In 1968, Dustin Hoffman’s character in the Graduate’s learned that the future was Plastics.
In 2009, the future in direct mail may be Co-mingling.
So what is this thing, co-mingling?
Co-mingling is a process by which mail from many direct mail service bureaus and many clients served by those service bureaus are mingled together in another—possibly distant—location. The goal is to increase mail volume so that more pieces of mail go to one area. That effort results in a higher mail density (ie distribution concentration) which in turn reduces postage costs.
That’s the process in a nutshell. Here is how it works:
The co-mingler takes your postcard addressed to someone in 20001 together with my newsletters addressed to folks in 20001, and someone else’s fundraising solicitations addressed to people in 20001, then puts them on a huge machine that sorts them by destination address. Result: all the various pieces addressed to 20001 are all bundled up together in the optimal distribution sortation.
To get to the best sortation discounts (5-digit) you need at least 10 pieces of mail addressed to the same 5-digit zipcode. The next level of sortation is 3-digit, ie the first 3 digits in a zipcode. Again, you need 10 pieces of mail addressed to those 3 digits to get a reduced rate. Can’t get there? There are two more levels which are roughly regional and wider regional.
Co-mingling puts your mail in the mix with everybody else’s mail, and thereby increases the likelihood that your mail will fall into 5-digit or 3-digit sortation.
The post office rewards density of mail. The postage differential between 5-digit and regional sortation can be as much as 4 cents a piece in Standard mail. Voila! Co-mingling to the rescue.
But wait! There’s more!
The co-mingler puts all our various pieces of mail addressed to 20001—which are now in presorted order—and ships them to the SCF (postal Sectional Center Facility) serving 20001.
Again, the postal system rewards mail delivered closer to its delivery point. You can save as much as 4 cents more a letter by delivering it its DSCF—Delivery point SCF. After all, you’re paying the freight, not the USPS. So they save $$. Eureka!
Obviously, the post office is encouraging co-mingling. It means they have to do less work, and in this age of reduced staffing, that’s a big deal.
Mail houses like co-mingling because they can get their clients better postage rates.
End users love co-mingling because it can mean lower postage rates.
From one extreme to the other—from worst-case scenario to best-case scenario in Standard class—mailers could save about 9 cents per letter in postage. It all depends on density and delivery address.
It sounds like a win/win/win. But there is no such thing as a free lunch. There are some potential trade-offs. Here are 4 things to consider:
#1. Co-mingling works with First Class Presort, Standard Presort and Nonprofit Presort mail. If you’re mailing at these rates, then you’re looking for ways to save $$, so co-mingling could be just the magic bullet you need.
#2. Plan on it taking extra prep time. The mail has to get to the co-mingling plant. It can stay there for several days as the co-mingler accumulates enough mail to fill the truck headed to North Piscataway. Then it has to travel to the DSCF.
If you’re able to plan ahead and allow for the extra time, co-mingling might be just what you’re looking for.
#3. Small national mailings benefit more than large local mailings. Spread thin? Have addresses all over the country? Using co-mingling to get to higher density may reduce your postage. However, if you’re already blanketing an area, co-mingling won’t help.
#4. There’s a cost to this service, but the postage savings should more than compensate for the extra fee. You’ll be quoted a specific fee based on the number of pieces in your mailing.
So there you have it. The post office—which is already outsourcing much of its inter-city trucking to private shipping companies and drivers—is now outsourcing its sortation process to other private companies.
Privatization--It’s the future for the USPS. And co-mingling is a large part of that future. Co-mingling may not mean as much as Plastic to Mr. Joe Sixpack, but for those of us in direct mail marketing, it is just as revolutionary. ~
Interested? Wanna save on postage?
Boy, do we have a deal for you!
Call Paul&Partners to schedule an envelope mailing during July, and we’ll laser your letters for 50% OFF our usual price! If your job qualifies for co-mingling, we’ll save more $$ on your postage, too!
Here’s the dreaded fine print:
Minimum quantity of 2500 letters. Job must mail during July. You must mention special code 0709C to get this special offer.
Call us today! 703-996-0800
43670 Trade Center Place,
Suite 150, Dulles, VA 20166
Phone: 703.996.0800 Fax: 703.996.0888 1.866.365.2858