Product Reduces Damage to Mini-CDs During Mailing

Butler Mailing Services is lining up marketers to use its new eKey mailer, which it says lets mini-CDs run safely through postal sorting machines.

Breakage is a problem for mailers sending mini- and full-sized CDs, according to the company.

“Customers that mail large CDs in a cardboard sleeve sometimes receive 75 percent breakage,” said Todd Butler, president of Butler Mailing Services, Cincinnati. He said AOL now sends its promotional CDs in tins for protection, which adds to mailing costs.

Mini-CDs also frequently suffer damage when passing through automated mail sorters, Butler said. This prompted the company to develop eKey, a 6-by-9-inch self-mailer that lifts mini-CDs above the belt path of the sorting machine, protecting them from breakage. Butler filed for a patent in winter 2001 and received it last November.

This not only reduces breakage but lets mailers get the automated rate, the company said.

“During our testing phase we put together 100 letter-size mail packages with mini-CDs inside of them and took them to the post office and asked the postal service to run them through the letter-sorting machines, and we consistently received 10 percent breakage,” Butler said.

Butler said one customer has signed up to date and will send 20,000 eKey mini-CD mailers to customers in about a month.

CDs are a valuable direct marketing tool, Butler said, because of the large amount of video and audio information they can contain. Also, CDs can direct prospects directly to multiple Web pages, each with a different offer on them, making them useful in tracking response.

Marketing the mailer began in late December. Butler also said that eKey mailers that carry mini-CDs are more durable than full-sized CD mailers sent in cardboard sleeves.

Butler said that the eKey mini-CD mailers' pricing is volume sensitive. For example, 100,000 self-mailers cost about 80 cents each, including postage, processing, CDs and printing, while 20,000 cost about $1.10 each. Butler also will program the mini-CD for an extra cost.

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