Strategy Prepare For the Postal Hike
Use a lower paper grade. Changing paper grades can have an effect similar to changing the paper's basis weight. Just be careful not to go to extremes. Test a No. 5 grade, for example, against a No. 4 or No. 3 grade. Unless your offer is extremely upscale, a slight reduction in the grade of paper you use can reduce your direct selling expenses and ratio.
Drop non-codeable records. If you say you'll be dropping non-codeable records with your list order as a requirement, you can deduct these names from the list-rental invoice. Non-codeable records don't qualify for postal discounts and are generally less deliverable and therefore, less responsive. Also, make sure your list rentals and, of course, housefile, have been put through the USPS' National Change of Address system recently. If you do any split tests, look at the net benefit of selective binding to keep the mailing in one ZIP stream to maximize your postal discount as opposed to separate ZIP streams, which is more costly (generally at quantities of 300,000 or more, it's more cost efficient to selective bind). Ask your service bureau to give you the postage estimates both ways (one ZIP stream vs. two ZIP streams) to be sure where the cutoff is. If the postage savings outweigh the price of selective binding, go with selective binding.
Add names to receive a discount. "Add-a-name" is when you add one or two records to a carrier route in order to qualify for a discount where you previously were short of the 10 per-carrier route requirement. Often, if you have a pool of records to draw from that are close or at breakeven, the records added bring your postal cost down, and the net gain is positive. If you use inactive buyers or modeled names from a cooperative database, it's usually worth it. Keep in mind that the number of add-a-name pieces added will be a function of how many pieces are mailed and the geographical distribution of the mailing. For most mailers, a national circulation of 700,000 or more is required in order for add-a-name to make economic sense. At that level, generally about 5,000 to 10,000 catalogs will be added.