Postage: have you got it licked?

Earlier this week I was chatting with a former Royal Mail marketer who cast her memory back to 1996 when the "I saw this and thought of you" campaign was in full swing, email had yet to really challenge post and a first class stamp was just 25p.

How things have changed. From 30 April a second class stamp will cost twice that and it'll be upwards of 60p to send anything first class.

Like so many fixed business cost increases we've seen in the past couple of years, some are being painfully absorbed by already-squeezed profit margins and others will be cautiously passed on to customers. Some football clubs, are adding 14p to cost of tickets which, when you consider how many people attend matches week after week, adds up to a colossal amount.

Inevitably it's led to a major re-think about how and when businesses make use of the postal system. Like many other companies, we've been working towards non-reliance for some time. We've saved a fortune - in time as well as money - by using recorded verbal contracts that rely on an 'echosign' system to capture digital signatures for our customers to save them the fuss of printing and scanning documents (or even blowing the dust off the old fax machine).

My monthly newsletter is electronic and, when rewarding loyal customers, we're now emailing them Amazon and Naked Wine voucher codes, rather than sending physical vouchers.

But we also know it's not always possible to fully embrace digital. Contract termination letters, for example, are still best sent to energy companies by recorded delivery because of a strange tendency for them to go astray.

If you intend to use mail in bulk then try to use the smallest envelope you can. There's a saving of 22p per letter to be made by switching from C4 envelopes to C5. A little forward planning - and using second class - means you'll save at least 13p on every letter sent. 

Finally - and I can't believe I'm saying this, having been plagued by salespeople for two decades - get a franking machine and you'll be saving at least another 16p on every item you send.

Perhaps the rising cost of postage will bring back to life another recollection from 1996? Businesses would fly sack-loads of UK-addressed direct mail to Eastern European countries to be sent back from there because their international rates were cheaper than our domestic rates. 

To see how Make It Cheaper could save your business money click here.

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