Budget advice from USPS

One of the biggest factors in planning a direct mail campaign is how much you decide to spend. Set a budget while you plan the campaign to stay on track and deliver your message cost-effectively.

Keep the following costs in mind when budgeting for your campaign…
•Renting a mailing list
•Hiring a writer, graphic designer, or both
•Printing: compare quotes from different printers
•Alterations, retouching, and proofs of your piece
•Quality control check
•Postage costs

Find other ways to save…
•Use an efficient size and mailing format
•Remove undeliverable addresses from your list
•Use efficient address formats
•Form a tracking strategy to increase effectiveness

Get an idea with these estimates…

Components Estimated Costs



Art & Preparation


Printing Production


Mailing Lists


Computer Processing


Lettershop Production


Allocated Fees




Source: DMA Statistical Fact Book 2007

Find Your Audience

Who is most likely to be interested in your product or service? Chances are, they’re a lot like your current customers. Use their characteristics as a model for a mailing list.

Start with your customer base.
•Conduct a simple survey to learn about customers’ tastes.
•Pay attention to characteristics such as age and income.
•Look at your records-sales slips, invoices, delivery information. These tell you who your customers are, what they buy, how often they shop, and how much they spend.

Target effectively.

Save money and reduce environmental impact by pursuing your best prospects-why spend money on people not likely to buy? You can carefully determine the characteristics of your audience, tailor your message to match their needs and interests, and increase the chances that they’ll act on your offer.

A mailing list provider can help you find your target audience and supply you with mailing lists that meet your needs.

Find a Mailing List Provider ›

Keep track of your customers.

An effective mailing list is more than names and addresses-you can use it as a record of each person’s buying behaviors. Depending on the size of your list, you can keep track of their activity in a spreadsheet or use a contact management program to organize your customer database.

Keep your list accurate.

You can avoid unnecessary costs with a few preliminary steps…
•Double-check the spellings of customer and street names.
•Cross-check lists to make sure the same address doesn’t appear more than once.
•Use the Find a ZIP Code™ tool to verify that each ZIP Code number matches the street address, and to find ZIP + 4® Codes for your addresses.
Verify a ZIP Code now ›

To get commercial Standard Mail® and First-Class Mail® prices, you’ll fill out and sign a postage statement certifying that you’ve checked the accuracy of ZIP Codes within these timeframes…
•Pre-sorted: Verify 5-digit ZIP Codes within 12 months of mailing.
•Automation: Verify complete addresses within 95 days of mailing.
•Carrier Route: Verify carrier route information within 90 days of mailing.

Ask about the National Deliverability Index.

With so many Americans moving each year, think how many might be your customers or members. Make sure the list you rented has accurate addresses-ask about its National Deliverability Index (NDI), which rates the percentage of addresses in a list that are deliverable. You can also use it to target certain address elements and save on postage.