Running your business involves a lot of moving parts. And planning out perfectly-timed direct mail campaigns probably doesn’t rank very high on your priority list. But timing is one of the simplest (and most important) aspects of any direct mail campaign.
Sending time-sensitive materials out too late can hurt your response rates. And encountering last-minute problems with your direct mailer can lead to unexpected delays. To help you avoid these issues, we’ve put together some direct mail timing tips. They’ll help you make sure your direct mail hits mailboxes at the right time for maximum effect.
Anticipate Your Busy Seasons
You probably know when your busy times are, but you might not know that you should mail to prospects way before your busy season even starts. Sending mail well in advance helps you avoid last-minute marketing when you’re at your busiest. Not to mention the added bonus of beating your competition to your prospects’ mailboxes.
Effectively timing your direct mail is easy. If you get busy during the summer, ramp up your marketing efforts during the winter and spring. On the other hand, if business increases over the winter, get your mail in front of prospects during the summer and fall.
Here are just a few examples of industries with well-defined busy seasons, along with some suggestions for when they should mail:
- HVAC – Mail in the spring to schedule summer A/C maintenance and in the fall to schedule winter furnace maintenance.
- Fitness Centers – Mail in December to attract New Year’s resolutioners and in late winter or early spring for those looking to get fit for summer.
- Automotive – Mail in the spring to schedule tune-ups before summer vacations and in the fall to schedule winterization for cold weather.
- Lawn Care – Mail over the winter to secure spring and summer business. If you provide leaf removal services, mail to customers again over the summer to lock down fall jobs.
Mailing to prospects more frequently during your busy season is another great way to use timing to your advantage. Try mailing in the months leading up to your busy season, right before it starts, and even a few times during to stay top of mind. Just make sure you’re balancing frequency with your budget to avoid overspending.
Mail Time-Sensitive Materials Immediately
Timing is especially important for companies that offer timed promotions, coupons with expiration dates, or who use other time-sensitive content in their advertisements.
Promotions and Coupons
Getting coupons to customers before your sale ends may seem like a no-brainer, but delays in the direct mail process and other unforeseen problems can put you behind schedule. Mail to prospects well in advance to give them time to think about your offer and figure out when they can use it. Or you could avoid timing issues altogether by using the phrase “Limited Time Offer” instead of strict expiration dates.
A great strategy for staying top-of-mind is to include useful information with your pieces. This often comes in the form of time-sensitive information like sports schedules, calendars, maintenance reminders, and more. To make sure your pieces remain useful – and to increase the likelihood of your prospects holding on to them – you need to mail as soon as the information becomes available. This helps ensure you’re delivering topical, relevant, and timely information before your competition.
Communicate with Your Direct Mail Vendor
Staying one step ahead is a great way to keep your direct mail campaign on schedule. But you also need to work closely with your direct mail provider to minimize potential issues that can derail the process. Ask your direct mailer these important questions to help ensure your pieces go out on time:
- Do you have a backlog of jobs, or can you start right away? If they can’t get to your job for a month and you need to mail in two weeks, you may need to look elsewhere.
- How long does it usually take to complete a job of my size? This answer can vary greatly between direct mail companies depending on how much work they’re doing for you, how busy they are, etc.
- Are you a full-service direct mail company, or are some aspects of my job outsourced? If they handle elements like design and printing externally, it may take longer to complete your job.
- Can you deliver my pieces on a specific day? Theoretically, any mailer can guarantee delivery by a certain date, but it’s impossible to promise a delivery date with absolute certainty. If you want to control when your mail gets delivered, EDDM® may be your best option. Since you drop your pieces off at the post office yourself, your mail should be delivered the next day. But even this isn’t a sure thing.
A trustworthy direct mail company will let you know beforehand whether they can finish your job on time. But if you haven’t worked with them before, there’s no way to be 100% sure they’ll deliver. That’s why you should always build an extra day or two into your schedule to anticipate any unforeseen delays. If problems do arise, you’ll be ready.
It’s easy to overlook timing when planning your direct mail, but it’s a crucial component you can’t afford to forget. Mailing in advance of your busy seasons, timing your promotions, and communicating with your direct mailer all help you get your pieces to prospects at the right time. Get the timing right, and you’re well on your way to maximizing your direct mail success.