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Direct Response Articles
7 proven secrets to getting your mail delivered
Imagine driving down the freeway and seeing a pile of boxes sitting on the shoulder. You pull off and discover that the boxes are filled with your mailing…one you thought had gone to the post office weeks before.
Or how about finding out that only half of your 500,000-piece mailing actually mailed and that your lettershop had simply pocketed the postage money for the rest?
Now stop imagining. These things really happen.
More than 20 years ago I decided to make it a priority to protect my clients from being ripped off by lettershops and postal employees. So I developed a 7-point system that has proven to be very successful.
Delivery Secret #1
Always write your postage check directly to the postmaster
There is no reason to ever write a check for postage that is not made out directly to the post office. It doesn’t matter that your printer or lettershop, or even a printing broker, is acting as your go-between.
Fill in the “Pay to the order of” line with asterisks as follows: “*** U.S. Postmaster***.” This ensures that the only one cashing your postage checks is the post office.
Delivery Secret #2
Always open your own mailing permit account
Many lettershops will allow you to use their mailing permits. It can be a nice convenience, especially if you usually mail first class and want to try a third-class mailing. But it opens up accountability issues.
Once you have your own permit, you are able to accurately track, on the back end, how your postage money has been spent.
Delivery Secret #3
Always send a representative to keep an eye on your mailing
Always send someone to the printer and then to your lettershop to oversee the production of your job. If you don’t, you are opening yourself up to a lot of problems.
If you are using an agency to produce your work, they will often include press checks and onsite oversight as part of the service they provide.
Members of my staff are often at lettershops across the county overseeing jobs, which often means working around the clock. But having them there has prevented numerous disasters over the years and saved my clients from having to worry.
Delivery Secret #4
Always do your own counts of what is to be mailed
No matter what the paperwork says or what they think they’ve seen, have your representatives do their own counts of the mailings.
No, I don’t mean count every individual piece. But they should know roughly how many pieces are going into a mailbag or onto a pallet and that there are enough bags or pallets to reasonably match your mailing numbers.
In addition, make sure that your mailing is kept separate from other jobs going through the lettershop. Don’t be persuaded to mix your mail with mail from other jobs, even if it would result in a small savings. The overall safety of your mailing is more important.
Delivery Secret #5
Always watch your job being loaded onto the truck
One of my clients told me a story of a job she had handled on her own…
Several weeks after a mailing had gone out she was taking a tour of the lettershop facilities. There, still sitting on pallets, was part of her job. And she wondered why her response wasn’t very good.
So the answer is to be standing there as the mail is loaded onto the truck to be sent to the post office or the mail distribution center.
If you can, I recommend that you then get in your own car and follow the truck to the post office and watch it being unloaded. (At least make them think you are going to do this.)
We even take pictures for our clients and email the photos to them.
Delivery Secret #6
Always make sure you see your 3602 forms and verify that the counts are correct
A 3602 form is the document that the post office uses to verify that they received your mail and that it was processed. They are time- and date-stamped.
Although 3602s are a pretty good way to verify that the mail actually went out, they are also susceptible to fraud.
I have heard stories of 3602 forms that had had their dates and quantities altered by a lettershop or postal authority literally in front of the person they were being created for.
So always verify that the information is correct.
Delivery Secret #7
Always seed your mailing lists
If you are not familiar with this term, “seeding” a list means that you add dummy names and addresses to your lists forward back to you. You should be able to track across ZIP codes that reflect the actual coverage of the mailing.
Although you can use employees’ names and addresses, I always recommend that you use a national (or even international) mail-monitoring service. This service will provide you with a seed list matched closely to your mailing, then collect the pieces received and even return them to you as part of the service.
Finally, for internal tracking, use a rotating set of names that includes a special code run (e.g., an identifier in the address such as “Dept. 99” or a middle initial) for each list use. This should be a different set of names from your standard seeds and the code used should identify the names with the job.
One more thing about seeding: Make sure your list is seeded before it arrives at the lettershop and is not done by their internal list people. It is not unheard of for a lettershop that knows who is on the seed list to make certain that those names are mailed to first and on time, while the bulk of your mailing sits in a warehouse or never gets mailed at all.
If you need help making sure your next mailing makes it to the post office, call me today at 310-212-5727. We can give you great prices (because of our volume buying), expert supervision and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your mail is being delivered.
You can also email me at for more information on my full-service agency.
Craig Huey is recognized as one of the worlds leading experts in direct response
marketing. He is the winner of 78 major marketing awards for breakthrough campaigns that led to multimillion-dollar sales.
21171 S. Western, Suite 260, Torrance, CA 90501
Tel: 310-212-5727 • Fax: 310-212-5773