According to an article in NonProfit Times, it is looking like direct mail costs are going to increase substantially in 2014. The United States Postal Service is currently weighing the pros and cons of a price increase that would mean a 5.9% increase in costs for nonprofits wishes to send direct mail. At a time when a rocky economy is already exerting pressure on NPOs, this news is rather dire.
Instead of deciding that direct mail simply will not be a usable tactic in 2014 if the increase is approved, there are some steps nonprofits can take now to help prepare for the higher investments. Here are some ideas to try before the end of the year.
Check Your List Twice
Yes, just like Santa Claus, now is the time to check your list twice. Once the price increase takes effect, you are going to want to make sure every contact in your list has been confirmed to the best of your abilities. There are a few ways you can accomplish this. A mailer can be sent out with a return address card so people could confirm their addresses with you. You could create a secure sign-in page on your site where people could submit their addresses; this could be promoted via social media channels and/or via an e-newsletter. The more addresses you can confirm now, the more bang for your buck you’ll be able to get from your direct mail campaigns next year.
Carefully Plan Your Direct Mail Campaign
Perhaps in the past your direct mail campaign has been more of an “as needed” tactic. A certain amount of your marketing budget was set aside for direct mail. If you did not hit that mark, great, and if you exceeded it slightly that was ok too. With a higher cost per mailing, now is a good time to sit down as an organization, plan carefully when you want to send direct mail out in 2014, and, more importantly, what you want each of those mailings to accomplish. Depending on the objectives, it is possible that another tactic, like an e-newsletter, may accomplish the same thing even more effectively.
Plan Your Calls to Action, Too
Perhaps in the past you sent out your mailers simply to get your message out. During fundraising drives you likely included a donation card or some other way for people to donate to your cause. But perhaps there were a few mailings that went out without a real call to action. That is not a luxury you will want to incorporate into your plans for 2014. Make sure that you give your recipients some way to make contact with you with each mailing you send out. This will not only increase the effectiveness of your campaign but it will also give you an understanding of how many people are receiving and interacting with your message. Don’t be afraid to include links to your Facebook Page where people can become “fans” of your cause or links to an e-newsletter sign-up form so that they can stay in more regular contact with your cause.
The proposed price hike from the USPS will almost certainly impact your organization, but it does not have to mean the ending of your direct mail efforts. With some careful planning, thinking ahead, and a little extra care, you may find that your direct mail campaign in 2014 becomes your most effective yet.