How to Make the Most of Your Marketing Dollar

Question: I know there is no way of knowing who prefers what but I recently went to an event and half liked e-mails and the other hard mail, so knowing it’s about 50/50 what is the most economical way to address all parties involved?

As the question above implies, you will not always know how your prospective clients prefer to be contacted. Because of this, it makes sense to try and reach them with your marketing in a variety of ways.

I addressed the merits of email and print promos in a recent Agency Access blog post, Your Website and Social Media Are Not Enough, as does Todd Joyce in an ASMP piece, Does Anyone Still Use Snail Mail? However, what I’m discussing today is how to balance the two to be most effective for your budget and still reach everyone you’d like.

Balancing Your Budget

To me, it comes down to two things: budget and mailing list.

I think it’s a good idea to first figure out your target budget for the year, and then divide it accordingly. Assume that you may send out email and print promotions every 2 to 3 months , i.e. you may send 4 to 6 email promotions and 4 to 6 print promotions each year.

When planning your campaign, I recommend sending your email promotion first, and to a larger audience than your print mailing. To illustrate this concept, let’s say you send your email to 1,000 people. Of course, if your budget allows, feel free to have a larger mailing list – email promotions are cheaper to send and create, so why not try to reach as many appropriately targeted clients as possible?

To be budget-friendly, you may want to limit your print mailing to 50 to 25 percent of your email list. In this example, that would be at least 250 people. An involved, conceptual direct mail piece (like Casey Templeton’s piece below) can easily cost $10 or more per unit, so you’ll need to decide what your budget can accommodate.

Casey Templeton’s fun (and certainly involved) piece

Alternatively, if you use a simple “postcard” mailer from Agency Access or Modern Postcard, you can keep your costs below $2 per unit, which includes postage. In my opinion, a postcard with a well-chosen image or two is far better than sending no direct mail at all. It is my experience that postcards larger than 5” x 7” make a better impact, plus they don’t get lost as easily in a stack of mail or 8.5” x 11” file folders. Additionally, you can use the same design template for each print campaign for the year and just swap-in a new image to keep costs down.

Who Makes The List?

To determine who to include in your print mailing list, you have a few options.

  • For one, keep track of who clicks and replies to your email promo. That can inform you of who is really showing interest in your work. Why not continue the conversation with them, via a beautifully printed image?
  • On the other hand, there are some folks who won’t click through to your website from an email. That can be for a variety of reasons – too busy, they don’t like email, their spam filter blocked you, etc. You should consider sending those you really want to reach a direct mail piece since they may not have seen your email.

Between the “clickers” and the clients who didn’t click on your email’s link to your website, you need to decide who you really want to work for. Make your “dream list” first, and let your budget determine how many additional clients you’d like to send direct mail to.

One last thought: keep note of clients who tell you that they only want to receive email promotions. No reason to spend money sending them direct mail, especially if that will irk them.

Good luck!

About Neil

Neil Binkley is a photographer’s marketing and portfolio consultant. He co-founded Wonderful Machine, where until 2010 he was Marketing and Publicity Director, his work garnering winning entries in Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual and PDN’s Photo Annual. Neil has shared photographers’ work with top ad agencies, magazines and corporations, and he regularly appears on industry panels, photo contests, and portfolio reviews. Neil Binkley

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