How to Figure Out If Your Mailing Will Make Money Before You Mail

June 2004
by Jeffrey Dobkin

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The best way to get more customers is to mail them something like a new tie or a 10-pound box of Godiva Chocolates. Right? But those gifts aren’t really feasible, are they? No, I didn’t think so.

So how about simply mailing potential customers a few nice letters, or a few postcards? Yes, that’s still one of the most effective marketing campaigns.

When you know your target market, you can minimize your marketing expense by mailing just to your most likely prospects. Here, direct mail really rocks. The more focused and targeted your mailing list is, the better (= less costly, with more orders per pieces mailed) your mailing works. Conversely, when your most likely customers aren’t easily defined or are strewn across several boundaries, then direct mail probably won’t work.

You can’t mail to everyone; it’s way too expensive. But, by following a few rules, you can determine whether a particular mailing will be successful before you spend money on it.

Rule 1: Start with basic costs. A mailing (letter and brochure) to any group of prospects will cost you at least 50 cents per piece. So let’s figure on 50 cents per mailer and see what happens when we mail.

Why 50 cents? It’s 37¢ just for postage, plus list costs can be 10¢ for each name and address record. Plus envelope, letterhead, brochure, and maybe mailshop services to put it all together, and presto: it’s expensive.

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