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Direct Marketing 101: Creative, Lists, and Production

Part one of a new blog series.

If you missed the sold out DM 101 workshop on March 2, 2016 below you will find some important key takeaways you need to consider for a successful direct marketing program! So what were some of the key takeaways from industry leaders at the DM 101 workshop?

Kerri Kerr, Senior Vice President
Avalon Consulting


  • Copy needs to be about YOU the donor, not YOU the organization.
  • People give to people. Does your copy sound like it’s coming from a real person or an organization? Write your copy like you’re writing to a friend!
  • Don’t overlook your carrier – it’s the only thing standing between your direct mail package and the trashcan (same with your subject line on your email being the only thing between your email and the delete button).
  • Make sure your renewal program is in good shape (enough efforts and enough channels) before you tackle acquisition – no sense bringing new people into a broken system.
  • Make sure you’re always learning from your campaigns so you can improve the next one-test to improve response, lower cost, drive upgrades – and don’t forget to include comprehensive cost inclusive of BRE expense, premium fulfillment, etc.) in your analysis.


Jeanette Cassano, Senior Vice President


  • Keep abreast of what is happening in the world, in the economy and in direct marketing because these trends are likely to affect charitable giving.
  • Direct mail is proving itself time and again as a solid partner with digital marketing and will not be going away. In fact, it is the still the primary driver in bringing new donors into an organization.
  • It is critical to target the right audience for your fundraising offer which means choosing the right lists or all your other work with copy, premiums, etc. will be for naught.
  • Utilize the knowledge an experienced professional broker or manager can provide as a partner to ensure that you keep on the right track to meet for your organization’s acquisition goals.
  • Important steps in keeping your program strong – Focus on acquisition, build donor retention and amp up creative!
  • Donors are an organization’s most important asset and should be treated as such at every touch point within the organization.


Meg Ferguson, Account Director

Production Services

  • Learn the Direct Mail language and if you don’t understand something ask for clarification.
  • Get involved early in the process and involve your supplier partners early in the process. The more advanced notice and collaboration, the smoother the production process.
  • Production management begins and ends with good project management skills – management of products, services, relationships and processes.
  • Consider your audience, quantity, timing, available artwork, mission and budget in order to make the best production decisions for your client and each specific campaign.
  • Manage to a schedule that all stakeholders buy into and have access to. Provide regular updates so that critical dates (art, data, receipt of postage funds) are met.
  • Over communicate every detail especially when it comes to component and service specifications and all written instructions for each discipline (specs, printing, personalization, data processing, insertion and postal logistics).
  • Ensure you have a working knowledge of your data and how it is intended to be used to make your campaign more effective. If not ask the experts!
  • Have every data file analyzed for postage optimization – you have options to drive down postage costs that affect the bottom line of your campaign’s budget.
  • Build relationships and treat all partners with respect! It takes a team to execute a successful campaign.

DMAW is excited to offer its next session – DM 201 on Wednesday, April 20 at AARP Foundation in Washington DC. The DM 201 workshop will build on the practices and concepts delivered at DM 101 and will have something for everyone. It goes beyond the basics and principals to explore the details and metrics of ongoing successful direct marketing programs. Be sure to register at the “early bird” rate before it ends on Thursday, March 31.

Part 2 of Direct Marketing 101: Data Hygiene/Data Processing and Data Capture & Caging will post next week!


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