Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing May 2015 Newsletter.
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Postal Rates Headed Up, Down, Or All Around?
A slow appeals court, delays in the usual inflation-based rate increase,
and the end of the exigent surcharge could converge to create a wild ride
for postal rates during the next few months.
Rather than the usual, once-a-year increase, rates might go
up, down, or do a loop-the-loop and barrel roll before the summer is over.
No one planned it this way. In fact, the plans and expectations of
everyone involved seem to have gone awry.
The deviation from normalcy began in late 2013, when the Postal Regulatory
Commission approved an “exigent” 4.3% surcharge to compensate the U.S.
Postal Service for its losses caused by the recent recession.
The PRC ruled that the surcharge would expire when it netted USPS $3.2
billion, which sounded simple enough at the time. But projecting at least
45 days in advance – the minimum amount of time to implement a rate change
– exactly when the $3.2 billion target will be reached is no simple or
Attacked by both sides
Both the Postal Service, which wanted a larger and more
permanent surcharge, and mailers groups, which argued for no surcharge,
appealed the PRC decision. After an appeals court heard their oral
arguments in September, many mailing experts expected the court’s decision
by the end of 2014.
USPS even held off on its usual January increase, figuring the decision
However, nearly seven months after oral arguments, there’s still no word
from the court, which could increase the surcharge, extend it, make it
permanent, or even reject it.
Postal officials ended up filing for inflation-based increases after all,
with implementation scheduled for April 26. But they miscalculated the
effect of some efficiency incentives built into the rate proposal, causing
the PRC to send the Postal Service back to the drawing board.
Even if the USPS revisions are filed soon, the new prices probably won’t
take effect until at least June. And legal wrangling could delay
implementation once again.
Possible postal maneuver
The Association for Postal Commerce figures that the implementation date
for the inflation-based increases could end up being just a few weeks
before the surcharge expires this summer. And, for all we know, the
appeals court decision could land right between those two dates.
There is talk that, not wanting to implement back-to-back price changes,
the Postal Service will schedule the inflation-based increases to occur
simultaneously with the surcharge expiration. That would result in a net
average increase of about 2.3%, with some mailers getting rate decreases
and some significant increases.
It might also enable the Postal Service to dodge a thorny problem caused
by the temporary surcharge: the prospect of reducing Forever Stamp prices
by two cents, which could confuse the public and undermine the whole
concept of Forever Stamps.
By rejiggering its proposed inflation-based rate hikes for other
First-Class Mail, postal officials might be able to implement a rate hike
on Forever Stamps that would cancel out expiration of the two-cent
Top 20 Tips For Effective Direct Mail
We know. It’s not as hip as social media or as glamorous as television.
But the important thing to remember is that direct mail works.
That’s why it remains an integral part of any integrated marketing
campaign. So the question is, how can you make your direct mail campaign
There are a number of simple things you can do
to improve your direct mail success, depending on your goals, including
this annotated set, distilled from a full list of 99 tips by Al
Lautenslager in Entrepreneur, with links to our own Marketing Tango
Top 20 Direct Mail Tips
Please note that the
blue italic text below has been added by Talon to provide additional
1) Read our previous post on how to Get the
Best from Your Creative Team then hire a professional writer and designer
to create your mailer. (available at the
2) Help your mailer stand out by using an
unusual shape or size. (Great idea, and it
works wonders on response rates. Just please be aware there's a
possibility an unusual shape or size can dramatically increase postage.
Talon can help you with this idea and work with the post office to get you
great results without breaking your marketing budget).
3) Use a teaser headline on the envelope to
entice the reader to open it.
4) Help your mailer stand out by making it
lumpy or bulky. (Another great idea, but
jus like with odd sizes, please work with Talon before committing to a
lumpy or bulky piece so that we can help you achieve the desired results
without additional postage costs).
5) Keep copy and paragraphs brief.
6) Highlight customer benefits more than
7) Include a sense of urgency or a deadline in
8) Use testimonials toward the beginning and
again near the call to action in your copy.
9) Use the word “Free” prominently or offer a
10) Offer a free gift to increase response.
11) Use bold colors and images to reinforce
12) Offer a free no-risk trial period.
13) Mention your service area, whether local,
regional, national, or global.
14) Use a postage-paid reply card or envelope.
15) Include a call to action that tells your
readers what you want them to do next.
16) Test segments of your list using different
copy, headlines, or offers.
17) Use stamps instead of metered mail for a
better open rate.
18) Include pre-stamped reply envelopes to
make it easier for respondents.
19) Clean your list of bad addresses by using
“Address Correction Requested.” (Talon's list
cleaning services include: Address Correction, NCOA processing,
Duplicate elimination, Scoring, DMA suppressions, Deceased and Prison
20) Include your own address on all mailing
Steps to Creating a Great Marketing Plan
By Melinda Emerson, smallbiztrends.com
Follow these four steps and you will increase your sales and profits.
Marketing is one of the most critical components
of your business’s success. You may have a fantastic product or service,
but if customers are not aware it exists, there’s no point in continuing
the line of work.
In order to make sure your product is exposed to your target customers,
you need to develop a robust, killer marketing plan. Once you’ve spent
time identifying the four Ps, start adding some elements and details to
your strategy. Let’s look at the areas you should focus on when
developing your marketing plan.
Validate the Market
How do you know you have a great product that will be of value to your
customer? Answering this question is part of the validation process. You
want to validate the market or make sure there’s a need for it. Here are
a few questions to answer in order to help you do this.
- How large is the market locally, nationally, and globally?
- How often do people buy your type of product?
- How many customers are “in market” at any given time?
- Will your customers buy daily, weekly, monthly, annually, or every five
to ten years?
The answers to these questions will: 1) tell you if you have a
sustainable product, and 2) help inform your marketing plan and tactics.
After you’ve validated the market, start delving deeper into your target
market or customer.
Define Your Target Market
In order for your product or service to sell, you need to answer the
question: who is your target market? And the answer is never, “anyone.”
The best way to be successful is to develop a customer profile with as
much detail as possible. Answer the following questions:
- How much income do your customers make?
- Where are they located?
- Are they male or female, or both?
- How old are they?
- What is their level of education?
- What jobs do they hold?
- Can you see the face of your customer? What do they physically look like?
Remember, the better you know your customer, the better your chances of
making the sale. Once you’ve identified who the customer is, it’s time to
articulate what makes them buy.
Create Customer Value
So many marketers and business owners are great at explaining what their
product is and why it’s great. But very few know how to explain the
product in a way that illustrates value to the customer. This is
extremely powerful because if you can help the customer achieve a goal,
the product sale will follow.
To do this, start by identifying what qualities your customers value most
and least about your service. You must build your marketing strategy on
customers’ perceptions of your product’s value to them. This approach is
called WIIFM, or What’s In It For Me? It’s critical to keep your
marketing plan customer-focused. By doing so, you are on the path to
setting yourself apart from the competition.
Identify Your Competitors and How to Deal With Them
In today’s economy, it’s rare to find a product or service that has no
competition. Your competition is targeting the same people you are, and
as such, your message can easily get lost in advertising clutter and
To avoid this, define what makes you special to your customers. Why is
your product or service different and better? What is your competitive
advantage? What do you offer that your competitor does not? Why should a
customer hire you? Perhaps you offer a longer warranty than your
competitor. Or you have proved results that another business does not. If
you’re struggling with identifying your competitive advantage, the best
thing to do is ask your customers why they bought from you.
Validating the market, identifying the target audience, creating customer
value, and identifying your strengths from your competitors are the
components that will shape the rest of your marketing plan. Once those
steps are completed, it’s time to define the tactics you’ll use and
determine your marketing budget.
Win Yankee Tickets!
Enjoy a great day at Yankee Stadium!
We are giving away two tickets to see the New York Yankees.
you have to do to win is be the first telephone caller (please don’t hit reply or send an email). Voice
mail messages count so it's fine to leave a message. Call Michael Borkan at
(631) 667-5500 x 11. These tickets are great seats and close to the field!
Tuesday May 26th, 2015. Yankees vs.
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