Direct Marketing Support Services -The Lettershop

By Karen Tyson.

Vendors who offer direct mail support services such as lettershops can be very helpful when you’re deciding on the package you’re going to mail. If you have any components that require special folds or you’re using a poly envelope or just an oversized envelope, you'll need to make sure the lettershop you choose has the necessary equipment to handle these items. Not every lettershop has poly equipment and not all can handle fancy folds or oversized envelopes.   The total quantity of your mailing can also dictate which companies would provide the best services for your campaign.

Having a good relationship with your vendors is enormously helpful.  These companies are accustomed to seeing all kinds of direct mail campaigns and can help save you money by making suggestions on sizes, stock, folds, personalization and the type of addressing you need.   There are many good direct mail suppliers that can handle all the support services you require to plan, print, and mail your package.  These are full service direct marketing companies and it can save you time if you coordinate everything through one company rather than using several individual companies to perform parts of the job.  However, that is just my opinion.  You may use as many different outside vendors for each support service as needed but I find it helpful to use one company that can provide all services – one stop shopping saves time and helps avoid errors.

Giving the lettershop all the dimensions of the components in the package before you start printing is the best way to avoid any problems after the fact. You don’t want to be left with printed material that can’t be mailed for one reason or another.  There’s nothing worse than getting down to the lettershop stage – the final step before the USPS takes over - and discovering your printed material can’t be inserted or you've violated a postal regulation and the package can’t be mailed.  Lettershops are always up to date on postal regulations and are a very good source of information to answer your questions.  

If you are testing offers (or anything else) within a package and you have different letters, order cards or components that go with one version but not the other, you want to make sure you give these components a unique stock key.  This way when you give the lettershop your written instructions it will have the information necessary to set up each test version with the correct components.  It’s always important to put things in writing so there is no misunderstanding.  You can’t expect vendors to be mind readers.  This simply protects your interests as well as theirs.

Involving your lettershop early in the package and mail development process means you'll never miss important information concerning your package design or format – problems with either will result in additional costs and delays for your campaign.