How to Mail Cheaply But Effectively
May 5, 2014
By Robert L. Cain
Often people stay in the same neighborhoods or areas where they were living when they move. It could be for any number of reasons, work, family, friends, shopping. That means if you mail to the people who live in the area of your rental property, prospective tenants could turn up.
The cheapest and easiest thing to mail is post cards. I’ll explain why below. Those you can create yourself relatively cheaply. Postcards have specific requirements they must meet or the post office won’t accept them. Post cards must be at least 5 inches long and 3 ½ inches high and no more than 6 inches long and 4 1/4 inches high. That works out perfectly for you because you can run them four up on a landscape sheet of 8 ½ by 11 card stock.. That works out to post cards 5 ½ inches long and 4 1/4 inches high. The paper you print the cards on must have a thickness of 0.007 inches to 0.016 inches. Huh? I know, that’s meaningless. Just tell your office supply store you are going to print post cards and need the appropriate weight paper.
Each post card costs 34 cents to mail First Class. But the Post Office has a nifty deal, “Every Door Direct Mail Retail.” The cost to mail a post card is 17.5 cents each. Unlike regular “Standard” (junk) Mail, the mailer does not need to buy a permit. Plus, the Post Office can tell you how many doors there are in the area you want to mail to. There’s no need to buy a mailing list because the address reads “Local Postal Customer,” so that can be printed on the post card saving the cost of the labels. The letter carrier(s) will deliver to every door in the selected area.
The Post Office provides an online tool to calculate the number of doors in the area you choose. I tried it with my Zip Code and the number came back 696 residential doors (which seems low to me but is probably correct) for a total postage cost of $121.80. You must mail at least 200 items and no more than 5,000. If your search comes back with more than 5,000, you need to sort by Carrier Route, which means you have to figure out which Carrier Routes are around your property. Your local Post Office should be able to tell you that.
The only thing necessary to do is create the mail and address to Post Office requirements. For more information follow this link.
The post office also has considerable free information on its website about how to design your mailing piece on its website. They love people who actually mail stuff and have gone a little beyond the “We don’t care; we don’t have to” attitude they have had historically. Now it’s, “If you talk to the right person, we care.”
Postcards are more effective than a letter for two reasons. First and most important, people read them. The postcard is right there for the recipient to see and read, nothing to open. I know that at my house, junk mail goes directly into recycling. I never open it. Those are the items that have “Standard Mail” printed where the stamp would go or a Standard Mail Stamp. A postcard may also go into recycling, but I will read it first because it’s right in front of me.
Postcards are also much cheaper to print and mail. See the details on designing, printing and mailing below.
A postcard can have the same information as a flyer you would create, only on a smaller scale and/or with slightly less information. It is important to leave white space, meaning places where there is no text or picture.
Use a picture. Just make it fit on the postcard. Once you have the photo (or drawing), use the information you would put on the flyer for the postcard.
Microsoft has templates for real estate postcards using “Publisher” on its website. You can download them at this location.
These were designed for real estate sales, but you can use them for rentals just as easily. Just change the wording. You do not need to create them in color, but you can if you want to. That costs considerably more to print and will not return enough or any more in results to justify the cost.
Another source is Vistaprint.com. Their website lets you design the postcard, get it printed, and even mailed. They print both sides in black and white for $69.99 for 500 or $99.99 for 1,000. That makes designing it easy and getting it printed and mailed painless.
You can even buy a mailing list from Vistaprint, but the Every Door Direct Mail is cheaper and easier.
From the upcoming book, Get It Rented, by Robert L. Cain