Almost everyone does a mass mailing at one time or another. A little advance planning can save you lots of grief.
First think out the whole process:
1. Why bother? Think about what you expect to achieve and how you will evaluate your results. Realize that a 1% response is considered good and budget accordingly. For example, my goal with this newsletter is to keep current customers aware of schedules and changes so that they continue to use our services, provide pertinent information to you as a group so that I don’t have to educate each person individually and to give potential customers a brief explanation of what we are all about. I know it works because many of you call to schedule classes or bring in work, and because the topic of the newsletter drops off our list of most frequently asked questions for a while.
2. How do you design your mailing to achieve this? Most of you aren’t going to rush out and hire a marketing firm, although this might be a good idea. Analyze your junk mail: swipe ideas from the best. If a piece works on you, you might be able to use something similar in your mailing. We can help produce your design and give you the benefit of our experience. We can also recommend some marketing and design experts.
3. Where do you get the names? The objective you stated in number 1 should point you to the people you want to reach. If you want current customers, enter addresses from checks and have a sign-up list on the counter. If you want new people, you can enter information from the phone book or buy a mailing list. We can help you set up your database so that you can track address changes and duplicates. Think about all the ways you might want to sort your names before getting started — this will save time in the long run.
You can use customized a mailing list program like “My Mailing List Professional” or set up your own database in Microsoft Works, Microsoft Access, Borland Paradox or any of a number of others. The fields I usually start with are: First Name, Last Name, Salutation, Address, City, State, Zip, Plus4, Date Entered, Source, Group Number, Notes. Modify these as needed.
4. How many pieces are you mailing? If you have more than 200, are you going to use bulk rate postage? The Post Office will sell you a bulk rate permit and for an additional fee will give you a number to imprint so you don't have to lick stamps. They also have a film on how to set up your bundles etc.
If this seems too much bother, consider a mailing service. There are several companies in town offering a wide range of services. We can help with file conversions: both those taking an existing list to a service and those bringing the work in-house from a service.
For further help give us a call at 206-523-0872
copyright 1998 Karen Seymour
Back to Articles index Back to The Computer Workshop home page