Even in the Cyber Age, no entrepreneur can live without snail mail. So the U.S. Postal Service's Jan. 7 rate hike--averaging 4.6%--can mean big headaches for fans of direct mail.
CASE IN POINT
Robert M. Acosta, CEO of Ventera Corp., a McLean (Va.) e-business consultant, has long been a fan of direct mail. So when it came time to introduce the 75-person company's new logo--a bulldog--last October, Acosta sent out 100 invitations to an open house, complete with dog leash. The whimsical approach made the event a big success, and Acosta began planning more unusual direct-mail pitches for 2001. But because of the jump in postal rates, he's rethinking his direct-mail plans. He will rely more on e-mail while investigating lighter, less expensive materials to send. "We're going to have to make our mailings smaller and more focused and get a little more creative," Acosta says.
For a list of new postage rates, check the Postal Service's Web site (www.usps.com/news/2001rate.pdf), which includes tips on keeping costs down, such as doing the sorting and weighing yourself. For more ideas, surf to USPS' Postal Explorer site (http://pe.usps.gov) and check out Business Mail 101 for details about bulk, nonprofit, and other discounts. If you're not sure if a direct-mail campaign is cost-efficient, click on www.uspsdirectmail.com and use the site's free "breakeven" calculator. Call 1-800-ask-usps, a 24-hour information hotline. The Direct Mail Assn. (www.the-dma.org) provides up-to-date tricks on keeping costs down. Postalnews.com offers updates on postal regulations and a chat room of direct mailers.