Netrooters Oblivious to Direct Mail basics

OMG! They spent all the $

By krempasky Posted in Comments (3) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Every year, we see it again: shrieking, hand-wringing, gloating (?) lefties pointing fingers at Republican direct mail fundraisers. Trouble is, they don't seem to have much idea what they're talking about.

Read On...

Best, I can tell from this article and the post at TPM, these concerned Democratic activists and journalists are really just looking out for the little guy - the conservative donor, the upstart Republican challenger being fleeced by some nameless (or nearly so) DC consultant mill.

Pfft. How many times must we explain that building a direct mail program is a capital expenditure?

Call it Direct Mail 101:

1. Invest funds to prospect for potential donors. Very low response rate, very expensive to mail.
2. Lose money.
3. Invest more funds to turn first-time donors into repeat supporters. This mail often gets MORE expensive, since the 2nd gift is considered by many the most important. Hopefully, response rates go up.
4. Lose more money.
5. Go back to your donors (known now as your "house file").
6. Make (some) money.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for several cycles.

When a political candidate quits the race after step #4, it should surprise no one that barely any cash went to the rest of the campaign. WHY WOULD IT? And this assumption that our poor challenger was left with nothing? Pfft. How about a donor list of X thousands of names? I'd have to look it up, but it's probably north of 30k. And putting aside the lifetime value of those names as DONORS, they represent a real asset on the rental market by themselves.

BTW, there are lots of shady direct mail folks out there on every side of every aisle. Mailing post-campaign could be appropriate (debt reduction) or might not - hard to say without seeing the mail.

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Netrooters Oblivious to Direct Mail basics 3 Comments (0 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

I call for a congressional Blue Ribbon Panel to find a solution to the high cost of printing ;)


It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

People who imagine that direct mail is the kind of business you get into when you want to drive trailer trucks full of cash to the bank like George Soros does are dead wrong.

It's a very low-margin business, fiercely competitive, and every 1/10th of a cent can make or break you. It's even more galling because as Mike knows I actually participated in the early-voter turnout mailings for the Democrats in Florida in the 2004 election, and I didn't get paid a dime for my work: I was bundled into the cost of the job, which was very successful and went out *on time, on budget.*

If there are any Republicans or Democrats who would like to know what the facts are about direct mail advertising campaigns, they can contact me and I'd be happy to give them the details. It's one of the most cost-competitive businesses in the world and if you're going to ask someone, you might as well ask an expert.

We don't discriminate based on political party. One of our best sales reps. is a Democrat and a Clinton supporter from New Jersey, and we get along very well.

Putting something in the mail is not a political act from the point of view of the people doing their best to produce good mailings, and there's a lot of competition -- which makes the market work for the people who count the most -- the consumers. But it's a stressful environment for anyone in the business themselves, requiring someone to have an indepth knowledge spanning a wide variety of technical disciplines, working to extract every last fraction of a cent of value from every single piece that gets mailed and delivered.

And no, I currently don't have any political mailing customers. I wish I did, because I might be able to save the American taxpayer some money.

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And one of the ways people who would like to portray direct mail in a bad light is very simple: they scare people by saying "they have your addresses."

Well, the fact of the matter is that the United States Postal Service regulates that direct mail campaigns use the most up to date and valid addresses possible, and have a book as thick as your wrist in which you can find the regulations under which they will reject a mailing if the addresses are not deliverable, meaning accurate.

So if you invest in a mailing -- which includes the design cost, the printing cost, the preparation, the postage and the mailing service itself -- without making sure your mailing list is accurate, you will lose every penny of your investment the moment that mail gets rejected by a USPS bulk mail center.

I've seen it happen. I've seen a quarter million pieces of mail representing more than a half million dollars of total investment be thrown into the trash because the address lists weren't correct.

If anyone would like to read the Direct Mail Manual and see the kinds of regulations mailers need to be aware of, they can click here.

It's a business with professionals for a reason.

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