Did you hear the one about the direct mail marketer who sent out a piece with the wrong phone number?
Sorry – there’s no punch line to this story. It’s just a very sad tale.
Some lessons are just learned the hard way, but this one doesn’t have to be. Hopefully by reading this you’ll learn a very important lesson without actually having to go through the hard part yourself.
It starts when you’ve been working on developing a piece for a direct mail campaign. Maybe you’ve been working on it for what seems like a very long time. Perhaps there were some changes along the way that held things up and you’ve looked at several different versions of the piece as part of the process.
Now you’re getting close to the deadline to make your mail date, and you just want to get the thing off to the printer so you can go on to something else. Maybe the thought of reading the piece one more time seems like more than you can bear. And you feel rushed to get the piece into production.
So you decide to cut a few corners and not take the time to proof the piece one last time before shooting it off to the print shop. After all, you say to yourself, you’ll have one more chance to look at it when the printer’s proofs come back.
Yes, you will. And let me tell you, that can often be a rude awakening you won’t soon forget. Because that’s when you may very well see a problem that you can’t ignore. And a mistake that you catch in the printer’s proofs will cost you money to fix and take time to correct. That hour you just couldn’t find to read the piece carefully one more time before sending it off could end up costing you a full day in production and the price of making new plates or whatever else is needed.
You’ve probably heard this well-known expression: There’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over. I’ve known many a client who was sorry to learn the truth of this statement firsthand.
In fact, it happened just recently to one of my clients. They were putting together a mailing, and of course getting the return address correct was critical. In rushing to get the piece out the door, they failed to proof it carefully.
Sure enough, when the printer’s proofs came back somebody noticed (thank goodness!) that the suite number was incorrect. The good news was that it could be fixed. The bad news was that it cost the client $290 to fix it. If the error had been caught before going to the print shop, it wouldn’t have cost them anything.
So, as painful as it feels at the time, proof, proof, proof.
And the more eyes that look at a piece, the better. Especially if one person (possibly you) has been looking at the same piece over and over, it’s a good idea to get someone else to read through it. You’ll be amazed at what someone else with a fresh set of eyes will see after you’ve reached the conclusion that the piece is perfect.
Above all, don’t rely on the printer’s proof to make sure your piece is correct – unless you are willing to pay the charges for a new set up, or possibly risk having the piece go out with a mistake that will then bring untold headaches. I guarantee that after you’ve gone through a mess like that once or twice, you’ll see the value in what I’m saying.