Posts Tagged Postcard
Increased 2014 Postage Rates – Effective January 26, 2014
As per a news release on September 25, 2013 prices for most Postal Service mailing products and services will change on January 26, 2014. This includes First Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services.
The proposed changes are intended to generate $2 billion in incremental annual revenue for the Postal Service.
Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 26, 2014 include:
- Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
- Letters additional ounces — 1-cent increase to 21 cents
- Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
- Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents
Stamp prices have stayed consistent with the average annual rate of inflation of 4.2 percent since the Postal Service was formed in 1971.
Pricing for Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services also will be adjusted.
In a letter from Board of Governors Chairman Mickey Barnett described the “precarious financial condition” of the Postal Service and the “uncertain path toward enactment of postal reform legislation” as primary reasons for seeking price changes above the CPI increase. He also indicated that the price adjustment above the CPI increase is necessary in order to ensure that the Postal Service will be able to maintain and continue the development of postal services of the type and quality which America needs.
“Of the options currently available to the Postal Service to align costs and revenues, increasing postage prices is a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges,” said Barnett in the letter. “However, if these financial challenges were alleviated by the timely enactment of laws that close a $20 billion budget gap, the Postal Service would reconsider its pricing strategy. We are encouraged by the recent introduction of comprehensive postal reform legislation in Congress, and despite an uncertain legislative process, we are hopeful that legislation can be enacted this year.”
Except in exceptional or extraordinary circumstances, postage price increases are capped at the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI-U. The Postal Service is filing a price increase above CPI-U due to extraordinary and exceptional circumstances which have contributed to continued financial losses. The Postal Service recorded a $15.9 billion net loss last fiscal year and expects to record a loss of roughly $6 billion in the current fiscal year, and has an intolerably low level of available liquidity even after defaulting on its obligation to make prefunding payments for retiree health benefits.
If your business is not already using a presort vendor, now is the time to look into that service. With ever increasing postage rates, why not take advantage of discounted rates presort houses are able to offer you?
Letters or Flats?
USPS terms for defining classifications of mail can be confusing. These classifications are based on the size and shape of the mail piece; not only do they determine postage, but they are routed across the country in a different manner as well.
When you are preparing your mail piece, it is important to know what classification your mail fits into since this will directly impact your postage budget.
Letters – machinable and nonmachinable
Flats – machinable and nonmachinable
- Height is at least 3 ½” and no more than 6 1/8”
- Width is at least 5” and no more than 11 ½”
- Thickness is at least 0.007 and no more than ¼”
Letters that can be sorted on automated equipment are eligible for better postage prices than those that are nonmachinable.
Machinable letters meet all of the criteria above and –
- Weigh no more than 3.3 ounces
- Are rectangular in shape – it should meet the aspect ratio, which can be determined by dividing the length by the height. Aspect ratio should be not less than 1.3 or more than 2.5.
Examples of nonmachinable letters include –
- Weight of more than 3.3 ounces
- enclosed in any type of plastic material
- includes strings/buttons/clasps
- contains items such as pens, coins or keys which cause the thickness of the mail piece to be uneven
- too rigid to meet flexibility requirements
- has the address placed the same direction as the shortest side of the mail piece instead of the longest side,
- is a selfmailer with the folded edge perpendicular to the address
- is a booklet that does not meet USPS
Barcoded mail pieces are eligible for discounted postage rates and must meet additional requirements beyond those for machinable letters. Always check with your mail vendor for eligibility.
Special postage rates are given only for First Class postcards meeting eligibility. There is no postcard rate for Standard Class.
Eligibility for First Class postcard price include:
- Rectangular in shape (see how to determine aspect ratio above)
- At least 3 ½” high and not more than 4 ¼” high
- At least 5” long and no more than 6” long
- Thickness is at least 0.007” and no more than 0.016”
Cards larger than outlined above should use Standard Class letter or flat pricing, depending on the size of the card.
This covers the very basics of letters and postcards. Next week we will address the confusing world of flats!
As always, if you have questions or want additional information, our Customer Service Representatives are here to serve you.
Direct Mail Postcards
It’s Spring, except in Kansas City where it’s snowing today, and a good time to think about your direct mail marketing program. Especially for spring/summer seasonal businesses (think lawn service, tree trimming, wedding planners, nurseries) your time to act on a mailing is now.
A terrific way to get your message into customers and prospects hands is with a well crafted postcard. Postcards are inexpensive to produce, have a short message for a quick review by the recipient, and convenient for the recipient to keep/store on refrigerator or cork board for example.
As with all direct mail marketing, you should carefully consider your message (clear, concise), your offer (free trial, time limited discount) and your mailing list (clean out those undeliverable addresses before you mail, ask your mail provider to run an NCOA process to update addresses).
It is also important to make sure you meet the USPS rules for postcards in order to get that great postage rate. The current rate for a single piece postcard is $0.33 and you will want to work with your mailing service to get a discounted automation rate.
Here are some of the postcard basics –
- Physical Characteristics postcards
- Minimum size 3 ½” x 5”
- Maximum size 4 ¼” x 6”
- Minimum thickness .007”
- Maximum thickness .0095”
- Must be rectangular in shape
- Length must be greater than height
- Aspect ratio (length divided by height) between 1.3 and 2.5
- Example: 3 ½” x 5” = aspect ratio of 1.4
- Print Contrast
- Preference is dark type on light paper
- Recommend light pastels or neutrals
- Avoid dark, bright or black papers
- Avoid dark fibers
- Avoid bleed through
- No polywrap, polybag or shrink wrapping please!
- Barcode clear zone
- 5/8” from bottom edge
- Extending 4 ¾” from right edge
- This entire area must be kept free of logos, verbiage, etc
- This is the conventional barcode placement although the barcode may be printed above or below the address block as well
- OCR Address Read Area
- Begins ½” in from left and right edges of mailpiece
- Extends up 2 ¾” from bottom of mailpiece
- Don’t forget to leave the bottom 5/8” of the mailpiece clear for the barcode!
- Address Format
123 Main Street
Anytown, MO ZIP+4
- Preferred Type Fonts
Get started today and get those postcards in the mail!
- Clean up your mailing list
- Decide on a message – make it clean and simple
- Come up with a great offer
- Design your postcard to get the best postage rates
- Consider the use of color, or even colored cardstock, and UV gloss coating for extra “pop”
- Measure response rates – you may need to make adjustments to your list, message or offer for future mailings