The Differences Between Various Types of Direct Mail Service Providers

02 June 2020 / By Mike Gunderson
The Differences Between Various Types of Direct Mail Service Providers on gundersondirect.com
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A variety of elements go into a successful direct mail campaign, and there are service providers for each step, as well as full-service vendors who are there with you throughout the whole process.

When working on a direct mail campaign, the goal is to get your marketing materials into the hands of as many potential customers as possible. Multiple steps, and a lot of work, will go into this process.

So, how do you accomplish this feat?

It all starts with developing a strategy, establishing your targeting, creating your mail pieces, printing them, and finally, sending them to your prospect list.

Where it gets tricky is that some direct mail service providers will only help with select aspects of the process, while others will be there with you every step of the way.

Some vendors only handle the printing, others will only source data. A new breed of automated direct mail providers gives you full control over the final product but doesn’t supply any hands-on assistance. On the other hand, full-service direct mail companies help with everything and are maximally invested in your success.

The type of service provider that’s best for you depends on how much experience you have with direct mail, your in-house staff and equipment, and how much you want to expand or enrich the in-house data you already have.

Here’s what you need to know about the services offered by these very different service providers.

Full-service direct mail agencies

For the highest level of service, you’ll want to go with a full-service direct mail marketing company. These consultants will assist you in developing a strategy and can manage and execute your campaigns from start to finish. At the highest operating level, these agencies can become like an extension of your own marketing department, significantly expanding your capabilities, creativity, and ability to execute top-notch campaigns.

This service means that the direct mail provider will help you source lists of targeted prospects, create the campaign plan, develop the marketing material, print the content, and get it in the mail stream.

A full-service direct mail company is a turnkey solution to your marketing needs, ensuring that your advertising gets the right message to the right people at the right time. This service level also provides a level of continuity that is hard to duplicate across multiple vendors.

Once the campaign is executed, a full-service direct mail company will also analyze its effectiveness and make adjustments and work with you to adjust where the plan hasn’t lived up to expectations.

If you want to get the most from your direct mail marketing investment, this is the way to go.

Direct mail printing facilities

In case you only require a company that prints your mailers, you can go directly to a printing service.

The main advantage of this type of service is that they’ll have high-quality paper and equipment to ensure that your direct mail looks outstanding. On the other hand, the printer might not provide additional assistance or analysis you need. While many work with the post office or co-mailers to get your creative into the mailstream, and they may offer creative services to get the most out of their capabilities, few printers help with data and targeting, not to mention campaign strategy, analysis, and optimization.

A printing service could perfectly meet your needs and budget. Just make sure you have expert staff or vendors lined up to handle the other essential areas of your campaign.

Data providers

A data provider is precisely what it sounds like: a service that provides you with the data you need to get your direct mail campaign off the ground.

In most cases, the data will include the names and addresses of people that you can send marketing material to along with targeting information such as demographics, interests, and behavioral data.

The problem with data providers is that the information you purchase is usually widely available and may not have the same focus as a list you develop yourself. After all, when you build a list based on your own first-party data, that has unique information from people who’ve actually interacted with your brand. On the other hand, it’s hard to find new prospects among people already on your file.

If you don’t have much of a list, a data provider can certainly push your data in the right direction. Just make sure you keep investing in first-party lead generation so you’re not fishing in the same bucket as everyone else.

Automated direct mail

Generally, automated direct mail services will provide you with software and leave you on your own from there. You’ll be responsible for composing your campaign from the start, including coming up with data and designing the mailers.

The main benefits of automated direct mail are the speed and efficiency with which you can create your campaign. You’re responsible for all the input, so the only thing holding you back is the amount of time you put into it.

There is a drawback, however, and it’s the lack of support you’ll receive throughout the process. The automated direct mail company will only use the information that you provide, so you’re left figuring out the design, coming up with a list, and analyzing the response yourself. If you’re not getting expert advice from your direct mail company, you better make sure that expertise exists in-house.

Making your decision

The type of direct mail service provider you go with is highly dependent on your business’ needs. If you’re confident in your ability to design an ad campaign without much assistance, or your company has an in-house team, you might just need data and/or printing services. If you want the highest level of support from an experienced team — and the best chance for a successful campaign — a full-service provider is the most reliable option.

Gunderson Direct is a full-service direct mail company that will assist you with every aspect of your campaign. With over 16 years in business, we can handle your direct mail from start to finish, delivering the results you need to thrive and grow. Visit our contact page to learn more or to start your campaign.

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About The Author

Mike Gunderson

Mike Gunderson is the founder of Gunderson Direct, Inc., a direct marketing agency that helps businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail.