Postal Matters: NEMOA Town Hall Meeting Brings Out Cost-saving Ideas, Old & New
In a jam-packed emergency town hall meeting organized during last week’s NEMOA conference in Cambridge, Mass., to address the impending huge postage increases, catalogers and vendors present tossed out myriad ideas. Some are revolutionary, some revisit past practices, albeit in a modern way. Naturally, not many of them weren’t fully hashed out, but some could have merit for your company, some might be a little obvious (but watch for a new twist), some not so obvious. Take your pick.
1. Find ways to do more co-mailing. Find noncompetitive co-mailing candidates with your printer, pointed out the meeting’s leader, Russ Gaitskill, president of the Garnet Hill catalog and a NEMOA board member.
2. Adjust your paper weight and/or trim-size: If you print on 40-lb. stock, can you go to 38-lb.?
3. Try add-a-name.
4. Combine mail contacts. If you have two catalogs, you may take one contact and selectively bind it into the other book.
5. Switch the size of your catalog to letter-size and gain considerably cheaper letter-size Standard Mail postal rates.
6. Now’s a better time than ever to review your address hygiene process with your service bureau.
7. Figure out how to do handle matchbacks correctly. Mike Hayden, president of ALEXA Marketing, pointed out during the meeting that few catalogers do it properly, “and not knowing your data is as important as any postage increase,” he said.
8. Drop-a-name: Supply your anticipated sales-per-book to your service provider and use it to drop out more expensive tiers when it doesn’t appear that you’ll meet your break-even point. Don’t drop down too far in names you bring to your merge/purges, however.
9. If you’re going to reduce your page count to cut your catalog’s weight (and, subsequently, reduce your postage), “truly understand your merchandise mix and performance so you’re not making poor decisions,” cautioned Mike Talbott, vice president, business development for CMS Direct.
10. But whatever you do, don’t cut circulation, Gaitskill said. “Although it may become an absolute raw necessity for all of us,” he noted, “you can’t put yourself in a position where it’s the death spiral, because you cut prospecting and reactivation.” Instead, he pointed out, look at your contact strategy. “If you have 27 contacts throughout the year, you may want to cut back to 26 rather than cutting each mailing.”
11. Finally, a jolt of quick, non-postal cost-cutting tips dispersed by various members of the meeting in attendance:
*find ways to cut merchandise costs
*eliminate order forms, especially in sale books
*test supercalendered paper, the results may surprise you
*find ways so that customers spend less time in print shopping for your products
*capture address correction requested information on new buyers.