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Your Direct-Mail Campaign is Only as Good as Your List

We talk a lot about technology because it's new and sexy, but sometimes it's important to refocus on the basics. The basics may not be as sexy, but they have built great businesses for years and are still working for branding and marketing in the new economy.

Even in our highly digital world, branding consultants will tell you that the direct-mail campaign is still one of the most important tools in a branding agency’s bag. But even if you plan the best campaign, if your campaign doesn’t reach your intended recipients, you might as well throw your cash out the window.

When your mail piece arrives at the post office, it is feed into a machine to read the address and give it a barcode for delivery. That’s right, a machine. There is no guy in the backroom assigned to reading every addresses piece of mail that comes through the PO. Since you are dealing with a machine, you have to think like a machine, so while Florida, Fl, Fla, FL. and FL all mean the same thing to a human -- to a machine reading a bulk list only one of these is correct. What does that mean? It means the other labels could delay or completely prevent your piece for ever reaching its destination. It’s true. (Wondering which one is correct? The two-letter state abbreviation in capital letters, no period.)

The problem with lists is that often the person entering the information is copying and pasting from another location. Sometimes that information is up to postal regulations, sometimes it is not. So, it is important for the person creating and maintaining your lists to know what is acceptable and what is not.

Here are some more pointers from USPS about addressing your mail:

• All capital letters
• No punctuation
• At least 10-point type
• One space between city and state
• Two spaces between state and ZIP Code
• Simple type fonts
• Left justified
• Put the attention line on top -- never below the city and state or in the bottom corner of your mailpiece
• If you can’t fit the suite or apartment number on the same line as the delivery address, put it on the line ABOVE the delivery address, NOT on the line below
• Make sure your labels are straight -- mail processing machines have trouble reading crooked or slanted information
• Words like “east” and “west” are VERY important

Learn this lesson now, friend. Otherwise you could loss a good portion of your list before you even get the mail out the door, and what will that do to the statistics for your personal branding?