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Going postal

Welcome to number eight in our series of handy tools with which to defend your marketing budget at the increasingly difficult budget meetings. This time, we’re turning our attention to the vast amount of cash that is wasted sending bits of paper here and there.

Businesses send a lot of post. Really a lot. The biggest senders are banks – mainly statements – 50 million items a month. If they’d switched to email before now, maybe they wouldn’t have been in such trouble.

I once joined a company and found, during a spending review, that we were sending a weekly press update to ‘key journalists’ by cab. Why? Because… er… we always had… and… er… the journalists like it, we think.

Obviously we stopped that one immediately and embraced the marvelous new medium of email. The journalists even thanked us as they could now cut and paste the bits they liked into their articles, giving them more time to work on their novels/check their facts, depending on the kind of journalist they were.

If you look around your business you’ll probably find lots of things being sent by mail or courier that don’t need to be. Try bringing in a courier ban or charging mail costs back to the department that incurs them - that should throw the spend into focus.

My own rule of thumb is - does this need to go registered post? If not, do I really need to mail it can’t it go electronically? My post bill is very small.

If you look carefully at postal spend, you’ll probably see some other anomalies. Postal charges changed a few years ago and now the shape matters. Basically thin, flat things are cheaper to post than lumpy, thick things. So if you’re mailing mugs, stress balls or some other odd-shaped gift, stop. Not only are they rubbish gifts that will do nothing for your business, they cost more to post than they do to buy.

And there’s a bonus - you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint by cutting back on the number of Royal Mail vans required to ship all this stuff about. Come to think of it, that should make the roads safer too…

Ross Sturley is Principal of Chart Lane, and a committee member of CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s construction chapter. He is also a Construction News blogger on marketing matters and general all-round good-egg.

CIMCIG organises many events for construction marketers, including in the near futureWinning Work on Sports schemes, Marketing to Architects, the Future of the Construction Media and a major conference – Strategy 2010.

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