Keys to success for any direct mail effort

Posted by Mlynch

The direct mail business card mailer sold by The Daily Star in Oneonta, N.Y., reached 10,000 households in Oneonta, West Oneonta and Cooperstown and earned a 39 percent profit margin for the paper.  This was one of the entries in SNPA's Best Revenue Contest.

The Daily Star, which has a circulation of 12,000, is published by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. Mitchell D. Lynch is publisher.

Lynch, who submitted the entry, said the direct mail business card mailer has perforated edges around the cards to make it easy to take the cards apart.

It was a seven-inch by seven-inch tri-fold product (on card stock) consisting of 19 advertisers. The premier spot was a three-inch by four-inch ad printed front-and-back, and priced at $699.

The other 18 advertisers each received a double-sided, full-color business card size, which was perforated for easy removal. Each of these were priced at $299.

Local advertisers were able to reach their core market for less than 3 cents per address.

Mitchell said, "The product completely sold out, with additional advertisers that wanted to participate but were unable to do so (for lack of availability), in approximately two weeks."

He said, "We had tried a direct mail piece before, but it was not profitable in its current format. Our customers were excited about this type of direct mail piece and we have several waiting for the next one."  He said the paper's advertisers and the public are "coming to truly understand that we are more than a newspaper."

When asked about tips for other newspapers that might want to produce a mailer like this in their market, Sean Lewis, advertising sales director, said: "Our recent success in selling and distributing a 10,000 piece shared direct mailer can be attributed to two practices that we use in any new product launch.

"These practices are 1) performance of a comprehensive needs assessment of the market and key individual players; and 2) designation of a champion tasked with the success of the effort."

He said, "Many an idea has been a winner in the conference room and an absolute loser on the streets. It is easy to fall in love with a product or promotion, especially if you had a hand in its creation. What truly matters, however, is whether your customers and potential customers are as excited as you may be about the effort.

"Asking key advertisers if they would have an interest in such a product is vital to its success. So is incorporating questions within the everyday needs assessment process designed to gauge opportunity in a particular area. In short, jumping into the deep end of the pool without first knowing the temperature of the water can be a chilling experience.

"Additionally, tasking someone on your sales staff to be the 'champion' of any new product or promotion is also key to a successful launch. Whether it is a manager or a sales rep given this special designation, the champion will keep track of sales, keep the effort top-of-mind and provide crucial communication of successes, sold premium locations, goal attainments and the like."

He said Michele Clapperton, the paper's alternative media specialist, filled this champion role for The Daily Star and brought home a winner. "Without a good champion," Lewis said, "efforts can fall through the cracks, taking the expected revenue with them."

Read below what some of our contest judges had to say about this entry.  And, add your own comments.

Oneonta, Mitchell, Lewis, revenue


9 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • CCrittendon13

    Have been looking into formats like this locally as well. Glad to hear it implemented well and was well received in your market!

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Report this

  • Pat Taylor

    Other people are selling stuff like this in every market we're in. It's like being nibbled to death by ducks. No reason we can't do the same kind of things. We have bigger sales staffs and better relations. Getting it in the sales mix is the hard part with other products in the tool box.

    Friday, November 1, 2013 Report this

  • Lots of competition for these dollars...glad it was a success.

    Monday, November 4, 2013 Report this

  • mmulholland

    Solid idea; well executed. Hats off for making this a success... it can often be a tough sell.

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013 Report this

  • jack.perkins

    Direct mail is quite competitive and usually price prohibited due to mail expense. It looks like you have found a way to make it profitable and relevant.

    Friday, November 8, 2013 Report this

  • jnoel0921

    Very well executed. Quality piece that saturates much of the market, thus providing impact and results. Good profit considering the number of pieces and postage involved.

    Friday, November 8, 2013 Report this

  • drussell

    I think this could be a great upsale opportunity, and gives the advertisers opportunity to reach people who might not be reading the paper.

    Monday, November 11, 2013 Report this

  • dherlinger

    Great idea and I like how you gave advertisers another reason why they should do business with you.

    Monday, November 11, 2013 Report this

  • Lauren

    This would be a great upsale idea for our business card directory! It also gives a chance to reach new customers for our advertisers. Love that you sold out so quickly.

    Monday, November 11, 2013 Report this

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