College and university marketing budgets are tight. Budgets may not increase as paper, postage, and printing costs increase, but direct mail is still an important part of an integrated marketing campaign.
Over the years I spent working in higher education communications, I learned a few tricks to cut costs of direct mail pieces. Here are a few of those tricks that may help you cut costs, too.
Each printer usually has a standard sheet they use on most projects. Ask your printer what its standard sheet is. Is it an 80# gloss text? A 70# matte text? If you typically print your tri-fold marketing brochure on a 100# gloss text sheet, and the printer’s standard sheet is 80# gloss text, consider making a change.
In most cases, adjusting the paper weight won’t produce a noticeably different result. If you use the sheet the printer uses the most of, you may be able to get a price break.
Find out from your printer what the largest sheet size is for the paper you’re using. The less paper sheets you use, the lower the cost. If you’re creating a postcard and the largest sheet for the postcard paper is 11×17, you can do the math to figure out what size to design your postcards in order to maximize the space on a single sheet. This way you might be able to get six postcards, rather than four, from a single sheet, thus reducing your costs.
You can do this on all projects—from marketing postcards and trifold brochures to alumni newsletters and magazines.
Folding came in handy to save money on an alumni newsletter I created several years ago. Having the printer fold our 12-page newsletter to mail saved us big bucks in postage. The reason was that by folding the newsletter in half, it could mail at letter prices rather than as a flat.
If you really need to save some cash to balance your budget, consider folding a newsletter-style piece. In addition to saving money, it also helped prevent it from being torn up in the mail.
Quality of your mailing list
This is important, especially on large mailings. For every mailing you do, you should get your mailing list NCOA (National Change of Address) certified. NCOA certification compares your mailing list with change of address information provided to the U.S. Postal Service in the last four years.
The printing and/or mailing house you use should be familiar with this. Running your list through NCOA certification may cost a small fee, but it will be well worth it if you don’t waste money sending to incorrect addresses. Plus, you may be able to reduce your print run (and your printing costs) if a large chunk of the addresses on your list end up being removed via the certification process.
Bundling printing and mailing projects
As you plan deadlines and mailing dates for marketing pieces, consider which items can be bundled for printing and mailing. For example, if you need to create three postcards, and all go to different audiences but can be dropped in the mail at the same time, bundle these together. If the postcards are all the same size, you can save money because you’ll be buying in bulk.
About Dana’s Creative Services
Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics. Twitter: @DanasCreative