How to produce a Direct Mail brochure

ADM | American Database Marketing, Inc.


How to produce a Direct Mail brochure

Offer a free gift

Giving a free gift increases response. If your objective is to get leads for your sales force, your sales can deliver the gift when they visit the prospect.

Emphasize your free offer

Highlight free premiums prominently. Include the premium's specific value if it can be perceived as a benefit.

Make it easy to respond.

Be sure that your offer is easy to understand and respond to. "Simply check the YES box and drop the postage-free reply card in the mail. Or call our TOLL-FREE number." The use of credit cards can also increase response.

Back up your claims.

Whenever possible, include proof of your claims. Refer to research studies or use testimonials of satisfied customers with their photographs.

Color gets response.

The use of full color and "bleeds" (graphics or color background printed all the way to the very edge of the page) can increase response.

No risk, no obligation.

Eliminate the risk with a free trial or guarantee, and emphasize that there's absolutely no obligation to buy.

Give a time limit.

Make the offer limited for a quicker and bigger response. Include a specific deadline, if it's genuine.

Avoid big technical word.

Write your copy in plain, simple English. No buzz-words or technical jargon. Busy people respond best to straight talk.

Keep it simple.

Make your offer simple, clear and easy to understand at a glance. Avoid the temptation to group several different offers in one promotional piece. This usually weakens the impact of your primary offer and cuts response.

Use copy and design pros.

Hire the best, most experienced professional copywriters and designers you can afford. A prudent investment at the creative stage of your direct mail package will pay off in higher response. In-house staff often lack the experience and the time to produce a strong mailing package.

Where to find creative pros.

The best way to find good copy and design people is to ask for a recommendation form someone who has created an effective brochure. Other possible sources are the Direct Marketing Associations and Direct Marketing Clubs in your area. Or you can call American Database Marketing, 1-866-565-7724 (international 011-904-886-0744).

Consult your printer early.

Before you spend money on typography and mechanicals, show the brochure design to your printer. If necessary, modify the design to avoid expensive complications at the printing stage.

Get paper samples.

Ask your printer to provide several choices of paper samples. Fold each sample into a "dummy" brochure to see how it suits your purpose in terms of effectiveness and cost.

Be at the printing.

If possible, go to the printer when your brochure is being printed. There are many ways a brochure's quality can be enhanced right on press. Make it your business to learn the printing process; this is usually the most expensive part of a brochure's production.

Determine content first, then design.

Before you decide how many pages your brochure will have, determine what information it will contain. The design should grow logically out of the subject matter.

Study your competition.

Make a collection of the direct response solicitations you get in the mail. Get your competitor's promotional packages. Learn from what others do well and not so well.

Talk to your mailing list pro early.

Start working with your mailing list professional in the beginning stages of your mailing. Your brochure should speak to all the people most likely to buy your product or service, so determine your lists as soon as possible. Then share that information with your copy and design people.

How will the brochure be used?

Think through all of the possible uses for your brochure before it is designed. Will your sales force use it on sales calls? Will it be a handout at trade shows? Will it be used as a self-mailer? Will you include it in a different mailing package later on? Should you leave room somewhere for a sales rep's imprint? Should some be folded differently than others? Decide on these things early on, because the later in the process you change the brochure design, the more difficult and expensive it is.

Finalize copy before you set type.

Try to make all your writing changes before you set type. Changing copy after it's been typeset can get very expensive. Go over your typewritten draft again and again and again until you're sure it's right.

For self-mailers, check postal rules.

If you plan to use your brochure as a self-mailer, check with your post office to make sure it satisfies all postal regulations.

Mailing label back-to-back with reply form.

For self-mailers, back up the reply form with the mailing label (with its all-important key code) to make sure you get the label back. This tells you which of the mailing lists you used pulled the response.

Don't proofread your own work.

Unless you're an ace proofreader, have someone else proofread the copy you've been working with. It's surprisingly easy to overlook the same error over and over again.

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