When you were younger—or maybe you’re young right now—did you ever hear somebody insist, “You have to have money to make money.” If so, were you a bit mystified about how that worked exactly?

We’re here to demystify it for you. An easier way to understand this idea is, “You have to spend money to make money.” This is especially true where your direct mail marketing is concerned.

But many new businesses (and even some not-so-new ones) make the mistake of being frugal with their marketing budget, seeking to spend as little as possible. Here are the three ways it happens.

1.) Investing too little to see a meaningful return

Unless you already have a solid customer base, effective direct mail marketing campaigns are a matter of repetition: it takes an average of three postcards for people to recognize your name and seven for them to associate your name with your line of business.

Repetition is what generates ROI, not only because bigger print orders mean lower production costs, but because response rate increases with repeated mailings. (Marketers have observed this to be true since the dawn of direct mail, more than 130 years ago.) This means that rather than looking to do the least and pay the least, you should budget sufficiently for direct mail.

So, how much should you be allocating to your marketing? This can vary, depending on how much competition there is in your market but the U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that you invest 7-8% of gross profits if your annual revenues are less than $10 million.

2.) Not getting acquainted with your customers

The heart and soul of all successful marketing is “presenting the right offer to the right audience.” The more data you can gather about your customers and potential customers, the “righter” things get because you can use data to craft offers that will get response.

There are two classes of customer data:

  • Demographic data gives you the physical attributes, such as geography, age, gender, and income.

Many businesses skimp on this aspect of marketing because market research can be expensive or it can be quite time consuming if you take it on yourself. But for success, the need for substantial and accurate customer data is as much a fact of marketing life as the need for repetition.

3.) Bailing out on a strategy before you learn from it

Similar to #1 above, many direct marketers give up on a particular marketing strategy (or never fully commit to it) before they can collect enough results to analyze and learn from. Even with the best customer data and the best copywriter available, direct mail is still an experiment. It’s scientific. Based on your response and results, you will make adjustments to your postcard and then test it against the original…then test a third version based on those results.

Experience—that’s how you find out what works and how you improve as a direct marketer. But you won’t get that experience if you bail out on a strategy because it didn’t deliver instant rave results.


Speaking of experience, there’s no easier postcard design-print-mail experience than the one you get by logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei. There you can upload an existing design or use our custom templates to produce professional-looking results with a few mouse clicks.

Or, if you don’t feel like sitting in front of a computer for any longer than you have to, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and put it into the capable hands of our design and marketing pros for an unmistakably great-looking, high-response postcards.