Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to choose the right postal method.

Today’s multi-faceted advertising landscape places unique demands on your company’s marketing budget. Nowadays there are so many ways to reach prospects and clients. As always, you’ve got to broadcast your message in the most affordable and timely manner. For example, when using e-mail, you must be sure to comply with government regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act and construct your e-mail to dodge spam filters. When mailing, there are postal requirements to satisfy in order to achieve the greatest savings and a time efficient delivery.

Because mailing letters, cards, and packages is GT Marketing’s specialty, it is these postal requirements which will be the focus of this article. So, while we regularly handle QR Codes, e-mail campaigns, printing, and other forms of direct marketing, this discussion will be limited to comparing the two of the most common types of postage, First Class and Presorted Standard Mail.

First Class mail is a cost effective, timely method to get your piece into the hands of a targeted prospect or customer. First Class mail is typically used for letters, postcards, flats, and parcels up to 13 ounces. The maximum weight for a first class letter is 3.5 ounces. Currently, the price for a one ounce letter is forty-four cents. But discounts can be achieved prior to mailing if the address list is updated using approved software which format and update the addresses, zip codes and carrier routes, and add an Intelligent Mail Barcode.
Because First Class mail is given priority by the post office your mail piece is ensured of a timely delivery, usually in one to three. This is important when you are promoting a time-specific function which is less than one month away, or other items where time is truly of the essence.

For those mail pieces which cannot be delivered, using First Class mail ensures that these pieces are returned to you at no additional charge, which allows you the opportunity to make corrections to your database.

Now let’s turn our attention to Presorted Standard Mail, which was formerly termed Bulk Mail. This service is available for items such as letters, flyers, newsletters, packages, and catalogs and can achieve significant postage savings. As the USPS defines this service, prices are reduced because mailers do lots of the work the Postal Service would usually do. This “work” includes making sure that recipient addresses on the list are updated (NCOA), properly formatted (CASS), and presorted (PAVE) to streamline the handling of the large volumes associated with commercial mailing. Indeed GT Marketing Ltd. handles all of these processes for First Class and Presorted Standard mailings depending, on the needs of the client.
Unique to Standard Mail is that your mail piece can be up to 3.3 ounces for the same price as one ounce. Also, a minimum of 200 pieces are required to achieve what turn out to be significant discounts off First Class postage rates.

Just what savings are realized by using Presorted Standard Mail? Well, a one-ounce piece sent via Standard Mail, with a properly formatted 5-digit zip code will be .237, or a 30% savings vs. the cost of the same piece sent via a properly formatted and addressed First Class Mail piece. Even with an increase in the postal piece weight two two-ounces, you will still save 47% over the First Class rate. Savings for non-profit organizations are even greater. There’s a 57% savings for a one-ounce piece, and a 67% savings for a two-ounce piece.

An underutilized aspect of Standard Mail is that it allows the optional use of a postage stamp in addition to the commonly used postal indicia. Because your discounted mail piece can have a stamp attached, it can help challenge the possible perception that the piece is “junk mail.”

Mailing a postcard that does not need timely delivery? Make the size 6”x11.” It’s the same cost as a 4”-6” if you mail Presorted Standard Mail. Think of the extra real estate available for your message.

Understanding the difference between the First Class and Standard postage methods, and the perceptions they convey to the recipient, is essential when deciding which mail type to use for your mailing. The appropriate choice will ensure that your mailing is completed in a cost effective manner within the postal regulations, and achieves a timely, targeted delivery. Whenever you have questions related to your mail piece, you’re invited to give us a call or drop us a line.