Archive for category USPS
Tips for Making Direct Mail Eco-Friendly!
Eco-friendly direct mail – kind of sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Believe it or not there are more and more ways to make your mail greener than ever before. Direct-mail only accounts for 2.4% of landfill waste but many opportunities exist to lessen its environmental impact even more. Here are some green ideas for direct mailers:
• Regularly update and maintain your mailing list to eliminate duplications and waste
- Practice list hygiene regularly – clean your mailing lists to remove those who are deceased or others who are unlikely to respond
• Use research to effectively target your customers. For example, people who live in apartment buildings probably don’t need lawn services
• Proofread copy using Adobe PDF rather than hard copy
• Allow customers to opt out of your mailings to ensure you’re not sending them unwanted mail
• Use recycled materials for the mailings you create
- Due to the increase in awareness of global resources, there are now many earth-friendly options when choosing paper and printer inks. Using paper and inks that are made of alternative materials helps reduce the amount of dangerous and wasteful substances used
• Print on both sides of the paper to save resources and reduce mailing costs
• Encourage your customers to recycle the mailing once they’ve read it. Adding a recycle symbol to your mail is free and is a good way to remind recipients that the mail piece is recyclable
New products exist as well for mailers including ecoEnvelopes. ecoEnvelopes is one of the many companies out there that are making direct marketers greener and more profitable than ever before. The Eden Prairie, MN based company creates a recyclable envelope that has a two-way indicia, which eliminate the need for a separate return envelope. ecoEnvelopes not only save money by eliminating one envelope, but they cut down on needed storage space and insertion costs. Interested in seeing how they work? Watch the short video below to see how:
Using Color to Influence Consumer Behavior
Have you ever looked at something red and felt a pang of hunger? How about something blue and felt calmed? For most, the effects colors have on our mood and feelings aren’t that obvious. It’s true though that the ties between emotion and color are deeply rooted in psychology and play a huge role in today’s marketing methods to influence consumer behavior.
Many of the most recognizable brands in the world rely on color as a key factor for brand recognition. Coca Cola has remained true to red while Pepsi is synonymous with blue. Victoria’s Secret reminds many of pink. The Starbucks logo is tied to green. In marketing, color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent. Often times color is the first thing you see when looking at something – it gives a strong first impression that doesn’t leave the mind long after you stop looking at an image. Visually appealing images feed into strengthening a company’s look and brand and in turn influence consumer behaviour towards their brand. It has been found that ads in color are read up to 42% more often than the very same ads in black and white. Trying to strengthen your branding or come up with something entirely new? Here’s a quick guide to the 10 most common colors used in marketing and their associated feelings and keywords. In Western culture the following colors are associated with the following qualities or emotions:
Red – power, attention grabbing, bold, love, life (blood)
Blue – trustworthy, tranquil, honor, productivity
Pink – fun, frilly, typically speaks to female demographic, tenderness
Yellow – commands attention, liveliness, energy
Green – warm and inviting, denotes nature, environment, goodwill, wealth (money)
Purple – royalty, elegance, prestige, wealth
Gold – elegant and prestigious, rich
Orange – energy, fun, cool, cutting edge
Brown – Earthy, comforting, relaxation
Black – most versatile color, can convey modern or traditional feel, ads drama, power and authority, evil, gloom
New Mail Delivery Schedule to Begin in August
The US Postal Service announced plans yesterday to transition mail delivery to 5 days a week (Monday – Friday), beginning the week of August 5th. Package delivery will remain unchanged at 6 days a week (Monday – Saturday). The reduction in mail delivery days is a part of a larger plan for the USPS to return to financial stability. Research conducted before the change was announced showed 7 out of 10 Americans supported a 5 day delivery plan – and that was for both mail and package services changes! The reduction in mail delivery days is estimated to save the postal service $2 billion annually and will reduce 45 million hours of work per year. Posting a $15.9 billion dollar loss last fiscal year, the USPS must act quickly to stabilize finances and return to profitability.
Parts of the new operating plan include keeping post offices open on Saturdays during regular operating hours. Mail will still be delivered to PO boxes on Saturdays as well. The decision to keep package delivery at 6 days a week was influenced heavily by the 14% growth in package services by the USPS within the last 2 years. E-commerce continues to drive package delivery and the postal service wants to maintain their strength as delivery provider of choice amongst Americans. With package delivery remaining untouched at 6 days a week, delivery of important goods such as pharmaceuticals and medical supplies will not be impacted.
The USPS reaffirms their commitment to business mailers, residential customers, and their employees with the announcement of the updated delivery schedule. More detailed implementation plans will be released in March giving a clearer picture of the overall changes to take place. The new mail delivery schedule is an important step in helping the Postal Service to achieve savings while continuing to meet customer needs. The USPS continues to seek legislation that will provide it with greater flexibility to control cost and generate new sources of revenue. The reality is that America’s mail habits are changing and forcing the USPS to change as well. The new mail delivery schedule is an important part of helping the Postal Service regain its strength and continue delivering to every address nationwide.
Have You Stocked Up On Forever Stamps Yet?
Just a reminder that postage rates will increase this Sunday, January 27th. A summary of a few of the changes are detailed in the tables below – a more comprehensive listing can be found with the USPS at http://pe.usps.com/. Business mailing rates will be changing as well during this time. If you work with a business mail provider then they will be able to tell you your new rates and any applicable changes.
Forever stamps are a great way to help combat the rising cost of postage. The USPS has released a handful of new forever stamps in 2013 – a few of the new designs can be seen below. Plan ahead and don’t be caught off guard on Monday!
Increased 2013 Postage Rates – Effective January 27, 2013
Less than a year ago the USPS increased postage rates a penny and rates are going up again in 2013. Overall, prices will increase an average of 2.6 percent for each class of mail. The Postal Service filed new mailing service prices with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in October 2012 and the changes were approved within the next month. By law, USPS cannot increase mailing service pricing no more than the rate of inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index. A completely self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.
Highlights of the pricing changes include:
- First-class letters will increase one cent up to 46 cents
- First-class postcard will increase by one cent to 33 cents
- Flats will increase by two cents to 92 cents
- International first-class pricing will change to one flat rate of $1.10 to any destination in the world. The USPS has also introduced a new Forever stamp for international use, called the Global Forever stamp. This new stamp will always be sold at the price of a single-piece first class international stamp.
- Forever stamps also will still be available and can be used whenever they are needed, as they don’t have a denomination. Forever stamps will also increase to 46 cents.
Several new shipping services products will be available in January as well as increased pricing. New domestic retail pricing for Priority Mail Flat Rate products include:
- Small Box – $5.80
- Medium Box – $12.35
- Large Box – $16.85
- Regular Envelope – $5.60
- Legal Envelope – $5.75
- Padded Envelope – $5.95
Prices for other mailing services including Standard Mail, Periodicals, and other business class mail will also see price increases in a variety of categories. For more detailed pricing information from the USPS visit www.usps.com/prices. Still need more? Strahm also offers a Customer Resource Center containing up to date information regarding the January 27th rate increase and much more!
USPS Promotions – Direct Mail Mobile
Program Period: March 1 – April 30, 2013
Registration Period: January 15 – April 30, 2013
Discount Amount: 2% of eligible postage
Eligible Mail Classes: Standard Mail letters and flats, Nonprofit Standard Mail letters and flats, First Class Mail presort and automation letters, cards and flats.
Registration Requirements: Must register on the Business Customer Gateway via the Incentive Program service and agree to promotion terms. Must specify which permits and/or CRIDs will be participating in the program. It is recommended that mailers register several days in advance of the qualifying mailing. As part of terms of agreement, mailer will complete a survey about their participation in the promotion.
The promotion expands on previous initiatives and continues the Postal Service’s strategy encouraging mailers to tie direct mail with mobile technology. Business mailers are being offered two ways to participate and increase value in their mail.
Mailers will use a mobile barcode or other technology to drive the recipient to a digital coupon or lead them to a site that initiates a one-touch phone call on the mobile device.
Growth in digital coupons is expected to continue as internet and smart phone usage expand. Consumers are more comfortable with technology than ever.
This promotion will encourage mailers to integrate hard-copy coupons in the mail with mobile devices, without facilitating a digital relationship between businesses and consumers as an alternative to mail.
Components of Mobile Coupon
- The physical mailpiece must be a coupon
- The coupon is a voucher or code entitling the holder to a discount off the price of a particular product or service
- Discount is offered only to mailpiece recipients and is not a discount or sale price on a product/service available to all consumers
- Coupon mailpiece must contain one of the following print-mobile technologies
- 2D barcode, RFID chip, NFC Smart Tag on the mailpiece that can be scanned or read by a mobile device linking to a mobile coupon that can then be stored on the mobile device
- A short number to be used to initiate text message communication. The text message triggers an SMS/EMS or MMS message with a one-time coupon or coupon code. Texts that allow a consumer to sign up for ongoing coupon delivery via text are not eligible.
- Coupon Redemption
- Coupon mailpiece must be redeemable at retail locations by both methods described below.
- The mailpiece coupon can be presented at a retail location to receive discount
- The print-mobile technology allows the customer to store the coupon on a mobile device which can be presented at the retail location for discount
- Mailers who sell exclusively online or do not have a retail location where physical coupons can be redeemed must meet the following requirements
- Mailpiece must contain a code that can be used to receive the discount online or through a call center
- Coupon discount is offered only to mailpiece recipients
- Mailpiece must contain a mobile-print technology such as mobile barcode, RFID chip or smart tag.
- The whole of the shopping experience and path to purchase must be mobile optimized
- Coupon mailpiece must be redeemable at retail locations by both methods described below.
The USPS FAQ can be found here: https://ribbs.usps.gov/mobilebarcode/documents/tech_guides/upcoming/MobileCouponandClicktoCallFAQs.pdf
We encourage you to be creative and have fun with this promotion! If there are any questions we can answer or you need additional information, please call one of our Customer Service Representatives at (816) 756-2733.
Tips for Preparing Your Holiday Mail
With the holiday season quickly approaching it’s time to start thinking about your holiday mailings! Whether it’s sending party invitations to a Christmas gift exchange or holiday greeting cards to your friends and family there are several things to keep in mind for this special mail.
- Accessorize your mail with holiday specific stamps
Each year the USPS releases several different stamps that are specifically designed to help event specific mail stand out and feel more personalized. There are many options available and can help add some character to your mail. Below are the stamps available for the 2012 holiday season from the USPS:
- If you’re mailing an invitation to a holiday party and are including an RSVP that needs to be mailed back, apply a stamp to encourage recipient response. You’re more likely to get responses faster and in larger number if you make it easier for guests to respond. Not only that I’m certain they’ll be appreciative of your forethought in paying the postage!
- To make your mail feel more personalized try using a font that resembles hand writing either to address the envelope or compose the message in the card or invitation. Using handwritten fonts is a great way to trick recipients into thinking their mail piece was written and addressed by hand. Below are a few examples of some commonly used handwriting fonts available in Microsoft Word:
- Postage rates will vary depending on the size and weight of your mail piece. There are some unusual holiday cards sold in stores anymore – with pop ups, irregular sizes, and protruding pieces such as bows and decals. These irregular cards may require additional postage or even worse be damaged during high speed sorting due to non-uniformed thickness. If you are in doubt and think your mail may need extra postage or is not uniformly thick check with your local post office first! If incorrect postage has been applied then your mail will be returned to you and your cards may not reach the recipients in time for the holiday – now that’s a real Bah Humbugh!
- If you’re looking for an extra special touch to your holiday card or invitation try using a postmark from a special location! There are several post offices in cities across the United States that frequently apply their postmark to mail – cities such as Christmas, FL, Noel, MO, and Santa Claus, IN just to name a few. A postmark will be applied to the outside of the envelope and will include the city from which it was sent. One of the most common postmarks requested during the holiday season is for the North Pole, AK. All you need to do is package and send your completed (including stamps) mail to the following address:
North Pole Christmas Cancellation
5400 Main Trail
Fairbanks, AK 99709-9998
The postmark request mail MUST arrive in Fairbanks before December 15 to meet the Christmas deadline and empty envelopes will not be processed as they are typically damaged during high speed sorting. Think of the possibilities – maybe you could even have Santa send your child a letter this Christmas with an authentic North Pole postmark! Here is a sample of last year’s North Pole postmark complete with Santa Claus crescent:
The holidays are a great time to send a special message to friends and family. Take advantage of all the special offerings the USPS has to add that special touch to your mail this holiday season!
USPS Promotions and Incentives Announced for 2013
The USPS was so successful with the Mobile Barcode incentives over the past two years, that similar incentives are offered and new incentives are being rolled out.
All programs will require the use of Intelligent Mail barcodes and electronic documentation submission.
Mobile Coupon/Click to Call
March 1 – April 30, 2013 (registration January 15 – April 30, 2013)
This promotion is based on showing the value of direct mail by encouraging customers to integrate printed coupons in the mail with mobile accessibility to redeem the coupon. An upfront 2% postage discount is offered.
Earned Value Reply Mail Promotion
April 1 – June 30, 2013 (registration January 1 – March 31, 2013)
First Class Mail Business Reply and Courtesy Reply mailers will receive a $0.02 postage credit for each piece of Business Reply Mail (BRM) or Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) piece that is scanned in the postal network. This promotion encourages mailers to provide a reply mechanism that would utilize the USPS as a service provider for consumer replies.
August 1 – September 30, 2013 (registration June 15 – September 30, 2013)
Designed to promote awareness of new technologies such as Near-Field Communication, Augmented Reality and Authentication, this promotion builds on the success of past Mobile Barcode promotions. Mailers receive an upfront 2% postage discount.
August 1 – September 30, 2013 (registration June 15 – September 30, 2013)
The Picture Permit promotion is designed to increase the use of picture permit indicia, which improves a mailpiece’s visibility and impact as a marketing tool. First Class letters and postcards will receive a $0.01 discount per piece, and Standard Mail letters will be discounted $0.02 per piece.
August 1 – September 30, 2013 (registration May 1 – September 30, 2013)
The Product Samples promotion rewards mailers with a 5% upfront postage discount on qualifying mail that contains product samples. The objective is to re-invigorate product sampling through the mail.
November 1 – December 31, 2013 (registration September 15 – December 31, 2013)
An upfront 2% postage discount to mailers adopting and investing in technologies that enhance and engage consumers with mail. Objective is to show how direct mail combined with mobile technology can be a convenient method for consumers to do their holiday shopping.
Details of each program in a handy, downloadable guide – https://ribbs.usps.gov/mobilebarcode/documents/tech_guides/FY13PromotionsCalendar.pdf
New Regulations For Folded Self-Mailers
January 5, 2013
There will be new regulations for folded self-mailers (FSM) and other unenveloped mail pieces beginning January 5, 2013. These new rules do not apply to cards, envelopes, booklet style letters or mailpieces designed to carry discs.
You should make sure to use up any old stock and make design changes now before the deadline sneaks up on you! Review the regulations and compare with your existing mailpieces to insure they meet requirements. Don’t get stuck with unmailable pieces or higher postage rates.
- Length: Minimum 5” and maximum 10 ½”
- Height: Minimum 3 ½” and maximum 6”
- Thickness: Minimum 0.007” (0.009” if the height exceeds 4 ¼” or the length exceeds 6”) Maximum thickness is ¼”
- Weight: Maximum 3 ounces
- Rectangular, with four square corners and parallel opposite sides
- Aspect Ratio (length divided by height) 1.3 to 2.5 inclusive
The regulations include information on “panels” and approved folding and panel configurations. Sealing options are also addressed – including glue lines, spot glue and tabbing options. There are also options for other design elements such as die cuts, perforations, loose enclosures and attachments.
More information regarding the revised regulations can be found on the RIBBS website: https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=fsm
Please feel free to contact a Strahm Customer Service Representative should you have any questions about these new regulations. (816) 756-2733 or email@example.com
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.