USPS has launched its Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program under the guise of making direct mail easier and more affordable-and is marketing it to small business owners as a do-it-yourself (DIY) program. Understandably, most mail service providers (MSPs) see this program as a business threat. But it doesn't have to be. With a little work, MSPs can use this program to gain customers.

Regardless of the marketing hype, EDDM is not that user-friendly. It requires effort to understand the requirements, hardware to print the mailpieces and time to properly submit everything to the local Post Office. Most small businesses will need help. With the right strategy, MSPs can piggyback on the USPS marketing budget to find new customers.

Using EDDM to find new customers
The EDDM program is actively promoted by the U.S. Post Office, which is holding local seminars. Those who attend are apt to be eager and ready to use direct mail. Sign up for every local seminar and bring lots of business cards. Be ready to answer questions about what the seminars don't say:
1. Preparing an EDDM mailing is complicated
2. Skipping an address list isn't much of a benefit
3. Eliminating the address makes mail look like unwanted advertising
4. The only thing EDDM eliminates is a postal permit

After discovering all the complexities involved with sending an EDDM mailing, business owners may be open to hiring someone to handle the work.

Another good strategy: scan for fliers attached to doors. Businesses using fliers are already spending money on advertising, and don't realize that postage for EDDM is cheaper than paying minimum wage to distribute flyers.
Finally, check your home mailbox for EDDM mail (noted in the indicia). A business owner who has gone through the process of preparing an EDDM mailing may be willing to hire a mailing service provider to get the benefits of direct mail without the hassles.

The Pitfalls of Preparing EDDM mailings
The small business owner will find there are a lot of minutiae when sending an EDDM mailing. Important information like choice of ZIP Codes, mail carrier routes and cost cannot be accessed on without signing up for a business account. Most importantly, small business owners generally don't have the industry knowledge, time, staff or equipment to make EDDM a repeatable success without help from an MSP.

Defining the Delivery Area - A small business owner may know which neighborhoods to target, but not how that corresponds to ZIP Codes or how many mailpieces they'll need. Even so, in the next step the business owner must pick the exact carrier routes to blanket.
Designing the Mailpiece - Creating effective direct mail requires marketing knowledge and experience, which MSPs have, but many business owners do not. At the minimum, business owners need to know what size to make the mailpiece so that it qualifies as a Flat.
Printing the Mailpiece - Most business owners don't have the capability to print mail pieces in-house. Poor print quality and the inability to handle heavy card stock are real limitations. The cost of toner and paper add up to an extremely high per-page print cost.
Bundling Mail - The mailpieces have to be bundled. Remarkably, the EDDM web page doesn't provide instructions for bundling mail. The average business owner will need to contact someone for instructions and assistance.
Submitting Paperwork - EDDM still requires paperwork, which must be completed properly. Then mail must be brought to the correct Post Office. If the mailing spans more than one Zip Code, it can be brought to Business Mail Entry, which requires a permit, or mail pieces and documentation must be delivered to each local Post Office.

Selling the Mailing Service Provider
The complexities of an EDDM mailing are time-consuming to navigate. MSPs provide a service that removes that barrier to entry-and may even cost less for the business owner than the DIY route. Here are just a few benefits of going through an MSP:
· Personalized mailpieces seem less like "junk" mail
· Quality printing and paper stock look more reputable
· Less hassle and time lost at the Post Office
An MSP provides a one stop shop for EDDM. A knowledgeable shop will be able to help business owners determine if EDDM or a more targeted mailing will better serve their marketing goals. A good shop will help with messaging and layout of the mailpiece. With a little extra work, EDDM is giving MSPs an opportunity to find new clients on the Post Office's marketing bill.

Kim Mauch is a subject matter expert in mailing preparation and submission at Satori Software. Contact her at