IWCO Direct has a ringside seat when it comes to understanding how the best direct marketers in the industry manage their direct mail spend. The scale and the depth of our platform attracts some of the industry’s top performing direct marketers and allows us to be part of their “Best Practices” execution. The list of best practices by our customers run the spectrum, but it can be summed up in one statement:
Manage all areas of your spend to save money today while investing in innovation to increase returns tomorrow; never one without the other.
Finding the right balance between cost savings and investing in innovation is where the very best shine brightest. They put their programs through a continuous review process and make necessary adjustments as they move forward. Here is a checklist of items that we see many marketers focus on:
- Visit your postage spend every six months and ask “How can we lower the unit cost?”
- Challenge yourself to reduce preprint versions by using variable imaging more wisely and move to universal sizes of print components across multiple programs.
- Reduce your number of suppliers to the point where you say “Uncle.” Not saying you only need one supplier, but you don’t need 10 of anything!
- Build cost savings goals into supplier contracts which require year-over-year savings to be generated by your partners.
Invest in Innovation
- Develop or use your supplier’s content management system to decrease your production time and increase your testing cells, all without increasing print costs.
- Increase your use of imaging in unique ways on the form, envelope, or other components of your program.
- Enhance your testing strategy to include new technologies in imaging, card production, and lettershop solutions.
- Invest in your partner’s own success. Incent them to explore and try new production and management methods on your behalf.
These may seem obvious, but the reality is most direct mailers don’t get around to achieving both ends of this equation, or one end for that matter. Change is difficult and companies are very busy, but here are the three ways we have seen clients achieve success within their own company:
- Define – in simple no nonsense terms – what the goal is and what it will mean when you achieve it. “We will decrease our postage spend by $500,000 while not impacting service” or “We will increase our response rates by 15% over 2010 average.” These are goals that everyone can agree on, understand, and measure.
- Make the steps to achieving the goals small so they don’t intimidate your internal teams. This means breaking the overall goals into smaller bite-sized steps that people can and will succeed with. Get emotional investment in the success of the goals.
- Spread the word of the goal and the success. Success is contagious and makes it known who is making it happen and how. Use corporate sponsors to endorse, but make sure all departments can participate and win.
Best Practices never stop, they keep developing, and they are unique to each company’s situation. We would be happy to share our understanding and knowledge of how you can set a plan in place for striving for continuous “Best Practices.”
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