The United States Post Office (USPS) has been trying to make it easier for small businesses to reach potential customers in specific geographic areas. That’s a big reason behind their Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program. The program lets businesses that do a majority of their business in a (relatively) small geographic area (restaurants, coffee shops, etc.) focus exclusively on that area. It actually makes a lot of sense for certain businesses—and the USPS has promoted the program fairly aggressively.
As usual, however, there is more than one way to get things done. We thought it might be helpful to compare the EDDM program from the USPS with doing a carrier route mailing through a Mail Service Provider (MSP).
One thing you should know about dealing with the USPS is that they have their own way of doing things. If you want to take advantage of their program, you have to do things their way. And when you “Do It Yourself” with the USPS, there really are a lot of things you have to do yourself, and accept some of their restrictions. Here are a few of those items you’ll need to keep in mind.
When Using EDDM:
- You can only use ‘flat size’ mail. That means your mail piece has to be larger than at least one of these dimensions: 6.125” height by 10.5” width.
- Your postage will be a little higher than regular postage rates that a MSP can get for you.
- As the mailer, you have to bring your mail to the specific post office that handles those mailing routes (not every post office accepts EDDM).
- You will be limited to a maximum of 5000 pieces/addresses for each mailing.
- As the mailer, you are responsible for keeping track of anyone on the “Do Not Mail List” and you must provide that information to the specific carriers each time they do a mailing to ensure that no mail is delivered to that specific address.
- Non-profit mailers have to pay presorted standard postage rates for EDDM.
- As the mailer, you are responsible for abiding by all postal rules when presenting your mail to the post office (and you must do all the research online through the post office website).
If You Use a Mail Service Provider:
- You can do a carrier route mailing and have an option for having names where available (EDDM lists are address only).
- You can select apartments only, single-family residences only, or trailers only. You don’t have to mail to the whole route if you don’t want to.
- You will have a person looking out for your interests with regard to design, postal rules, and postage rates.
- You can use ‘letter size’ mail pieces and postage (which costs less than ‘flat size’ mail).
- Non-profits can mail at (lower) non-profit postage rates.
- You can mail more than 5000 pieces at one time and to multiple zip codes.
- In most cases you can use your own permit number without incurring extra charges.
The bottom line is that a service provider will charge you fees for the services they provide. But because they know the ropes—your mailing will probably go out faster, cost you less, and be more effective. Basically, it allows you to focus on what you do best (your business) while leaving the service provider to do what he or she does best (prepare mail). If you want to learn the ins-and-outs of the USPS, and don’t mind wading through a lot of information to make sure you’re in compliance, EDDM may be a good option for you. If, however, you’d rather focus on your business and pay someone a small fee to make sure your mailing meets regulations—using a mail service provider is the smart choice.
Of course there’s more to effective and successful direct mail than just putting stamps on envelopes and delivering them to the Post Office.