The first step in improving the ROI of your mailings is to design a mail piece that can be inexpensively produced and mailed.  As you finalize the design, the most important elements to consider are size, shape and stock. To reduce your production costs as much as possible, avoid the following problems:

  • Odd sizes and shapes:  Odd sizes cost more to print and to mail.  If your designer has specified square envelopes, for example, ask yourself if it really makes sense to pay 22.6 cents to mail each one when you could save 37% by mailing a #10 envelope for 14.2 cents.
  • Fit on sheet:  The more images you can fit on a sheet, the more you’ll save.  A 5” by 7” postcard with bleeds will be less expensive than a similar 5.5” by 8.5” piece because the first will print 20-up on a typical press sheet versus 16-up for the second.  This saves both paper and press time.
  • Choose a “good enough” stock:  Designers often select a higher-quality stock than is really necessary.  Since paper is often the single biggest cost in producing a mail piece, choose carefully.  Make sure your paper is strong enough to handle the rigors of the production process and, if you’re producing a self-mailer, of the postal journey itself.  Avoid requiring special mill order papers unless they are absolutely essential to the effectiveness of the campaign.
  • Avoid unnecessary finishes:  Ask yourself whether the additional element requested by your creative team is likely to pay for itself in higher response rates.  Is the higher glossiness and abrasion-resistance a UV coating provides likely to improve response rates?  If so, you should include it in the bid.  If not, strongly consider saving the money.
  • Consider production requirements:  Intricate pieces that require manual folds or multiple passes through different machines are going to drive up your costs.
  • Comply with Postal Regulations:  The USPS imposes stringent requirements on direct mail to qualify for its lowest postal rates.  Make sure your envelopes fit the required height to length aspect ratio and that the total weight of your package is not above the maximum set for that rate class.
  • Check insertion clearances:  If you are inserting one or more components into an outer envelope, you need to make sure they fit easily. Ideally, a component being inserted should be at least ½ inch narrower than the envelope it is fitting into.   However, if there are a number of components to be inserted together or if the combined components are somewhat thick, you may want to increase this spacing in order to maintain high insertion speeds while avoiding jamming.

Designing a compelling mail piece that can be inexpensively produced is a critical first step to having a cost-effective direct mail campaign.  If you’d like to learn more ways to save money, please download our free eBook Cutting Your Direct Mail Production Costs to the Bone:

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