How much would it cost to send a postcard to every household in the United States?
March 2, 2006 6:38 AM   Subscribe

How much would it cost to send a postcard to every household in the United States?

How much would it cost to get the mailing lists in the first place? How much would it cost to send the postcards? (After, hopefully, a substantial bulk-rate discount?) Would it make a difference if the message on the postcard was a political one?

Bonus Points: How would I go about actually doing this?
posted by yeoz to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
According to the 2000 cencus there are 105,480,101 households in the us.

A stamp is 39 cents.

Therefore, it would cost roughly 41,137,239 dollars. Yowza.
posted by anomie at 6:59 AM on March 2, 2006

Whoops, I didn't look at the (MI.) I'm not sure about bulk discounts and whatnot. Thought it was more of a theoretical question :)
posted by anomie at 7:00 AM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: The USPS has a pretty good guide, which explains the technical terms for the layman.

The lowest rate is $0.127 per piece, if you do all the automation steps the USPS wants and do a saturation mailing (>90% of the addresses). That gets you standard mail instead of first class, and incidentally doesn't have a a postcard rate.

That drops to $0.083 if you are a non-profit. And your Congressperson gets a special rate too, so that might be worth investigating.

Multiplied by 100 million, it's still staggeringly expensive.
posted by smackfu at 7:11 AM on March 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Here's a good place to start.
posted by justkevin at 7:12 AM on March 2, 2006

The list would cost around $4.5 million.

Postage would cost another $16 mil or so. It's tough to say for sure because you'll probably be using a mailing house and I'm not sure what they'll charge and I've never been very good at reading the post office's rate information.

Don't forget about printing that's going to run you several million as well.
posted by willnot at 7:24 AM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: As far as I can see the costs would be:

Cost of address list + (Number of households x (cost of postcards + cost of postage) + any costs of affixing stamps to postcards and getting them to somewhere where the USPs becomes responsible for them.

You might also like to take into account that there will be costs outside what you pay, for example environmental costs of paper production that aren't fully realised in regulation, waste disposal, etc.
posted by biffa at 8:10 AM on March 2, 2006

Deployed US soldiers send mail for free. You aren't in Basra, are you?
posted by viewofdelft at 8:18 AM on March 2, 2006

The US Postal service offers a postcard mailing service, though you have to provide your own mailing list to send them to. The pricelist is available.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:32 AM on March 2, 2006

Best answer: You can also send mail as a "rider" or carrier route (or something, can't remember what it's called) - basically where you send the post office X number of a copies (where X is the number of households they service.) The rate for this is less than standard mail, and you wouldn't need a list.
It's like the coupon sheets/magazines you get in the mail every week.
posted by muddylemon at 8:37 AM on March 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

Post Preview: What smackfu said.
posted by muddylemon at 8:38 AM on March 2, 2006

You can buy a list of addresses. Maybe a good place to start would be Reference USA?? Your local library may subscribe as part of its electronic resources/ databases offered to patrons.
They have lists of households, business and healthcare for viewing and purchase.
posted by TheLibrarian at 9:41 AM on March 2, 2006

Others have addressed discount rates, but postcard stamps are less than 0.39.
posted by agregoli at 9:43 AM on March 2, 2006

Given that the US Post Office now delivers more "junk mail" than actual mail — s'truth, read it just today! — it may be getting very, very cheap.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:54 AM on March 2, 2006

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