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8. Sending too early or too late

Send too early, and they’ll misplace your mailing. Send too late, and they’ve already made plans, or they don’t have enough time to respond before the deadline. In business, as with much of life, timing is everything. Getting to the right person at the right time can translate into sales. Missing the window of opportunity isn’t much fun. If your direct mail piece is centered around a promotion with an end date, make sure that you give people time to respond and evaluate the offer. If the target audience is made up of people who travel frequently, make sure that you account for people not checking their mail for a week or so at a time. If your direct mail piece is instead centered around a specific date or an event, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Are you asking people to travel from out of town to the event? If so, then you probably want to give at least 45 days notice so that people are able to get discounted plane tickets.

Do you have a large non-refundable deposit for an event that’s due 30 or 60 days out? If so, you should make sure that you give your customers ample time to get the deposit to you.

Is your event tied to a specific season? It can be tough to promote a fall event when it’s still in the heart of summer.

Is your target audience busy professionals who schedule everything 2-3 weeks in advance? Professionals will need more advance warning, while a target audience made up of twenty-somethings is more likely to respond to might signup because they’re free this weekend. Over time, one of the things you can do is “train” your list to sign up early. Usually this means giving early-bird discounts, and letting them know that if they don’t sign up early, the event may be full. Testing is the best way to make sure you’re hitting people at the right time in their inbox. You can also do a quick survey of people as well, although nothing will be as concrete as measuring responses.


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