Simple steps often overlooked in direct mail

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WHITE PLAINS, NY - Even the best marketing strategy will fail if the simplest steps to keep yourself and vendors from stumbling over names, formatting data, data cleansing and delivery are overlooked.

Bill Singleton, president of Singleton Marketing, Naperville, IL, gave attendees of the 8th Annual MeritDirect Business Mailer's Co-op ad interactive marketing conference a checklist of issues to apply to their own work to avoid inefficiencies and embarrassment at a session titled, "The Nuts and Bolts of TB Direct Mail: Ten Common But Unwritten (and unmentioned) Mistakes."

Screen files for profanity, was his first tip.

Singleton told the session audience of a situation in which a sales representative became angry with a customer and changed his first name to a profane word. Because the files were not screened, the customer received a mailing where their first name was a curse word and was very unhappy.

"Check to see what you are putting into your mailing," Singleton chuckled. "This could be really, really embarrassing, especially these days when a customer has the power to break you through blogs and other social media."

Also its important to look at which address you are mailing.

"Use the right kind of address for your customers," he said.

Singleton mentioned a situation where sales reps were leaving their notes next to customers. These notes were about specific customers and their preferences. Somehow, once mailing time came around, the mailings were printed with the customer's preferences in the address line.

Obviously, this was a sum of money that could have been saved, had the addresses been checked.

"Make sure you need linkage of different account elements," Singleton added.

Validate your field formats. Mixed formats from legacy and new data systems can foil your RFM (recency, frequency, monetary value) model.

Also check and see what level you are targeting. This is where merge/purge comes in.

Merge/purge is the act of combining names, addresses and related data from various mailing lists to identify and eliminate duplicate names for a single mailing or to create a marketing database.

Consider who you are mailing to and remember that any strategy is better than none at all, Singleton said.

Plan for old data and for missing data as well. Checking for consistency also can avoid archiving errors.

Suppress non-buyers, like the deceased, those in prison, business complaint addresses, your competitors and miscoded consumers.

"By mailing to your competitors you are giving away your secrets," Singleton said.

Examine your address elements; don't just mash everything in there.

Singleton really insisted that mailers use their reports. Ask how your files are being requested, how prospect files are ordered, where duplicate customers come from and how to define unique customers.

"When processing your lists, consider what worked the last time," Singleton urged the audience.

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