Monthly Archives: February 2008

Postal rate increase on May 12

US Postage Stamp ReissueA quick reminder that U.S. postage rates are going up on May 12th, with First Class postage going up by one cent to $0.42.  The new rate schedule is available here.

Drop your mail before May 12th, if possible, but please don’t rush.  Never is the phrase “penny wise, pound foolish” more appropriate than when dealing with rate increases.  A rush to mail and save a few dollars per thousand should never take precedence over ensuring your promotion is strategically sound and with clearly-defined objectives.

My recommendation is that you always have both an employee on staff who’s familiar with the domestic mail manual (DMM) and have a trusted consultant or vendor available with whom to review upcoming changes in rates and specifications.  Creative thinking from a couple of different points of view can often be helpful when working with the DMM.  And please don’t hesitate to contact the USPS and work with your local rep.  Their business, after all, is to help you use more of their services and I’ve found my account reps to be very helpful in many areas.  (Alas, rescinding rate increases was one where they couldn’t help, despite my pleading.)

Given the timelines associated with direct mail testing, you should be working right now to get ahead of the round of changes, so you’re ready to roll out lighter, more machinable or cheaper mail based on tested results.

Problems with AIM email

AOL mail problem screenI’ve been having severe problems with my long-time AIM email address and am not sure which (if any) messages are going in or out.  Should you need to get hold of me, please use mark [at] to reach me.  I’ve been working with the AOL Postmaster to resolve.  Perhaps it’s time to reprint those business cards after all.

Sometimes I shake my head and sigh

Kitten curmudgeonAnd sometimes I just shake my head. My apparently never-ending stream of poorly executed direct mail continues, with the latest effort being a shockingly bad example from Marriott’s Fairfield Inn and Visa.  It appears to be the result of a co-op promotion, which may account for the execution; nobody at either Marriott or Visa felt they were responsible for the results of the effort, and it shows.

For the record, the family and I are fans of Fairfield Inns and signed up for Marriott’s Rewards program as the result of numerous stays at their Hazelton, PA location.  The staff is always great, the rooms clean and cookies and DVD movies are always enthusiastically offered to us when we check in at 9 or 10 pm the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving.

Now, if only those responsible for their direct response efforts could feel the same enthusiasm.  Rather than rant and rave, here’s a PDF file of the quick analysis I’ve sent to Marriott’s marketing team.

Verizon continues to amaze

DunceAfter lashing out at Verizon and Vonage a little while ago, I thought I’d move on to other topics.

But Verizon can’t help but make simple mistakes in their direct mail efforts.  On Friday, I received yet another first-class mailing, this time promoting Verizon’s FiOS Internet service.

Since I’ve now been a triple-play customer for two months and paid two bills for the service, this mailing is slightly redundant.  Unlike the last promotion, this one has doesn’t even include a letter signed by an identifiable person.  I guess they knew this was so poorly done that nobody wanted to sign it?

Of interest is the fact that the return address for the FiOS Internet service is Annapolis MD, while the TV promotion came out of Irving, TX.  This confirms my suspicion that the FiOS product is multiple business units hammered together.

Summary and takeaways

  1. Share your internal customer lists across multiple business units and suppress against those customer files when you are undertaking a promotion.
  2. Always suppress against your transactional/payment database.  Your internal marketing databases might not be updated, due to either sloth or neglect, but the department that counts the money always knows who’s paying and who’s not.