Postal Service Announces New Postage Rates for 2013

New US Postage Rates being announced for January 2013.
About a 2.4-4% Increase.
Here is the Press Release just out:

U.S. Postal Service Announces New Prices
and Services for 2013
First-Ever Global Forever Stamp Debuts When Prices Change January 27


WASHINGTON — Beginning early next year, the Postal Service will introduce a First-Class Mail Global Forever Stamp. The new stamp will allow customers to mail letters anywhere in the world for one set price of $1.10, and is among new mailing and shipping services filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission today.

The price for First-Class Mail single-piece letters will increase by just a penny when prices change in Jan. The new 46 cent Forever stamps will allow customers to mail letters to any location in the United States. Forever stamps are always good for mailing a one-ounce letter anytime in the future regardless of price changes.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 27, 2013 include:

  • Letters (1oz.) – 1-cent increase to 46 cents
  • Letters additional ounces – unchanged at 20 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1oz.) – $1.10
  • Postcards – 1-cent increase to 33 cents

Prices for all products (Mailing and Shipping services) will increase by 4-percent, but prices for Mailing Services, such as regular letters and advertising matter, will increase only 2.6-percent.  The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will review the prices before they become effective Jan. 27, 2013. Today’s Shipping and Mailing price filings will be available on the PRC website at www.prc.gov and the new Mailing Service prices are also available at http://pe.usps.com.

STOP THE PRESSES, BRANDED PERMITS BEING REJECTED

no branded indiciasSTOP THE PRESSES, BRANDED PERMITS BEING REJECTED Developing Story 7/27/2012

The USPS has decided to stop accepting any mail with branded permits of any kind – TODAY.

Permit holders all over the country received certified letters today 7/27/2012 (we did too) with a formal cease-and-desist on using anything other than standard font permits. So as of this moment they are rejecting mailings all over the country if you have one of these permits.  These permits have been used for years and we received no advanced warning.  Even mailings with partial drops last night cannot be completed today without covering the permits with generic black and white permits.

STOP THE PRESSES!!  They are forcing us to apply labels by machine and by hand to cover all permits before they can be accepted.

Change the permits on your art before you print..

If you are about to press Print call Paul Erickson at 800-881-2150 ext 17 for up to the minute information.

Story developing, more details to come…

UPDATES:

The Postal Service has a long track record of rolling out changes to their rules and regulations in a very slow and methodical manner. For example, the upcoming requirements in January that eliminate discounts for anyone using the old Postnet barcodes have been discussed since 2010 or earlier.

However, that history aside, the Postal Service surprised us all recently with a rule that rejected mail all over the country without any prior notice at all.  The US Postal Service will no longer accept decorative company indicia permits like this one:

Branded Postal Permits

Branded Permit

Marketing departments all over the country have modified their permits to be more decorative to take full advantage of the direct mail customer experience. Wither you put your casino name in your permit with a fancy font or completely colored it like we did (above), they are no longer allowed.

The only correct and acceptable company-indicia permits are built more like this:

Acceptable Postal Permit Indicia

Standard Permit Indicia

Like I said, traditionally they would give a long drawn-out notice. Sometimes it seems that they don’t understand the processes we must all go through. Mailings all over the country were already approved and on the press or being completed when these rejections started happening on August 1st.

If you would like us to take a quick free look at your permit situation, just let us know.
We’re happy to help!

Marketing Parcels Build Customer Loyalty

In this article we talk about how Marketing Parcels increase customer loyalty.

Marketing Parcel for higher responseI went to my mailbox today as part of my regular check for bills, offers and coupons.  Normally I expect a stack of envelopes, postcards and newspaper coupons that I pull apart and sort into stacks.

Today was just like every other day but when I opened the mailbox I was surprised to find a box inside. “What is this?” I wondered.

My birthday was over a month ago. Could it be a belated birthday gift? I don’t know.  Maybe I ordered checks and forgot to expect them.  Maybe it’s something from Amazon.com or Ebay?

WHAT IS IT?  All the other mail was quickly forgotten.

As I walked back to the house that the box was all I remember about my mailbox.  I stuffed the rest of the mail in my folded arm and carried the box home like it was something special; something fragile and that box had all my attention.

We are all so easily excited and highly curious about sealed boxes.  It’s like we are programmed as a child on Christmas day or birthdays and special occasions.  This curiosity of this moment was no exception, my heart actually raced a little. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

In the marketing space of the mailbox, the box wins, hands down.

When you think about that moment at your mailbox don’t you think we should all be mailing boxes to our most important customers?  If we can make them feel special and have them hold our brand in their hands with excitement and curiosity then we can create a lifetime relationship.

It’s not as expensive as you might think; especially when you look at the increased response rates and long-term relationship the investment creates for you.  Our best guests have so many options delivered to them each month.  A box from you can increase your wallet-share of business.

What’s that worth?  Perhaps millions!

Quite honestly it doesn’t have to be too elaborate either.  You can use a very thin box and insert an invitation, 2 tickets to your event and a special parking pass.  I would also include a personal note from the host as well.  Make it special!

The US Postal Service even has a special category of box mailing called “Marketing Parcels” that allow for up to 16 ounces of weight and up to a 9”x12”x2” box that gets special discounts.

Get your best clients to brag about your casino to their friends. Make them feel special and prove you care about their business.  Postcards have their place but don’t let them replace the more effective approach to client loyalty that includes irregular parcels, boxes and fed-ex or UPS envelopes.  Show guests they are special to you and that you look forward to spending more time with them.

The increased loyalty will be obvious to your bottom line.

Las Vegas Casino Marketing Conference Update

Casino Marketing ConferenceAs we get closer to the July24-26th Casino Marketing Conference being held at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel Casino there is lots of new information I want to share. This is a unique event and casinos from all over the country are registered to be at this popular event.

If you haven’t yet registered yet, you can do so HERE.

BEFORE THE EVENT:

Raving Consulting is hosting a 3 day educational program:
2012 Host Development / Casino Marketing Conference
Monday, July 23, 2012 – Thursday, July 26, 2012

These Host conferences are powerful and there is no better way to rejuvenate your hosts and help them maximize the guest experience. This should be mandatory training.

DURING THE EVENT:

The CSG Direct Mail Team is giving away free data-capturing mobile websites (email and cell) to the first 50 people that come by the booth. You can collect customer email address and cell phone numbers (with playerIDs) FREE and take advantage of the lower postage rates from the US Postal Service at the same time.

These are popular, powerful and easy to use.
Stop by the CSG Direct Mail Booth for details.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT:

Well this is Las Vegas so there is never a dull moment, this event is no different. There are at least 2 main events after the show on Wednesday night the 25th. There are 2 events you get to choose from because they are held at roughly the same time. These are brought to you by Raving Consulting and the Casino Direct Marketing Association.

Casino DMA Event – The Casino DMA is hosting a party at Napoleon’s Piano Bar at Paris Las Vegas. This is the same casino as the event so it is real easy to find. These events are a great place to meet other casino executives, socialize and make long term friends in the gaming industry.  In this industry you can use all the contacts you can get.  This is a great event that is planning a few surprises.

Raving Consulting Event – Never to be outdone, Raving Consulting with Dennis Conrad, All Star Incentive Marketing and Raving Contests powered by SportGame.

Leave it to Dennis to create a seriously funky and nothing-else-like-it event for our best clients on Wednesday evening during Casino Marketing.

They’re piling into a 56 person bus at 6:30 pm for Dennis’ Inside Las Vegas Marketing Tour and Scavenger Hunt. We’ll break into teams and explore the “marketing” underbelly of downtown Las Vegas that most folks have never experienced. After the scavenger hunt, the survivors will get back on the Raving bus and head out to another Vegas super-value, and enjoy the Feast Buffet at Boulder Station Casino, our compliments.

This is truly a crazy, fun and bonding experience.

If you have any other questions about the event just let me know.

Making USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) work for you

Guest Post from Pam Bush from CSG Direct Mail. Pam has been certified by the USPS for mailpiece quality control and she is our in-house Every Door Direct Mail EDDM expert.

How we can make USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) Program work for you!  

EDDM Every Door Direct Mail

Pam Bush EDDM Support

Are you frustrated because you’re trying to use the USPS EDDM Simplified mailing program but find that it really isn’t that simple?  What could be better than a mailing program that costs you less to print and even less to mail?  According to the USPS website, you can even do it yourself.

However, many businesses have tried this approach of doing it themselves and then end up bringing us their mail pieces that have not been printed the right size or on the right paper stock and have been rejected by their local post office when they tried to mail their “simplified EDDM mailing”.  Fortunately for them, we have found ways to salvage their print/mail job and still get it mailed for a reasonable cost.

A simple phone call to CSG Direct in the beginning would lead you in the right direction. As a premier Print and Mail Shop, we specialize in knowing what postal requirements are required for EDDM mailings.  We can design your mail piece, obtain the addresses you need, do the postal paperwork, print the facing slips, all the required bundling and then present them to the post office for you.

We have had many successful EDDM mailings.  One of our local clients printed and mailed out over 75,000 pieces. Their overall cost’s including postage was approximately $20,000.  When their six month direct mail campaign ended, the ROI was $207,000.  Due to their success they have chosen to continue using the EDDM program with CSG Direct, expanding their mailing area to reach even more new clients.  We would like the opportunity to help you try to achieve these same amazing results.

*New ways to reach out to potential clients at a significant cost savings for your business.

*Get postage rates as low as 14.5 cents a piece depending on the mail area.
For postal approved Non-Profit companies: postage is only .07-.122 cents a piece.

*No mailing list purchase costs.

*Mail only to the zip codes or carrier routes YOU choose.

*Your mail pieces will go directly to the carriers and not have to go through postal machinery.
This allows for quicker delivery & a cleaner looking mail piece when it reaches its recipient.

This program works well for large corporate companies and as well for the Mom & Pop corner store/business.  We can help make the USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) Program work for you.  We’re here to help!

Call me at 1-800-881-2150 ext 36 and I’ll walk you through the whole program.

Pam Bush
CSG Direct Mail

Compete with igaming, bring on the nerds

Bring on the nerds
To compete with igaming you need to “bring on the nerds”

Every incumbent gaming operation has had to deal with the expanding gambling landscape and new, large and well-funded competition opening down the street. The barrier to market has always been the huge expenses of buying land, building giant brick-and-mortar properties, staffing and then finally marketing against us. Well a new dawn approaches!

This time though, the battle won’t be on the strip.  This battle is on the internet.

So how strong is your internet team and what are they focused on?
(please don’t say Facebook, please. lol)

The real battle will take place on the search engine.  If we do our jobs right we can beat them on the internet. What every casino needs now is an expanding army of programmers, bloggers and online search engine experts.  The more you understand about search engines the more you will understand the large advantage you have on the internet over the online casinos.  You truly can win this fight if all physical casinos massively outperform online casinos at the search engine screen.

Bring on the Nerds!
I’m a nerd so it’s ok.

There is a story in the Las Vegas Review Journal about a current online battle the cosmopolitan is having with an international company trying to get their online business. Article Here

What you see in the article is a typical online battle that you may all be dealing with in the months and years ahead.  These new online casinos will have to create clever brands and spend tens-of-millions marketing those brands.  They will try and save those millions by hijacking your brands online.  It’s already happening to The Cosmo.

But, The Cosmopolitans website kicks major Search Engine butt over the hijacking site. A search engine strategy report shows newcosmopolitanlasvegas.com (the online hijack) with an SEO score of 44 out of 100 but cosmopolitanlasvegas.com (the real site) has an SEO score of 66 out of 100.  The Cosmo is winning but still needs to step up their search engine strategy above that 66.

In their local market, Palms.com has a grade of 88 out of 100. They are really working their online strategy obviously.  You can’t just build pretty websites folks. This is an online battle for the modern customer and one of your most valuable marketing dollars you can spend.

You can never learn too much about search engine marketing!  Do you know that your own blog is worth 200x more than facebook, but many casinos have staff focused on facebook and don’t even have a blog.  What is your H1-tag strategy?  How about your meta-tag strategy?  You even need an image and alt-text strategy too. What are the actual names of your images anyway?  What does Google think you do?

Google cannot “see” your pretty website like humans do.  What is your website SEO score? More importantly, when a customer decides to plan a trip and types “Hotels in [your city]” are you on the top of the results?  A successful search engine strategy pays off big! It’s time to take your site to the next level and protect yourselves from igaming too.

Average Casino Database is only 76.5% deliverable

On a typical monthly casino mailing, that’s up to $3,500 in cash gets flushed down the drain.

Not sure how deliverable your casino database is? Let’s make you the hero with your CFO this month, and save you some money on your next mailing.

First, how did I come up with the number above?

Printing for 30K                  $0.18 each
Postage for 30K                 $0.26 each
Mailing Services                 $0.06 each
Average Cost Per Piece   $0.50 each

Second, where did I get the 76.5% number from?

Direct Mail Deliverability

Third, the ugly truth
Multiply total cost per piece (.50 X 7,050) times the 23.5% that did not get delivered. This is how much money you can then be flushing down the drain that month: $3,525, which totals to $42,300 per year. This is high-value, low-hanging fruit.

Finally, the SOLUTION (and you become the HERO)

How hard is it to clean up your database BEFORE you mail? Not hard at all. As a start, you need to enlist your direct mail provider by cleaning up your database through NCOA quarterly updating. Seventeen percent (17%) of the US moves each year. The real trick is to get that data back into your player tracking system.

How much your direct mail provider will charge you for this always depends on the size of your database and if you want it uploaded back in to your system. It can typically range from $80-$1,800.

While they are scrubbing your list, have them run an off-property “near-duplicate” report to help you find the Mikes, Michaels, and other obvious duplicates.

Bonus ways to save even more

The 76.5% number above just includes errors in your address database. It does not take into consideration internal database maintenance practices you can be doing now:

Return mail
Appropriately code all returned mail in your database so that you don’t continue to mail and waste resources. Make efforts internally to get correct information.

NO MAIL requests
ALWAYS respect your guests’ requests to be removed from your marketing distributions. THEY WILL STILL PLAY!

86’d client lists
You don’t want them in your property. DON’T INVITE THEM! Code your database appropriately. You can always change it if you have made amends with the previously barred guest.

Duplicate accounts
Install procedures at point of intake to make sure duplicate accounts are not added. Ask questions …
~   Ask if they have ever visited before.
~   Ask if they have ever had a club card before.
~   If the same name appears, check the DOB.
~   If the same name and DOB appear, ask if they have recently moved.

Linked accounts
Two people living in the same household may share one disposable income. Do they get separate offers or one offer together? Establish a policy and make it clearly known. Don’t waste resources — make a plan that works for your guests.
Bottom line, be sure you are not flushing money down the drain, when the “fix” is pretty simple.

Attention Marketers: Facebook is Not Your Friend

Why would you spend considerable resources marketing another companies website instead of your own? Facebook is mostly an unproductive diversion of time, talent and resources. You could get 10x more value by spending 1/2 that time adding search engine content to your own website.

Sure, Feeling popular and ‘liked’ makes us smile and feel like we matter each day. There is nothing wrong with positive affirmations from random guests and strangers to start your marketing teams day.
However, you should move your team in another direction as quickly as possible.

The goal is to bring warm, paying, profitable, fun-loving guests into your property where they buy your food, stay in your rooms and enjoy your gaming experience. There is very little to be gained by getting ‘likes’ on some other companies website that is a temporary site compared to your own.

Reason #1, When people are ready to travel, they go to Google, Yahoo or Bing, not facebook:
Marketing Statistics for facebook and Google

This website visitor report shows that search engines brought 723 guests to your website and facebook and twitter only brought in 14 combined.  So don’t double your facebook and twitter time!  It’s much easier to spend 1/2 hour per day adding content to your website for much bigger gains.

Reason#2, All efforts in facebook vanish almost immediately since Facebook hides your messages.

Facebook wants to sell advertising to companies like yours so when you post something on Facebook they filter it in the timeline so a user has to seek you out on purpose which they rarely do.  People go to Facebook to share pictures, talk with friends and play games.  They quickly move past company messages and Facebook makes it easy to skip your messages altogether.

Reason #3, Facebook hides your content from search engines and uses it for their benefit.

Remember, facebook is free for a reason.  If it sounds to good to be true it probably is.
Look at this nofollow screen capture where we show you the secret in their program.facebook nofollows all your links

See everything highlighted in Pink by our nofollow finding tools…
Facebook has told all the search engines to ignore all outbound links and not follow them.

When you invest marketing staff and resources into producing content and promotions, you don’t want it to be completely invisible or useless 24 hours later (no longer seen by guests or found online). Your efforts in your own website will bring you 50x more guests for a lot less time invested.

Your Top Priority for online marketing should be: go to your favorite search engine and type the words your guests would type when looking for a property like yours.  Type “Southern California Casino” or “North Dakota Hotels” or “Places to Stay” and see if you even show up in the results.  This is when a new customer is actually planning the details of their coming trip.  This is when you want to interact with them and book that reservation.  This is where you want to win in the online world.

The Solution is to add new content to your website daily in an event or community blog in your site. Search engines see this as new content and come back daily with new guests.  Your content remains active in your site and a magnet for guests on the internet ~ forever.

Once you get your blog up and running in your own website where guests can post, reply and interact with you directly (cutting out the middleman), we’ll show you the next steps to automate your social media campaigns and really move up in the search engine rankings which is what matters most online.

2012 Casino Marketing Conference Returns to Paris Las Vegas


July 24-26, 2012!
Marketing insiders know that Casino Marketing is a hard-hitting, straight-talking, no-holds-barred senior-level conference that addresses marketing challenges across all facets of the gaming industry, including commercial casinos, tribal casinos and racetrack casinos – virtually any gaming venue around the world.

More than 100 different gaming operators and other companies involved in the gaming industry attended the 2011 event, and they came from throughout North America – and beyond. Many companies sent their entire marketing and promotions teams, so they know the value of this unique event!


July 23-24, 2012!
In 2012 the Casino Marketing Conference is offering the popular program Drive Revenue and Grow Business: An Advanced Sales Model for Your Host Department. This one and a half-day program will run on July 23rd and 24th; separate registration is required.

If you are a senior host and player development specialist, General Manager, Player Development Senior Executive, or Marketing Director, you want to attend this program that will focus on:

• Developing and segmenting qualified sales leads from your database
• Creating compensation and specialization in a new player development model
• Managing reinvestment properly and measuring the sale
• Understanding the true value of a player through mathematics
• Acquiring the skills to complete the sales cycle

This is the advanced training you have been looking for! The program delves deep into sales skills, database management, analytics and the math of player value. This isn’t theory and a whole lotta talk — these are takeaway tools you can apply as soon as you return to your property. This is the 21st century groundwork you need to create an advanced host department.

To learn more about this conference or to register click Here.