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October 24, 2000

Believe It Or Not: The Post Office Wants You to Pay LessArthur Kaplanpost office, postage, direct mail, USPO
This could be a page from Ripley's Believe It Or Not...the United States Post Office really does
want you to pay less money for your postage. Yes, it's true! If you follow their guidelines, you
make their work take less time, and they can afford to pass on part of the savings to you and your
business.
Large corporations have known about and have enjoyed these discounts for many years. Today,
due to the reduced costs of technology, discounted postage rates are available to businesses that
used to be considered too small to qualify.
Unbelievable? Yes! True? Yes!
If you are currently mailing 1,000 marketing pieces at a time, such as a flyer in an envelope, you
probably pay 0.33¢ each in postage alone. That, of course, does not include all the other costs:
printing, folding, stuffing, sealing, generating mailing labels, or buying mailing lists, applying
the labels, and mailing the finished work. If you have a Pre-Sort, or Bulk Permit, you do the
additional work of sorting, coding, and preparing forms for the Post Office. Your total cost winds
up in the $500-$700 range or perhaps more.
Now, you can save most of that time, and up to half of the money.
First of all, let someone else do all the work, and free up your staff for other productive projects.
If your current printer can't do everything for you, then change printers. That's right, find a
printer that can offer you printing and Automated Discount Postage Rates, all in one place. The
reason for this is that only somebody who understands all the rules and regulations will have the
experience and expertise to ensure that the many factors required to qualify for postage discounts
will be met on your projects.
Having the design done in one place, the printing in another, and the mailing in a third, is asking
for some big problems. The fact is there is no one accepting responsibility for getting the project
out on time and making sure there are no mishaps.
We recently had a client call us for mailing services. They brought in their envelopes, already
stuffed and sealed, and wanted us to save money on mailing them. They also brought us their
labels, printed 30 per page, on laser sheets. Imagine their surprise when we told them we could
not save them any money at all!
If they had consulted with us first, we would have informed them that to qualify for Automation
Discounts, two things would have to be done differently. Not more difficult, but easier. If our
mailing permit was printed on their envelopes at the same time as their return address (at no
additional cost to them), and if they provided their mailing list electronically, instead of wasting
time and money printing labels, we could have saved them 45% on postage. Add in the time and
money spent on making their own labels, and the savings climb to more than 55%. Guess what?
Their next mailing was prepared by us, and they used the savings to double the number of pieces
they mail each month.
The best part of this is that you don't need to know all the different regulations involved in the
many classes of mail. All you need to do is use the services of someone who does. Always
consult with your mailing professional before you begin designing a direct mail campaign. This
will prevent mistakes that will cost you money later when it is too late to change things.
Okay, what are some of the factors that determine if your mailing will qualify for the deepest
discounts available? Here is a partial list:
++Postcards
The least expensive way to go, but should be limited to one simply stated offer. There is a
maximum size and maximum thickness. There are also printing design requirements. If you meet
these requirements, postage will range from 0.14¢ to 0.16¢ per piece.
++Self-Mailers
This means no envelope. In addition to size, thickness, and design, we now add such things as
aspect ratio, fold position, single or double wafer seals, which must be positioned properly, etc.
The rate for such properly qualified pieces range from 13.6¢-18.3¢ per piece.
++Jumbo Postcards
My personal favorite. They are too large to qualify for standard postcard rate, but they
compensate for it in increased visibility. If properly designed, they are read more by your
prospects more often than any other format. The same qualifying factors apply as for regular
postcards, with a 13.6¢-18.3¢ rate per piece.
++Envelopes
Use them if you need to enclose more than one piece, such as a flyer and a return card, brochure
or coupon, or multiple flyers. This will justify the additional costs involved in printing, stuffing,
and sealing. The other major advantage of using envelopes is that the rate per piece is the same
up to 3.3 ounces at 13.6¢-18.3¢ per piece. If your mailing is more than one ounce, this is
extremely important.
Okay, now that you know about how to mail for less, let's talk about why you should be doing
mailings at all. You are in the business of providing mortgages to homebuyers. You have set up a
wonderful office full of bright, energetic people to help your clients find the right product for
them, and to ensure the prompt handling of all paperwork involved. You also have talented
salespeople prepared to go out in the field and bring in the deals. Sure, you have some good
referral sources and word-of-mouth recommendations from your satisfied clientele. Is that
enough? Not if you want to grow and prosper. Direct mail is one of the most effective ways of
generating leads for your business. Letting people know you are there, and are prepared to serve
their needs, can add to bottom line, yet less than 20% of all businesses use this cost-effective
method of prospecting. Mailings, possibly followed up with telemarketing, can make your name
the first thing people think of when they see a friend, neighbor, or relative in need of a mortgage.
You can improve your business by using direct mail for a lot less than you may think. Keep in
mind that the United States Post Office doesn't offer many gifts, so take advantage of the ones it
does by getting the most for your marketing dollar. Make sure you mail goes out Automated!
Arthur Kaplan is President of A to Z Printing and Mailing. For more information, call (877)
800-PRINT, fax to (516) 799-3061, or E-mail atozprint@aol.com.

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