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Direct mail marketing services
Getting the Results You Want with Direct Marketing
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By: Arlette Measures
How to Choose a Direct Marketing Agency for Your Company

Selecting a vendor for direct marketing can be a challenge; there are many direct marketing companies all competing for the same business. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when selecting a direct marketing vendor:

Price - The price for direct marketing services varies a great deal depending on which company you choose. Remember that if you use direct mail marketing, you will always have to pay for postage, but you should be able to get a bulk postage rate through your direct mail company. Also, look for a company that has an in- house printing and design service. This can decrease the total amount you would pay if you were to contract design, printing and delivery services separately.

Database - All direct mail companies operate using a database. Make sure that the company you select has the most current version of the direct mail database based on current U.S. Census data. These databases are expensive to purchase, so double check that your direct mail company has made the investment.

Additional Features and Services - Many direct marketing companies will not only mail or publish your direct mail collateral, but they will also provide design, print, and consultation, for a full-service, turnkey operation. Many offer database management, customer data integration, IT services, digital marketing, risk mitigation and consulting. Some offer specific services in analytics or search, as well as researching key purchase influencers.

Advanced Techniques - Direct marketing technology and strategies are constantly evolving, and agencies that remain current are able to offer their clients greater options, such as campaigns that integrate direct mail with digital and other direct marketing channels in ways that boost response.

Unity of Purpose - A good direct marketing agency will work with you to gain a thorough understanding of your business and your marketing goals. Your provider should help you to clearly define your target market and create your marketing message. Ideally, the agency you choose should also be willing to work together with any other agency you may enlist.

Agency Size - Some marketers prefer to hire the largest agency they can afford, one that has experience working with top companies. Larger agencies may have talent in all related areas such as product development, packaging and pricing, as well as marketing/sales integration capabilities. Other marketers prefer smaller agencies that are not publicly owned and whose sole accountability is to their clients.

Specialization - You may prefer to work with an agency that specializes in your industry, although there can be advantages to choosing an agency that has worked with companies in several industries. 'Experiences often can adapt nicely across vertical markets,' says Fern Goldstein, group account director with MRM Worldwide. 'While having the same or similar industry experience is helpful in terms of shortening the learning curve, it is highly beneficial to leverage experiences across industries.'

The biggest challenge in finding the right direct marketing agency, according to Ramesh Ratan, DMA's exec VP-chief operating officer, is 'finding one that can take a multichannel, multi-model approach to helping you. Marketers aren't going to the same places for marketing services as they used to,' he adds. 'The smart agencies are realizing this and are building new capabilities.'

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