Direct Marketing Article
Sidestep Postage Increases with Direct Mail
Production Best Practices
By Shannon Murphy, Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey
Year after year, the cost of printing and mailing traditional direct mail
campaigns continues to rise. Now with postage rates undergoing their second
increase in as many years, a number of organizations are faced with cutting
programs that can potentially bring support and revenue to their causes.
But taking a closer look at direct mail programs can uncover creative means
of saving clients money, which can offset rising postage costs. By examining
all components of a direct mail package and enacting production best
practices, many organizations can dramatically reduce costs while continuing
to deliver high-quality campaigns.
Below are a few production best practices that can help your organization
compensate for increased costs throughout virtually every stage of the
direct mail process.
1. Analyze each file to determine the most cost affective way to mail. By
looking more closely at each and every mailing, you can offset rising
postage prices. Commingle, CoPal, SCF/NDC sort – select the method that is
best for your customers' file, which could be a combination of methods.
Additional savings are available to nonprofit organizations due to the
nonprofit letter mail rate.
2. Look at your program as a whole instead of job by job. Planning ahead and
printing for multiple campaigns – or multiple clients – at one time can
offer volume discounts, too. For example, printing similar campaigns on
similar materials at the same time can deliver significantly reduced costs
for each client.
3. Make sure your data is clean. The USPS reports that 40 percent of the
people who move do not fill out change of address paperwork, resulting in
undeliverable mail. Run your customer files through an undeliverable as
addressed database to update records and obtain good addresses.
4. Involve your suppliers in a project early. By working closely with
printers and other suppliers from the onset of a project, you can identify
additional ways to reduce costs that might not be evident. Involving
suppliers early can also lead to creative solutions for special requests.
Rather than waiting for specialty items to be ordered and shipped,
potentially delaying the project, your vendor may be able to accommodate
other processes to achieve your client's vision and remain on schedule and
5. Be open to altering your component size. Changing component sizes
slightly can lead to big savings. Work with your printer to determine if
varying the finished file size makes the printing process more efficient.
Also closely evaluate paper weight and finishes to determine if lower-cost
alternative can deliver the same visual effect.
6. Seek out suppliers who do not mark up their services. Maintain and
prioritize relationships with vendors who pass costs on directly to their
customers. Also look into high-volume discount programs with printers and other suppliers. The guarantee of additional work can lead to additional
savings on direct mail programs.
Exercising a mix of these practices can help you achieve phenomenal direct
mail campaign results for your clients that are sure to offset any future
postage increases. For example, a large advocacy organization budgeted $15.5
million for its direct mail fundraising packages. Through implementing cost
savings initiatives, the program came in $2.67 million under budget, a
savings that added to their net bottom line.
While your organization might not operate with budgets this large, the
results are noticeable with any size campaign. By more closely examining
your direct mail production practices, you can deliver significant cost
savings to help offset rising postage and other expenditures.
About the Author:
Shannon Murphy, senior vice president of production with Chapman Cubine
Adams + Hussey (www.ccah.com), offers her insight on the potential impact of
the rate change and other developments at the USPS, including tips on how
non-profits and other organizations can cut costs for direct mailings.