After the Hike: Mailing Strategies
This summer, catalogers will get hit with yet another postal rate increase. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plans to raise rates 7.7 percent on average, with a 6.2-percent increase for catalogers who presort mailings by carrier route.
So, what’s a cataloger to do? Catalog Success asked three industry veterans for their strategies on saving costs following a postal hike.
Alan Rimm-Kaufman, vice president of marketing at Crutchfield catalog
Q: In what ways will you save money after the postal hike?
A: On mailing catalogs, the two big things are to mail to better names and to have a more efficient book. It’s really back to basics when the economy is like this. We’re really homing in on the best parts of the list. The largest thing you can do is control whom you mail to.
We aren’t cutting circulation as much as reallocating. We’re moving from worst- to better-performing names. We’re optimizing the housefile better and prospecting better.
To make the book more efficient, look at paper weight and quantities. We have tested [taking] out the order form. We started by testing out the envelope, and then we tested out of the order form. Now it’s simply a page in the catalog. In the test, we found that it was just a repository of ordering information.
For us, it was successful. It saves us 2 to 5 percent annually.
[Catalogers] also should try to optimize production and printing. Scrutinize your contract. What does it cost for a dot [-whack], a fake dot, a card? We surf the markers around the shoals of high prices.
Q: What are you looking at differently in terms of postal products?
A: We’re buying more NCOA [National Change of Address] and third-party products. We’re looking at every postal discount available: mail strings, add-a-names, complete carrier backs. If you’re a little catalog, some of these things don’t work for you. We put out about 25 million, so everything we do we save a percentage here and there—and they add up.