The Great Postage Debate: Can it Really Pack a Punch?
Oh, the plight of poor, misunderstood postage. You certainly can’t send mail without it. In truth, an outer envelope looks rather bare with an empty upper-right-hand corner; yet, mailers seem to harbor mixed feelings over just how neutral this territory actually is.
One camp regards postage as nothing more than an expenditure, perhaps part of a tertiary round of testing (at best) reserved for only the largest mailers with equally large budgets. Others raise postage out of the confines of inconsequence and deem it an integral part of creative development. Caroline Zimmermann, president and CEO of The Zimmermann Agency, even goes so far as to regard it as the “unsung hero” of a direct mail package.
In any case, when an issue is marked by such strong, divergent opinions, it’s often fruitful to take a second look. That choice might just turn out to be worth much more than 39 cents.
What’s Your Type?
While specific ideologies differ, direct marketers have found common ground on at least one point: “[Postage] can play a strategic role in helping get the piece to the right person … and making it look so intriguing that it gets opened first,” summarizes Pat Friesen, president of Pat Friesen & Co. When chosen with the right amount of care, each of the various types of postage has the power to connote something specific to a prospect that will both support the overall feel of a mailing and act as an impetus to get it read.
• Stamp. In the postage hierarchy, live stamps often are revered as king. Friesen relates, “I believe when a person gets a piece of mail that has that little piece of artwork in the corner, they look at it differently.” Why? Doug King, a team sales manager for the U.S. Postal Service, suggests that it supports the private, almost intimate, power of the mailbox. By taking on the form of friendly correspondence, a package with a stamp becomes a personal piece and earns the right to make it past the gatekeeper and into the living room, he says. But, everything does have a place and time. “Take the power of the mail and use it … [but] don’t send a double message,” he advises. Meaning: If it’s obviously an advertising piece, using a live stamp will do little to help your cause.