Mailers Say They're Stretching Postal Dollars

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BOSTON -- Mailers and mailing services companies said at the Fall 2002 National Postal Forum here this week that the weak economy has prompted them to find more innovative ways to use direct mail.

"We're noticing that our customers are being more selective than ever about the kinds of mail they are sending," said Tony Ruggiero, a sales executive with Ancora JetSort, a mail-sorting company in Reading, PA. "They are using low-cost alternatives such as postcards and self-mailers and also sending more targeted mail pieces."

Joyce F. Bagby, postal logistics manager at RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co., Kernersville, NC, said Reynolds has not decreased its mail volumes this year versus last year. But she said the company is experimenting with postcard mailings to customers asking whether they want to receive a second, larger mail piece before sending the larger, more expensive mail to the whole list.

Bagby also said Reynolds is improving its addressing software to eliminate as much undeliverable-as-addressed mail as possible.

John Bradley, president of shoe repair company Resole America, Chantilly, VA, discussed how his company worked with the U.S. Postal Service to let customers send shoes to Resole by using Priority Mail envelopes with Merchandise Return labels sent via First-Class mail. As a result, customers can drop packages into a mailbox or leave them for the carrier to pick up. Bradley said this has helped Resole increase its customer base 15 percent over last year. In addition, overall sales have risen 22 percent.

Shawn Sorce, vice president of marketing at Brigar Mailing Services, a full-service mailing services company in Albany, NY, did a test for a client using the USPS' Repositionable Notes program that performed 15 percent better than the control.

Repositionable Notes are specially designed Post-it Notes that attach to the outside of barcoded, ZIP+4, automation-compatible letters and postcard-size First-Class Mail and Standard Mail that meet certain size requirements. A one-year pilot test began in March for the program.

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