Basic Steps to Mass Mailing:
Direct mail advertising pieces cover a wide range of materials from a small postcard to a folded brochure. To qualify for postcard rate your mail piece must be around 6 inches wide and 4 inches tall. For any larger sizes you may need to weigh cost versus speed of delivery. Larger postcards, flyers and brochures can be mailed either first class with a higher cost, in order to have all the non-deliverable cards returned to you for database clean up. You may choose the cheaper but slower option of standard bulk rate, but in order to do so you must comply with all the Post Office’s regulations.
Note that letter size or larger pieces have to be folded, tabbed and designed a specific way in order to go through the Post Office.
Once you have determined the mailing piece size gather your mailing list. Most likely you have it in some kind of computer data format. It could be an Excel spreadsheet, Access database, or a Word file, or perhaps it was provided to you as pre-printed labels.
For prospecting you may also want to consider purchasing a mailing list that can be tailored to your specific target. The more specific the demographic gender, age, interest, income, etc. the higher the cost will be. When purchasing mailing lists expect about 90% accuracy, meaning that 10% will no longer be a valid company or address. Some lower quality mailing lists can have an accuracy rate as low as 50%.
You must pay attention to duplicates. In addition to being an unnecessary expense, it may also annoy any current or prospective customers. You may manually go through your list or if it is too large there is software available to check for duplicates. Most mailing software will have this feature included.
Your choices here vary too. You may handwrite the address, use pre-printed labels, or print directly on your mail piece using an ink jet or laser printer. In order to qualify for any discount at the post office your addresses must comply with CASS and PAVE guidelines which ensure that the address is valid and correctly written, sorting is done properly and the address contains the plus-4 zip code, carrier route information, and is bar-coded to be machine-readable.
There are many vendors out there who can provide you with this software. Without exception these are all subscription-based software, updated every 2 months as they get the address change information from the Post Office. As of 2011 the yearly subscription fee ranges from $2,000.00 to 8,000.00 based on the versatility of the software.
To keep it simple you can just affix the proper non-bulk postage stamp on your pieces and drop them in a mailbox. In order to save on your postage you have to comply with a few rules. Before the Post Office accepts your pieces you must apply for 1 or 2 permits.
If you are planning to mail both first class and bulk mail pieces there is a separate permit for each. As of 2011 the fee is 185.00 for each. The permit number you are given must be printed on all the mailed pieces. You must take your mailing to the same post office where your permit was issued. All pieces must be sorted by destination and placed into Post Office provided trays. If your mailing goes beyond a certain radius you must also put your trays in a sleeve and secure it.
Also note that the Post Office will only accept checks for bulk postage, no cash or credit cards.
The obvious question is how much can you save by making your mailing Post Office friendly? Well, here is an example: 3000 - 6x8 inch postcards will mail as of May 2011 for $1,320.00, plus the cost of printing the cards and labels. By using the CASS and PAVE verification to remove duplicates and bad addresses, this list usually gets reduced to about 2600. The best rate after proper sorting and using standard bulk mail would be around $585.00 a whopping saving of $735.00! Of course there is the initial investment of permits, software and added labor but in the end if you are a committed direct mailer your investment will yield a pretty nice return.
There is also the option of outsourcing your direct mail campaign. Check that the company who is doing the job has the proper experience in order to ensure that you are getting the best postage rate. Try to avoid companies that charge a flat rate since the postage costs can vary based on the address list. Insist that the company returns to you all bad addresses and duplicates if any, so you can update your mailing list.
Also, ensure that the company will provide a copy of the postage statement that accompanies your mailing to the Post Office. There should be no sales tax charged on postage since that is a non-taxable item. If you do your homework in finding a reputable company you can greatly reduce your involvement, your cost and the anxiety of the direct mailing experience.
ADG Printing is among the Top 100 direct mail service providers in Washington State and has been for the past 25 years.
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How to start a Direct Mail Campaign? See our Template for layout design guidelines to meet Post Office regulations, or visit the USPS Site for detailed information.
Look up and purchase mailing lists by Zip Code, Radius, Business Type, New Homeowners, or Demographic and more at Melissadata.com