The 6-Step Direct Mail Autopsy: Why Your Mailer Is DOA
5. Be honest about your product.
I once created a direct mail package for a well-known publisher and was told later that the mailing bombed. But when I asked for details, I learned that the response rate was double, the net profit was double, and most of the numbers were fantastic. However, the cancellation rate was around 30 percent and that didn't go over well with management.
I gently told them it probably indicated a product-related problem — more people were trying the product because of my mailing but a lot of them didn't like it. The publishing company didn't accept that explanation, didn't want to change the product, and didn't seem to care that they were making twice as much money, even including cancellations. Apparently, they preferred to make less money so they didn't have to deal with the embarrassment of admitting they had a bad product. Good grief.
6. Hire a professional.
I know that sounds self-serving, but I have to be honest with you. Few business owners have the skill to create good direct mail. And often they don't have anyone on staff who can do it either. Sometimes when they farm out the project, they hire someone local and cheap. Big mistake. A failure may mean you need to bring in a hired gun to get your direct mail on track.
If budget is a problem, many consultants offer some sort of analysis service that can identify problems in a direct mail piece and provide potential solutions. It's not as good as having a direct mail piece created from scratch by a pro, but it's a smart compromise.
Don't feel too bad if you have a direct mail loser.
To use a baseball analogy, everyone remembers that Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs. But few remember that he also had 1,330 strike outs. That's because people generally remember successes and forget failures.