Sandra Blum

While the general shift of marketing budgets from print to digital media and the resulting effect on the U.S. Postal Service is largely a troubling situation for marketers that still use the direct mail channel, the short-term reality is less mail in circulation also produces an opportunity.

A reply device can be more than just the means by which prospects share their information; it can be an active and effective part of your sales message, according to direct mail veteran Sandra Blum. In her book, “Designing Direct Mail That Sells,” Blum outlines 19 questions that you can use as a guideline to determine whether your response mechanism simply takes orders or leads to them: * Is it easy to understand? * Is it easy to find? * Is there a clear statement of the offer? * Does it highlight the benefits? * Does it encourage action? * Does it spell out how to respond? * Does it highlight

By Hallie Mummert At best, testing is an educated guess. The majority of testing is based on insights gleaned from the results of previous tests and rollouts. The problem with this tactic, says direct mail consultant and copywriter Sandra Blum, is that you're focused only on what has already happened rather than what could take place. To more effectively guide future direct mail tests, some direct marketers are conducting pretests, where they use e-mail, buckslips in current controls, insert media and Web ads to try out different headlines, find new audiences, test into a new premium and more. What's more, because pretesting often is

By Hallie Mummert How many times has your creative team laid odds on who could pick the winning package among your test panels, only to find that everyone had bet on a loser? The reason why testing is an art and a science is that predicting human behavior can be tricky. Not only is it difficult to determine what different target audiences might find interesting and of value, but it also is challenging to take your own bias out of the equation when selecting creative and offer positioning you think will be successful. Results from prior testing experiences give you insight on what

Acceptance or rejection. This is the immediate decision recipients make when they get your direct mail package. They base their impulse on the vibe they get from the package's outer envelope—and it happens in only seconds. As David Wise, a freelance designer in Burlington, VT, puts it: "It's quite sobering to go into a local post office, and watch people get their mail from their P.O. Boxes and then dump all the direct mail in the trash can." He explains that the main role of the outer envelope is to be opened; some [envelopes] tell too much, or tell you enough to know

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