Flight Your Mail to Get It Delivered

Jan 09, 2006 9:46 PM  By

Long before he became president of Algonquin, IL-based consultancy Singleton Marketing, Bill Singleton worked as a part-time express courier while in school. Often he would deliver to one company a dozen overnight letters from one sender. “The staffer who signed for them did not treat them urgently,” Singleton says. “He knew that urgent items are rarely sent in dozens.”

The moral: If you overmail a business, your special piece can get sidelined even if you use an overnight delivery service to make it appear urgent.

What can you do? Two things, says Singleton: diagnostics and flighting (staggering the timing of a mailing, rather than mailing the entire circulation simultaneously).

“The diagnostics can be straightforward,” he explains. “Run a frequency table by zip code and institution and street address for your customer file including all contacts within accounts as well as the master account record. Sort the table in descending order. Start worrying if you see any institutions or street addresses that would have received a half-dozen or more pieces of one of your mailings.”

You can have your service bureau perform the same checks on your prospect mailings after all the lists have been merged/purged. “If you focus on business-to-business marketing, you can overlay your prospects with company employee sizes,” Singleton continues. “Then you can scale your mail quantity to companies by their employee size to avoid saturating a firm and diluting the impact of your vehicle.”

The flighting can be equally straightforward. You want to control the frequency of delivery to specific addresses and the timing of those deliveries. “Tell your service bureau to spread out your mail to any address that might receive six or 12 or more pieces over several releases,” Singleton says. “Some service bureaus will proactively alert you to this issue, but most will not unless you tell them to watch out for it.”

The service bureau can prepare separate files of the flighted addresses along with the rest of your mail stream. Your printer can print all your pieces at one time, Singleton says, “but hold back on releasing the flighted quantities until the first flight has been received and delivered with all the urgency your message deserves.”