1. How Saving Money Doomed A Promising Mailer to Failure. A mailer with a high end consumer product wanted to launch a direct mail program to generate both mail order and some local business. I researched lists and found consumers who had a high interest in the client’s product and could be selected by purchase amount, gender and frequency. I was able to research and see where my client’s competition was mailing, how they were selecting these lists and where their best successes were. I also found inexpensive lists of consumers who lived nearby where they could be selected by income, home value and a radius from the company’s location but not by interest.
I advised to go after the consumers who had proven an interest in the same products as the client’s and were being used by some competitors. However, the client decided to mail to the inexpensive list first. The response on the inexpensive list was dismal and although I had recommended the other list, the client remembered that they got poor results from a list from me.
Lesson; be careful about trying to save money on a list; instead concentrate on mailing the best prospects you can find. Mail more than one list so you can compare them against each other. Test different offers to see what works best.
2. Selects Cost Success: A mailer had a hair rejuvenation product for men. Several suitable lists were found but turned down the client’s offer because it was competitive. I found a survey file where hair loss was listed as a concern. The mailer chose not to select by age or gender to save money. When the list was received it was discovered that almost all of the responders were women.
Lesson; think through your offer and if age and gender make a difference, pay a little extra and order it that way.
3. A client wanted a list selected and provided the criteria. After the order was received, the client thought about the target market and decided that other selects needed to be added or the program wouldn’t work. So the order was re-run for a fee, but delayed the program.
Lesson; spend some time thinking about who your ideal audience is first so that the list is ordered correctly the first time. “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” (See the section on how to mail the right list.)
4.A client wanted to telemarket to consumers in a certain geographic area and wanted to select consumers based on several demographic criteria. I had counts run and found that there were many more records available than the client wanted and suggested sticking to one area code, but the client decided against that and the file was ordered. When the client got the file they found that the area codes were as ordered, but the geography was a lot more spread out than they could use. I couldn’t get a refund for the client because the company who ran the order filled it correctly.
Lesson: Take a moment to think about how you are selecting a list before ordering it.
5. An agency had a financial services client with certain gender, income and geography selects and an aggressive mailing program. I researched files and made various recommendations which were often followed. The actual list part of the program was successful, but there were significant other problems. I made suggestions on how to eliminate these problems but they were dismissed because they were an additional expense and an extra step to the mailing. The client let the agency go and I incorporated the suggestions which I had recommended and saved the client over $100,000 per year.
Lesson; take measures to insure that every step in your direct mail program is solid. The agency did not have the type of business reply permit that benefited the mailer and they paid too much for their responses. They didn’t want to bother sending rented lists out to a service bureau to check to see if their selects were followed and they didn’t keep track of who they had mailed to, or bother to suppress the client’s house list. Let us help you manage your direct mail program and your savings may more than pay for our management fee. We have an extensive list of proven professionals that we tap to work on your program.
6. I helped a client put a program in place where the responses could be rented and generate enough revenue to pay for the program. The advertising itself would be free to the client and the new customers aquired all profit. In addition, the program would provide image and awareness exposure at no cost. However, my contact couldn’t influence the revenue side of the company and could not use any of the revenue generated from list rental to pay for new programs.
Lesson: If a program is considered from both a cost and revenue sides, a higher cost per sale can be justified and the long term benefit of the prospects and customers better realized. In this case, the person purchasing the advertising wasn’t the same person responsible for generating list revenue and could not show how the additional revenue could justify continuing the program. After stripping out the list rental revenue, the cost per new customer was too high. Had the entire value of the customer been considered, the program was a success.