This week, we’ll continue our venture into excellence and direct mail with a focus on the class of mail used to send a direct mailing out. Contemporary author and philosopher, Eric Hoffer, used these words in reference to excellence as displayed in talent: “Those who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to lack of inspiration or ability, or misfortune rather than to insufficient application. Thus…talent is a species of vigor.”

I like the word vigor! And, our account managers, Maxine, Shannon, Anita, try to have lots of critical questions to vigorously ask our customers to correctly assess their mailing needs. One of the critical questions they ask is what class of mail will be used. Why is this critical? Because it effects when your direct mail is delivered and can impact the cost of returning a mail piece with an outdated deliver address on it. First, for the sake of space and your time, we’ll assume that we’re discussing advertising mail that qualifies for either First-Class or Standard Mail. Now, let us review two typical concerns:

Speed of delivery: We ask a lot of “when” questions! When is the event you’re promoting in your direct mailing occurring? When would you like your direct mailing pieces to be received? When would you like the respondents to reply by? In the mid-Missouri “local” area, primarily ZIP Codes beginning with 650 -652, you’ll often receive the same 1 – 2 day delivery schedule for both Presorted (discounted) First Class Mail and Standard Mail. So, for a 1 oz. direct mail piece, Standard Mail currently costs about $.24 versus $.34, for a net savings of $.10 per piece. The per piece postage savings will vary a little depending upon the level of densities by ZIP Code, which effects the postal sorting we have to do.

Other areas in our state often have different delivery schedules and it is good to take these increased delivery times into consideration. We know from the mail tracking service we provide, that delivery times for Standard Mail to other areas in the state do not fare as well. Delivery time to Kansas City takes approximately 3 – 4 days, delivery to the Springfield area can take 4 – 7 days and the route to St. Louis ranges the most from 2 days to as long as 7. If the print and mail schedule for your project doesn’t allow for this variance, then we recommend using Presorted First Class Mail. Delivery time for Presorted First Class Mail generally takes 1 – 3 days less than Standard Mail to non-local (outside of the 650 – 652 area) delivery addresses. But, the best thing to do is plan ahead and we can help you do this!

Another consideration when speedy delivery is needed outside the 650 – 652 area is to change your mail piece design from a letter, flat or oversized postcard to a standard postcard size. Presorted First-Class postcard postage costs about $.21. We can help your smaller postcard still get noticed with great graphics and design work!

The Cost of a Return Piece: Even though we may send your mailing list through the National Change of Address (NCOA) process to update the delivery addresses and meet the Postal Service’s Move Update requirement (more on this in a later E-Tips), there still may be addresses that are incorrect. The NCOA is a good address updating method, but U.S. population is very mobile and addresses can change rapidly. A good way to know who is not receiving your direct mail and keep your mailing lists as clean as possible, is to add an “address ancillary”. An ancillary is a statement printed onto your direct mailing pieces that instructs the postal service what to do if an address is incorrect.

Most of our customers choose to use the ancillary, “Return Service Requested”. Without stating a lot of postal terminology, this typically means the direct mail piece is returned to the sender with a reason for non-delivery and a new address, if known, is printed onto a label that is affixed to your returned direct mail piece. Then, this address can either be removed from your mailing list or updated, depending upon the information provided.

So, what does “Return Service Requested” cost you? There is no charge for the return, when the direct mail piece is sent out Presorted First Class Mail. However, there is a charge, the current regular First Class Mail rate, for the return if the direct mail piece was sent out using Standard Mail. Our account managers are savvy to this and work to help our customers understand the cost implications of this!

As we head into the Labor Day weekend celebrations, let us focus on laboring together to provide you with a great direct mailing experience!

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