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

Boost Creative Services from CSG Direct Mail

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of our dynamic creative design vendor-partners.

CSG Direct Mail has more Boost than ever.

Boost is a creative partner for everything over-the-top, effective and impressive.

Boost Creative is a top tier agency with clients like Porsche, Harrahs, KOA and Wells Fargo.

Here is the Boost Creative story:

Acceleration. Power. Ascent. To lend a hand, to enhance, to make better. All visions of Boost, and the inspiration behind a new type of company. A little giant capable of big league work. Where did we come up with such an idea? We’ve dreamt it all our lives.

You know those Friday happy hour conversations you have when you’re first out of college and mixing up in the “real world”? Well, ours pretty much went like this: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a collaborative of creatives who worked together, yet independently, with nothing getting in the way, taking up space and cluttering up communication with our clients? And wouldn’t it be a miracle to choose with whom we wanted to work – from clients to vendors to the UPS driver -so that our relationships were a good fit, serving an even nurturing the spirits of everyone involved? And wouldn’t it be perfect to do awesome work, the kind that not only puts our clients head and shoulders above the crowd, but also gives us a gut feeling of satisfaction.

This is who we are: innovative, resourceful, efficient, and honest.

We are a creative collaborative and culmination of tequila doused musings and professional dreams. We know the difference between advertising and “badvertising” and we won’t sell our for the latter. We understand technology, but we are not the “techies”. We work in a world-class space, which we designed and built with our own hands. We are students of design, art, communication and live. We love what we do and we do what we love. We are not a group of head nodders. We are not an advertising agency. We are an idea company.

Founded in January 2002, we strongly, honestly, absolutely believe that the best work comes when a client communicates directly with the individuals who will be producing the campaign or project. This saves clients a lot of money and us a lot of headache. We have seen the waste in advertising agencies. Hey, we’ve even been a part of it, but we have seen the light.

Strategy is at the core of how we run our business and how we work with our clients. Being able to say big words like Brand Positioning, and Core Competencies, are the easy part. Knowing how to do the work, that’s different. We can work to understand you, your business, your market, and your customers. Then, we make the recommendations, and we execute. Our strategy will always help clients communicate with sincerity and honesty, and create an emotional response. When it’s all done, we’re not off to Tahiti, we’re accountable. We analyze what went right or wrong, adjust, rebuild if necessary, move to the next steps, whatever is needed to truly accomplish goals. One step, one project, one magnificent moment at a time.

We love to brainstorm. We want to be your off site think tank. Whether brought in at the front of a large campaign, or simply called on to be one small part of it, we’ll help solve problems. When we mix it up with your people, there’s going to be some kind of wonderful going on. No doubt.

We approach every job, large or small, with the same level of energy and attention; your business, your budget, our reputation…all on the line. Yes we love to laugh, we always have fun, but we take this seriously.

Learn more about Boost Creative Services.

Revised Mailing Standards on Folded Self-Mailers and Unenveloped Mailpieces

The Postal Service will revise Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM[supreg]) 201.3.14, to provide new standards for folded self-mailers (FSM) and unenveloped mailpieces that are mailed at automation or machinable prices. To avoid confusion with revised standards for FSM mailpieces having loose enclosures, the Postal Service renames mailpieces that are designed to carry discs, and expands the standards that apply to tabs to include folded self-mailers.

Effective January 5, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Vance (202) 268-7595 or Susan
Thomas (202) 268-8069.

On August 15, 2011, the Postal Service published a Federal Register proposed rule (76 FR 50438-50441) for changes to the design and construction of folded self-mailers and unenveloped mailpieces that are mailed at automation or machinable prices. The proposed standards were issued after two years of collaborative work with mailers to analyze and test a wide variety of folded self-mailer letter-size designs. In response to the proposed standards, the Postal Service received 51 comments. Many of those who commented provided input on more than one aspect of the proposal. Each comment was given consideration and modifications were made to the proposed standards when possible. This final rule will be adopted based on our proposed rule with only minor revisions. These standards do not apply to cards, envelopes, booklet style letters, or mailpieces designed to carry discs.

The final rule includes DMM recommendations for design elements and sealing methods for FSMs. To avoid confusion about the types of mailpieces included in this change, the Postal Service renames mailpieces that are designed to carry discs in 201.3.4. To simplify the requirements that apply to tabs that can be used to seal unenveloped letter-sized mailpieces, DMM 201.3.11 is modified to include folded self-mailers. The final rule also includes recommended revisions to the proposed requirements based on observations of a wide variety of FSMs tested over the past several years.

Although the effective date of these revisions is not until January 5, 2013, we encourage all customers who prepare FSMs mailed at automation or machinable prices to begin conversion to these design concepts as soon as possible.

A folded self-mailer is formed of panels that are created when one or more unbound sheets of paper are folded together and sealed to make a letter-size mailpiece. The number of sheets in the mailpiece and the number of the times the sheets are folded determine the number of panels. Sheets that are bound by one or more staples are not considered folded self-mailers even when all other preparation recommendations are met.

The maximum height for all automation and machinable FSMs is 6 inches and the maximum length is 101/2 inches, with a maximum thickness of 1/4 inch. The maximum weight of three ounces is applicable to all mailpieces prepared without envelopes.The paper basis weight for folded self-mailers is based on book-grade paper unless otherwise specified and varies depending on the total weight of the mailpiece and/or optional elements that are incorporated in the design. The final fold must be at the bottom for all designs except oblong style pieces. For oblong-style FSMs the final fold is on the leading edge. Tabs cannot be placed on the bottom open edge of an oblong-style FSM. A minimum of two tabs will be required to seal all FSMs when tabs are used as the sealing method. Tabs used as seals may not have perforations. Glue may be used as an alternate sealing method when applied according to the standards for FSMs.

After January 5, 2013, folded self-mailers that do not meet these requirements will be assessed postage as follows: First-Class
Mail[supreg] and Standard Mail[supreg] customers will pay nonmachinable prices; Periodicals mailers will pay nonbarcoded prices.

Overview of Comments

Eleven commenters
recommended that the proposed standards be abandoned and asked that no changes to the existing mailpiece format be made at this time. The commenters cited the economy and the lack of equipment capable of producing the types of designs expressed in the proposed standards. Commenters were also concerned about time and cost incurred for mailpieces that may already be designed and produced, but not mailed. Many new formats and sealing requirements not defined in current standards for FSM are added. To accommodate the mailing industry, the Postal Service will delay adoption of the new standards until January 5, 2013. This postponement will provide enough time for mailers to complete outstanding contracts for mailpieces that do not meet the new standards and will allow those pieces to be entered as automation compatible folded self-mailers prior to the effective date. Mailers entering FSMs before the effective date are encouraged to design and prepare their mailpieces using these standards. Four commenters expressed concern regarding the Postal Service’s proposal to require an additional tab on mailpieces weighing more than one ounce. As pieces get thicker and heavier it becomes more difficult
for those pieces to pass through processing equipment. The mailpieces do not retain their integrity and cause jams and damage to the mail and processing equipment. Heavier weight FSMs experience more stress on the leading edge, especially when it is not a folded edge. An additional tab placed on the lower leading edge improves efficient feed capability
and serves as added protection for the mailpiece during processing. The additional tab also maintains closure as pieces are handled and processed multiple times. Until January 5, 2013, three tabs are recommended to maintain sufficient sealing and to provide additional protection for heavier mailpieces and specific design formats.

Three commenters asked why it is necessary to limit the number of panels within an FSM. The number of panels affects the shape, thickness, and ability to create crisp folds required to maintain a streamlined shape. It also reduces the amount of stress placed on closures, and maintains the integrity of a mailpiece from acceptance to delivery. However, in order to provide increased options and ability to qualify for automation letter prices, the Postal Service will increase the allowed panel count to 12 for FSMs constructed of non-newsprint paper. Additionally, to accommodate the common practice of including half-pages in quarter-fold pieces made with newsprint paper, we increase the panel count for quarter-fold FSMs to a maximum of 24 panels.

Seven commenters expressed concern about the 101/2 inch-maximum length requirement. They expressed concern because smaller sizes will decrease the amount of space available to print advertising in a single mailpiece, and in some cases stock mailpieces will need to be redesigned to conform to the new size requirements. The FSM study revealed that, similar to booklets, mailpieces that exceeded 9 inches in length experienced a decline in machinability with significantly higher rates of damage and jams. The Postal Service maintains the proposed maximum length of 101/2 inches to balance the need for machinability with the customer’s need for the maximum amount of usable space.

Eight commenters questioned the thickness standards of .05 and .09 inches. USPS[supreg] revises the language to clarify that these thickness standards apply only to interior loose enclosures (single sheets that are not captured by the folds) and attachments. The standard for maximum thickness of a finished FSM letter is 1/4 inch, the same maximum thickness for all letter-size mail. Additionally, we allow the insertion of remittance envelopes, meeting all requirements for enclosed envelopes within automation letters, as enclosures when the envelopes are incorporated into the first (manufacturing) fold of the quarter-fold mailpiece format.

Two commenters asked that tabs made of material other than paper and tabs with perforations be used as seals for FSMs. To accommodate this request, the current standards that describe the types of materials used to manufacture tabs are expanded to permit their use for both booklets and FSMs. Tabs with perforations may not be used as a seals.

Nine commenters asked for clarification of tab placement and the number of tabs required. Section 201.3.14.4 is revised to clarify sealing mailpieces using tabs. Studies showed that sealing FSMs with one tab did not provide sufficient closure to withstand the rigors of automation processing for letter-size mail. The requirement to seal with a minimum of two tabs is retained.

Two commenters asked to use glue to seal the lead and trail edge instead of gluing along the top edge when the final fold is the bottom edge. We have revised and clarified the language to allow this as an additional sealing option.

One commenter suggested that the paper basis weight is unreasonably high. The basis weight of paper is one of the major factors that affect the machinability of a mailpiece. Pieces prepared with lower paper weight were unable to withstand the rigors of automation processing, resulting in higher rates of damage and jams and a diversion to more costly flat sorter and manual processing methods. We retain the paper basis weights as proposed.

One commenter asked about the perforation cut-tie ratio. The necessary cut to tie ratio is based on many correlative factors. A ratio that provides enough strength to prevent premature breaking of the perforation tie is needed. This need is balanced by the necessity of preparing a perforated line that can be opened by the recipient without causing unintended damage to the mailpiece. Due to the significant variation in cut-to-tie ratios of mailpieces currently in the mailstream, we modified the proposed standard and will allow a 1 to 1 cut-tie ratio for all perforated lines. The Postal Service will monitor the performance of mailpieces prepared with perforations and if the 1 to 1 ratio does not prove sufficient for machine processing, we will modify the standards to require a higher cut to tie ratio. Customers who have mailpieces that do not meet this reduced standard may ask that the FSMs be sent to the Pricing and Classification Service Center for review.

Three commenters asked for clarification regarding the need to print address information in a mid-to-left position. Section 201.3.14.10 is introduced as a recommendation for folded self-mailers produced on uncoated paper. Testing revealed higher rates of delamination and peel-back (cosmetic damage) to the lead edge of uncoated (raw) paper. This type of damage often exceeded 1/2 inch in length and impeded the ability of letter sorting machines to read address elements.

With this final rule, the Postal Service implements requirements and options that describe the construction of folded self-mailers and other unenveloped mailpieces. These standards allow significant design flexibility while maintaining mailpiece automation compatibility and address most current and proposed designs. Mailers designing and mailing FSMs before the effective date are encouraged to prepare mailpieces using these standards.

The Postal Service adopts the following changes to Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), incorporated by reference in the Code of Federal Regulations.

New Postage Rates January 2012

New Postage Rates effective January 22, 2012

We updated our systems for the new postage rates effective January 22, 2012.

New Postage Rates 2012
New Postage Rates 2012

We noticed that most of the non-profit rates went down in this cycle and the common rates like Standard Rate (old 3rd-class) 5-digit automation rates went up only .005 from .237 to .242 each.  That is an increase of only 2.1%, not bad considering the average increases over the years ranged from 7-12% in the 20 years I have been doing this.

Here is the Full Postage Rate Spreadsheet from the US Postal Service.
You’ll want to look at each of the many tabs inside the spreadsheet.

Here are some recent past years postage charts for reference:

New Postage Rates 2011

New Postage Rates 2009

New Postage Rates 2008

New Postage Rates 2007

When you see the hundreds of rates available to you through the US Postal Service you realize that people that understand postage best are most capable of helping you reduce your postage expenses. We can help you design a postage strategy that considers the postage rates as well as the expenses required to help you achieve those postage rates. Sometimes it can cost you a dime to save a nickel so you cannot just look at postage.  We consider everything!

Direct Mail people are “details people” because every detail matters. Postage and service maximizing is another great reason not to do your direct mail with a printing company.

I’m a Digital Variable Data Printing Press Operator and Technician

The people that ask what I do for a living are frequently taken aback by my initial, truncated answer.

I’m a Digital Press/Machine Operator and Technician for a company called CSG Direct Inc.

Such conversations tend to go one of two ways at this point:
Those that have seen our commercial, usually hilariously start singing the jingle to me.
Those that haven’t often question the nature of what I do or ask, “What is that”?

The longer I work at CSG Direct, the more I’m finding the most appropriate and accurate answer to the second question. I think I’ve narrowed it down to a clear and concise execution of verbal symmetry:

We’re not only in the business of Direct Mailing, We are the future of Direct Mail!

It is, all too frequently, easy to write this off as your standard brainwashed stock phrase and go with the reductive viewpoint of Direct Mail being the junk mail that you ask for as unfortunately, this is what I find most people presently understand it to be.

However, people’s minds begin to open to the idea of what’s involved when I tell them I can expand no further upon the nature of my work as sensitive information is involved.

My experience has taught me that this is important and priceless (both in the short and long run) in an age where competitors (telemarketers and maverick consultants) flippantly use Client/Vendor biometrics in a way that’s arguably fiscally and ethically invasive and offensive.

The team at CSG Direct Inc. aims to either refine these crude attempts into something valuable or make such situations a thing of the past. Value. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

That is why we, as a company can afford to make the ostentatious claims; because we get the job done, efficiently, timely, respectfully and in a manner that keeps all-around satisfaction at a high.

I Print. Therefore, I am. Still, I’d like to leave you with the idea that whatever may happen to come off my machine, if it has your name on it, it will be something that you can value. It’s not just MY focus it’s ours.

Regards,

Modern Database Marketing with Direct Mail Personalization

Direct Mail Personalized

Direct Mail Personalized

Modern Database Marketing with Direct Mail Personalization

In the database marketing industry, we always throw around the word “personalization” as if everyone already understands what we mean.  It really is a generic term.  Are you telling personal secrets? Are you talking about how much they drank on their last trip? Are you getting too “personal”?

The problem with using a generic term to describe what we are doing is that everyone has their own idea what the term means.  To some people in the industry “personalization” means using the recipient’s name somewhere in the copy of the direct mailer.  That is what it meant… five to ten years ago!

Modern personalization  is an incredibly different animal that is not well represented by a one-word term.

Modern personalization is one-to-one conversations with each customer, en mass.

For example, Customer Mary visits the casino with her husband and enjoys playing Keno and eating at the buffet.  Customer Jim is single and likes to come to your concerts, drink beer and bet on sports. How do you make one invitation that appeals to both of these people?

Just putting “Hey Jim” in the direct mail piece is usually not enough to make an offer more appealing to him if it isn’t relevant to his interest in your property.

A customer asked me the other day why they get so few responses to their concert promotions.  They mail out 10,000 pieces and get 100 responses.  “How come?” they asked.  Well it turns out the exact same 10,000 people are invited to each concert and they aren’t sure if those particular people share a like for each particular type of concert.

They need to code their database with music interests and invite people that enjoy the type of concert you are promoting.  This is the first step in modern personalization.  Put the right act or promotion in front of your customers that like that act or promotion.

Music is a great way to have this conversation but it applies to everything about your Hotel Casino property. You don’t promote 80s hair band music to 60 year old guests and you don’t promote the steak house to people who like the buffet.  Send blackjack invites only to people that like blackjack and send slot tournament invites only to people that like slot play.  This is the heart of high response marketing.

This can be done all in ONE direct mail piece!

With today’s modern technology we can do all this in one direct mail piece. There are only a couple of hurdles to making this possible. First you have to find the easiest ways to match your event and hotel casino offerings to the guests that like each of your amenities.  This is best established by tracking EVERYTHING your customer does.  For example, you need to track the types of rooms they stay in and the types of food they prefer on property.

Next we need to establish things about your clients that you currently do not have access to.  For example, do they golf? Are they married? What kind of music do they like? What kind of occupation are they in?  There are many ways to do this with in-house surveys or modern data-append services using some great outside consumer databases to gather new information.

Finally, the last step is to learn how to build a marketing matrix.  This is a spreadsheet where we describe the differences in each dataset we have pulled and what offers each database receives.  Basically, we query each special interest we can find to market to and make a map to which offers will be rotating in each direct mail piece.  This  personalizes the offers, look and feel of each piece.

The art

Now the fun happens. We build four different art sets for the invitation.  One design caters to blackjack players, one design feels more like buffet and keno, one design is 80s hair band and buffet and the last design is a golf themed piece that includes a slot tournament and steakhouse offer for those people we know like those.  This is all for offers for the same weekend, of course.

We compile your databases together and rotate the graphics in the printing and outputting process.  This is the recipe for high response modern direct mail personalized casino marketing.

Everyone gets something that appeals directly to them and their interests in a gaming experience.

The biggest gain is that over time each person in your database starts to feel like your property is their favorite because it appears that your product is exactly what they are looking for.  Every player gets a unique experience that feels most comfortable to them and they end up visiting more often.  This gives you a greater share of their annual gaming budget.

 

Database Marketing Tips, National Change of Address

Database Marketing Tips:  NCOA your data!

Database Marketing Tips

Chris Ohm from our Data and Design Team

Building a clean and efficient database is the keystone to your direct mailing projects. Without such you may subject yourself to such “side effects” of higher postage rates, returned mail, low response and turnouts, and ultimately  un-reached clients.

Compiling a completely accurate list of your clients can take a long time, such as months and sometimes even years! By the time you decide to do a mailer, a quarter of those clients could have moved.

These clients would never receive your offer in the mail, and it would be mailed to the return address…you! If you have a 10,000 list of data and 100 people may have moved, this can result in a lot of people who will not receive your mailer. That’s where NCOA processing can save you some serious cash.

“National Change of Address” or NCOA, is a process in which your data is processed through a USPS backed second party. Once ran through the NCOA process anybody who had updated their current address through the Post Office, after moving, will have their address updated to reflect the new one. This can save a bundle of money and increase your advertisement’s response percentage.

You’ll want to utilize this with all mailing lists. On top of the NCOA process appending new addresses to old ones, It also produces a batch of addresses we call “NCOA BADS” these would be your clients that have moved, but did not update their address with the post office.

Here is an example of some percentages NCOA cleans in your data:

  • 80.92% Forwarded moves containing delivery point confirmed–New address provided
  • 1.18% Moves containing unconfirmed addresses – New address not provided
  • 13.80% Moved, left no address
  • 3.92% PO Box Closed
  • 0.18% Foreign moves

As you can see, a good portion of your data can potentially be un-mailable or returned back to you at great expense. Why waste the extra money of your print and postage costs?

Very few companies offer this service correctly, and even fewer offer it with the knowledge and capability that CSG provides for its customers.  For example, CSG can return you an updated list including the records that were corrected, the ones that did not move, and the few that moved but did not update their address.  Using this service maximizes your data’s efficiency so that your mailers will have higher response rates.

NCOA your data and the results can be rewarding!

Don’t forget to ask us how to get all that cleaned data back into your system.

Database Marketing – Quick Tips for Database Bliss

Database Marketing starts with a database.  Database tips for our friends in direct mailing marketing.

Here at CSG Direct, we’ve seen every type of “database” you can think of, from mailing labels copied into PDF files to multiple relational SQL monstrosities. We’re always dealing with new challenges and finding new solutions for making your database the powerhouse it can be.

So here are a couple of tips from our data team

Even though Excel is a spreadsheet program, it is one of the most widely used mediums for database storage. I can hear you now, saying, isn’t that the same thing as a database? Well not necessarily… “A spreadsheet is a computer application that simulates a paper accounting worksheet” Excel is designed to quickly handle financial calculations, numbers and formulas. Therefore when using it as a database, there are a few precautions one should take.

1) Sorting: “So let’s see if I’m in the database” you say and quickly highlight the last name column and hit the A-Z button at the top, you see your last name, figure “ok! Good enough” and hit save. This is one of the most common and most destructive mistakes that can be made in Excel. What just occurred is that all your other fields stayed exactly as they were, while the last name field was placed in alphabetical order by itself. Now everyone in the database has the wrong last name.

2) Numbers: Remember that Excel is a spreadsheet! It loves to perform calculations and “properly” format numbers for you. Quick things to keep an eye out for, would be: Account numbers being formatted oddly, east coast zip codes missing their leading zero, cash amount fields having differing decimal places, even phone number fields having math done on them (something like 775-852-9777 turning into -9854)

3) Line breaks: In the final stretch of putting the finishing touches on your Excel database, then you realize this record has a secondary address, so you just place a carriage return and put the secondary address in the same cell below the first. In an Excel Cell its easy to add a line break, the problem is that when exporting a database out of Excel most database programs won’t recognize odd characters within a field and either jumble the record or completely leave it out. When in doubt it’s always better to just add another column.

4) Coding: There have been many great looking spreadsheets out there with colors that dazzle, but remember that when you use cell colors to delineate between multiple tiers of a database, they won’t translate over into real databases. It’s always best to use a separate field and populate it with whatever alpha-numeric signifier you might need! That way when the database is moved out of Excel it’ll still be there!

Until next time… Keep the data flowing to CSG Direct Mail

Casino Direct Mail Marketing, You’re Doing It Wrong!

Forget everything you have ever been taught about Casino Direct Mailing!
You’re doing it completely wrong!

It’s not your fault, you had horribly untrained people teach you your job and you are doing what you were taught to do. The math is just wrong.

You and the majority of everyone else in direct mail marketing were taught wrong. Everyone suffers when you can’t bring enough profitable guests to make a profit and grow the casino to what it was originally destined to be. It must be outside of your control because you are doing what you were taught and the people around you keep telling you that you are doing it correct, right?

Why are you listening to them? Do they have decades of creating and measuring direct mail results? Probably not! You are listening to them because if you do what you are told and excel at what you are taught your job is safe right? You are being lured into a false sense of security by not questioning the process and not recognizing that you are surrounded and trained by people that don’t have the experience to judge or train you.

Take a look around you at you and your team. Lots of great people all trying to pay their bills, raise kids and have a beer on Friday night. Great folks I’m sure, I love a beer on Friday too. But they all moved up the same way you did. Perhaps you started in the players club desk or at the valet parking garage. You got a few promotions and now you are a casino host. Next thing you know you are working in special events and now you find yourself promoted into marketing as a coordinator of some kind.

This is a common path type to marketing director positions in our industry, ironically. I cannot count the number of special events assistants that have been promoted to marketing director without real marketing experience.

Now that you are in marketing you’re fully trained and experienced in all aspects of direct mailing, right? Nope! Now all those people above you that basically started the same path that you did a few years before, will be teaching you all their “expertise”. But who taught them? and who taught those before them? Are you feeling me yet?

Our gaming industry is full of the marketing blind teaching the blind. It’s not your fault. It’s the nature of the gaming industry but if you don’t grow, learn and adjust then it is your doing.

What you will be taught as you enter and develop in direct marketing is simple production level stuff but you will falsely be made to feel like you are the heart of direct marketing when you do it. You will learn how to pull a mailing list. You will learn how to get a nice mail piece designed. You will learn how to get bids from vendors (often misguided by cost-per-piece purchasing hawks). You might even learn about tracking and manager level reporting.

Now you are on top of the world and the top of your game, right? Sorry to disappoint but in the real world this is “direct mail coordinator” and you could be eaten alive in the private sector by some detail-oriented kings and queens of our industry. There is so much still to learn.

So where am I going with this and how will I transition to the “make us all feel better” part of this article? Well lets pull out our calculators and talk about some things that nobody taught you yet. Direct Mail Marketing is about MATH! It’s about Investment, Dividends and Results!

Take a hard look at the direction of your casino. Is your casino saving money and declining or investing money and growing? It seems odd that no matter how much money we save in the bidding process casinos all over the country are still declining in profitability! I don’t find that odd at all and neither will you. It’s even more difficult to comprehend that you sell FUN everyday of your life and you are getting lower and lower response rates.

You can’t sell FUN because you were trained wrong. Let’s turn your career around.
We need to start by getting back to core basics. What is our real core job in marketing?

Is your job to mail as many pieces for the cheapest price you can or is your job to bring in the highest rate of return as a percentage of the invested expense? Unfortunately 95% of every casino executive I have met would not recognize that they are supposed to be investment hawks trying to make the casino the biggest gains with the best investments. Our number 1 goal is to help our casino make as much money as possible so they can give us raises and perks and benefits and we have lots of room for growth in careers and opportunities.

A casino hires thousands of workers, friends and neighbors and supports our communities with taxes, wages, tourism, sponsorships and lots of fun. So our number 1 priority is to seek ways to help that casino maximizes its earnings by bringing ideas to the table on how to MAKE money.

It’s not about saving money, it’s about MAKING money!

Don’t panic, we’ll save money too but lets take those shackles off for a little bit while we talk about how to make money first. Lets assume for now that 95% of all other purchasing is being managed by Ebeneezer Scrooge and we get to invest the 5% he doesn’t manage. It doesn’t help that purchasing plays such a large role in overseeing money in the marketing department and they are singularly focused on words like “cost per piece” or “unit price”. Lets leave them out of this while we talk about what should be in play and not what currently is.

To properly turn around your direct mailing training you need to think like your casino owners do. Everyday the investor-mind asks themselves “how do I invest $100 safely to make $1000?” Shoot, even getting $200 from a $100 investment is gold if you can do it safely. You judge every investment based on dollars at risk, percentage of gain and time to payoff.

So let’s think like the owner and do some math. If I mail out 10,000 postcards at $0.50 each than I have invested $5000 of the casinos money on a direct mailing. Let’s say for the discussion we get a 3.5% response and 350 people come to the event. Sure there are other expenses to consider but we’re going to keep this simple for now.

That is an investment of $14.28 Per Response!
($5000 / 350 responses = $14.28 per response)

Per Response” are words missing from casino marketing departments everywhere. It doesn’t matter how much money you “saved”, what matters is profits made. With a $14 per response budget you can probably think of a lot cooler things you could send to your guests than a postcard. Much more personalized, tiered or unique mail pieces can be justified at a greater expense but a greater return on investment too. But you have to do the math.

If we mail half as many pieces and get the many more guests than we are marketing smarter. We would also be able to “own the mailbox” that day crushing out competing offers and getting 100% open rates on creative invitations.

I submit that casinos have focused so much on saving money that they have watered down all their direct marketing efforts to the point of dwindling return.  You can only squeeze so much savings out of your marketing budgets. Eventually you crush your casino with dwindling occupancy, forced layoffs and the properties decline into misery.  You can prevent all of that.  You hold the key to bringing in the most guests possible and creating the greatest opportunities possible for you and those around you.  Break the chain of the misguided trainers before you and lead your casino marketing with cost per response direct marketing.

Close your eyes and walk to your mailbox in your mind.  Open up the mailbox and what is in there? You see a stack of newspaper coupons, some envelopes, some postcards and….  this small box.  Instantly your mind focuses in on that box and everything else is forgotten.  You grab the mail, tuck it up under your arm and in your hands you hold the box.

What is in this box?  It is from a casino, it could be anything really, but surely it has to be something fun right? You take the mail in the house and your spouse walks in and says, “what’s in the box?”  you both open it together with curiosity and excitement and all the rest of the mailbox stack is forgotten for now.

You can get huge responses, increased guests and maximum earnings by sending more expensive and unique offers to your valued guests. But they do cost more per piece and they just need to get off your back about it so don’t forget to show them your math.

We end this entry with a link to killface having problems with his mailing.
Don’t forget to visit our casino direct mail marketing website.

New Intelligent Mail Barcode Requirements

Direct Mailing ManThe US Postal Service has come down with some new deadlines for full implementation of Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMB).

Full Text Here: http://csgurl.com/IMB_Requirements

They seem to be putting a huge emphasis on packages, however mailpieces references are sprinkled into all the text as well.

” On January 7, 2013, the Postal Service finalizes the implementation of this final rule by requiring an Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) for all commercial mailpieces that include a tracking or extra service barcode …” seems to refer to all customers using 2 barcodes currently which apply to people using postnet barcodes and planet codes combined. (quit laughing, some people still do this, lol)

We of course have been using these barcodes and developing  new programs around these new barcodes since 2008. It’s nice to see that they are finally asking the rest of the country to step up the plate or get out of the game.

The first deadline is January 2012 with some limited flexibility until July 2012, Then again January 2013 with flexibility until July 2013.  A weak roll-out but they are going to get to embrace their cool new features even if they have to drag all the rest of the public forward.