Junk mail questions.. postal workers, ad people, printers could help

Must junk mail be addressed to a person? IOW, instead of addressing something to “Resident, 123 Main St., Apt. 1 etc.”, would the USPS have an issue delivering something that omitted the “Resident” portion of the address?

I wonder if they include this (or something similar like “Our friends At”) because either: 1. the USPS insists on it, OR 2. they have marketing data indicating that it will be better received by some small but significant portion of the population.

Assuming it would be delivered, how much could be saved, in ink (and possibly a narrower adhesive address label)? I know it would be much less than a penny per label, but to a bulk mailer sending out tens of millions of pieces every year, I imagine the savings might add up to a fair chunk of cash.

Just a WAG: if they did that, any tiny savings in ink or paper would be more than offset by having a certain number of people not opening the stuff at all (and as a result removing themselves from being potential customers) because they think the mail is not for them, as it doesn’t have their name on it so it must be a mistake. If they see “The Resident” then they know it’s ok to open it. If just one person in a hundred thinks like this, it would probably have showed up in the junk mailers’ market research.

Actually, that’s my WAG too, unless it’s something mandatory. But if the average address is 3 or 4 lines, you could conceivably save 20-30% of printing costs. Again, admittedly fractions of a cent per address.

Direct mailer here. More than 5 million pieces dropped in my career (which actually makes me a small timer in the field!).

There’s a distinct drop off in response rates for ‘undirected’ mail without any identifier. Better to have a name than ‘resident’ better to have ‘resident’ than nothing.

In terms of savings you’re not really going to see any. A mailer pays the print shops based upon per piece pricing, not by how large the labels are. Label sizes are largely standardized. I feel certain that if I specified an unusual size I’d end up paying a surcharge for the mailing.

Better to stick with what the industry and the public expects.

Trust me, it works.

A videojet, the printer used at the company I work for (one of the largest in the U.S.), will run about 18 hours on a gallon of make-up and about a week on a gallon of ink. The ink is diluted with make-up before being printed on the junk mail. The make up is essentially a solvent, usually something cheap like a methyl-ethyl alchohol mix.

An 8 hour shift can easily run fifty thousand pieces, so a week of ink is 750,000 pieces of junk mail.

What I’m getting at is that any improvement in the number that get opened is worth it, since the amount of ink used on each one is practically inconsequential.

Each machine, including the printer, banders, belts and all that jazz runs at least $750,000, plus the labor of the people running it (one to six people) and the cost of the blank things you are mailing, so the ink is a fairly inconsequential cost there too.

Also, address labels are standard sizes. On items where the address is to be printed directly onto the item, the area has to be bigger to allow for some misalignment and variation in length and width of addresses anyway.

If you have any other questions about it, I’ll do my best to answer.

Ben, who spent all day mailing diapers to Hawaii. Next week I’ll get back to the 2.2 million cosmetic samples.

My take has always been: It is illegal (in the US) to open mail not addressed to you. “Addressed” as in “not your name on it” as opposed to “at your address”. After all, unrelated people can share the same address. By putting “resident” on the label this indicates that any resident at that address can legally open it (or, possibly more important, throw it out).

I bin any mail addressed to “The occupier” or “Resident” without even opening it, since I assume it to be junk mail. The only exception is a quick check for a return address, since occasionally the local council sends out electorial roll confirmations without specific names.