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Holiday Mailing Tips
Follow these helpful tips for successful holiday mailing.
Mailing Greeting Cards Customers who receive door delivery are welcome to give their holiday and other mail they are sending to their letter carrier, rather than placing it in a collection box or making a special trip to the post office. Customers who receive curbside delivery may leave their mail in their receptacle for pickup.
- PRINT addresses clearly.
- Include all address elements (apartment numbers, suite numbers, directional information for streets, etc.).
- Include both “to” and “from” information on packages – and only on one side; no extra writing.
- Never guess a ZIP Code — NO ZIP is better than WRONG ZIP! Check USPS.com for a convenient ZIP code look up tool.
- Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents. Leave space for cushioning inside the carton.
- Package contents with shredded or rolled newspaper, bubble wrap, or Styrofoam peanuts. Plain air-popped popcorn is also good for cushioning; it’s inexpensive and environmentally friendly. Pack tightly to avoid shifting.
- Always use tape that is designed for shipping, such as pressure-sensitive tape, nylon-reinforced tape, paper tape, or glass-reinforced pressure-sensitive tape.
- Do not use wrapping paper, string, masking tape, or cellophane tape.
- Put the delivery and return addresses on only one side of the package.
- Recommendation: Place an index card inside the package that contains the sender’s address and the recipient’s address along with a list of the contents. This will help us re-pack boxes that were improperly wrapped and came apart during transporting and processing and help ensure that the package is either sent to its destination or back to the sender.
- Take packages that weigh at least 1 pound into the post office for mailing. Do not put boxes into your neighborhood mailbox or expect for your mail carrier to pick them up for you.
- Obtain Express Mail and Priority Mail boxes, envelopes, and tubes for free from your post office.
Prior to Mailing
- Stuff glass and fragile hollow items, like vases, with newspaper or packing material to avoid damage due to shock. When mailing framed photographs, take the glass out of the frame and wrap it separately.
- Remove batteries from toys. Wrap and place them next to the toys in the mailing box.
- Access the Postal Service’s web site, www.usps.com, for postage calculations, the latest addressing information, and unique gifts. Avoid waiting in line for your Holiday stamps by using Stamps by Phone (1-800-STAMP24), Stamps by Mail, or stamps from postal self-service vending machines, neighborhood retail outlets and ATMs.
USPS Holiday Mail Dates!
Holiday Dates for Domestic Mail
Calculated for December 25, 2012.
* Some Express Mail destinations may have extended service commitments.
Holiday Dates for Military Mail
Calculated for December 25, 2012.
- EMMS is available to selected military/diplomatic Post Offices™. Check with your local Post Office to determine if this service is available to an APO/FPO/DPO address.
- PAL is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space-available basis. It is available for Parcel Post items not exceeding 30 lbs in weight or 60″ in length and girth combined. The applicable PAL fee must be paid in addition to the regular surface price for each addressed piece sent by PAL service.
- SAM parcels are paid at Parcel Post prices with maximum weight and size limits of 15 lbs and 60″ in length and girth combined. SAM parcels are first transported domestically by surface and then to overseas destinations by air on a space-available basis.
Holiday Dates for International Mail
* GXG® Notes:
- Cutoff date does not take into account time needed for customs clearance.
- Should allocate extra transit day(s) for delivery outside major cities.
- Last date to ship to Afghanistan is December 18. Last date to ship to Iraq is December 17. GXG does not deliver to APO and FPO addresses.
Visit: https://www.usps.com/shippingdates/ or https://www.usps.com/holiday/welcome.htm?WT.mc_id=usps_cheer_redirect for more information.
Revised Standards For Folded Self-Mailers
– Effective January 5th, 2013
The effective date for the Folded Self-Mailers revised standards is drawing near—January 5, 2013. Additional FSM reference materials including graphic illustrations are available under the Folded Self-Mailers web page at https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=fsm. Business Mail Entry employees and Mailpiece Design Analysts can also help answer questions on the revised FSM standards.
The revised standards are intended to provide mailers more mailpiece design options, while balancing design innovation and machinability to improve the overall supply chain. Although the revised standards are not effective until January 5, 2013, the Postal Service encourages mailers to begin the transition now.
Key points in the revised standards include:
- The final fold must be on the bottom, for oblong pieces, the final fold is on the leading edge.
- When tabs are used as the sealing method, a minimum of two are required. Tabs cannot be placed on the bottom edge of oblong pieces.
- New language added about glue as a sealing method.
- New language added about a variety of optional elements that can be incorporated in the FSM design such as attachments, loose enclosures, perforations, and die-cuts.
Click here to download the Folded Self-Mailer Reference Material Guide.
Think of all the ways you can be reached today: email, direct mail, telephone, text messaging, mobile applications and social media. Studies and surveys tell us that marketing messages are well received via mail. In fact, in a study by ExactTarget, direct mail was chosen as the most acceptable means of communication in four of 11 categories. Mail was tied with email in two categories and a close second behind email in another four categories.
Why is mail so popular?
- People like to touch and feel. Mail cuts through the digital clutter and provides a physical reminder of a call to action, offer, or special message to the consumer.
- Mail plays well with other channels. Take advantage of all the methods of communication to your customer. Back up an email or social media offer with a printed mailpiece.
- People enjoy the element of surprise when they go to the mailbox. The majority of households pick up their mail every day. Sorting, reviewing, and reading the mail is a routine for most people and studies show they look forward to it.
- With mail volume declining, there is less competition in your customer’s mailbox. As more and more communications are being delivered through email, text messaging and social media, your message stands out from the crowd by coming into the home in a different channel. Your customer or prospect is literally carrying your message through their front door.
For two weeks pay close attention to the mail you receive daily and how you handle that mail. Is your mailbox full every day? Of the mail you receive, what really stands out to you?
How many offers are you receiving? Will you respond to any offers? Has the mailer provided you multiple means of responding? Which method of response will you use?
We would like to hear your results! What caught your interest and why? How will you translate what you’ve experienced into your own marketing efforts?
Presort Services: Changing the Way You Mail
Engaging with a Presort Service provider allows companies to take advantage of postal discounts. Discounts are achieved when many pieces are sorted to the same 5-digt ZIP Code. By commingling your outgoing mail with mail from other companies, Presort Service providers are able to maximize postage discounts and pass that savings along to you.
The number of organizations choosing to partner with Presort Service providers has grown over the past several years. The driving factors include security, control and economics.
Presort Services have made large investments in new technology – both equipment and software. Providers have been working closely with the USPS and mailers to improve workflows and standards. While this has forced many smaller shops to close their doors, larger more robust service providers have been thriving.
Here are a few questions you may want to ask a potential service provider:
- How many pieces of mail do they process daily/weekly/monthly? Is this primarily local or national mail? (This information may help determine your postage rate.)
- Do they process First Class, Standard and Non-Profit Mail?
- Do they process letters and flats?
- How secure is their facility, including the dock area?
- Do they provide pick up service? Is there a fee for this service?
- Will they also meter mail for you? Will they agree to serve as a backup should your own meters be out of operation?
- Are they up-to-date with Intelligent Mail barcode? This will be mandatory beginning January 2013.
- Are employees background checked?
- Is there an on-site USPS postal verifier?
- Does USPS pick up from their dock? Or do they deliver to the nearest postal sorting facility?
Take a few minutes and think of the ways a Presort Service provider could benefit your organization. Cost savings, improved workflows, and security of your mail are just a few of the advantages these vendors bring to your company.
Bang for Your Buck with Direct Mail Coupons
It’s no secret that consumers are looking for more and more bargains as the recession forces a tightening on pocketbooks. While consumers hunt harder and longer for the deepest discounts they have inadvertently led to a revived interest in direct mail and print coupons. Those companies who are quick to land their coupons in the hands of savvy consumers are cashing in on the bargain hunters and are drawing more business and sales. I know we’ve all received a coupon in the mail, looked it over, and stuck it on the fridge to use later. Having a physical reminder of the money you could save on a product or service you already use or are interested in is a strong driver for new or existing customers. Once a month I get a Bed, Bath, and Beyond postcard coupon in the mail similar to the one seen here.
Seeing these coupons in the mail serves a constant reminder – “don’t forget about our store!” and “shopping with us will save you money!”. How can anyone say no to a discount, especially when it’s for something you already planned on purchasing or are interested in purchasing? Direct mail coupons are worth the small initial investment for businesses and can turn a big profit – now and in the future.
Online discount sites such as Groupon and Living Social are new to the discount coupon scene and while they can result in leads and traffic they often don’t help a business retain customers. Short-term deals on discount websites are the wrong strategy for local businesses looking for a long-term boost in sales. Online discount users are always looking for the next great save – one week it may be your business and the next it may be a competitor nearby for the same price. Online coupons also fail to reach all of their potential customers in a specific area.
USPS programs like Every Door Direct Mail are specifically designed to help small business like hair salons, restaurants, and other specialty service providers to make it even easier to get your coupons into the hands of consumers in your area. EDDM allows small businesses the ability to target a specific area as small or as large as you like and mail to all of the addresses in that area for one low rate – postage included! The ability to zero in on a specific area with direct mail provides businesses with the opportunity to win over long-term, loyal customers with discounts and promotions. Creating loyal customers near you will help bring a continuous return from your marketing budget no matter the size. Think about what will drive your business, define your target range, design a postcard or other mail piece, and get your coupons to do the rest of the work for you.
Interested in mailing out coupons to consumers near you? Contact a sales representative at Strahm and we can help you create and produce your own direct mail coupon campaign today!
What is a Postage Meter and Do I Really Need One?
Postage meters are machines that can be rented to apply postage themselves instead of taking mail directly to a post office. Postage is applied via an ink stamp and is more time effective than hand applying stamps. Postage is added to the meter machines electronically and funds are reduced as postage is used.
According to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), postal meters can be used to affix postage for these classes of mail: First-Class Mail®, Priority Mail®, Express Mail®, international mail and presorted First-Class Mail®, which provides a discount for mailing 500 or more pieces that meet certain criteria. The USPS also allows postage meters to be used to apply postage (via an adhesive tape) to packages. The USPS does not allow periodical mail—a special class of mail usually reserved for publications such as magazines—to be processed using postage meters.
Strahm Automation provides metering service to most of our customers as an addition to presorting services. This has allowed them to discontinue costly leases, maintenance (including downtime for repairs), and expensive software updates.
Our presort capabilities enable mailers to qualify for higher postage discounts by combining mail from multiple clients and sorting it by ZIP Code™. This mail realizes faster delivery times since it bypasses local postal facilities and heads straight to its postal destination.
Address quality is improved by applying updated addresses to the mailpieces as necessary (meeting Move Update requirements), as well as use of the Intelligent Mail barcode as part of the presort service.
Strahm offers both metering and presorting services and in return our customers benefit from our industry expertise and relationship with the United States Postal Service.
Strahm Automation will help you eliminate the cost of postage meters and improve your mail quality at the same time! | Visit: http://www.strahm.com/business/mail.html
U.S. Postal Service Planning 2012 Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion
Direct Mail Discounts for Online Merchants Timed for Cyber Monday
July 18, 2012
Release No. 12-084
WASHINGTON — Cyber Monday was the busiest shopping day last year. Up 29 percent over 2010, Cyber Monday’s purchasing surge was no doubt due to a number of deals offered by retailers. And with the deal the U.S. Postal Service is planning for online merchants this holiday season, Cyber Monday 2012 could be even better.
Designed to drive online product purchases by putting mobile-optimized promotional offers, coupons and catalogs into consumers’ hands, the U.S. Postal Service’s 2012 Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion will offer online merchants an upfront 2 percent postage discount on Standard Mail and First-Class Mail letters, flats and cards (presort and automation) that include a mobile barcode or print/mobile technology — such as a QR code — that can be read or scanned by a mobile device and leads the mail recipient to a mobile-optimized shopping website. The promotion will run Nov. 7- Nov. 21, 2012.
Mailers may also qualify for an additional 1 percent postage rebate on their discounted mailings if a portion of their product orders are fulfilled via Priority Mail between Nov. 9, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2012. The 2012 Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion is subject to approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
“This latest pricing incentive solidifies the Postal Service’s leadership role as a catalyst of e-commerce trade between consumers and online merchants,” said Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products. “The reliability of mail to serve as the on-ramp for mobile commerce, along with the tremendous growth of mobile devices, gives online merchants a surefire way to generate sales this holiday season.
“By offering a short-term promotion linking mail and mobile devices during the key holiday purchasing timeframe, the Postal Service is providing online merchants with an incentive designed to increase industry adoption of a physical-to-digital marketing approach.”
For additional information on the 2012 Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion, go to RIBBS. Program registration opens Sept. 15, 2012, and continues through Nov. 21, 2012. Participants must agree to partake in a survey about the promotion.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
Please Note: For broadcast quality video and audio, photo stills and other media resources, visit the USPS Newsroom at http://about.usps.com/news/welcome.htm.
A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation — 151 million residences, businesses and Post Office™ Boxes. The Postal Service™ receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With 32,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com®, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $65 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 35th in the 2011 Fortune 500. In 2011, Oxford Strategic Consulting ranked the U.S. Postal Service number one in overall service performance of the posts in the top 20 wealthiest nations in the world. Black Enterprise and Hispanic Business magazines ranked the Postal Service as a leader in workforce diversity. The Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency for six years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.
How to Generate Your USPS Mailer ID (MID)
A 6 or 9 digit Mailer ID is part of the IMb make up. A reader has brought up the question of what a Mailer ID is and how to go about getting one.
What is a Mailer ID?
A Mailer ID (MID) is a numeric identification number used in the suite of Intelligent Mail barcodes and electronic documentation to identify the mail owner, mailing agent, or other service provider.
The MID is assigned by the Postal Service based primarily on documented historical volume.
What if I Use a Mail Service Provider?
Does your service provider have their own Mailer ID? If so, would it be better to use theirs or apply for your own? At Strahm, we use our MID on your outgoing mail, but request that you create and provide your own MID for pieces such as Courtesy or Business Reply Mail.
How Do I Get My MID?
- Go to www.usps.com. The link to the Business Customer Gateway is in the lower right corner. This link will take you to the log in page.
- An existing user may “Sign In” with their username and password. New users should click “Sign Up”.
- On the Create Your USPS Business Account screen, make sure account type shows as Business, create a Username and Password, select a Security Question (you will setup two security questions and answers), complete all of the Name and Contact Info at the screen below, then click Create Account.
- You will be redirected to Select a Business Service screen.
- Under “Design and Prepare” choose Mailer ID.
- Click on the small box next to your company name. Click Next.
- Review the company information and click Confirm.
- New users will have to go through the Business Service Administrator process, click to confirm your agreement with the USPS Online Agreement.
- Select and put a check mark next to your company name and click Yes.
- On the Business Service Administrator Access screen, click continue.
- You will need to go back to the main screen of the Business Customer Gateway and login with your Username and Password.
- Choose Mailer ID under “Design and Prepare”
- On the “Welcome to the Mailer ID System” page, click “Request an MID”. You may need to check a box located before your business name.
- At the “Apply for MID” screen, use the drop down menu and select “9 digit MID”, select one MID requested, then click “Request MID”.
- At the next screen, be sure that there is a check before the “Automatically Generate this MID” and in the right column, check ONLY “Full/Basic Service”. Click “Request MID”.
- The system should issue your new Mailer ID on the next screen. Print or record this number and sign out.
You are done and are now the proud owner of your very own Mailer ID.