On the surface, postal addresses seem they are just a means of getting mail from one place to another. If you're in the mailing business, you may think about addresses in only these terms. But addresses, unlike any other piece of identifying data about a person or a business, define a specific, un-moving location on Earth. That gives them power.

Print and mail professionals work with address data every day. They have access to the tools used to validate, correct, or enhance those postal addresses. It makes sense for them to discuss with their customers how to leverage this powerful data to improve the performance of new and existing mailing projects.

These ideas can be deployed in direct mail marketing communications or incorporated in transactional documents. Use variable data to personalize the material according to the physical location of the addressee listed in the document.

Where Is the Nearest…?

If the client has retail locations or branches where they do business with their customers, then use GPS data to highlight the facility nearest to the customer’s mailing address. Examples might include bank branches, walk-in clinics, service centers, polling places, or in-person payment-acceptance locations.

Event Promotion

Is your client planning an open house, seminar, or community event? Compute the distance from the customer’s address to the event and include a map to encourage more customers to attend.

Proximity to Another Location

Where the customer lives or works can make a difference when something happening nearby may affect them. Construction that reroutes traffic, planned temporary power interruptions, anticipated large crowds at an arena, and low-lying areas prone to flooding during heavy rains are some examples of when location-based messaging is helpful.

Within a Boundary

Does a message only apply to residents of a certain city? The property location will tell you if a customer’s address is within the city limits (you can’t rely on the city name in the address). Voters within congressional districts may be an important factor for political candidates or ballot measure activists. Informing residents in certain areas about new ordinances or tax rates might be important to your clients.

When you start thinking about postal addresses as data points instead of simply mail delivery mechanisms, new opportunities arise. Any print/mail service provider can address the mail. Differentiate your company from the competition by working with your clients and adding value to the mail you produce for them.

The best thing about using postal addresses to add value is that you already have this information. Your clients won’t have to change the data they supply you or require their IT people to do any extra work. You can take advantage of the opportunities made possible by enhancing printed communications with location data by working with data already in your possession.

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants creates content for the document industry and helps document operations build and implement strategies for future growth and competitiveness. Learn more about his services at www.printmailconsultants.com and www.pmccontentservices.com. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, or send him a connection request on LinkedIn.