Pay more . . . get less.

Thank you USPS.

Our Postal Service did it again. As of January 22, rates increase by 2.1% on first-class mail, standard mail, periodicals, package services and extra services like shipping. While this is the first increase since 2009, like the frog in the pot of water on the stove, as rates rise we are feeling the heat. And while we’re not “cooked” yet, there is a level of rising discomfort. For many it’s a sense of impending doom.

Add to that the longer delivery times, threatened discontinuation of Saturday mail service and the shrinking number of post offices across the country, and you can understand why the number of direct marketers questioning the viability of good old-fashioned paper envelopes in the mailbox continues to rise. Many are voicing louder panic and more intense hand-wringing.

But come on, it’s not the end of the world. One penny on a first-class stamp represents a per-piece increase of only 2.1%. And that kind of miniscule increase on the postage portion of a direct mail project is still pretty inconsequential considering the overall creative and print costs of most projects.

Put your panic in perspective.

Paying more and getting less is dogging us on many fronts. That $6 “gallon” of ice cream is now 1.5 quarts. Quantity reduced — price increased. The bigger they make the posters hyping the latest fast-food breakfast sandwich, the smaller the bun that actually lands on your tray. Feel my pain as that tiny morsel, wrapped in paper, sits there, dwarfed by my cup of coffee (which is their smallest cup available!). And don’t even think about peanuts on your next flight. You’ll get half an ounce of pretzels if you’re lucky.

In reality, paying more for less is often good for our health. Less fat and sugar in the diet. Fewer calories. And the same can go for mail. Slimming down services can have a positive side.

4 good things about paying more and getting less (when it comes to mail):

  1. You stand out more! Only a few pieces of mail in the box each day means each piece should get more attention. And with more direct marketers abandoning the good old ship USPS, you won’t have to compete with their slick, egocentric distractions.
  2. Your value increases. Donors will know it’s costing you more to deliver this piece of mail they hold in their hand. Whether it’s a letter package, a newsletter or a special proposal, recipients will, hopefully, assume the message you’re sending them is important enough to spend the money on and worth the investment.
  3. Your passion for success grows. As costs increase, projects demand laser focus to get the most response for the investment. Everyone should be contributing to each project with an eye on results. Forget the turf wars and angst about losing control. It’s all about delivering a powerful, authentic message, to the right audience, at the right time, for optimized response.
  4. Your rationale for integration makes even more sense. We know that messages integrated across channels produce stronger response. Mail is enhanced by corresponding online messaging. Email and print offers are validated by effective websites. Telephone campaigns benefit from a foundation of information provided across channels. Breaking down silos in communication and marketing across the organization is more important now than ever.

Less can be better — even if you’re paying more for it!