Those of us that work with Canada Post products on a daily basis are acutely aware of how some people spend far more on postage than they need to and/or do not take advantage of opportunities that could boost sales.

As most mail service providers can tell you, it is quite common to hear, “Gee, I wish I had known that before.” When it comes to direct mail or integrated options, it is always wise to consult your mail service provider, as they usually have a wealth of information they can share with you.

This brief article will look more at savings and highlight examples where we have seen customers save considerably and, unfortunately, get stung.

Publications Mail reduces postage costs by 73%

Before looking at the specific example, I would like to note that with Publications Mail you can sometimes mail bigger and heavier pieces at much lower postage rates compared to Personalized Mail and, certainly, Lettermail. Of course, an item must qualify as Publications Mail to take advantage of these great rates.

When we first chatted with a customer (in the latter part of 2016), we learned that they had been mailing an “oversize” association newsletter, weighing a little over 100 grams as Lettermail, at a cost of $2.77 per piece.

As volume was a mere 137 pieces, the quantity appeared too low to enjoy much in the way of postage savings with other Canada Post products. However, once we explained that the minimum deposit volume under the Publications Mail Delivery Facility Presort option was only 50 pieces, that’s right, only 50 pieces, the customer opted to use Publications Mail.

Although the volume was low, the postage savings on the first mailing alone were around $275. Not bad, especially given that they mail several times per year.

Can you qualify for Publications Mail?

It is beyond the scope of this article to address all of the requirements for Publications Mail; however, if you publish a publication two times per year with primarily objective content, you might just qualify. That said, before you restructure your smaller “salesy” newsletter into a highly objective work of art, remember that Publications Mail rates tend to be better for larger, heavier items and not necessarily smaller, lighter items.

Before you thank your printer…

Whether we are mailing postcards or catalogues, we all want our direct marketing pieces to look as good as possible; however, sometimes a little bit of extra sizzle can dramatically increase our postage costs and we have seen this happen on several occasions.

When organizing a print job, the normal practice is to get quotations based on the preferred stock but sometimes printers offer a “better” stock at the same price. This might be an upgrade from a plain stock to a heavier and/or glossy stock and could be motivated by a printer trying to use up old stock rather than ordering in new stock. Regardless, it can sound like a good deal and be very tempting; however, it can also dramatically increase postage costs, depending on key thresholds.

Suppose that you have been printing a 144-page catalogue on a 70 lb. matte text stock and your printer suggests using an attractive 80 lb. glossy text stock at the same price as the lighter stock.
To demonstrate how different stocks can affect the weight of the catalogue, we weighed 8.5” X 11” sheets of both a 70 lb matte stock (6.3 grams) and an 80 lb glossy text stock (seven grams). With sheets printed both front and back, we would require 72 sheets for a 144-page catalogue. Therefore, the respective weights would be 454 grams for the catalogue printed on the 70 lb stock and 504 grams on the 80 lb stock. Most postal systems have different thresholds for weights and sizes. Checking one in particular, the postage at 454 grams would be $2.02, but at 504 grams the postage would increase to $2.61.

It the example above, the favour of upgrading the stock would actually cost an extra $0.59 per piece in postage. Unfortunately, transcending weight thresholds is not an uncommon problem and it is something that can easily slip by people.

I do not believe that any printer would consciously push a heavier stock if they knew that it would cost the customer significantly more in postage. Moreover, I believe that, when offered, it is simply a harmless gesture that can have damaging consequences for the unsuspecting.

The foregoing are but two of examples of many things that can cost mailers. I also recall how a couple of simple tweaks saved one mailer over $160,000 on two mailings in one week, as well as how a simple trim saved $35,000 on another mailing. But, those are other stories for another day and perhaps another column.

Lastly, it doesn’t cost much to partake from the trough of postal knowledge and I am sure that your mail service provider can advise you at all levels. In the end, the best advice might simply be to drink and be merry—as you save money and take advantage of opportunities.

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Direct Marketing.

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Dave Ward

Dave Ward is President of Highland Marketing and a proponent of intelligent direct marketing, which combines the practical elements of using the right mix of direct marketing services and Canada Post products together with options that serve to heighten engagement and improve overall ROI.