Small business-owners who still rely on snail mail for marketing will feel the pinch once again Jan. 22 when the U.S. Postal Service’s new pricing takes effect.
Anticipating the rate hike, the Intuit Small Business Blog asked Melissa Bradshaw, chief operating officer of PostcardMania and founder of the blog Mailing Services with Melissa, for a few tips about how to trim your postage costs.
- Keep your mailing list clean. The simplest thing you can do to reduce unnecessary costs is to maintain the “hygiene” of your list, Bradshaw says. If you’re using a mailing house, it will likely check your list against NCOALink (the national change-of-address database) to update old addresses or correct wrong ones. After you send a mailing, keep track of any postcards or envelopes that get returned — and update your list accordingly. Bradshaw says a lot of small-business owners skip this important step, which they could easily delegate to a receptionist or an office manager.
- Target a more specific group. Once you have an updated list, consider segmenting it so that your mailings are highly targeted. “If you’re mailing to a very concentrated area, you’ll save, postage-wise, versus mailing across the U.S.,” Bradshaw says. In addition to sorting by geography, you could also divide your list by demographics (such as age, income, or gender), which can help predict the responsiveness of your recipients. “For a dental list, females work the best, because they answer their mail more often,” she explains. “Instead of mailing to 50,000 names, narrow it down to 5,000 or 10,000.”
- Consider downsizing your mailer. The lighter and smaller your mailer is, the less you’ll pay in postage — as long as you stick with a standard size (square or bulky envelopes cost more to mail). Could you get your message across with a postcard or a lightweight brochure rather than a thick, heavy one? Perhaps an email marketing campaign would be more effective and less expensive? Consider your target market before making a decision, Bradshaw advises. Test the effectiveness of a mailer with a portion of your list before sending it to everyone.
- Cut down on catalogs. Sending catalogs to a large list of prospects eats up money for postage and printing, not to mention the environmental impact. Many companies publish their full line of products online, making catalogs largely unnecessary. You can still send catalogs by request, but “you really need to make sure you’re hitting the right market and not just mass-mailing a catalog,” Bradshaw says.
- Make your mailing stand out. Before you send any marketing piece, Bradshaw suggests, “make sure it has a clear offer and a headline, so you’re not mailing a piece that’s not going to get someone’s attention.” Strong visuals and eye-catching colors help, too. It may not trim postage costs, per se, but it will increase the ROI of your snail mail campaign and lower your cost per acquisition.
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