Mailing on a Shoestring Budget
Embrace Your Inner Contrarian
The first rule is stick with what’s worked in the past. The second rule, of course, is to break rule number one. “Statistically, you have to stick to what works, but realistically, the times are changing so rapidly … It is a scientifically rewarding view to always test against the control and ensure the stability of how that control is doing,” Smith says.
Moreover, Johnson, who describes himself as a contrarian, asks, if your competitors are cutting back and going smaller due to budgetary constraints, why not test an oversized package? “Because of tightened budgets, there is an abandonment of traditional direct mail packages for self-mailers and/or postcards—which is fine if you test them and you can get them to work. But if everybody is going smaller or different, I’d like to go larger,” Johnson says. If you normally mail a #10 or self-mailer, he advises testing a 9˝ x 12˝ or 10˝ x 13˝ to really stand out in the mailbox.
Don’t Resort to Cutting Lists
One of the first places where marketers tend to mistakenly cut funding is in list acquisition and circulation. “It’s very easy to cut circulation. [But] what’s easy is not necessarily what’s right,” Smith suggests. She says that decreasing circulation is a quick fix that immediately increases your bottom line contribution. However, a year later, with fewer customers, constituents or qualified leads on the mailing list, marketers will need to reinvest in their list programs in order to maintain bottom line numbers.
“People might review the size of their list … and if they’re truly scientific marketers and they’re testing, maybe they can work with a smaller universe to test before committing to a larger campaign,” states Martel, who also stresses the importance of list hygiene in making every dollar count. “Generally cleaning and deduping your list and making sure you have an accurate database,” he says.