Archive for category USPS

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Thousands in USPS Fines!

US Postal Service EMM Trays

Perils of Printers without Mail House Experience

If your printed piece is going out in the mail, how important is it to choose a printer with in-house mail capabilities?

Last week we had a meeting with a local printer who found this out the hard way. Due to their lack of experience in mailing, they were subject to some hefty USPS fines.

Certainly an avoidable situation, but how do you make a print/mail vendor selection?  Contact them directly and by all means request a tour of the facility. Here are some helpful questions to ask.

  • Ask for credentials.
    • Are they a USPS sanctioned mail co-mingler?
    • Do they provide NCOA, LACSlink or Fast Forward services?
    • Do they provide CASS certification?
    • Do they have an onsite USPS verifier?
    • Do they have an onsite MERLIN?
    • Does the USPS pick up from their dock, or do they deliver to BMEU?
    • Do key employees hold any industry certifications?  How often are they updated?
  • What services do they provide within their own production facility?
    • Color, highlight color, and black and white printing?
    • MICR capable?
    • Inkjet addressing for postcards or envelopes?
    • Collating?
    • Folding?
    • Intelligent mail inserters?
    • Match mailings?
    • HIPAA compliant?
  • How secure is their facility?
    • What is their business continuity plan?
    • What is their disaster recovery plan?
    • Secure building access?
    • 24/7 video monitoring of facility and production floor?
    • If mail is delivered to them, is it left unattended on the dock?
    • Are employees background checked?
An ounce of prevention is worth thousands in USPS fines!

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Nine Surprising Facts About The Postal Service

Nine Things You Should Know About The Postal Service

“You probably know your mail carrier and the clerks at your neighborhood Post Office, but how well do you know the Postal Service itself? Here are nine facts that might surprise you.”

PostalFactsAbove is a quote from this great USPS blog we discovered. It can’t be said any better, “how well do you know the postal service itself?” Please take a minute to check out this wonderful blog: http://uspsblog.com/nine-things-you-should-know-about-the-postal-service/ and learn nine facts that might surprise you about the postal service.

We would love to hear your feedback and see if you knew any of the facts or if you were truly surprised. Comment below!

 

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Get Started and Save with Every Door Direct Mail

Get Started with Every Door Direct Mail

How much do you know about the USPS program Every Door Direct Mail?

eddmJust this week I was able to provide a customer with a $31,000.00 savings in postage. Wow! What a way to control your marketing budget, right?

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) gives you the ability to target a local neighborhood or to reach customers/prospects nationwide. The Simplified Mailing Process helps you identify which USPS mail routes to include in your targeted mailing area. There is a super cool, intuitive EDDM application available online to get you started.

You can access the online tool and get more information here: https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm

Who can benefit from EDDM?

  • Retailers
  • Auto dealerships
  • Arts organizations
  • Restaurants
  • Business services
  • Attorneys
  • Doctors
  • Dry cleaners
  • Contractors
  • Realtors

The list could go on and on. If you want to reach a local, or even national, audience EDDM provides an easy, cost effective marketing channel. Remember that $31,000.00 postage savings for my local customer?

Some things to keep in mind when planning your mailing:

  • Mailpieces must meet Standard flats specifications
    • Minimum length 11 ½” OR
    • Minimum height 6 1/8”
    • Weight equal to or less than 3.3 ounces
    • Must contain at least 200 pieces (with a maximum per day of 5,000 pieces for the EDDM Retail option, but unlimited for the EDDM BMEU option)

The USPS is hosting a series of FREE business seminars designed to help you gain a greater understanding of this new service and how it can support your marketing plan.

I suggest reaching out to your local Postal Customer Council to find where and when the next seminar will take place in your area. You can search for your local PCC chapter here: https://www.usps.com/business/local-pcc.htm

The Postal Customer Council is a terrific resource and I hope if you’re mailing, you are taking advantage of all the experience and expertise they can offer.

How do you see yourself using this new Postal Service program Every Door Direct Mail? We would love to hear your ideas and success stories!

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Increase ROI with Direct Mail Design | Top 10 Recommendations

Often I am asked by novice direct mailers what elements to include on their mail piece. They are simply looking to design the best mailer possible to yield a high ROI.

Here are my Top 10 recommendations                        (in no particular order)

  1. Make sure your list, mail piece and message are all targeted to the correct audience. What is your goal – lead generation, customer retention, a new product roll out?
  2. A clear, provocative call to action and a nice incentive.
  3. A compelling message – don’t forget, most people want to know “What’s in it for Me?”
  4. A First Class mail permit.  Don’t skimp on standard mail postage. 10% of your mailing list may never receive the mail piece and you’d be surprised how many people simply disregard any piece of mail with a standard permit.
  5. Add a PURL, or Personalized URL. This will tie your printed piece with an online experience. Make sure the PURL ties in with your theme.
  6. As long as we’re adding hot new technology with that PURL, let’s add a QR, or Quick Response, code. You’ve probably been seeing a lot of QR codes on all kinds or marketing – from billboards to pizza boxes. We’ll talk more about QR codes and using them effectively in an upcoming blog.
  7. Use a fresh, unexpected image and a memorable tag line. You only have seconds to grab the reader’s attention.
  8. You’ve probably heard it said a million times, and it’s true, your response rate is only as good as your list. We will delve into list effectiveness in future blogs.
  9. Include a follow up on the call to action. Perhaps include an expiration date. This also makes room for a second communication (perhaps an email?).
  10. Since we repeated the call to action, repeat the PURL as well. Remind them how to respond to that call to action!
Tell us, what are your thoughts on creating the ideal direct mail piece?  We’d love to hear your suggestions!

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USPS | Postal History In 15 Photos

Postal History In 15 Photos

Can you believe it’s been 238 years since the establishment of the United States postal system? Yep, that’s right. The postal system (as it was originally called) was approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775.

There were no post offices in early colonial times, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns. Nearly all mail was from overseas as the colonists had no need to send correspondence “locally”. Mail deliveries from across the Atlantic were sporadic and could take months to arrive.

Today the United States Postal Service® delivers more mail to more addresses in a larger geographical area than any other post in the world. They deliver to nearly 151 million homes, businesses and Post Office Boxes in every state, city, town and borough in this country. Everyone living in the U.S. and its territories has access to postal products and services and pays the same postage regardless of location.

Before the internet, before email, texting and video chatting, there was the Postal Service. Take a look at photos from the Smithsonian Institute’s archives and watch how our mail system has changed as transportation and technology has changed our world.

1. The “Chesapeake” (1887)

The “Chesapeake,” a USPS steamboat.


2. Owney the stray (1895)

Owney was a stray that walked into a post office in upstate New York where he fell asleep on a pile of mailbags. Presumably he became attracted to the scent of the mail because he began following them on mail wagons and then trains.


3. Mail-sorting vehicle (1907)

Only two of these mail-sorting vehicles were in service in Wisconsin. They carried mail sorters around as they sorted mail between offices.


 4. Horse-drawn delivery (1909)

Posing for a picture on a horse-drawn delivery carriage, a carrier shows off his modified seat with a sling to carry the day’s mail.


5. Through rain, sleet and snow (1910)

Using a horse-drawn sleigh, a female mail carrier makes her morning rounds in deep snow.


6. USPS savings accounts (1914)

Ending in 1966, the USPS offered savings accounts to customers looking to hold money in a federal institution with the convenience of the location of a post office.


7. War-time censorship (1918)

During the first World War, the U.S. military began large-scale mail censoring to remove information that could aid the enemy.


8. Airmail is introduced (1918)

The first USPS plane takes off in Washington, D.C. to begin the service’s airmail.


9. Mail sorting (1920)

A post office mail-sorter puts mail into pigeon holes for Hazelton, NJ, Bellefonte, PA, Cleveland, OH, Bryan, OH, Iowa City, IA, Omaha, NB, North Platte, NB Cheyenne, WY, Rock Springs, WY, Salt Lake City, UT, and Elko, NV.


10. Rural mail carriers (1925)

Unlike city carriers, urban mail letter carriers had to provide their own transportation such as the Ford pictured. Though they weren’t required to wear a uniform, the unidentified carrier in this picture purchased and wore one on his routes.


11. Modified Ford Model-T (1926)

A modified Ford Model-T fitted for carrier service in inclement winter weather.


12. James A. Farley Post Office (1936)

At the James A. Farley Post Office Building in New York City, mail carriers head out on their morning rounds.


13. Making the rounds (1947)

Postal workers would collect mail from tree-mounted boxes.


14. “Mailsters” on parade (1954)

To introduce their latest three-wheeled carrier vehicles and celebrate the holidays, postal workers organized an appearance in a parade in Maryland.


15. The “Mailster” (1955)

A city “mailster,” a three-wheeled motor vehicle that was introduced following the second World War to help transport the ever-growing amount of mail.

City letter carrier seated in a three-wheeled “mailster” motor vehicle. Carriers used these vehicles to carry the ever-increasing amounts of mail that was being delivered to American households after end of the Second World War.

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USPS Promo | Using Variable Data Personalization?

Using Variable Data Personalization?

Take advantage of this current USPS promotion “Mail and Digital Personalization Program”.

USPSpromoMay 1 through June 30, 2014 USPS is allowing mailers using personalization such as personal URLs, web pages or mobile applications linked to the mailpiece a 2% discount on eligible postage.
Message and content of the mailpiece must be relevant and highly personalized to qualify. Personalized content must contain or be based on factual or behavioral information specific to the recipient. An address block alone does not qualify.

Each mailpiece must contain a pURL, or mobile technology such as QR codes, that direct recipients to an active, unique website. Unique URLs allow the mailer to track and measure individual web activity.

Eligible mail classes include First Class presort and automation letters, cards and flats as well as Standard Mail letters and flats. Postage payment may be permit imprint, or precancelled stamp permit. Some mailings using meter imprint may qualify – check with your local BMEU. Mailing must be presented between May 1 and June 30, 2014.

You can learn more about this variable data promotion by visiting Postal Explorer. A range of documents, including an FAQ can be found here – https://ribbs.usps.gov/mailingpromotions/documents/tech_guides/MailandDigitalPersonalizationPromotion.htm

 

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Standard Mail Affected by USPS Load Leveling

Standard Mail Affected by USPS Load Leveling

uspsstandardmailOn April 10th, the USPS implemented their Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) Load Leveling Plan. The plan will allow workload equalization of mail volumes throughout the week.

Implementation of this plan means that Standard Mail, when accepted on Fridays and Saturdays, will change from the standard delivery expectation of 3 days to 4 days. In other words, it will take longer for Standard Mail to arrive at its destination.

The change will level the disproportionate amount of mail now delivered on Mondays to other days of the week. The benefits of this are improved return times, improved processing efficiency, reduced operating costs and a more consistent delivery of mail for customers.

This change does not affect current service standards for First-Class Mail or Periodicals.

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How Important Is It To Choose A Printer With In-House Mail Capabilities?

If your printed piece is going out in the mail…

How Important Is It To Choose A Printer With In-House Mail Capabilities?

202c8812smHow do you make a print/mail vendor selection?  Contact them directly and by all means request a tour of the facility. Here are some helpful questions to ask.

 

 

  • Ask for credentials.
    • Are they a USPS sanctioned mail co-mingler?
    • Do they provide NCOA, LACSlink or Fast Forward services?
    • Do they provide CASS certification?
    • Do they have an onsite USPS verifier?
    • Do they have an onsite MERLIN?
    • Does the USPS pick up from their dock, or do they deliver to BMEU?
    • Do key employees hold any industry certifications? How often are they updated?
  • What services do they provide within their own production facility?
    • Color, highlight color, and black and white printing?
    • MICR capable?
    • Inkjet addressing for postcards or envelopes?
    • Collating?
    • Folding?
    • Intelligent mail inserters?
    • Match mailings?
    • HIPAA compliant?
  • How secure is their facility?
    • What is their business continuity plan?
    • What is their disaster recovery plan?
    • Secure building access?
    • 24/7 video monitoring of facility and production floor?
    • If mail is delivered to them, is it left unattended on the dock?
    • Are employees background checked?

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Five Things You Need to Know About Your Mail

Five Things You Need to Know About Your Mail!

Author: Sandy Wallace

mailedThe U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the United States. The Postal Service delivers to nearly 153 million homes, businesses and PO box addresses. These tips from a postal worker who cares will help you properly address your mail, ship packages, track your mail, send mail out of the country and forward your mail when you move.

 

What’s in an Address? 
I see many cards, letters and packages every day that don’t get where they are going because of a bad address. My company processes and delivers about 523 million pieces of mail each day, according to USPS.com. Most of the mail is processed by machine, not by hand. If the machine can’t read the address or it’s not a valid address, your mail won’t make it where it’s going. A return address helps mail without a valid address be returned to sender. The address of the person sending the mail should always be written in the top left hand corner of the letter or package. The address of the person receiving the mail goes in the center of your letter or package. Be sure to write the name, street address or box number, city, state and zip code in that order for both addresses.

Box It Up and Pack It Well
When you’re mailing something thicker than 1/2 inch, don’t try to stuff it into a flat envelope. I know it’s cheaper to send an envelope than a package, but merchandise put into envelopes is often damaged by the machine process. Using a padded envelope or box instead of an envelope means your package will arrive in one piece, instead of coming to me in lots of little pieces. Be sure to add bubble wrap, shredded paper, styrofoam peanuts or other packaging material to protect the contents from damage. Use tape, not string, to close your box.

If It’s Important, Track it
I know everyone wants to save money, but anything important should be sent with tracking. Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail and Standard Mail parcels all come with free tracking. Letters and large envelopes can be tracked using Certified Mail. Consider purchasing insurance for anything of value. Be sure to hold onto the receipt until the item is delivered. We can only track your mail with the article number.

Shipping Across the Ocean: It’s Not the Same
It costs the same to mail to someone deployed in the military as mailing to someone in the U.S., but it’s a little more expensive to send to a non-military person living in a foreign country. Packages going overseas or to military APO, FPO or DPO addresses require a customs form. On the customs form, you need to fill out a detailed list of the contents, including weight and value of each item. If you don’t plan ahead, you might have to open your box at my counter to fill out the customs form. Check USPS.com for nonmailable items and country-specific listings of items which are forbidden to be mailed to your destination.

Tell Us When You Move
Tell us where you’re going before you move and we’ll forward your important mail to your new home. Mail forwarding is provided for free for 12 months for First Class Mail, Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. If you move without filling out a change of address form, your mail will be returned to sender. Most standard mail, including catalogs and advertising mail, can’t be forwarded or returned to sender, unless the mailer requests and pays for the service.

We Care
Most postal workers are like me. We want to help you send and receive mail without delays. Spend a little extra time preparing your cards, letters and packages and your mail will arrive at its destination, making all of us happy. Learn more about our pricing and products at USPS.com.

Original Article

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How Secure Is Your Mail?

How Secure Is Your Mail?

securemailIn this day of heightened security awareness, how secure is your mail?

Not only the piece of paper in an envelope, but what about your data?

 

Let’s take it from the top:
Is your data transmitted to your printer in a secure transmission? Do you know that it was securely received and when? Do you know that what you transmitted is what was received?

What about the printed piece? Is the print facility secure? Is it video monitored? Is visitor access restricted? Are data servers and processing centers secured and with limited access?

Once printed, are steps taken to ensure that there is no “double feeding” of documents into a single envelope? Is there a process to track an individual mail piece from beginning to end? Is there record that all printed pieces are accounted for and inserted to an envelope?

What happens once this piece of paper is printed, folded, and inserted? Is your mail retrieved by the USPS? If so, is that USPS truck sealed – meaning only authorized USPS employees may remove that mail from the truck?

Just a few questions to ponder – and perhaps to ask of your print and/or mail provider before your next mailing.

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