Direct mail Postage
I love talking postage optimization. It’s a fun subject. Half the mail-service providers don’t know how to do it.
There are savvy people who have read through the Domestic Mailing Manual (DMM) and actually studied it for loopholes and discrepancies.
To any mail-service providers whom may be reading this, you might also want to try DM-109. DM-109 is the business mail acceptance manual. It’s amazing how many discrepancies there are between the DMM and DM-109. The words “Priority mail open & distribute” do not even appear in DM-109.
Quick overview of our local postal facilities
Local commercial mail should be entered at Durango for a number of reasons. Durango is “SCF-813” meaning there will be a 4-cent discount to all mail entered there with a 3-digit zipcode of ‘813’. This means everything from Durango to Dove Creek.
Bayfield and Ignacio, both having the 3-digit zipcode would have to have mail entered in Alamosa, Colorado to realize the same discount. This means crossing Wolf Creek Pass, which may not even be possible during the winter; twice if heading back to Durango right afterwards. The logistics itself usually doesn’t even justify the postal savings. Dealing with the PVDS process isn’t the most fun either.
Luckily, at Basin Printing & Printing, our direct mail center has figured out the most effective ways to optimize postage in Bayfield, Ignacio, Pagosa Springs and other cities in the 3-digit 811.
Priority-mail open & distribute (PMOD)
Priority-mail open & distribute (PMOD) is exactly what it sounds like; Pay priority-mail postage on the mail to get it to the processing facility where it is then distributed accordingly.
The one advantage to our rural area is how far a “zipcode range” spans. From a drop-shipping perspective, all of our regions can be covered simply by getting mail to Alamosa, CO and Farmington, NM.
From a PMOD perspective, and anything using the “zipcode matrix” to calculate postage, we can ship further while still remaining “zone 1 or 2”. This means mail can be shipped priority to Alamosa (or Farmington) for the lowest rates possible.
I did the math, and the savings on 250 postcards shipped PMOD justified the time and postage. Not enough to really markup and make profit on as a mail-service provider, but enough to justify the action on behalf of the mail-owner.
This makes PMOD more cost effective than providing in-house logistics, even for Farmington runs. In addition, PMOD requires less time, paperwork and verification than drop-shipping, which correlates to less overhead for both MSP and mail-owner.
Carrier-route mail and enter directly to Bayfield & Ignacio
It is legal to enter carrier-routed letter-sized mail at a DDU claiming the SCF-discount. I’ve had mail-service providers try to tell me otherwise. It’s amazing what you’ll find when you actually spend the time digging through the DMM.
It is actually the only reason ECRLOT-LTR still exists; the postal savings can sometimes justify entering LOT-LTR into a DDU for the SCF-rate opposed to settling with a non-entry 5D sort. Get on your presort software and test it out.
I have submitted LOT-LTR to Bayfield, simply because I was already up there for deliveries. Don’t leave money on the table.
Carrier-routing mail requires a special database-append from a 3rd-party data-corp. Most MSP’s don’t carrier-route mail unless it’s a huge mailing. Which reminds me, see note below for a perfect local example going on right now:
(Actually, seeing all the 5D-LTR and ECRLOT campaign mail-pieces hitting my mailbox is making me cringe. I know for a fact if carrier-routing our local voter-registration data my address would be mailing at ECRWSH – takeaway note: our state-level politicians are leaving money on the table. Holler at me, I’ll consult you on optimizing direct-mail data to save thousands on your state-wide campaigning efforts.)
In reality, the savings on carrier-routing 125 records justifies the process. For that reason, anything that should be carrier-routed, should be carrier-routed. There is no excuse, only laziness in the presort-department.
Many local mailings will have a number of of Bayfield and Ingacio records that qualify for walk-sequence. Those records will receive a discount for the finer sort-level, as well as be eligible for dropshipment directly to the DDU.
More often than not, it’ll make more sense to send the eligible mail directly to Alamosa via PMOD, but it’s great to have the option available, especially with time-sensitive matters where there is more control over inhouse dates.
Partner with a service provider that knows these things
Optimizing postage is complicated. Mail-owners trying to prepare and optimize mailings inhouse are not receiving the best deliverability and are leaving unknown savings on the table.
Most direct-mail projects pay for themselves in postage savings alone. In addition, the mail-owner realizes the reduced overhead through not having to pay wages to have the mailing prepared.