' The Talon Newsletter


Talon Mailing & Marketing

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Deer Park, NY 11729

(631) 667-5500


Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing December 2009  Newsletter:

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Why The Post Office Is Freezing Postal Rates, And What It Means For 2010.

From The Dead Tree Edition Website. www.deadtreeedition.glogspot.com

Postmaster General Potter has vowed to keep postal rates intact next year. Here's what it means:

Postmaster General Jack Potter tried to restore mailers' confidence in the U.S. Postal Service by recently announcing a price freeze for most postal rates in 2010.

"The Postal Service will not increase prices for market dominant products in calendar year 2010," Potter said in a statement sent to various customer groups late this afternoon. He was responding to "pessimistic speculation" that rates might increase as much as 10%.

"There will be no exigent price increase for these products," which include First Class, Standard, and Periodicals, he said.

"While increasing prices might have generated revenue for the Postal Service in the short term, the long-term effect could drive additional mail out of the system. We want mailers to continue to invest in mail to grow their business, communicate with valued customers, and maintain a strong presence in the marketplace."

The recent release of the Consumer Price Index virtually confirmed what had become increasingly clear in recent months -- that USPS will not be able to impose the usual inflation-based rate increases next year. Consumer prices have declined so much since 2008 that they will end the year in negative territory unless the Fourth Quarter annualized inflation rate exceeds 9%.

Mailers feared USPS would try to close its budget gap -- probably $3 billion for the fiscal year just ended, or $7 billion if you count Congress' "forgiveness" of a bogus retirement-health payment -- by seeking exigent (emergency) rate increases.

Potter's statement did not clarify whether he was referring to all market-dominant rates or to the average rates for each class. Postal officials have subsequently put out the word that "no increase means no increase," meaning that no rates in the market-dominant classes will change.

But Potter's statement made clear that he understands the two dangers of an exigent rate increase:

1) In the short run, higher rates would suppress mail volume, but, as explained last week in Potter Doesn't Want to Hike Postage Rates in 2010, savings from such volume reduction would be minimal. The combination of lost business and slim cost savings could wipe out any gains from the higher prices per mail piece.

2) An exigent rate increase would signal to mailers that the Postal Service is unreliable and that they can no longer count on rate increases being capped by inflation. One exigent rate increase would lead to expectations of more in the future. That would accelerate mailers' efforts to replace mail with cheaper electronic substitutes -- for example, customer incentives for on-line bill payment.

So how does Potter intend to close the budget gap? He's been making numerous speeches and giving interviews touting elimination of Saturday delivery, which would save up to $3 billion annually, as one option. That would result in elimination of about 40,000 career employees positions, which could be done "through attrition because we have a lot of folks right now who are eligible to retire and who we could incent to retire,” Potter said.

Postal officials are looking into new revenue streams, and Potter's statement mentioned that they want "to grow the mail through innovative incentives like the Summer Sale and contract pricing."

And, inevitably, the issue of the retiree-benefits shell game will be on the table. Officially, it's called a pre-payment of retiree health benefits, but in actuality Congress is forcing USPS to overfund a benefits account by more than $5 billion annually in a way that makes the federal deficit look smaller. Without those payments from the supposedly independent and off-budget Postal Service, USPS would have been profitable until fiscal year 2009.

Congress may end up facing a choice between ending that accounting game and allowing the Postal Service to eliminate Saturday delivery. Or the Postal Service could do an end run around Congress and end Saturday delivery on its own.

Twitter's Users Fell 7.9%.

By Brian Womack, Bloomberg.com.

"I am pro-meaningful communication. And somewhere along the Internet highway, we fell under the spell that more communication is better communication. Sometimes more communication is just noise."  Mark Mckinnon, blogger.

The number of Americans using Twitter dropped 7.9 percent in October from September, marking the second monthly decline for the social-networking site this year, according to research firm ComScore Inc.

Twitter Inc., the No. 3 social-networking site in the U.S., had 19.2 million users in October, Reston, Virginia-based ComScore said today. The company had growth of less than 1 percent in September and declined in August. October’s number was still up more than 13-fold from the year-earlier period.

The month-to-month decline contrasted with a 2 percent increase for users of Facebook Inc., the most popular social- network. Facebook had 97.4 million U.S. users last month, more than double the amount a year earlier, ComScore said. News Corp.’s MySpace, which ranks second among U.S. social-networking users, fell 2.5 percent from the previous month.

While Twitter’s growth among Web users is slowing, it’s attracting more mobile-phone users and overseas customers, Evan Williams, the company’s chief executive officer, said last month. Users of Twitter, which lets people post 140-character messages, include everyone from Oprah Winfrey to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Jenna Sampson, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Twitter, didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Improve Your B2B Direct Mail Response Rates With Premiums.

By: Alan Sharpe.

Premiums are an effective way to increase your direct mail response rates.

Whether you are selling a product or service directly through the mail, or whether you are using a sales letter to generate leads, premiums can help you boost response, increase conversions and motivate buyers to pay now rather than later.

A premium is simply an item that you offer to your buyer to take action. As Dick Benson has said, “a premium is a bribe to say yes now.”

Premiums are effective because, dollar for dollar, they are better incentives than cash discounts. Given the choice between receiving a free Apple iPod or a $200 discount on their order, most buyers will opt for the iPod.

Here are some tips on using premiums effectively.

Aim for desirability over relevance:  The key to choosing the right premium for your audience is desirability. If the premium is related in some way with what you are selling, that is great, but whether your prospect desires your premium is more important than if the premium is associated with your offering.

For example, a firm that manufactures heavy-duty fasteners could offer prospective customers an oversize bolt in the form of a paperweight, or they could offer a $200 gift certificate to Best Buy (the home electronics store). The paperweight is relevant but undesirable. The gift certificate is desirable but not relevant to the firm’s business.

The best premium, of course, is closely related to your offering, is desirable, and makes your prospect look like a wise buyer.

Choose premiums with high perceived value:  You want your premium to look as though it costs more than it does. A leather attaché case, for example, that has a high perceived value but only costs you $30. Or a portable DVD player that appears worth $150 but costs you only $40.

Test your premiums:  What works for one business buyer will not work for another. What works in one industry will not work in another. One inexpensive way to test high-end, expensive premiums is to offer them as “back-end premiums” that your prospects must request. Segment your list into equal-sized groups, mail a different premium offer to each segment, and then count your responses to see which premium draws the best response.

Promote your offer, not your premium:  Your premium is the bribe for saying yes now. It is not your offer. And because you should only sell one thing in a direct mail package, you should sell your offer and give your premium away. You want your premium to be the incentive to act, not the reason to act (after all, some people respond to direct mail offers just to get the premium, then they cancel their order).

Check the law: Some industries (defense, for example), forbid their employees from accepting gifts or premiums from vendors. So check before mailing.

  Ticket Giveaway!   

Talon has great seats for you to win.

We are giving away two pairs of tickets to see the New York Jets and The New York Islanders!  To win, be the first or second telephone caller (please don’t hit reply or email). Voice Mail messages count so it's fine to leave a voice mail.   Call Michael Borkan at 631-667-5500 x 11.  Winners will only receive one pair of tickets. The first caller gets their choice of these games.

The jets tickets are 15 rows from the field.  The Islander tickets are center ice and offer the best view in the arena! 

  • Sunday December 20th, The NY Jets vs. The Falcons. Time: TBD.
  • Monday December 14th, The Islanders vs. The Panthers 7:00 PM. 

Do you know of anyone else who would be interested in receiving our newsletter?  Please let us know by email:  mb@talon-mailing.com

To learn more about our company, please visit our web site: www.talon.com or contact Michael Borkan at (631) 667-5500 x 11.

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In this Issue:

Why The Post Office Is Freezing Postal Rates, And What It Means For 2010.

Twitter's Users Fell 7.9%.

Improve Your B2B Direct Mail Response Rates With Premiums.

Jets & Islanders Ticket Giveaway!

New Clients

Mike Borkan's Links - Websites you probably haven't seen.

View Samples of our work.

Newsletter Archives

New Clients:

Talon welcomes the following new clients this month to our growing roster of customers:
  • Global Computer

  • Six new lists from Statlistics

Mike's Favorite Links:

Some interesting links...

OperationHomeFront.com - A great website that supports our troops and helps the families they leave behind.

Freerice.com -A website where users play various educational, multiple-choice games in order to raise money to fight world hunger. I'm told the games are very educational and a learning tool for children.

Radiotime.com - Find streaming talk radio and streaming music radio. The best guide to every type of radio: conservative, progressive, public, news and sports.

Awfulcommercials.com - Editorial reviews of the worst of television ads and other forms of advertisement. Humor and advertising industry related.

Myveryworstdate.com - The name says it all.  Very entertaining site.

Work Samples:

Did you know Talon offers the following services? 

Click on the links below to see samples.

Newsletters Archives:

Click here if you wish to see old newsletters. 

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