From the April 2007 issue of our newsletter, Let's Grow. For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE.

Coping With Rising Postage Costs

With postage costs about to skyrocket, it’s more important than ever to make your mailings as efficient as possible. To take the sting out of the impending rate hike, take a close look at these five areas:

Segment and Model. According to a 2003 study by the Mailorder Gardening Association, a startling number of members don’t segment their house file at all, and most only pay attention to recency. If you’re not selecting your list based on recency, frequency, and monetary parameters – as well as the source of your names – you’re undoubtedly throwing money down the drain, possibly a lot of it.

In addition, it pays to have the names you intend to mail modeled so that you only mail the most responsive ones. Eliminating the weakest names will save you mailing costs. Identifying the strongest ones will allow you to generate more income by working them harder.

Clean Your List. I’m amazed at how often I receive mail from our town recreation department or local senior center addressed to people who owned our house 20 years ago! You’d think it would be easy for the town to clean up their own records, but they continue to waste taxpayers’ money by mailing to outdated addresses.

Don’t make the same mistake. In addition to the National Change of Address file, many other tools exist to spot and correct (or remove) bad addresses, add “plus four” to ZIP codes, remove records of the deceased from the file, and much more.

Involve Your Printer Early. Under the new scheme, shape is as big a factor in postage costs as weight. Ask your printer for cost-cutting recommendations before you design your next mailing. Review both your trim size and paper stock. Revising your size may reduce your mailing costs, and changing paper stock may help offset them. Co-mailing with a non-competitive cataloger may also offer price savings.

Analyze Results. It sounds pretty basic, but the same Mailorder Gardening Association study reported that 27% of companies surveyed never or rarely perform an analysis after every mailing. That’s money laying at their feet that they’re stepping right over! In this day and age, with the high number of Internet orders from unknown sources, matchbacks are an important part of this process.

Boost Your Internet Marketing. Look for ways to have the Internet do more of the heavy lifting for you. Perhaps you can get away with fewer catalog pages and suggest that customers look on your web site for certain categories of products. Provide incentives for customers to let you contact them regularly by e-mail. Increase your online marketing to develop a file of prospects that prefer to be contacted by email. Offer Internet-only specials. The more you can shift to the web, the better you’ll be able to keep your mailing costs in check.

There’s no quick fix to rising postal costs, but ignore them at your peril. The cost of complacency is about to get a lot higher.


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