Jan. 3 2007 11:29 AM

    Your company should be proud of producing "J-U-N-K" Mail. As long as the message you are communicating is Justifiable Unsolicited New Knowledge. You've JUSTIFIED a mailing to an UNSOLICITED target regarding NEW KNOWLEDGE about something you trust your targeted customers believe may be valuable and worth their time taking a peek at.


    If you've done your homework correctly, you'll be mailing your message to a targeted audience that is hungry to know what new ideas you may have to offer them, and if you've done a good job communicating that message to them properly, they will have a positive response, and you will grow your business.


    Having an address properly standardized and the format designed as is recommended by the Postal Service highly increases the chances of your product being successfully delivered in a timely fashion; as a matter of fact, it pretty much guarantees it. It will not be handled like the "real junk mail" that was never researched properly or followed postal regulations.


    Step 1: Target your audience. Send your message to those who are most likely to respond.

    The written word is still the best media to get the message across in today's business world. When you mail it, the target will see it, touch it and with the new technology today, even smell it, taste it or listen to it.


    When you advertise on the radio, you're sending a message into thin air hoping that the people listening will give an ear to your message. Ask yourself how many times you've been in the car driving and not heard one word on the radio because you're on your cell phone or thinking about work or the family. Wasted air time, wasted advertising dollars.


    When you advertise on TV, you are hoping that everyone is tuned in to your channel. As you know there are hundreds of channels within cable, satellite and basic TV to watch. Good luck if they are tuned into your channel. Wasted air time, wasted advertising dollars.


    People still appreciate a good deal. People appreciate competitive pricing and ideas that will save them time or money or make them feel more comfortable. People appreciate knowing when their Harley dealership is having a sale... well, maybe only HOG members like me do, but that's why you better have done your demographic homework and address hygiene. People are hungry to save money the right audience just needs to hear about it in a timely manner.


    Step 2: Proper Address Standardization.

    What about addresses? An expert in mail center solutions once said, "Three of the most important words in the shipping and mailing industry are: database, database, database." Okay, maybe it was me that said that, but if your database is off, your whole campaign will suffer.


    Wow! What a message. If you've "scrubbed" your database, taken out the duplicates, the bad addresses, taken out the addresses that don't match the Postal Service's national database, maybe even done an National Change of Address and corrected those errors as well as making some design changes on the envelope, you will not have to worry about the Postal Service discarding your Standard mailings because of your addressing errors. You will have taken the initiative to have the right person associated to the right address who wants to hear about your message.


    I know of a businessperson who swore the Postal Service did not process his mailpieces. He claimed the Postal Service threw his mail in the dumpster. This customer, who did a direct mail campaign, looked a Postal Service employee square in the eyes, emphatic that the Postal Service threw out his mailpiece. How did he know this? Because he said no one responded to his advertisement. He paused and then added, "Well I only received a few responses."


    Oops. Well, that sure was a sign the Postal Service didn't mail it. Right? Wrong! There could be a number of reasons why this mailpiece did not elicit a response. Maybe the message was not worth responding to because the company didn't do its homework. Or maybe the database was not cleaned up and the pieces weren't addressed properly. One thing is certain I doubt USPS was to blame.


    When was the last time you didn't get your phone bill, gas bill, electric bill? When was the last time you got a phone call from those companies telling you they didn't receive your check? When was the last time you didn't get your tax bill? Probably never. When I ask this question in my seminar/workshops, I rarely have a hand raised.  These organizations know who you are and where you are they take their customers databases seriously. They have their issues and concerns when mailing, but they work on them daily. Following their lead in database hygiene maintenance and mailpiece design is a huge step toward getting the results you are looking for.


    So are you sending out "JUNK" mail? Do your homework and get your database up-to-date! Think of the dollars you'll save on print, envelopes, labels, postage, customer service calls, labor and above all, loss of business if you clean your data before you mail!


    Bill Bewitz, Regional Operations Analyst and Consultant, specializes in mail center analysis. You can contact him by phone at 414-303-0309 or log on to his Web site at www.mailcentersolutions.com.