Everyone Needs to Mail Smarter

Now that the U.S. Postal Service seemingly has regularly scheduled postage rate increases, we DMers need to accept that as a fact of life, just as we hope we will receive raises in our own pay. But with the steep increases, we need to do more than create sharper copy. Great copy won't help a so-so product sell. We need to assess what we are selling. If it's a product or service that's unexciting, unnecessary, outdated or priced incorrectly, even the best copywriters can't do much for it.

How about our mailing lists? We recently received an expensively printed, four-color brochure from a company offering to consolidate my wife's college loans. In reality, she had just one loan, and it was paid off about seven years ago! I wonder how old that mailing list was. We still receive two or more identical mailings from various companies (many experienced and large enough to know better) addressed to various spellings of our names. Better merge-purge will cut both postage and printing costs. And unlike what we are told, $4,000 software is not necessary for purging! I've done it on $99 software for years.

We must also hold our mailing list reps accountable while helping them better serve us. For example, my most recent mailing traditionally receives far more responses from males than females. Thus, I should order a males-only select. This is not a sexist view. Political correctness can be expensive as opposed to reality-based marketing.

Finally, is bulk mail all it's cracked up to be? Hardly. We get what we pay for. Third-Class mail may cost less, but it gets delivered much when the postal service gets around to it. Sometimes it's damaged or even tossed out when it doesn't meet addressing standards. I have proof of this from a local colleague. If our offer is a First-Class one, doesn't it demand better and faster handling? Can we not expect a greater response when we can reliably predict when our mailings will hit? Of course! Some of us pay tens of thousands for professional copywriters, yet the way we mail out their words is handled the cheapest way possible: penny-wise, pound-foolish.

Nixies will not necessarily decrease. Unless the USPS is privatized, we will be facing increase after increase. What we need to do is create sharper copy, use better targeting and, for goodness sake, get that hot offer out quickly by First-Class mail so that we will receive more response, more quickly.

Shel Swartz, President, Glenwood Publishing, West Palm Beach, FL

[email protected]

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