Industry Eye: Shop Talk
Understanding Postal: Response Testing and the Total Picture
With all the USPS changes in catalog design rules this year — not to mention those we may see in 2010 — you must test designs and response rates for all catalog mailings. What seems like an expensive design option may be the right choice if it elicits a better response rate than a cheaper design.
Consider how catalog mailers are responding to the USPS rules taking effect in September, which change how slim jims (i.e., small catalogs mailed at automation letter-size prices) can be designed. They include rules about tabbing/sealing, cover stock, paper weight and dimensions.
Catalog mailers are considering whether to redesign small books to meet the new rules or explore other design options. To effectively evaluate design options, look at production and postage costs and, most importantly, the impact on response rates.
Several catalog mailers are moving their booklet-size catalogs into envelopes to avoid the USPS' new requirement to put three tabs on the books. They didn't want to move to full-size catalogs, partly because of production and postage costs, but also because the booklet size is tied to their brand identities and healthy response rates. They experimented with different envelope paper and graphics, and found response rates far outweighed the additional production expenses.
Other slim-jim mailers are moving to full-size catalogs because of the rules. But that's not before testing to determine the impact on response. In many cases, response rates for the full-size catalogs justify the additional costs because response to the three-tabbed, booklet-size catalogs was very low. Those moving to full-size catalogs are mitigating postage costs by co-mailing.
—Kathy J. Siviter, president, Postal Consulting Services (kathys@postal consulting.com).
Legal Matters: Maryland Bars Resale Price Maintenance
On Oct. 1, a new statute goes into effect in which Maryland will amend its antitrust laws to make all minimum resale price maintenance agreements unlawful.