5 Ways to Get Out of Direct Mail’s Catch-22
Last year’s postal rate increase only sped up the minimization trend (vouchers and their ilk) among many direct mailers, who sought to lower their costs by downsizing their packages while hoping dearly that the response did not similarly shrink.
Unfortunately, however, it turned out many companies, publishers, nonprofits and the like that used direct mail were caught in a catch-22, where they felt that higher postal costs meant they had no choice but to cut their efforts down if they wanted to remain profitable; trimming those efforts then depressed response to such an extent that profitability was endangered.
“Minimization trends are nothing new,” says Pat Friesen, copywriter and owner of Pat Friesen & Co. in Kansas City, Kan. “Mailers that are true direct marketers are always looking for and testing ways to mail the most cost-efficiently without jeopardizing response. And now with higher costs, it’s another reason to test ... but [you need to] weigh the savings against response changes.”
For nonprofits, however, minimization is a more recent phenomenon, as charities, museums and foundations had relied on flats until the May 2007 postal rate jump. “They’ve taken a hard look at that massive increase and have been, in some cases, testing other shapes and types of mail to see what might work and how the response rate may change. And where possible, they’re converting to the smaller-size pieces, like letter-size formats, because of that extreme difference,” comments Anthony Conway, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, based in Washington, D.C. Indeed, for the first quarter of this fiscal year, the volume of flat mail and general Standard flat mail dropped like a stone.
Along with traditional minimization approaches, here are five ways to remain a force in the mailstream, no matter what the size of the mail piece.