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Scotts LawnService Improves Direct Mail Marketing Response with Vertis' Integrated Data Solutions

BALTIMORE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 4, 2005 -- Predictive Modeling, Customer Segmentation and Result Analysis Used to Mine for Best Customized Fit

Vertis, the premier provider of targeted advertising, media and marketing services, today announced the success of its direct marketing campaign for Scotts LawnService, a leading provider of professional lawn care service. Vertis' direct marketing campaign management contributed to Scotts LawnService being recognized with a Gold Echo in the Consumer Category at the Direct Marketing Association's 2004 International ECHO Awards.

"Our Integrated Data Solutions group developed a predictive model by enhancing existing consumer data and using customer segmentation to refine and precisely target Scotts' most likely prospects," said Art Hall, senior director, Integrated Data Solutions for Vertis. "The data analysis allowed us to generate a more targeted direct mail piece that increased consumer response by targeting consumers with a higher propensity to purchase a lawn care service."

As a means of comparison, the incumbent direct marketing vendor was also included in the spring 2003 campaign process via head-to-head testing against Vertis in 13 of the client's markets. The direct mail challenge was designed to give each vendor equal access to similar prospects and equal opportunity to lift response rates by building an improved model. Target markets were split evenly with Vertis and the incumbent vendor each providing approximately 1,600,000 records across 13 markets where Scotts LawnService was currently operating.

The Vertis team took up the challenge and developed a predictive model using customer segmentation tools and market analysis in order to better define those prospects most likely to respond to Scotts LawnService's offer. A detailed analysis of demographic, lifestyle and behavioral data such as age, income and home ownership resulted in a "snapshot" of the most likely customer - the "do-it-for me" type - busy parents with busier kids, the weekend golfer who would rather play the back nine than fertilize the front lawn, the homeowner who might not know the difference between Kentucky Bluegrass or Perennial Ryegrass but wants a green, lush lawn the neighbors envy. It was this customer "snapshot" that became the basis for Vertis' test mailing.

At the conclusion of the direct mail challenge, when results were measured, the Vertis model resulted in a higher response rate across all 13 markets. In aggregate, across all markets, Vertis had produced a 15 percent higher response rate than the incumbent vendor (0.84% response vs. 0.73% response). In recognition of their success, Vertis was awarded the execution of the fall 2003 campaign and has continued as a direct mail provider ever since.

Vertis continued to deliver success in the spring 2004 campaign. The Integrated Data Solutions Group identified the best customers, successfully profiled the best prospects, developed the appropriate message, and measured the response to make a decision on the final direct mail piece. Midway through the campaign, Vertis' data analysts isolated the best performing test package and affected the later stages of the program to enhance overall response rate. The ability to target consumers and deliver a high performing direct mail piece allowed Vertis to provide the consumer response desired by Scotts LawnService.

"Vertis' campaign allowed us to overcome the challenge of adding new market segments and growing in existing markets," said Dan Adams, marketing manager for Scotts LawnService. "Their direct marketing program allowed us to target our best prospects and develop a communication piece that consumers were most likely to take notice of, resulting in increased consumer response across all market segments."

The success of the direct mail campaign was recognized by the Direct Marketing Association at the 2004 International ECHO Awards. Scotts LawnService received the Gold Echo award in the Consumer Category for its direct marketing program because of its complete end-to-end solution. This award represents the most coveted prize in the world of direct marketing.

About Vertis

Vertis is the premier provider of targeted advertising, media, and marketing services that drive consumers to marketers more effectively. Its comprehensive products and services range from consumer research, audience targeting, creative services, and workflow management to targeted advertising inserts, direct mail, interactive marketing, packaging solutions, and digital one-to-one marketing and fulfillment. Headquartered in Baltimore, Md., with facilities throughout the U.S. and the U.K., Vertis combines best-in-class technology, creative resources, and innovative production to serve the targeted marketing needs of companies worldwide. To learn more about Vertis, visit

About Scotts Lawn Service

Scotts LawnService(R) is a division of The Scotts Company, the world's largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care, with a full range of products for professional horticulture as well. The Company owns the industry's most recognized brands. In the U.S., the Company's Scotts(R), Miracle-Gro(R) and Ortho(R) brands are market-leading in their categories, as is the consumer Roundup(R) brand, which is marketed in North America and most of Europe exclusively by Scotts and owned by Monsanto. In Europe, Scotts' brands include Weedol(R), Pathclear(R), Evergreen(R), Levington(R), Miracle-Gro(R), KB(R), Fertiligene(R) and Substral(R).

About Vertis Integrated Data Solutions

Vertis takes the guesswork out of your direct marketing programs by providing the building blocks that result in the targeted data you need to expand your customer base, maintain customer loyalty, design innovative new programs and fine-tune existing ones. The Vertis approach is a multi-level process that analyzes, refines and refreshes new or existing data into a usable, meaningful resource specifically designed to help you achieve your direct marketing goals.


Grace Platon, 800-365-8957
Michelle Metter or Maria Amor, 619-234-0345

Using a mailing service can save businesses time, money

DEC 27, 2005 - For Madison Area Technical College, the problem was how to mail tens of thousands of alumni newsletters.

The college didn't have the space to prepare a bulk mailing, said Kathy Waters, the lead worker at MATC's mail center. And they didn't have the machinery to make the process easy, meaning they were looking at having to do the job by hand.

But there was a solution, which saved the college $5,000: Use a mailing services company, one that had the machinery and expertise to get the job done fast and efficiently.

"Mailings can be a very effective way of doing business," said Terri Bouffiou, customer relations coordinator for the Madison branches of the U.S. Postal Service. But she added, "as well as a big cost to a company."

Mailing-services companies' assistance may be more important and timely beginning next month, when postal rates rise by about 5 percent.

Everything from the color of ink to the shape of an envelope can add cost to a mailing. Mailing-services companies sort items, which saves money per piece.

The Postal Service created the mailing service industry by offering mailing discounts, said United Mailing Services district manager Mark Colb. Mailing-services companies, by sorting mail, take away much of the Postal Service's workload.

United Mailing has five branches in Wisconsin, including one in Madison, and 500 employees.

"We are the mail business, we know about the postage industry," said J&J's Bauer. When businesses use mailing services companies, "they can focus on the core business that they have."

Mailing-service companies advise clients about the best ways to get mailings noticed. They also provide automated inserting equipment and mailing lists.

"I just met with a law firm that sends mail out at full rate and also uses a carrier service," Bauer said. "I went in and educated them and I figured out I'd save them about $2,000 per year. Once their mailing equipment lease is up, I can save them another $1,200 per year."

"A lot of this is educating the customers about their options," said J&J's operations manager, Jeff Utter.

Design errors are one of the the most common mistakes people make with mailings, said Bruce Virgin, vice president and general manager of First Class Mailers on North Fair Oaks Avenue in Madison. A flower company he worked with made a $3,500 mistake when they printed a direct mail advertisement on the wrong color of paper. The paper was too dark, so the post office couldn't distinguish between the paper and the text, Virgin said.

Capital Newspapers, publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times, also provides mailing services through its Target Marketing program.

Nonprofits can also save big. Volunteers often stuff envelopes and put stamps on mass mailings, Virgin said. But these groups can save more money by bringing the job to a mailing service because as a nonprofit organization, they can receive a special bulkmail rate, bringing their cost from 18.5 cents per piece - the best price if they do the mailing on their own - to as cheap as around 9 cents per item.

Mailings also often take longer than expected, Bouffiou said. Before a mailing is sent out, it needs to be designed and printed. The company needs a mailing permit and a mailing list. Mailing-services companies, however, can provide all of that and complete most mailings in less than a week, Bouffiou said.

Capital Mailing Systems on Advance Road in Madison mostly caters to small businesses. The most common and costly mistake businesses make is formatting for bar code, said business manager Daniel Phelps. Incorrect bar codes can cost businesses an extra 5 cents per piece, which, for a large mailing can mean thousands of dollars.

"The domestic mail manual is hundreds of pages long and people in mail services are people who are experts of that book," Phelps said.


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