers. Some claim that shaped mail can increase response rates over regular direct mail by at least 2 to 3 times. ie. basketballs, buses, beer mugs, movie tickets, guitars, etc. New Postal regulations that allow for custom shaped mail in sizes as large as 2x15 to be delivered to mailboxes without envelopes.


Who Responds to Direct Mail? (in descending order)

1. Customers - 3 to 8 times more likely to respond or buy
2. Responders - have not yet made a purchase
3. Former Customers

4. Referrals
5. Other type of product or service purchased
6. Similar product or service purchased from competitors


There are a variety of opinions on what makes up a successful direct mail
Listed below is one of them.


50-20-20-10 Probability of Success:


After consumer reads content, we want them to -
Act, Get Involved or Stimulate them to...

Respond by deadline

Early-bird price advantages

Limited time offers




It is predicted that .046% is the average response rate for a general broadcast black and white static piece.


How to Increase Response:


Mail specifically addressed to a consumer with an impactful message about a product or service that has a specific benefit to them is more likely to be picked up and read. It's about "Smart Messaging, Personalization and Relevance!"


Mail leads the way in moving towards more targeted, personalized and tailored relationship building. We can do it better now then ever before with the technology that is available.


Direct Mail should definitely remain in your multichannel mix. It's the one advertising medium that you really can control; brand build, track, measure and data mine.

Screen shot 2010-08-17 at 3.48.59 PM.png


NOTE: +600% (this equates up to 16% total). Full variable data, personalization, customization, database segmentation. ie. specific targets, smaller quantity, more opportunities to respond. 


Versioning -

Versioning - different groups receive different versions based on criteria, content and language changes for specific audiences. Typically black copy file.

Hybrid - Offset printing plus variable copy.

Customization - Altering each document to meet requirements of a certain group. Guidance based on a certain criteria. One to four color images change, plus copy.


NOTE: It is not the quantity that is sent out, but the number of responses you get back that matters.


Variable Data Results -

Screen shot 2010-08-17 at 3.53.21 PM.png


NOTE: when BRC is "pre-completed" with recipients name and address, the return rate increases 13%!


Projection on how to lower cost per response by using VDP personalization


Projection on cost per sale and ROI using VDP personalization

The Database is the Most Important Lever:

Must be clean

Must be well defined

Limited target group, data mined and clearly detailed

Will outscore an ill defined, broad targeted group

Drayton Bird's direct marketing expert estimates a good database
might imply:

> 6x's higher response rate with good database

> 2x's higher response rate with good offer

> 2x's higher response rate if the timing is right

> 1.25x's higher response rate with good creative

> 1.2x's higher response rate with response possibilities


NOTE: 18% of Americans relocate annually,

and 2% of your list moves monthly


Mail List Hygiene:


      Zip code sort

      Address standardization

      Delivery sequence file

      Delivery points for bar coding, specific delivery points


Direct mail, today, has become an extension of brand experience via advertising and packaging.  The image expressed through direct mail is consistent and coherent with other means of communication.  It adds up to overall brand feeling.




* You must be testing all the time

* 3-5% of budget should be towards testing

* Never send out a non-tested package

* Always test outside of package, envelope, etc

* Must be engaging, seductive, motivating

* Hang offer on outside, lead to inside or other side

* ÔWould you like ____', then ÔLook inside for more', etc

* Visual supports copy, copy is part of offer

* How do I make you believe I'm sincere, honest, etc.


Click here for more info


Wow, that's a lot of info.  Where to start?


First, you must understand and know your Target Market in order to create and design an offer that gets noticed or acted upon. Who and what is your target market as it pertains to:

*     Gender

*     Age

*     Income

*     Location

*     Hobbies

*     Industry

*     Buying objectives

*     Likes and dislikes

*     Life buying history

*     Etc.


The more specific your target, the better the use of your marketing dollars, and hopefully the bigger ROI will be. A mail list company can assist you in obtaining this data.

If you need some sources, please give me a call at 651-255-1225. 


More information for testing and your competition:


Competition -
Answer the following in order to compete:

?     Who are they

?     What are they offering

?     Who are they trying to reach

?     How are they reaching their targets

?     How often are they contacting them

?     How will their offer compete with yours

?     What ideas can you use and improve on


Your Product / Offer -

?      What are you selling or offering

?      What is special about your product

?     What makes your offer stand out from the rest
ie. capabilities, benefits, design, etc.

?      What will it do for your target market, (write out in short, focused sentences on the benefits and comparisons.)


Once you've clearly defined your target audience, understand their demographics and psychographics, done research on your competition and clearly defined your offer, now you're ready to create something that stands out from the rest.


Copy and Design -
Develop a design profile that can serve as a guide. Match the sense of style to those of your target audience and specific image of your company.

Keep in mind that you'll want to cover it in a less-is-more approach by
telling them:

> Who you are

> What you do

> Who you cater to

> What can you do for them

> Where you're located


Call to Action -
State your offer in every element of your package, define what you want them to do and
repeat your call to action several times.


Make it Easy for them to Respond -
If you want to sell them something, make it easy to order. 
If you want them to go to a specific page on your web site, make it easy for them to click and go there. (Also include how they can reach you, with your current company contact info).


Images -
Make them Big, Colorful, Eye Catching and Different in some manner.

The use of Techniques like spot coatings, foils, etc to highlight specific

Black and White Images can be used along with 4 Color to show positive/negative situation in B/W.

Since it is going through the mail, Coatings to protect the piece is highly recommended.



I hope this issue has been helpful in letting you know more about Direct Mail, what you can do to make the best impression, how you can ensure your mail stands out from the rest and what critical elements you should consider.


If you would like more information for your next printed project, to see some of the really cool samples I have or regarding this article, please give me a call @ 651-255-1225.


You may also find of interest the following links with further information:



Case Studies








Tools Folding Options, Binding Options, and Envelope Options

For more information to demonstrate multichannel approach, visit the 3 following sites:

Stay tuned for the next issue of TK's Korner. You just might be surprised!

Please refer back and visit often the entire library of TK's Korners where you will find information on subjects that may be of interest to you like:

Branding - 22 Laws Of
Brand Warfare
Creative Coatings Techniques
Digital / Variable Printing
For Direct Marketers
In House Mailing Capabilities
PODi - Digital Print Success Story
Post it to the Web vs. Print
PURL - Avoid Dog House Campaign
QR Codes
Social Media vs. Print
Why Print in a Down Market?
Why Work With TK?


Hope this helps and stay tuned for the next issue of TK's Korner. You never know what might be covered!

If you have a production issue not discussed above that you would like me to address, or a project that needs to be looked at, please give me a call or send me an email. I will do whatever it takes to ensure you get the best value for every marketing dollar invested.

You can also check out my profile, join my network and view more client comments on LinkedIn at:

Referrals are greatly appreciated, if you know someone I could help, or who might like to receive TK's Korner, please let me know.

Take care and have a great day!

Tom Kubinski, Printing Consultant

Printing Consultant Who Helps You Make Good Impressions
Direct: (651) 255-1225
Cell: (612) 760-3700

Selected portions reprinted in Print & Media Buyer, a national magazine for the print industry. (Search for Tom Kubinski)

Print & Media Buyer Magazine, Winter issue 2007

Below, please find a PODi case study of nationally recognized campaign plus 3 issues that have been published in a National magazine.

* PODi - Digital Print Success Story .pdf 2.9 mb
* Kubinski to Contribute to Print and Media Buyer Magazine .pdf 144 kb
* "Press Check/A Step by Step Process" SPRING 2008 .pdf 536 kb
* "File Prep" APRIL 2008 .pdf 704 kb
* "How to Plan Your Print Project/Nice Price" JULY 2008 .pdf 320 kb

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