Postage Hike Requires Closer Scrutiny of Mailing Lists

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Carlsbad, CA — A looming hike in postage rates doesn’t necessarily mean an unwelcome bump in the cost of getting out the word about upcoming trade shows.

Michael Hough, author of the book, The Profitable Trade Show, says show organizers can avoid seeing their bottom line unceremoniously pinched by the Postal Service by paying closer attention to the size of their mailing lists and also through establishing a greater coordination between mailing and Internet marketing.

“The trick is…to reduce the cost of your mailing by the same percentage as the increase in postage,” Hough suggested, summing up his plan in a nutshell. Hough is also President of MRH Associates which organizes the annual ECEF – Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum, along with Sam Lippman, president of  integrated show management & marketing (ism2). The 5th annual ECEF runs next week — June 15th – at the Washington, DC Convention Center.

How High is Up?

The Postal Service has asked the independent Postal Rate Commission to authorize a  price increase for a first-class stamp by 3 cents to 42 cents along with increases virtually across the board starting sometime after May 2007.

The proposal also includes raising the price of Express Mail flats from $14.40 to $16.25; presorted catalogs from 32.1 cents to 33.6 cents, and postcards from 24 cents to 27 cents.

Adding a few pennies to the cost of a letter, brochure or even a humble postcard can spell big increases to show managers who  send out tens of thousands of notices about upcoming shows to previous attendees and prospects as well as for exhibitor promotions.

Hough says organizers should pay closer attention to their mailing lists and then cull the names of people who have changed jobs, retired or simply haven’t attended the show in a number of years.

Also, materials could be downsized so that they weigh less and then refer recipients to a Web site that has the complete lowdown on the upcoming show for interested parties.

The obvious answer would be to abandon snail-mail altogether in favor of flashy Web sites and chirpy e-mails; however says a colorful catalogue or brochure on a desk can often garner the attention of the recipient longer then an e-mail that may be deleted in the blink of an eye.

“There is a myth out there that people aren’t mailing any more, but they are,” noted Hough, who then added, “You still have to get something in front of people.”

Keeping mailing costs on a short leash will have to become a way of life for trade show organizers as fuel prices and other costs promise further postal-rate hikes down the road.

“It is probably going to happen every couple of years—forever,” Hough warned. “It is just going to take some hard work.”

Reach Michael Hough at (860) 677-5568 or mhough@ntplx.net