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Following postal regulations can save lots of money.

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The United States Postal Service offers postage discounts for pre-sorted mail. The problem is finding out which changes are required to qualify for lower rates. The understanding of postal regulations is a science. For example, mailing to addresses and not specific recipients provide big savings if done correctly. The total cost, including the printing and postage, can be less than the $.44 price of a first class stamp.

Many companies are purchasing names from list companies, but for most types of businesses the name doesn't matter. What matters is that the people who live at the specific addresses are prospects for your product or services. A business may mail to only single-family homes, only apartments, or only the businesses separately. A mailing can also combine any of the three together for your mailing.

Being able to drill down and mail to just the people living in apartments is a surprise to many. It is very hard to get an accurate and up-to-date list due to high turnover in apartments. Many times these people are new to an area and want to know about your products and services. Most businesses are unaware of how to take advantage of postage discounts and have been paying more than necessary to reach their customer base.

It All Adds Up

When a direct mailing is sorted in "walk-sequence" order, the order that the carrier walks the route significantly lowers postage costs to as low as $.139 per piece. Compare that $.139 cents to the First-Class rate of $.44 cents, and you'll see the large savings. Non-profit organizations can reap even greater monetary benefits, with postage as low as $.067 cents per item. A mailing sorted in walk-sequence order is referred to as a saturation mailing.

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Before beginning, make sure you understand the rules. A saturation mailing needs to meet certain requirements set by the USPS. For example, the mailing must be addressed to at least 90 percent of residents or 75 percent of all mailboxes on a route. Usually, a route consists of about 450 addresses. You do not have to mail entire ZIP codes. You can choose only the routes you want within a ZIP code.

Free information is available to help select routes which best fit your demographics. Information consisting of the ZIP code, route number, city, number of homes, number of apartments, number of businesses, average income, average home value, average age, and percentage of homes with children is all available.

The other main requirement for a saturation mailing is that the mailing has to be sorted in walk sequence order. For efficiency purposes, each postal service carrier delivers the mail in a specific order every day. That route never varies.

Location is Key

In many cases, the customers generally are within five miles of the franchise. A saturation mailing gives you instant name recognition throughout your neighborhood. Maps of the postal routes within a certain mile radius help gather valuable information. Imagine potential customers within a five-mile radius receiving a new restaurant's saturation mail piece. Later that day driving by the restaurant they think, "We just got an offer from them in the mail, we need to go there." The restaurant has moved into the minds of local patrons.

A key is to be ready to capitalize on the two "L's:" location of the business and location of the all-important neighborhood customers. ZIP codes are often considered the most efficient way of coordinating a direct mail marketing campaign; however, the industry is waking up to the fact that mailing carrier routes offer a far simpler and more cost-effective approach.

Perfect for New and Existing Franchises

For many franchises, a saturation mailing works perfectly with customer growth efforts or retention pushes. Those companies that are in a service or delivery business, auto repair garages, boutique retailers, pizza places and other restaurants, for example, can profit from saturation mailings.

Offers like "1/2 off any haircut" or "$5 off any purchase of $20 or more" can be very appealing for new customers and can also bring back lapsed ones. Most importantly, the unique business proposition that your business offers will be reinforced for a local franchisee or franchisor. The total price of a saturation mailing is minimal and its effectiveness per piece can be substantial. In a quantity of only 6,000, a saturation mailing may be purchased for $.43 per piece. This price includes postage, printing, inkjetting, list setup, mail preparation and delivery to the post office. The only additional investment is the design and layout of the mailing piece.

A saturation list, carefully chosen from local carrier routes, has success written all over it. Saturation mailings offer an environment free of competition, plus a much greater opportunity for branding since your ad won't be buried deep inside a newspaper.

The only concern of using saturation mailing is that the post office has a service standard of two to 10 days for mail delivery. With that in mind, you may not want to use saturation mail for a specific dated event.

If you're a franchisee or franchisor who's looking for an inexpensive way to increase sales, consider saturating your market. A saturation mailing is a targeted offer to the true customer base of a business. It is inexpensive in preparation and postage as stated above, and can reach customers very quickly.

Using Your Own Mailing List

Having your own mailing list is very important and it should be treated as gold. Using a saturation list to acquire new prospects is a great tool, but often never used. Renting resident or business lists can cover a wider range of criteria. For example, many list brokers or managers offer resident lists that can be selected by age of individual, total household income, length of residence, mail-order buyers and many other demographics. If those demographics work, then a resident or business list makes sense.

When using a resident or business list, it is very important that the postal bar code is inkjetted on the mail piece and the list must be processed through the USPS' National Change of Address service every 95 days or use an alternative addressing format. By doing this, the postage can be as low as $.208. Compare that to the First Class rate of a postcard at $.28 or a letter at $.44 and you will realize quite a savings in postage.

Products Approved by the Post Office

Products like large postcards with a magnets, perforations, or scratch-off offers can also be approved and mailed. Many franchisees and franchisors are surprised to learn that they can mail a 20-page 8 1/2" x 11" catalog printed on 60 pound paper for as little as $.142 per piece.

Don't be intimidated by the scope of a project such as a saturation mailing. Direct mail designers and mailing companies know the steps and can help along the way. Many list brokers have self-serve online products and services that range from free, simple queries to instantaneously-downloadable saturation mailing lists. Just enter in your ZIP codes and the lists will be ready in less than a minute.

Joel Vogel is vice president of sales and marketing of Sunray Printing Solutions. He can be reached at 320-257-2603 orjvogel@sunrayprinting.com.
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Title Annotation:STRONG FRANCHISE RELATIONS YIELD GREAT BENEFITS; United States. Postal Service
Comment:Following postal regulations can save lots of money.(STRONG FRANCHISE RELATIONS YIELD GREAT BENEFITS)(United States.
Author:Vogel, Joel
Publication:Franchising World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2009
Words:1208
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