In many developed countries, direct mail represents such a significant amount of the total volume of mail that special rate classes have been established. In the United States and United Kingdom, for example, there are bulk mail rates that enable marketers to send mail at rates that are substantially lower than regular first-class rates. In order to qualify for these rates, marketers must format and sort the mail in particular ways—which reduces the handling (and therefore costs) required by the postal service. In the US, marketers send over 90 billion pieces of direct mail per year.
It is essential that the internal analysis provide a frank and open evaluation of the firm's superiority in terms of skills, resources or market position since this will provide the basis for competing over the forthcoming planning period. For this reason, some companies engage external consultants, often advertising or marketing agencies, to provide an independent assessment of the firms capabilities and resources.