Talon Mailing & Marketing

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Deer Park, NY 11729

(631) 667-5500


Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing January 2014 Newsletter.

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How To Create The Perfect Piece of Direct Mail

By Daniel Taibleson, digitaljournal.com

Despite the prevalence of digital marketing, direct mail outperforms email with an existing customer response rate of 3.40 percent to 0.12 percent, a 2012 Direct Marketing Association study found.

Oversized mail and postcards also outperformed email at 3.95 and 2.47 percent. Prospect response rates were proportionate, with mail pulling 1.44 percent to email's 0.03 percent. Direct mail's cost per lead was also lower, at $51.40 to email's $55.24, reports the Online Marketing Institute.
Direct mail done correctly represents a viable marketing strategy. Still, there is a huge difference between these average numbers and top response rates, just as there is a gulf between a .250 baseball hitter and Miguel Cabrera. What distinguishes an adequate direct mail campaign from a superior one? Several factors are key to connecting with the right audience, getting them to read your piece, and generating a response at a profit without busting your budget:

Set a Budget

To keep a direct mail campaign under budget, you must first have a budget. The Small Business Administration recommends companies set their marketing budget proportionate to revenue and profit margins. As a rule of thumb, a company generating annual revenue of $5 million a year or less, with profit margins in the range of 10 to 12 percent, should allocate seven to eight percent of revenue to marketing, with appropriate adjustments for financial specifics.

Direct mail spending should be factored into this budget as part of an overall marketing mix, with priority spending on media and campaigns that pull the best results. If you are operating on a shoestring budget or otherwise seeking to cut costs, consider using postcard printing as a cost-effective way to deploy direct mail.


Experian, whose predecessor TRW Information Systems and Services had been in the direct mail business since the 1980s, emphasizes that the impact of mailing list selection on direct mail success cannot be overstated. Key to selecting the right mailing list is understanding the different types of lists, their corresponding response rates and their best practices.

Lists of your own current and past customers, called house or in-house lists, generate the highest response rates, and should form a major component of a smart direct mail campaign. Direct response lists consist of people who have responded to other offers resembling yours, and get the second-highest rate of response. Compiled lists use resources such as directories to identify prospects with specific demographic characteristics, and tend to generate the lowest rate of response. Cloned lists seek to compile contacts with characteristics duplicating your current customers. When using a mailing list, understand what type of list you're using. If you rent a list, choose a reputable broker, and know which type of list they're renting you.

Open Rate

MailChimp, an autoresponder service that supports direct email marketing, has tracked the percentage of recipients who open commercial email, called the "open rate," and found that this varies from about 25.2 to 48.6 percent, depending on industry and company size. Open rate is harder to measure in direct mail, but what the two media share in common is a core principle: if they don't open it, they can't read it. Boosting your open rate is thus one of the keys to success.

Open rate increases when your mailing piece attracts your audience's attention and interest, convincing them they should read what you sent them instead of throwing it out with the other junk mail. Factors that influence your open rate include how you address your recipient, what you say on the outside of your package to give the reader an incentive to open it, and how you design the look of your package. One reason postcards work effectively is they don't require unsealing to open.


Once an addressee opens your piece, the next task is to get him to continue reading long enough to respond. Whether or not this happens is a function of your copywriting quality. Proven copywriting formulas aim to grab attention, hold interest, generate desire, and compel action. Keys to applying this effectively to direct mail include creating compelling headlines, and providing response mechanisms like self-addressed return envelopes.


More than four percent of mail is undeliverable as addressed, costing the U.S. Postal Service $1.4 billion a year, a 2011 National Postal Forum report shows. Your direct marketing campaign can incur proportionate postage costs if you don't take steps to make sure the addresses on your list are deliverable. Using USPS Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) software will help you avoid this problem.


Bob Bly, one of America's leading direct mail copywriters, says after poor list choice, the second-biggest mistake most direct mail campaigns make is failing to track results. Testing alternate wordings of direct mail, a process known as split testing, can help you identify high-performance pieces, while saving you money on under-performing campaigns.

The Importance of Great Photos

From directmailmarketing101.com

Photos can dramatically increase your response rates. How do your pictures stack up?

You know what your product looks like, but do your customers? Or, perhaps more importantly, do they know how theyíll feel when they use your product or after your service has helped them? No? Then thereís no better way to tell them than with great photography.

It can be tempting to go the stock photo route, but never underestimate the power of a stellar, beautiful photograph of your product (or your location or your team or anything else that gets your message across). And thereís a lot that goes into a great photo:

  • Lighting

  • Studio space

  • A photographer who knows what he or sheís doing. The right lens, the right angle, the right timing, it all matters in getting a gorgeous shot.

  • Styling. From clothes to food, there are all sorts of tricks of the trade visual masters use to great exactly the shot theyíre looking for.

  • Model casting, if applicable. The right model using or wearing your product can make all the difference in the world. Donít be afraid to look to your own customers or staff as models, tooóauthenticity can go a long way.

  • Digital editing. From adjusting the lighting to giving a model a full body makeover, every picture needs a little wizardry at the end, even if itís just a quick crop.

    So when you add all those factors up, you wind up with a big expense. But donít skimp on this critical part of your marketing. Pictures can be multipurposed in so many ways: On your website, on social networking sites, as part of a direct mail campaign, on a billboard, as a still in a TV commercial, and the list goes on and on.

    Donít forget the importance of including people in your photography. While a product shot is great, itís far better to show someone using, enjoying, consuming or being helped by your product or service whenever possible. The tactic allows people to envision themselves using the product in just the same way. Plus, the use of faces in advertisements is more likely to make customers trust you, more willing to buy from you and more likely to spend more money. Thatís a win-win.

    So donít forget to have your photo library restocked on a regular basis. Those photos are worth their weight in gold.

    Post Office to Defer Barcode Requirements For Mailers

    from B2B Direct Marketing

    The U.S. Postal Service has postponed a discount promotion that would have required U.S. direct mailers to use its full-service Intelligent Mail barcode.

    The Postal Service had planned to offer mailers discounts for machine-sortable mailings if they adopted its Intelligent Mail barcode feature, which would improve business mail tracking. However, the Postal Regulatory Commission ruled that since the USPS already planned to boost mailing rates in January, the requirement to adopt the barcode feature would constitute an added cost for businesses. Instead of reducing its planned rate increase in order to also offer the barcode incentive, the USPS decided to postpone the incentive until 2015.

    Recently, the Postal Service announced numerous other promotions for 2014, including a 15% discount for advertisers to increase their use of presorted and automated first-class mail.

      Ticket Giveaway!   

    Talon has great seats for you to win.

    We are giving away a pair of tickets to see the New York Islanders!  To win, be the first telephone caller (please donít hit reply or email). Voice mail messages count so it's fine to leave a voice mail.   Call Michael Borkan at 631-667-5500 x 11. 

    • Monday January 6th, 7:00PM.  Islanders vs. Dallas Stars

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    In this Issue:

    How To Create The Perfect Piece of Direct Mail

    The Importance of Great Photos

    Post Office to Defer Barcode Requirements For Mailers

    Ticket Giveaway!

    New Clients

    Mike Borkan's Links - Web sites you probably haven't seen

    View Samples of Our Work

    Newsletter Archives

    Direct Mail Humor!

    New Clients:

    Talon welcomes the following new clients this month to our growing roster of customers:
    • MTH Electric Trains

    • Starcraft Press

    • 4 New Lists from Statlistics

    Mike's Favorite Links:

    Some interesting links...

    readymag.com - The simplest & most elegant web publishing tool. The site's an interactive publishing platform that allows you to create, publish and discover truly amazing webzines.

    latest.is - An automatic list of the 10 best links from Twitter right now.

    thezebra.com - The new way to shop for car insurance. Compare over 200 auto insurance providers in seconds.

    beaconreader.com - Fund one writer for $5 a month, get access to every story on the site.

    uppypix.com - Share Life As It Happens Android Phone and Tablet users can now share their photos with the world.

    todayifoundout.com - A site founded on the precept that it is good to learn something new every day.

    investopedia.com - A premiere resource for investing education, personal finance, market analysis and free trading simulators.  

    Work Samples:

    Did you know Talon offers the following services? 

    Click on the links below to see samples.

    Direct Mail Humor!

    Click on image below to enlarge.

    Do you need help marketing to your clients?   Talon can help!  Call Michael Borkan at 631-667-5500 x 11 to learn how to increase revenue.

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