Talon Mailing & Marketing, Inc.

561 Acorn Street, Deer Park, NY 11729

(631) 667-5500



Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing March 2003 Newsletter:


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How To Clean Your Customer list and save money on your next mailing.


By Michael Borkan


Over 40 million Americans change addresses annually.  Talon and The United States Postal Services' National Change of Address (NCOA) program can update your mailing list and save you money on your next mailing.


What is an NCOA?

NCOA (National Change of Address) is a process that can clean your mailing list, reduce postage and cut down on wasted materials.  When individuals and companies move they fill out a change of address form at their local post office. The NCOA program identifies records on your database that match with the NCOA database.  When a match is found the NCOA will update your file with the new address.  The database contains approximately 152 million records and 48 months of permanent address changes.  Temporary moves are not recorded on NCOA. 


Expected Benefits:

Because NCOA is used prior to a mailing, it greatly reduces undeliverable mail.  The Postal Service has stated that the NCOA match rate is approximately 4.1%.  That means that on 100,000 record file, you can expect approximately 4,100 address changes. 


Another benefit is that the NCOA will identify “moved, left no forwarding address” records.  This category also includes foreign moves and PO Box closings.  A study has determined that this will occur on average 0.38%.  On our example of 100,000 records, on average, 380 records will be removed from the mailing list.


The third benefit of NCOA is the identification and removal of additional duplicates on a file.  Let's say someone on your list moves.  They call your company and get added at their new location but never explain that they moved.  Once the NCOA is complete you will now have two or more records with the same name and address (the older record is changed to the new address).  Our duplicate elimination software will remove all duplicates.  Let's estimate that on the 100,000 record file this occurs 500 times.


Cost Savings of NCOA:

Suppose the customer with 100,000 records does a mailing to everyone on their mailing list.  In our example we have eliminated 880 records.  On a first class mailing, a 5-digit barcoded presort will  cost $.278 per piece in postage.  If we allocate $.10 for the printing and mail preparation then the savings would be $332.64 from the elimination of no forwarding address and duplicate removals.  (The cost of the NCOA and dupe elimination would cost approximately $300) .


On first class mail the post office will forward the mail up to one year.  On Standard mail (formally known as third class) the post office does not forward the mail automatically.  The Post office estimates that approximately 35% of NCOA changes are older than one year.  On our example of 4,100 address changes, it can be estimated that 1,260 pieces will not get forwarded (4,100 - 500 duplicates that have been removed x 35% ).  Again, using our postage and production cost of $.378 (postage, printing, and mail preparation) the mailer can save an additional $476.28.  Combining with the 880 records eliminated has yielded a total savings of $808.92 while costing approximately $300 in data processing charges.  Another benefit is after the NCOA and mailing the client has a copy of a new, cleaner, updated mailing list and $508.92 in cost savings!


Next month we will discuss another service to clean your mailing list – DSF (Deliver Sequence File).  If you have questions or would like additional information on NCOA please contact Michael Borkan at 631-667-5500 or by email at mb@talonmm.com


The Test Test  - Do You Have the Right Answers to These “Make It or Break It” Direct Marketing Questions?


By Lee Marc Stein


Testing is a more important factor in direct marketing success than ever.  Why? 


·        Increased pressures on revenue expansion while holding expense budgets steady. 

·        More rapid changes in the marketplace that can be monitored by testing.

·        Greater choices about media and combinations of media, types of offers, creative strategies and executions.


Yet we've seen marketer after marketer limit or eliminate the amount of testing they do.  And major marketers fail to look at issues that can have the largest impacts on their businesses.  Hence, this Test Test.  It's not meant to be exhaustive, just diagnostic. 


Media Lists (these apply to both traditional & email lists)


1.      Have you run head-to-head tests of mass compilers?  In your particular markets, the best known isn't always the best.  Quality and selectability of data can change in just a few months' time.


2.      Do you look for out-of-category winners?  In the second mortgage/re-fi arena, everyone uses the same data sources.  When The Money Store (now defunct) began a serious direct mail effort, the TV Guide subscribers list was tested and became a big winner.  Why?  It capitalized on the fact that the company had spent some $50 million in five years on television.  Similarly, a timeshare marketer in Bermuda made “lifestyle” lists (House & Garden, Inc. Magazine, and Boston Magazine) work far better than against the previously used Bermuda Department of Tourism list. 


3.      Are you using modeling to help you carve out segments of previously unprofitable lists?  Here are two cases of negligence.  One is an investment newsletter publisher that has given up on the personal finance magazines without matching its active subscriber base against such files as Money, Smart Money, and the Bloomberg entry.  Modeling has been proven to work because 15 years ago just a simple age/income zip screen produced acceptable results.  The second is an upscale food magazine that can't make other food lists work.


Generating Qualified Visitors to Your Web Site


4.     What media have you tested to get people to your site?  You have more competition every day so you may need support of other media.  Even highly successful EBay is using print catalogs to get prospects to their site.  We know from the dot.com debacle that Super Bowl advertising is not worthwhile, but have you tested stripped-down mail packages or small space print? 


5.     Have you tested offering an incentive for prospects to click on?  In addition to helping you evaluate the lead-generation powers of supporting media, it could actually boost response.  It's the cyberspace version of the old Columbia House Gold Mailbox.




6.     Now that you can't sell a Sweeps approach to management, you may have to come up with something else to engender interest.  Post 9/11, Cause-Related Marketing must be tested.  How much do you give to the cause, how much “flag-waving” should you do? 


7.     What are you doing about speed?  Have you considered offering it as a premium?  It's our old bugaboo updated for the Internet – you order a magazine online and it still takes 6-8 weeks to get the first issue.  Are you going to get more orders if you promise delivery in a week?  You bet.  And the cost could be less than a conventional premium.  And have you tested the offer of speed against NOT promising speed, but just doing it?  What do you think the effect of the latter will be on collections, second orders and lifetime value?


8.     Can you turn your product or service into a club or association situation?  It's easier to renew a membership than a subscription, for example.  And with all its internet configurations, affinity marketing is hotter than ever.  What can you do to make your affinity offer stand out from others?


9.     Have you looked at continuity propositions?  Negative option clubs may be on their way out, but the countertrend is 'til forbid subscriptions.  Continuity works particularly well in combination with 30 day free trial offers, and when the consumer can stop easily – e.g., via a few clicks on your web site.


Creative Strategies and Tactics


10.  Have you tested capitalizing on one or more key societal trends?  For example, how does your product or service fulfill the desire for connectivity?  Will it satisfy the need for “little indulgences”?

Is there a way for your creative to connect your product/service to the Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings phenomena?  How do you weave 9/11 and its effects into the sales pitch for insurance, travel, high-end merchandise, health concerns?


11.  Are you sure people have stopped reading long letters?  You haven't been looking at what the investment and health newsletter publishers are doing.  Bob Hacker related a highly-successful case of a 4 page letter lead generation letter his agency did for PriceWaterhouse/et al. to CEOs.


12.  Did you ever test leaving out the brochure?  This is particularly important in lead generation.  You may be trying to sell the product instead of the next step in the sales process.  Also, if you have a web site, that's your brochure.  Test offering only an 800# and mail reply vs. getting prospects to click on to your site.  You may find you get more responses without offering the click-on; better qualified responses from those who click on to your site first.


13.  Experience the joys of UPsizing?  Yah, you pay more postage and more lettershop among other things… but upsizing to a 9x12” envelope can help you breakthrough clutter.  And when you add appropriate bells and whistles, you can really drive up response rates and lower cost per response.  


In situations where you have a severally limited universe and a high ticket product or service, you have to DIMENSIONalize.  A 2% response rate means nothing if you're mailing to 2,000 people.  You may need 20% or 30%, and the only way you'll get it is with something utterly intrusive.


14.  … and DOWNsizing?  Do the math.  Suppose, for example, you have an extremely strong 9 x 12” control package (6-page letter, brochure, lift letter and L-shaped response form).  Consider a 6x9” version in which copy would be exactly the same. 


In quantity, the savings in lettershop and postage charges are about $125/M.  If you have a newsletter sell for $16, with the smaller package, you would attain the same cost per order with 8 orders less per thousand mailed, or .8%.  That could amount to a significant bump to your bottom line.


15.  Are you testing your response device?  Some second mortgage/re-fi people have eliminated the response form in favor of a phone-only response without testing.  Frankly, that's insanity.  The same thing has happened in auto insurance – leaving out the Request for Quote.  Have you tested including a freemium on your response device – stamps, stickers, how to tips, etc.?


Of Time and the Stream


16.  What's your season, month, week, day?  What difference does it make?  Traditionally, there was a “mail order” seasonality – e.g., never mail in the summer months.  But tests need to go way beyond that.  Some business-to-business testing has shown that the best time to get mail into the office is on a Tuesday or Wednesday.  When should business emails arrive (not only day, but time) vs. emails to consumers?  A company selling renter's insurance, serving lower-income residents, times mailings to arrive a few days before Social Security checks… and its mailings do best in the months in which fires are most prevalent.


17.  Have you tested time between efforts?  With prospects, do you really know whether to time the second effort at two weeks, four weeks or six weeks?  It is really important that you do know.  (And have you tested whether the second effort should be the same as the first or if they should get a different package?).  With customers, what's the best frequency for renewal, re-sell, or activation promotions?


18.  How long should the stream of efforts be?  Have you tested adding on additional billing and renewal efforts?  How long does it pay to keep mailing to a prospect?


And Don't Forget


19.  When did you last test postage class?  Many find going first class pays – faster response, of course, but also more response and lower cost per response.  (But, please, if you're testing first class, test taking the teaser copy off the envelope.  Don't even say “Personal,” “Confidential,” or “First Class Mail.”)


20.  Did you ever test merge-purge services?  If you're a volume mailer, this can really pay off.  Imagine learning that your current vendor isn't catching 10% of the dupes someone else can find.  If your mail quantity is 10MM, your current dupe rate is 10%, the new vendor is saving you 100,000 pieces.

At a modest $350/M including postage, your savings are $35,000. 


If you have the answers to every one of these questions, uh oh – it means you may have little room for improvement.  If you don't have answers to a few questions, good!  You can look for improved results if you slate tests in these areas.  But, if you lack answers to more than thirteen of these questions, may we suggest you log onto Deadendjobs.com.   


LEE MARC STEIN is a direct marketing strategic and creative consultant with over 35 years of experience.  You can read more of his articles on www.leemarcstein.com.   You can contact Lee directly at lmstein@optonline..net.




New Clients:


Talon would like to welcome the following new clients this month to our growing roster of clients:


            Mailing Clients:

·       Sanna Design

·       Port Realty

·       Air Age Media

·       Floch Surgical Associates



New Mailing Lists Housed at Talon:


It was an active month for new list acquisitions at are always-growing data center.  We house over 500 mailing lists.


·       Corry Publishing

·       EAI Journal

·       NUCO

·       Graphic Arts Showcase

·       DEMC Email Subscribers

·       SendFree

·        Digital Publishing Solutions



Mike's Favorite Links:


This month is a departure from our supply of interesting and informative links. Here is a collection of funny, strange and bizarre links that are of no use other than their entertainment value.  Next month we will get back for more useful links.



Know of a good link we can use?  Please email us at mb@talonmm.com.




Work Samples:


Did you know Talon offers the following services?  Click on the links below to see samples.


·        Color Laser Personalization

·        Bulk Email Blasts

·        HP High Quality Inkjet (near laser quality)

·        Data Entry (from 100 to 100,000 names and addresses)

·        Polybag and shrinkwrap services

·        Merge/Purge services with comprehensive reports that can instantly be retrieved from the internet



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Do you know of anyone else who would be interested in receiving our newsletter?  Please let us know

 by email:   mb@talonmm.com



To learn more about our company, please visit our web site: www.talonmm.com or contact Michael Borkan at (631) 667-5500 x 303.