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How to Avoid Mailing to a Disaster Area Learn this money-saving tip and keep your response rates from bombing when floods and natural disasters occur.

By Craig Simpson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Justin Sullivan / Staff

Natural disasters will definitely have an impact on your direct mail campaign. You will likely see a severely lowered response rate which could cost you thousands of dollars. While predicting the weather is impossible, there still may be time to stop your mail from entering the disaster zone where it could be lost forever.

All marketing campaigns face the risk of weather or natural disasters impacting their execution. With direct mail, bad weather can really slow down the delivery. In some cases, a Post Office will actually close. If there is a serious storm or flooding, it could take a few weeks before it's reopened. Here's a key tip for everyone sending direct mail:

Whenever you are processing your mailing lists ask your data processor to Omit Closed/Suspended and Partial/Limited ZIP Codes.

What does that mean? It means that you don't want to send your mail through any Post Office that is closed, or temporarily closed, or have limited service. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the closure or limited service is due to bad weather or natural disasters. And here's why you don't want your mail dropped off at those Post Offices:

What do you think happens when a Post Office is closed because of a huge snowstorm? They don't toss your mail into the trash (thank goodness) … they have to hold on to it. But they're holding on to lots of it. Now, think about how much mail you get each day. What happens after a 3-day weekend? Your mail pile is twice the normal size. Don't you go through it quicker than if it was a smaller pile?

What happens when you come back from vacation and your mail covers your entire kitchen table? Do you meticulously go through each piece? I bet not!

If you send mail to an address and the local USPS Office is closed, then the mail will be held until it re-opens. If it takes a week to reopen, the amount of mail that will be delivered in the following week, or two, will be twice as much as the USPS custom­ers are used to seeing. So, would you want to be in that mail pile, or should I say, do you want to be that needle in a haystack? I sure wouldn't.

Craig Simpson

Author and Owner of Simpson Direct, Inc.

Craig Simpson has managed thousands of direct mail campaigns and grossed hundreds of millions in revenue for his clients over the past 15 years. Simpson is the owner of Simpson Direct Inc., a Grants Pass, Oregon-based direct marketing firm, and a respected speaker/presenter on the topic of direct mail. He is the co-author with Dan S. Kennedy of The Direct Mail Solution, available from He blogs at

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