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14 Hot Direct Marketing Terms You Need to Know – Part 1

Every business has their own language…

Like…“So let’s mail four NTAs, which is 40M this month, with your CP44 ad.”

Or… “For your solo mailing we’ll mail 1MM 4/4 with an aqueous coating.”


Spend enough time around a direct marketer in his element too long and you’re bound to hear some jargon-filled sentences like these.  I’m even guilty of using the lingo, sometimes forgetting that not everyone who is listening always understands what I’m saying.

Since you’re running a business, you’ve already got more than enough “stuff” to worry about but, there are a FEW direct marketing terms you SHOULD know. That’s because understanding what these buzzwords can do for your business may very well grow your business and give you a better understanding of the industry and the product you may be using to advertise your business’s products.

It’s time to break out the flashcards.

  1. KPI – An acronym referring to “Key Performance Indicator.” KPIs are how you will measure performance of a campaign such as redemptions, average ticket, total spend, and/or ROI.
  2. Value Proposition: This is the characteristic, feature, benefit and/or advantage you provide a customer. It’s the reason why someone would choose your business over the competition.
  3. /M:  Per thousand.
  4. /MM:  Per million.
  5. AOV (average order value): or Average Ticket: The average amount of each customer order.
  6. Affinity:  A logical connection between a mailer’s offer and the names/data on a list.
  7. Barcode: The nine-digit ZIP code translated into a coding structure of vertical bars and half bars used in order to speed the sorting of mail and enabling mailers to take a discount on postage. The USPS had asked mailers to switch to a four state barcode, which would replace the 30-plus codes throughout the postal system currently.
  8. BRC: Business Reply Card.
  9. Break Even Analysis: Calculating the number of customers and/or average ticket sales needed to cover the cost of a promotion.
  10. Carrier Route: A specific code used by the postal service to specifically identify a geographical area. Carrier routes are used to define an NTA.
  11. DMA: Designated Market Areas (DMAs) are used by Nielsen Media Research to identify TV stations whose broadcast signals reach a specific area.
  12. NTA: Neighborhood Trade Area – Mapped mailing zones typically composed of 10,000 non-duplicated household addresses within a geographical area based on income levels and carrier routes.
  13. Response Rate: Amount of responses received as a percentage of total promotions mailed.
  14. Deal: As in “limited time deal” provider that offers hyper-local, deeply discounted, group-buying opportunities online.

Next week, we’ll cover digital marketing terms, but what other direct marketing jargon, buzzwords or acronyms do you hear that should I define or explain?



Valpak, one of the leading direct marketing companies in North America, is owned and operated by Cox Target Media, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Media Group. With nearly 170 franchises throughout the United States and Canada, The Blue Envelope® delivers savings and value to nearly 40 million households each month.
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