Recently, I attended the DMAW’s Direct Mail 101 seminar. The major takeaway I found from the eight different sessions was that at every step of the process, proper communication could save you time and money. It’s worth spending time on the front end to set up communication practices internally and externally with your vendors and clients.
As direct mail fundraisers, our job is to communicate with people about an organization and motivate them to give. But, if we haven’t paid attention to our internal communication practices, donors could end up having a bad experience with our campaigns. Or worse, even if people do give to the campaign, having to spend money to fix mistakes before it ever reached them may result in lower profits.
To help you save time and money, I’ve compiled some best practices below:
- Involve others in the creative process: Always leave time to have someone else (or better yet, multiple people) edit and proofread copy and look at art before sending to the mailshop. It’s sometimes hard to catch mistakes if you’re too familiar with the work.
- Set up quality-control checkpoints at every step of data processing: People make mistakes — and it is better to catch them earlier in the process. Set up these checkpoints and implement a system with your data processor so you are checking the data to make sure it looks right at every step.
- For production workflow, start with the end in mind and work backwards from there: Early in the process, communicate with vendors about deadlines, mail components and your vision. That way, everyone is on the same page, and if something won’t work, you can fix it early on.
- Understand others expertise and listen to their input: Your production manager knows a lot about production costs and how mailshops work. Their feedback on a concept during a strategy meeting can end up saving time and money.
- Don’t forget about post-mailing communication: Create a clear processing manual for the data capture and caging process. Nothing is worse than losing money because envelopes got lost or didn’t make it to the right place on time.
- And most importantly, remember you are all on the same team! Treat people with respect and say thank you. Be open to feedback and always give it to others in a productive manner.
Rachel Kottler is a Digital Account Executive with Lautman, Maska, Neill and Company, where she manages digital fundraising campaigns for non-profit clients. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.