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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador
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    We are working on a local business directory, and have roughly 1500 merchants listed...the info was gathered from various resources (ie yellow pages, etc). The merchant list is growing. My question is, since we have listed them for free in the directory, I need to let them know they are listed (hopefully to sell them on some of our other advertising options). I'm thinking a direct mail campaign with a postcard of sorts to tell them about the site, and to check in to be sure their info is accurate...Has anybody in ABW done a direct mail campaign? Any luck with it? What type of cost are we looking at mailing out 2000 postcards (and does the post office offer bulk mail discounts)...any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!!!


    Tom Pyles

  2. #2
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    The only problem with mailing to a business is the waste basket.

    The best way to avoid the waste basket is the personal touch.

    That means hand writting as much as you can.
    Follow up with a phone call.

    If it looks like bulk mail it will be treated like bulk mail.

  3. #3
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    Post cards are running 18 cents I think.

    2000 probably wouldn't get you any discounts but still shouldn't cost all that much. 36 dollars is my guess.

  4. #4
    Newbie
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    Tom,

    For what you want to do, you need to do a
    real letter explaining the directory, etc., and personally addressed envelope and include your business card and a return card so they can send back any corrections to their FREE listing.

    You are looking at about $.75/letter cost.

    Post cards would be a waste.

  5. #5
    Full Member
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    Generally, direct mail is the most effective and most expensive (per piece) form of offline advertising. It can be targeted more so than TV or radio or newspapers and responses usually vary between 1% and 2% (2% is considered a good return). 2,000 won't get you a bulk mail discount I don't think. We used to mail 100,000 at a time and did well with it.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the feedback guys...Don't know if I really need to say it, be we are working on a very limited budget. I'm just looking to let the merchants know that 'We are here, and we are here to promote your business'. I doesn't have to be direct mail, but I didn't like the idea of calling them on the phone (I hate to the phone calls I get here, and would much rather recieve info in the mail). I will e-mail as many as I can, but currently only have a list of about 250 e-mail addresses of local merchants (I'm sure more have e-mail, but this list was provided by the Chamber of Commerce, so it only includes those members that provided an e-mail). I am open for ideas to get our message across, whether it's direct mail, etc.


    Tom Pyles

  7. #7
    Chick with Brains Tracy's Avatar
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    Hi Tom!

    Funny you should ask. It just so happens that I operate a bulk mailing service out of my home. I can give you some specific figures.

    PRINTING
    --------
    For printing, I take an 8-1/2 x 11 piece of paper, put the front of the post card on the top half, and the bottom on the bottom half. This is because when I take it to the printer, I save the cost of a second plate charge. They just print half as many postcards as I need, flip them over print the other side and cut them in half.

    If you are going to bulk mail, this is the preferred size to use. It is big enough that it sticks out from all the rest of the recipients' mail and will catch their attention. Yellow is a good paper color to use. Before you print be sure to get the Permit Number of the mailer you are going to use (see below)

    Call several printers in your area and get quotes for 5-1/2 by 8-1/2 post cards. Prices can vary tremendously.

    If you are going to use First Class Mail Postage, then you can't use this size card. You would have to put 34 cents on each one to mail First Class. The largest a card can be to mail 18 cents postcard rate is 6 x 4-1/4.

    BULK MAILING SERVICES
    ---------------------
    If you are only planning to do the one mailing, then you should use a service rather than do it yourself. To do it yourself, you have to get a permit and the Annual Fee for a permit is $125.

    To really get the best savings on postage, you also have to be able CASS Certify your mailings. Last year I spent $79 every two months to get the update disk. Fortunately, this year I found a new service that charges a lot less.

    CASS Certification cleans up your addresses, adds the +4 to the zip codes, and prints a barcode on the label of the piece.

    Look in your yellow pages under Bulk Mailing to see who offers the service in your area. Call them all to find out their rates. On top of the postage, they can charge anywhere from 3 cents to 10 cents per piece for handling the mailing for you. Also, ask them if they CASS Certify the lists. You will have to be able to provide them your mailing list on diskette in order for them to certify it.

    DESIGN
    ------
    There are some specific rules you have to follow when designing a piece for bulk mailing. Your Mailing Agent can help you with this.

    BULK MAILING RATES
    ------------------
    First, the minimum number of pieces required for a bulk mailing is 200. The postage depends on whether or not the list is certified, and where you are mailing from and to what zip codes you are mailing (150 pieces or more to the same zip code qualify for better rates).

    I'm working on a small mailing today of only 499 pieces, but this will give you some idea how it goes.

    BEST SCENERIO--Mailing CASS Certified to same three-digit zip code area from that zip code area post office.

    275 Pieces to same 5-zip @ .153 = $42.075
    187 Pieces to same 3-zip @ .166 = $31.042
    37 Pieces out of zip area @ .200 = $ 7.400

    TOTAL POSTAGE = $80.52

    If the list wasn't certified, but mailed at the same post office the rates would be:

    462 Pieces to same 3/5-zip @ .209 = $96.558
    37 Pieces out of zip area @ .253 = $ 9.361

    TOTAL POSTAGE = $105.92

    OUT OF AREA--Mailing CASS Certified to same three-digit zip code area from post office in another zip code.

    275 Pieces to same 5-zip @ .177 = $48.675
    187 Pieces to same 3-zip @ .190 = $35.530
    37 Pieces out of zip area @ .200 = $ 7.400

    TOTAL POSTAGE = $91.61

    If the list wasn't certified, but mailed at the same out of area post office the rates would be:

    462 Pieces to same 3/5-zip @ .233 = $107.646
    37 Pieces out of zip area @ .253 = $ 9.361

    TOTAL POSTAGE = $117.01

    I charge 8 cents per piece to hand mailings. So, my customer will pay $39.92 to me + $80.52 postage for a total of $120.44 for 499 pieces. Now if she had done the mailing herself First Class, she would have had to address the pieces herself (handwritten or purchased and printed labels) and paid 34 cents each postage for a total of $169.66. So, I saved her both time and money ($49.22).

    She could have gone with a smaller postcard and tried to squeeze a lot of information on to it. She would have saved $30.62 in postage, but still would have had to invest time in preparing the mail.

    RESULTS
    -------
    Hershey is correct. When you do a blind mailing to people you don't know and who have never heard of you, a 1% is expected. More than that is a good return. So you have to factor in your return on investment

    However, when you mail to a targeted audience (existing customers who already use your product or service), results are much, much higher.

    I only handle what I call "Preferred Customer" mailings. I don't create lists or provide lists. My customers maintain their own customer base to which we mail. These kinds of mailings get results.

    Basically, you can use the figures I've provided to calculate your total costs for mailing to a certain number of people. Then calculate how much income you think you will generate from the campaign to determine whether it is feasible or not.

    Tracy

  8. #8
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    Tracy,
    Wow!!!! Thanks for all of the great info. That helps us out tremendously. I didn't know the first thing about bulk mailing...Go to the printer and get post cards...go to the post office and get stamps...LOL We already have the mailing list of all of the local businesses in town. This was gathered from various sources. I've already added the businesses to our directory...then once the site is live, I want to tell them they are listed and basically turn them on to the site. I am also looking at some other advertising mediums...We are actually doing this for 2 markets, and in one of them, 3 radio stations have said they would be interested in an advertising trade. That is something we will end up doing...I will follow your advice and talk to the local printer. I think this is a one-time mailing, so I don't know if permits would be necessary (even though there is a savings).


    Tom Pyles
    TH Media

  9. #9
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    Tracy-

    Great info! Best post I've read for a while.

    -elbowcreek

  10. #10
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    Since this is what I did for 5 ugly years of my life. Some tips.

    First Tracy is correct about getting it CASS certified to save money, but if you don't have the software, the money you saved will be wasted. You normally need to include a CASS certification when you drop off the mail and other discounts can be had for having the complete 11 digit zipcode and barcoded, but you lose some response with barcoded letters.

    We found that a letter stamped will get a better response than a metered piece. The trick is to make it look personal without taking the time. Letters do much better than postcards. Scripted but readable font on the envelope works wonders. Most home printers can handle this small job.

    Include a letter detailing your offer and something that will fall out that gives quick bullet points to what you are offering. Combined they work much better than just a letter that will look like too much reading and a little piece that will look too much like an ad. You can't make excuses to the possible client when they see your piece, so don't do anything cheapy that needs the excuse that you just starting out.

    Since your return address is local, make sure that is on the envelope.

    I have seen some god awful mailings, square envelopes that the post office will not accept in bulk to a postcard mailer that cost $40,000+ and had a response of 10 for a $500 product, zero sales. The client was a complete jerk and we warned them so... what can you do?

    Chet

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