USPS

Avoid Pitfalls When Designing Your Direct Mailpiece

By: USPS Delivers

To create a successful direct mailpiece, at some point you may need to think like a machine—an automated mail-processing machine. That’s what will be “reading” your envelope or card for key information. Mistakes in design can mean your mail doesn’t qualify for automation discounts—or in the worst case, prevent your pieces from going through the mail at all.

Here are three pitfalls to watch out for:

Odd Shapes

You want your mailpiece to look unique to catch customers’ attention, but an odd shape may not be the best way to do that. Certain shapes like squares and tubes are charged a higher price because those pieces must be processed manually. Such pieces are referred to as Customized Marketing Mail, or CMM.

Speaking of odd shapes, don’t mail bulky, odd-shaped things like pens or bottle caps in regular letter-size envelopes. You’ll pay more in postage, and the items are likely to damage the envelope and be lost.

Address Mistakes

The delivery address must go on the front of the mailpiece, the same side as the postage. And on a letter-size piece, we recommend placing the address within the optical character reader (OCR) area. This means the address should be within these boundaries:

  • 1/2 inch from the left edge of the piece
  • 1/2 inch from the right edge of the piece
  • 2-3/4 inches from the bottom edge of the piece
  • 5/8 inch from the bottom edge of the piece
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A return address is required in some cases. For instance, you’ll need one if you’re asking the Postal Service™ to return mail to you that can’t be delivered, or if you’re paying with precanceled stamps or a company permit imprint. The return address always goes in the upper left corner of the address side of the mailpiece.

For more details, refer to the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 202.0, Address Placement, and 602.1.0, Elements of Addressing.

Misplaced Markings

When you look at a piece of direct mail, you’ll see several markings on the envelope or card. While they may mean nothing to your prospective customers, they are important to delivering the mail, and they need to go in specific places. These include:

Postage

Postage, which can be paid with a stamp, meter, or permit imprint, goes in the top right corner. Information on the class of mail—for instance First-Class Mail®, Marketing Mail™, or Nonprofit—must be printed as part of, directly below, or to the left of the permit imprint, meter imprint, or stamp. For details on other options for price-specific markings, refer to the DMM 202.3.5, First-Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail Markings.

Endorsements

Endorsements are markings that tell the Postal Service what to do with mail if it can’t be delivered. For instance, you may want them to return it to you or provide you with address change information. For details on where endorsements can be placed, refer to DMM 202.4.0 Placement and Physical Standards for Endorsements.

Barcodes

Barcodes contain a wealth of information that helps USPS® track and route mail more efficiently. To receive automation price breaks, your mailpieces must have a barcode. For details on barcode placement, see DMM 202.5.0, Barcode Placement Letters and Flats.

Consult a Mailpiece Design Analyst

Regulations can be confusing if you’re just starting out. To be sure your design will work, it’s a good idea to work with a Mailpiece Design Analyst (MDA). An MDA is a specially trained postal employee who can tell you if the finished piece will be mailable and suggest ways to make it eligible for the lowest possible postage rates.


By carefully following these suggestions and working with an MDA, you can design a mailpiece that is cost-effective and, most importantly, reaches your prospective customers.


Author: USPS Delivers

Source: uspsdelivers.com URL: https://goo.gl/7LMV2i

What Is The Right Size For Your Direct Mailpiece?

By: USPS Delivers

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When you’re planning a direct mail campaign, one of your first decisions will be what size mailpiece to use. That decision will affect how much space you have for your message and how much you pay in postage.

Take a look at the three most commonly used sizes for direct mail.

Postcard Requirements

  • At least 5″ long x 3.5″ wide x 0.007″ thick
  • No more than 6″ long x 4.25″ x 0.016″ thick

What you should know

Postcards are an inexpensive way to get an immediate message to customers—they don’t even have to open an envelope. First-Class Mail® postcards are a great value, too. You pay a lower price than for letters and get all of the benefits, such as forwarding and return services, that come with First-Class Mail service.

However, when you send postcards via USPS Marketing Mail™ service (formerly called Standard Mail), there’s no price break. They cost the same as letters.

Letter Requirements

  • At least 5″ long x 3.5″ wide x 0.007″ thick
  • No more than 11.5″ long x 6.125″ wide x 0.25″ thick

What you should know

If you use a standard No. 10 envelope, your piece is clearly a letter. But if you decide to create your own special envelope, or you design a piece to be folded to letter size, be sure to keep the letter dimensions in mind to avoid paying a higher price.

Letters can be mailed at First-Class Mail service or USPS Marketing Mail rates. Unlike postcards, they receive a price break when sent at Marketing Mail rates.

Flat Requirements

  • Have one dimension that is greater than 11.5″ long OR 6.125″ wide OR 0.25″ thick.
  • Can be no more than 15″ long x 12″ wide x 0.75″ thick.

What you should know

The Postal Service uses the word “flat” to refer to large envelopes, newsletters, and magazines. The maximum size for a flat provides plenty of room to put lots of material in the envelope. But keep in mind that weight usually affects price—the greater the weight, the higher the postage, especially for flats sent as First-Class Mail service.

Size It Right

Choosing the right size to fit your budget and needs can help you save time and money in the long run.


Author: USPS Delivers

Source: uspsdelivers.com URL: https://goo.gl/b8GUGC

2018 Print Forecast: Paper Prices & Postal Rates Will Rise

By: D. Eadward Tree

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Declining demand is supposed to cause lower prices, but the magazine industry’s key suppliers are likely to defy the law of supply of demand in 2018, with both paper companies and the U.S. Postal Service raising prices by a little – and perhaps by a lot.

Yes, folks, it’s that most wonderful time of year, when the kids are back in school and publishers turn their thoughts to everyone’s favorite annual task – budgets. Here to help you is Dead Tree Edition’s annual forecast of paper, postal, and print pricing, plus a few tidbits of advice and a bonus advertising forecast.

Paper Prices Will Continue to Rise

Told ya so.

In our print forecast for 2017, we warned that “significant moves in the currency markets . . . could be especially disruptive for U.S. buyers of magazine-quality paper.” The U.S. dollar promptly strengthened, making Mr. Tree sound like Chicken Little for a while.

But now the U.S. dollar is weakening, declining more than 10% against the Canadian dollar in the past 90 days. Not coincidentally, the price of magazine paper is on the rise and likely to end the year about 5% above its mid-2017 trough.

You can also blame the higher prices on single-stream recycling. The American practice of mixing paper, glass, metal, and plastics in the same bins raised the level of contaminants in recovered paper, making it a less efficient fiber source. Most U.S. mills that relied heavily on recycled pulp were forced out of business.

For a while, China’s pulp-hungry mills picked up the slack. But Chinese authorities recently responded to the poor quality by reclassifying much of the U.S.’s recovered paper as garbage and blocking its import. Panicked Chinese mills that relied on recycled have been snapping up virgin pulp, causing worldwide pulp prices to soar – and thereby increasing the cost of making paper.

The analytics firm RISI predicts prices for magazine paper will inch up another percentage point or two during 2018. Given recent trends, Mr. Tree thinks the prices could rise even more than that.

Expect a Postal Rate Increase

What we know for sure is that postal officials are planning to increase Periodical rates an average of about 2% in January. Co-mailed and large-circulation titles will pay less than the average, while smaller titles that don’t co-mail will pay more.

But the big worry is the unknown – what will come out of the Postal Regulatory Commission’s 10th anniversary review of the law that established the inflation-based cap on rate increases.

There’s been widespread speculation that the PRC’s review, likely to be revealed in the next few weeks, will ease the cap and allow higher rate hikes. Some reports have speculated about rates rising as much as 20%. Periodicals, especially those mailed by non-profits, are especially likely to get hit with rate hikes because the USPS supposedly loses money on those products.

Any significant breach of the rate cap is likely to face legal challenges, with implementation delayed at least for most of 2018. In any case, the best move for publishers is to work with their printers (or to find new printers) to take full advantage of co-mailing, dropshipping, and other methods of reducing their postage bills.

Custom Print Will Drive Growth

Ad revenue for consumer magazines will decline at an annual rate of 8.8% over the next three years, according to the widely cited PwC forecasts, while trade magazines will drop “only” 6%. That’s actually an improvement from recent reports of declines in the mid-teens.

But those are averages. The big general-interest titles are suffering mightily, while those serving specific interests, industries, or regions seem to be faring better. As in the digital world, the trend in print advertising is to targeted messages.

“Print advertising is dead – except for custom,” a veteran magazine-media advertising rep told me recently. He wasn’t whining; he’s had a pretty good 2017 in both print and digital sales.

That print success has come despite increasing difficulty selling ad pages. The same advertisers that balk at renewing $100 CPM magazine pages, he says, are eagerly shelling out 10 times that rate for custom distribution (such as an insert sent only to select subscribers or sponsorship of a magazine’s conference edition). Or even 100 times -- $10 per copy -- for custom publications. Digital printing technology makes this level of customization and targeting possible.

Digital advertising’s shift to native advertising and other forms of content marketing could be a boon to targeted inserts and custom pubs. When a company discovers what content works online, it’s not such big step to reformat that content into a printed piece that’s delivered to the company’s best prospects.

Magazine Printing Will Continue to Consolidate

The magazine industry might have grounds for filing an antitrust complaint regarding consolidation in the U.S. printing industry, except for two problems:

  • The U.S. Justice Department doesn’t understand the printing industry.
  • Magazines are no longer run by people who know anything about printing.

In the past two months, industry giant LSC Communications (AKA RR Donnelley) has snapped up two highly regarded, mid-size competitors that specialized in producing magazines, Creel Printing and Publishers Press. There was nary a peep from Justice because it views printing as a single industry with literally thousands of competitors – and therefore immune from antitrust issues.

The reality for publishers, though, is that only a tiny -- and shrinking -- fraction of the country’s printers is truly able to compete for their business. Unless a printing plant specializes in publications, it’s unlikely to have the bindery equipment, ad portal, co-mailing, dropshipping, digital-edition conversion, and a host of other factors and services the typical publisher needs.

Over the past couple of decades or so, the prices of publication printing have been mostly on a gradual descent (without even adjusting for inflation). But by gobbling up competitors, printers may be able to stabilize prices in the face of declining demand.

You never know when your current printer will disappear, so it’s a good time to get to know some other providers. Who knows, you might find one that’s better able to cut your postage costs or to help you produce innovative custom publications.


Author: D. Eadward Tree

Source: pubexec.com URL: https://goo.gl/JjXS7g