This is a seven-part series on how to lower the prices you charge for 9×12 spaces.
9×12 Pillar #3
“Distribution that’s highly reliable, stable, and fairly predictable”
Notice that pillar 3 doesn’t mention ‘postage’, but rather distribution. That’s because postage (aka Mail) is just a type of distribution. There’s plenty of other ways to get your co-op cards distributed other than the mail or in addition to the mail such as:
- Display in specific traffic points for people to pick up themselves (such as news racks, etc.)
- Cross-distribution amongst the advertisers themselves
- Turning a 3rd parties promotional pieces into a co-op piece (aka having a real estate agent hand out promotional materials for themselves that also include space sold to contractors, loan originators, furniture stores, etc., or the well-known pizza flyer co-op strategy).
- Private delivery
- Insertion with publications such as newspapers or magazines
But is It OK to Not Include any Mailing?
No it’s not OK! But it is OK to mix mailing with other forms as well. You just don’t want to cut it out completely or you’ll in no way shape or form doing the 9×12 system and you will have some very different results that aren’t proven to work.
Ever since I publshed the 9×12 system, people have been coming up with ideas to bypass the mailing part and remove the cost of postage. Usually it’s from someone with a ‘revolutionary’ plan they came up with that totally removes the cost of mailing … and almost always it results in them later returning back to mailing or totally bombing in one way or another. Since postage makes up the bulk of cost, I don’t blame anyone for wanting to eliminate it because it means more profit and/or cheaper ad prices, but why are 100% alternative distributions a bad thing?
While there can be some marginally good arguments in favor these methods, I don’t care for them personally because:
- It’s never a real business. Neither cross distribution between advertisers nor 3rd party distribution models are solid enough to rely on. Even if you get it working for a while you certainly wouldn’t sustain your income by it and you couldn’t bank on it working for years to come. You’re relying on very dodgy distribution rather than something dependable. It’s simply based on casual relationships you have currently working at the time rather than an actual dependable platform like mailing provides.
- The reliability of other people to distribute your pieces is too unstable. Is the post office 100% flawless in their delivery? No but they’re pretty damn reliable. And the mail trusted by others and is an extremely good value for what you get. Rain, snow, or shine, you can count on your stuff getting delivered. If you’re depending on something like a real estate agent to hand out 1000 of your pieces or you’re hoping that the bakery is doing their fair share as much as the chiropractor, you do NOT a very reliable method for distribution and therefore are out of the realm of 9×12.
That being said … these alternatives to postage have some merit because they can reach specific audiences cheaply and they can cut the cost of delivery down substantially … but in my opinion they’re only worth exploring as a SUPPORTIVE element to your 9×12 business, not a replacement.
If alternative delivery and distribution channels interest you and you think advertisers will take to them … consider forming a hybrid distribution of mailing + alternative distribution. Many of you know that I currently distribute thousands of flyer versions of my 9×12’s across all different high traffic area in addition to mailing. This builds an even bigger advertising platform without increasing prices substantially. These are the kind of things that will take you out of the ‘novelty’ offering and into the bona-fide ad platform channel. You’ll learn lots more when you reach the end of this series.
Mailing Permit Savings
Postage (in the USA) for retail EDDM is currently 17.6 cents. One easy way to lower postage is to buy a postal permit. Using your permit requires you to drop your cards off at a “BMEU” (bulk mail entry unit), which there’s typically one around where you live, but the good thing is you can drop any quantity you want off rather than doing it in separate 5k trips. It also knocks the postage down to 15.4 cents, which means saving $290 on a 10k campaign! The downside is that the permit costs about $230 per year but it can pay itself off almost immediately.
I strongly suggest you balance your campaigns with a mix of mailing and alternative distribution if possible. I understand not everyone wants to go driving around town for an hour replenishing flyers, but it seriously makes a world of difference in response, exposure, and visibility … all while keeping pricing affordable and at even better value. Prospects often gauge value by comparing quantity against price, and when they’re looking at fifteen or twenty-thousand pieces for $500 versus 10,000 pieces … it can be the difference in an easy sale or not.
Go to Part IV: Cheaper Design