How the Seasons Affect Your Direct Mail Campaigns

For the best results from your direct mail campaigns, learn how responses vary according to the time of year.

Some direct mail marketers focus so much on what they mail to whom, that they lose sight of another variable that’s just as important: when they mail. In my experience, most industries have a good time of year to mail (when they get stellar results), and a bad one (when you wonder if anyone out there is listening).

Do you know which season is best for you?

While you may have a general idea of good times to mail, you may not know those weeks or months to avoid – when your response rate falls like a stone. As an example, one of my clients mails sales letters about commodities. You know, corn, wheat, sugar, etc. They teach people how to trade commodities based on technical principles.

As you can imagine, one of our target prospects for this offer is farmers. The idea is that they can learn how to “hedge” their crops by buying and selling commodities. This makes them less vulnerable to changing market conditions. When I first started mailing this commodity offer to farmers, I had tremendous success. But…it didn’t last! After a few months, the response rate dropped off the table, to almost zero. Why?

After testing exhaustively, month after month, I figured out the problem. It was very simple. Farmers were NOT responsive during their harvest season.

Why? They are working 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. They don’t have time to read the mail. Or think about learning something new. But…they are HIGHLY responsive in the off-season, after the harvest. Knowing about this seasonality allowed me to aggressively mail farmers in the off-season, and avoid mailing them during harvest season.

Here’s another example. If you are a financial planner, do you know the best and worst times of year to mail?

Financial planners get the worst response rates during holidays – Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, etc. Their response is especially poor in November and December when most families are super busy planning and spending their money on gifts, travel, and food. What’s the BEST time for financial planners to mail? The first quarter of every year. January is best since families are evaluating their finances, and trying to find better ways to save and manage their money.

I send out over 250 mailings per year. I ALWAYS have something in the mail – every day, every week. I’ve identified money-making seasons for dozens of industries. And by mailing at just the right times, we are able to make the most out of our mailing. Experiment with small mailings and compare responses over time.

Armed with information on the best times to mail, you can make the best use of your advertising budget.

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