Licking The Stamp Hike

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.


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 (, which includes tips on keeping costs down, such as doing the sorting and weighing yourself. For more ideas, surf to USPS' Postal Explorer site ( 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 and use the site's free "breakeven" calculator. Call 1-800-ask-usps, a 24-hour information hotline. The Direct Mail Assn. ( provides up-to-date tricks on keeping costs down. offers updates on postal regulations and a chat room of direct mailers.

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