Posts Tagged Stamp

Tips to Manage Postage Rate Increase

Tips to Manage Postage Rate Increase

Now that the Postal Service has raised rates again (this is the largest rate hike in the past 11 years), it seems like a good time to review steps you can take to help manage your postage costs.

  1. Take advantage of a local mailhouse or presort vendor.  Presorting your mail lets you take advantage of reduced postage rates. There are many ways you can work with a vendor; they can manage your data, print your mailpiece and mail it for you or perhaps all you need is a daily pick up of your already prepared mail. Either way, savings are there for you. uspostagerateincrease
  2. Keep a clean, healthy database.  Make sure all of your addresses are complete, correct and updated.  When you receive Undeliverable As Addressed mail back from USPS make sure you update your data accordingly. No sense in mailing people who have moved or are deceased.
  3. Dedupe your data.  If your data includes multiple contacts with similar sounding titles within a company, can you mail to just one of those people? Are you seeing duplicates such as John Sample and John Q Sample at the same address? Check for duplicates both by name and address.
  4. Personalize and target your mailing.  Studies have shown that the more personalized and targeted your offer is, the greater response you will receive. Build and manage data such as last purchase, date of last service or purchase, geographic area or household income. The list of ways to segment and create relevant messages/offers is endless. 
  5. Use multichannel marketing.  Follow up your mailed promotion with email. Try to keep the same look and feel of your mailpiece. Include a link to your website, other marketing page or survey if appropriate. You can use a QR code or pURL on your mailpiece to drive recipients to your website.

Postage rate increases are uncomfortable for mailers. The USPS points out that the increases over the past few years have kept pace with inflation. The change is intended to generate $2 billion in annual revenue for the Postal Service.

As a reminder, below are the new full pay, retail rates.

  • 1 ounce First Class letter – $0.49
  • Each additional ounce $0.21
  • Postcards $0.34
  • 1 ounce letters to all International destinations $1.15

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USPS Update | Rate Increase January 26th, 2014

Increased 2014 Postage Rates – Effective January 26, 2014

uspspostalrateincreaseJanuary 26, 2014 Mailing Services Price Change

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?

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USPS | Possible Exigent Rate Increase

Possible Exigent Rate Increase?

There has been talk lately of the USPS requesting an exigent postage rate increase from the Board of Governors.

What is an “exigent” postage rate increase?

The current law is that postage rate increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index. The rates increases we have seen annually over the past few years fall into this category. While no one particularly likes an increased cost (although USPS remains the best bargain for mail worldwide), tying it to CPI makes budgeting fairly simple.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines exigent as “requiring immediate aid or action” or “requiring or calling for much”. In the case of the Postal Service, this is a request for a postage rate increase above the CPI when there are extraordinary circumstances.uspsPrateincrease

What are the extraordinary circumstances? Uncertain or lack of postal reform certainly plays into it, along with continued financial losses. In addition, the USPS has made efforts at internal cost containment. Is it enough?

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reports in its Direct from Washington newsletter:

With reason to believe that the United States Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors may vote on a potential exigency rate increase in early September, the Affordable Mail Alliance (AMA), including the DMA, sent a letter to the Governors voicing their opposition of such an increase. The letter expressed concern about the negative effects that would come with such an increase, especially for the mailing industry and its suppliers. The letter recognized the continued financial struggles that confront USPS, but also stated that an exigent rate increase is not the solution to those struggles. With recent improvement in the USPS balance sheet, the letter stated that an exigency filing ‘at this point would be premature’.

Strahm will keep our customers up-to-date with decisions and potential rate increases.

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How Long Has the USPS Been Around?

This Day In History: U.S.P.S. Established

1000788_498690280199370_1481525519_nCan 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.

You may already know that Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General. Previous to this he was the Postmaster in Philadelphia and one of two joint Postmasters General for the original colonies.

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.

Ben Franklin set up new, more efficient routes and cut delivery time between Philadelphia and New York by having relay teams of wagons travelling night and day. He also devised the first postage rate charge with costs based on delivery distance and piece weight.

These improvements were considered so radical that the British fired Franklin in 1774. A year later, Congress made his appointment to Postmaster General of the United Colonies. Franklin remained in this position until 1776, when he left the colonies to become a diplomat to France.

In 1789, President George Washington appointed Samuel Osgood as the first Postmaster General of the United States under the new U.S. constitution. At the time there were approximately 75 post offices in the country.

Today there are over 40,000 post offices and the postal service delivers 212 billion pieces of mail annually to over 144 million homes and businesses. And yet many of the improvements instituted by Benjamin Franklin are still in use.

Way to go, Ben! Your revolutionary ideas of how a postal service should operate make the USPS one of the most cost effective and efficient postal services in the world – handling 44% of the world’s total mail volume.

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The Triumphant Return of Mr. ZIP | 50 Years

How Much Do You Think About ZIP Codes?

logo1It’s just a string of numbers you add to your letters, cards and packages, right?

There is a whole history, and a pretty cute character, that helped educate your parents and grand parents on how to use these codes and improve mail service.

In July 1963, the postal service implemented the Zone Improvement Plan or ZIP code as it is commonly called.  The ZIP code is comprised of 5 digits specific to an area.  These codes assist in routing mail efficiently for the USPS.

Predicting that the public would be less than enthusiastic about memorizing not only their ZIP code, but those of family and friends, the USPS introduced Mr. ZIP in late 1962.

Mr. ZIP appeared on buttons, signs, magazines, and even the edges of a sheet of stamps. The point was to educate the public and ingrain the use of ZIP codes to all mailers.  Including a ZIP code promised “space-age speed”.

50 years later and Mr. ZIP stands as one of the most successful ad icons of all time.  The USPS notes that by 1967, 80% of all Americans recognized him and knew what he stood for.

Mr. ZIP was retired in 1986, but with the 50 year anniversary in 2013, you can expect to see him popping up all over the place.  He even has his own page on the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum websitemr_zip_650x300_a01_101201_e

This simple doodle was able to move the general public into participating in the Zone Improvement Plan – which increased efficiency and speed for the USPS for generations to come.

Please enjoy this video from the mid-1960’s starring our friend, Mr. ZIP!

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USPS Update | Rate Increase January 27th, 2013

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 usps2013
– 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!

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Tips For Preparing Your Holiday Mail

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:

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          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:

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          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
Postmaster
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:

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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!

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USPS: 2012 New Stamps!

2012 USPS New Issue Stamps

Every year I watch and wait for the USPS to announce its annual new issue stamps.  A visually stunning stamp can attract a customer’s attention to your mailpiece for the cost of, well, a stamp!

Stamp products can come in booklets, panes and coils in various quantities and denominations.  Most First Class mail 1-ounce stamps are “Forever” but there are still other denominated stamps available.

Some of the new issues this year include Spectrum Eagle, Wedding Cake, Weathervanes, Dogs at Work and the next in the popular Love series.

You can find the 2012 New Issues here:  http://www.stampnewsnow.com/uspsnewissues.html

Business mailers can sign up with the Postal Services Stamps Now program to cover all their stamp needs.  For information, call 1-800-STAMP-24 (1-800-782-6724) or 816-545-1282 or email at stampsnow.info@usps.gov

The Stamp Services Fulfillment Center in Kansas City is a terrific resource for obtaining these and other stamps all year round.

Try using an eye catching stamp on your next mailpiece.  They’re not only beautifully designed and crafted, but fun for your recipients.

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