1. Be Flexible With the Finished Size and Paper Stock
The way your mail piece is processed varies, sometimes significantly, between vendors and even within the same vendor.
Depending on how the processes are set up, your project could have a much lower price point with even a 1/8” change in artwork. Sometimes that 1/8” can also drive the price much higher.
Why the difference? The press might be set up to do your job 2-up where the pricing is half of a 1-up situation or the cutter, inserter, etc. is set up a certain way and it will take time to reconfigure it. That set-up time is added to the cost of your job.
There are countless reasons, but if the process flow has to be adjusted for your extra 1/8” – it’s going to cost you.
Be flexible and ask your printer what their preferred size is for this project or if they recommend a different size that better fits their current machines and processes. You might be a small change away from a dramatic price change.
2. Avoid Coatings
Coatings like UV or Aqueous (AQ) are sold with the idea that they protect your piece much more than without the coating.
The reality though is that your mail piece will be mangled by the USPS. Their sorting equipment is very fast and efficient but it is anything but gentle. There’s just no full-proof way to protect the piece from scrapes and streaks.
In my experience, the UV smudges a lot, AQ a little less, and uncoated pieces don’t smudge but everything can streak. Personally, I think the UV looks the worst when mangled by the USPS equipment because it’s smearing the coating around like a thin layer of molasses.
In a way, you’re really just paying for the type of streak or smudge that will eventually end up on some of your pieces. It just happens to be that some of those streaks and smudges cost more than others.
We recommend going with the cheaper marks and avoiding coatings altogether – unless it’s a design or style choice but that is a different story altogether.
3. Pay Attention to Postage
Postage is expensive. Sometimes it’s more than the manufacturing costs but it’s mandatory – right up there with death and taxes right? Maybe not.
There is a lot that goes into determining postage. Basically the more you or your vendor do for the post office, the more discounts you receive. Sometimes those discounts are passed on to you but sometimes they’re kept by your vendor. (More on that in a bit.)
There are co-minglers and software that sort the pieces into trays the USPS can easily move into the mail stream and thus have discounts associated with those efforts.
If a mailing is primarily going to the area around a large city – dropping the mail off at that city’s BMEU post office is going to give you a much deeper discount than dropping the mail at a local post office even 50 miles away.
There are companies who give you a flat rate for postage – hooray, you know how much it will be – but they are marking it up – oh no, you are paying more than you should.
Ask your vendor directly if they are marking up their postage. One question could save you 5% off your postage total.
Another contributing factor is the size of the mail piece – it’s back again. A 1/8″ could kick you into a new category (from letter to flat or machinable to non-machinable) and now you’re paying a lot more than you would have otherwise.
The artwork on the mail piece. It seems silly but if your piece doesn’t fit the exact specifications of the post office and they can’t run it through their machines, you’re going to lose your discounts and that can be very bad. It could dramatically increase the price of your mailing.
To protect yourself from accidentally skyrocketing your postage, work with a print-vendor you trust. Ask them if there are opportunities to reduce postage costs by changing the size of the piece or artwork. Likewise, you can look through the USPS website for all the requirements in the world or request templates from your print vendor or direct through the USPS.
Postage is expensive so make sure you’re only paying what you need to and not inflating the costs with something that could be fixed with a small change.
(BONUS) Research When Buying a List
There are lots of mailing list providers out there. Most of the time it’s the same information but there are good and bad vendors too so you have to be careful.
A bad vendor will sell you a low-quality list. Sometimes the list is cheap, sometimes it’s expensive but either way, you lose.
A good vendor will sell you a high-quality list generally at a medium to high price. The price will go down based on how many records you are purchasing.
How do you tell the difference?
Experience will speak volumes but there are a few things you can do before you pull the trigger with a new vendor.
Make sure they are scrubbing their lists. Ask where they are getting their list information. Make sure it’s not random landing pages all over the world. You want specific and usable data for your project, otherwise it will cost you twice! Once when you pay for the list and again when your mail pieces are delivered to the wrong people.
Do your due diligence and don’t assume that the list you’re buying off the internet is as awesome as the salesperson says it is. Take a few steps to dig a little deeper and it could save you a lot of time and money down the road.
- Be flexible with your piece wherever you can be. Ask your printer or mail-house for their recommendations on sizes and papers when you can.
- Stay away from UV and AQ coatings to save sometimes sizable amounts of money with little to no difference in the final results.
- Ask if your vendor or mail-house is going to charge actual postage. Make sure they aren’t marking it up. It could save you 5% on your postage.
- Ask your vendor if there are small changes that could reduce the postage on your mailing piece.
- Do a little research when buying lists from new vendors.
Follow just a few of these with your next mailing project and you’re sure to save money. Follow them all on every project and be ready to become the mailing project hero in your office.
When you’re increasing profits everyone takes notice from accounting to the CEO and they’ll be thanking you.