Is the United States Postal Service (USPS) a marketing innovator? As it turns out, the kind folks in the blue shorts are in fact making it easy for even the smallest business to duke it out with their biggest competitors by using the USPS new “mailing online (MOL)” direct mail service - check it out at http://www.usps.com/mailingonline
With MOL, you can escape the dreary part of direct mail marketing - the printing, the stuffing, the stamps, etc. MOL users simply create a document, upload it to the MOL website with their mailing list and credit card information, and press “go”. Within 48 hours, the members of your mailing list are receiving the marketing message in their postal mailboxes.
Speed & Price
The best two parts of the MOL service are the speed and the price. Jobs uploaded early in the business day can be printed and postmarked the following day. The per piece cost is not much more than the price of a single stamp since even MOL jobs sent First Class get a “presorted” USPS discount.
A 4.24 by 6 inch postcard can be printed and mailed First Class for just 24 cents. A one and two-thirds page business letter or brochure can be sent “envelope free” (the last third is needed for the address) for just 56 cents per piece. And the minimum number of pieces you can send per job? One. That’s right, while other direct mail houses turn away customers with minimums under several thousand, the USPS takes all customers and gives them all equally great service.
Before MOL you had to create your master document, drop it off at the printer, wait until it was done to figure postage, apply postage and addresses, and drop it off at the post office. This whole process could take you a whole month to finish. And if you’re say mailing from the West Coast… it would be another week before East Coast recipients received their copy. With MOL your document is printed and dropped in the mail from several dozen USPS distribution points across the country…so everyone gets their document at the same time no matter where they live in the US.
As Easy As Typing An Email
MOL users don’t need to know anything more about document creation than how to type and save a document on their hard drive. Novice computer users can use their PC “Notepad” utility and save the document as a text (TXT) file. Most users will probably use Microsoft Word and create a slightly more appealing document. You may already have access to documents through your company that have a more professional appearance. You could also invest in a copy of Microsoft Publisher as it provides many templates to choose from and makes professional document creation a snap.
Content Creation - Keep It Simple
The biggest challenge will be in generation of content you believe is worth the price of postage. The following types of content pieces will get your creative juices flowing…. pretty much write themselves….and are worth reading:
- Price & Product Postcards - Many of you may dream of being able to instantly contact your customers and tell them whenever you come out with a new product or price point. MOL makes that a snap. Simply write a 5-7 word headline followed by a three- sentence description ending with a phone number or web address for more information.
- Personal Postcards - Remember your customers birthday, anniversary, graduation or other significant occasion. Be sure and include a brief description of some product you want to highlight…even just a web address.
- Monthly or Quarterly Newsletter - Most of you would look forward to writing a monthly newsletter with the same excitement as having a monthly root canal…..but the customer retention benefits and referral business make it a smart business decision. The easy way to do a one or two page newsletter would be to simply include one or more of the following:
- Summarize price and product news…simply repeat what you sent out (or should have sent out) on the postcards.
- Summarize industry headlines related to your business…give your views, or if you don’t have a view simply reprint the views of others (with proper attribution of course).
- Case Study…write up three paragraphs on a new or existing customer you helped solve a problem…or their experience with one of your products.
- Top 10 List….any of you with any experience at all can write a years worth of top 10 lists in a day. How about the top 10 benefits of a particular product? How about the top 10 reasons to (insert topic)? Or how about the top 10 mistakes made by (insert topic)?
Just Ask For Referrals!
If you do nothing else, just send out a monthly postcard asking for referrals. The commitment to a monthly postcard does two separately important things for you. It keeps your contact information in front of your customer and it reminds them on a monthly basis that they have immediate access to a friend in the “ABC” business. And of course the number one reason you don’t get referrals is you don’t ask for referrals. Well, if you’re too shy to ask in person or on the phone, let the postcard do the talking!
If you haven’t attempted direct mail marketing before because you thought it too costly, too time consuming, or too much work….think again. Things have changed in your favor. The time is right for you to give it a try.
Michael is the owner of FreedomFire Communications….providing a variety of voice, data, and internet solutions for homes and businesses ( http://www.billzilla.com/mscprez ) Try his Toll Free ISP service for business travelers: http://www.roibot.com/w.cgi?R7915_TollFreeISP