If our last article, Why Print Matters convinced you to branch out from online advertising and try direct mail, but you don’t know where to start, this post is for you. While there are many considerations, and the issue can be quite complex, there are some basics we will cover here.

Many of our customers are surprised to learn that not only can we print their direct mail piece, but we can design a campaign, personalize each piece and handle getting the item to the post office.

If you would rather skip reading the explanation below, you can simply call us at 520-393-3551 and we will be delighted to discuss your project over the phone. You don’t need to know all this to have a successful mailing; you just need to know who to call.


A letter in an envelope is going to have a higher cost than a postcard and take more time to produce, but there are some instances when it makes more sense. The basic rule of thumb is that if it requires a response, or is more than just a sheet of paper, such as an appeal that includes a brochure or promotional item, you will want to send a letter.

If you are a non-profit organization seeking donations, memberships or your company is conducting a survey, you should choose a letter mailed in an envelope (generally a #10) and include a reply envelope (#9) as well. Avoid the temptation to use a brightly colored envelope to contain your message as research indicates that this can lower response rates.

Branding of your logo should be on the letter itself and not the outside envelope. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you question whether you should or not, leave off the logo and use only a block of text for the return address.

You will have a greater response if you include a gift, such as a membership sticker or magnet, but also realize that this will need to be decided before designing your marketing piece as it will impact how it is mailed. We can provide the appropriate promotional items. If you are conducting a survey, a $1 bill will garner more replies.

Personalization is everything, both inside and out. You should avoid mailing labels whenever you can and have the addresses printed directly to the envelope. Personalization of the appeal itself is more important, and this is where having a good mailing list helps. Known in the industry as “variable data”, this allows you to tailor each letter to the recipient. Yes, we do that.

Keep your communication brief, but memorable. Photos will help in this endeavor as studies show people tend to remember text that includes images. If you feel you must give additional information, include a professionally printed brochure with your communication. People will only remember a few highlights, and these should be bulleted points within the body of the text.

If you are choosing to send a postcard instead, you will need to determine how you will be mailing it first.


EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) are those pieces you receive that are addressed to “Postal Customer” and are not personalized with your name. You have probably received these from car dealerships announcing a sale. Postcards sent this way are used to saturate a given area, such as a specific zip code, neighborhood or every home and business in a community.

This type of mailing is best used by companies trying to target customers in a given geographical area. It is ideal for restaurants, dry cleaners, car washes or any business that relies on walk-in customers. It is also used for very large mailings of several thousand or more recipients where personalizing each piece would be cost prohibitive.

If your company is using EDDM, it is important that you focus on making your piece stand out. It should be larger, 6” x 11”, have more photos than text and make an offer such as providing a coupon for a free item, or a discount on a first visit, or announcing a contest. The professionals use UV coating on the piece to give it a slick, glossy sheen which provides for a more professional look and results in greater attention by potential customers. We also provide this to our print customers as a way to further make your mailing special. Surprisingly, it is not very expensive and we recommend it if you are sending out 1,000 pieces or more.

Tailored mailings are those that use an address list to personalize each piece with a name and address. These are generally sent to you by companies you have done business with in the past. There are standard sizes from 3.5”x5” up to 6”x11”. However, the size does dictate postage costs. Smaller postcards, such as a 4”x6”, are generally used to contact existing customers as a reminder, such as by your dentist to let you know it is time to make an appointment, or a restaurant to send birthday wishes.

Usually, these smaller sizes are not used for marketing to new customers as they are too small to have a real impact and don’t have enough room for blocks of text. An exception to this would be a mailing which has other appeal, such as being a pop-up or 3D piece.

Postcards should be personalized as well. Avoid using mailing labels as these reduce the overall appeal of the piece and can be distracting. Instead, have the addresses from your list printed directly to the piece. It is not a considerable expense to have this done by your printer, but they will require a clean, properly formatted, sorted mailing list before printing. We provide this service for our mailing customers and can assist with locating mailing lists.

One final note, don’t commit to a design or format before speaking to your mailing specialist at your print shop. There are many considerations and postal regulations which are far too complicated to cover here. Have a general idea of your project – as well as your budget, and visit your print shop about three weeks before you want to mail.

© 2015 Shelly Fagan

Diversified Print Solutions