Q: What is direct mailing?
A: Direct mailing is sending out information to people through the use of the post office or similar delivery service. Using this type of advertising, you can reach consumers who may not have a computer and/or Internet connection.
Q: Can direct mailing help me with getting more sales to my business?
A: In most cases, it sure can. As with any type of advertising, this mainly depends on how well you can identify your audience. If you’re selling lawn and garden accessories, for instance, you’ll probably make more sales if you send your mail to a list of homeowners than to a list of apartment dwellers. Another advantage to a direct mail piece (usually a postcard, letter, or small package) is that those recipients who may be interested in your product will keep your mailing and refer back to it at a more convenient time for them.
Q: Where can I find out more about using direct mailing?
A: The United States Postal Service (USPS) Website is quite useful and chock full of information for both beginners and advanced users of direct mail.
Q: What about mailing rates?
A: You can find out about mailing rates at Business Mail 101 walks you through the steps of choosing which business mailing type which is right for you.
Q: What if I would like to handle the postage and mailings from home without going through my local post office?
A: There are several ways to do this:
The United States Post Office Website offers NetPost-a service that allows you to create your customized mailing piece online, upload your mailing list, and provide credit card information. USPS will produce and mail your marketing piece for you.
There is a company called Stamps.com that you can buy postage from as well as your mailing supplies. Stamps.com allows you to fund your account for postage. You will receive a free scale, $5 in postage, and more (providing you are a first-time customer). After that, if you wish to stay with Stamps.com, you can pay $15.99 a month.
There are mailing service companies that have their own bulk mail permit and can bundle and mail your pieces for you. Look in your local yellow pages under “mailing or shipping services.” See below for more information on bulk mailing services.
Q: What other stores or companies from which I can buy mailing materials?
A: You can find mailing labels for envelopes, envelopes, and various other supplies at all discount office supply companies (Reliable, Staples, OfficeMax), as well as at stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Sam’s Wholesale Club. Most communities also have stores that accommodate shipping or printing and carry these supplies. If you want very large quantities, you should check Uline Shipping Supply Specialists
Q: What if I want to have my flyers copied rather that use my printer?
A: Print off one page of the flyer or your print ad, and go to your nearest print shop and have them make copies. This is usually much less expensive than using your inkjet printer. Check your local phone book for copying stores, such as Kinkos, Office Depot, and Staples.
Q: Are there any types of bulk mailing services who will do all the work for me so that I don’t have to do this myself?
A: There are several different bulk mailing services available. Do some comparison shopping of these companies to find the best offer to suit your own personal needs.
Q: I am ready to try a trial mailing. Where can I find some good quality lists or other help with my mailings?
A: There are several places both online and offline. A good mailing list broker can help you customize your list so that it contains people who are very likely to find your product or service interesting. The lists can be sorted by household income level, gender, location, age, and many other criteria. The more specific your list, the more expensive it will be, however, but with postage costs so high, it usually pays to invest in a highly targeted mailing list.
To find quality online lists, you can search with your favorite search engine by searching for “quality bulk mailing lists” or any variation of this search term.
Offline, you can look in the classified sections of most home business magazines for bulk mailing lists. Ask business associates if they have a reliable mailing list company.
Q: What if I don’t live in the United States?
A: If you don’t live in the United States, please check with your postal authorities about doing bulk mailings from your country. Each country has a different set of rules and regulations with their postal services. As for the bulk mailing services listed in this bi-weekly tip, check each site to see if they service your country. Stamps.com is only available for the United States, for example, as it is a vendor for the United States Postal Service.
Q: Can the money that I spend on doing bulk mailings to potential customers be tax deductible?
A: Yes, as long as it is done for business purposes with the intent of increasing your sales. Be sure to keep all of your receipts for anything that you purchase for sending out bulk mailings for your advertising. Be sure to list these items either as office supplies or as advertising supplies on your tax forms in the appropriate lines. Please contact your accountant for further details.
Q: Are there any rules and regulations that I should follow?
A: As with any type of advertising, there are rules and regulations that you should follow. When using the postal service, there are a basic set of rules and regulations that you should follow that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has passed in order to prevent unfair or unethical trading practices.