Mailing Services, Direct Mail Partnership

As a mailing services provider and someone who has helped set up many mailshops over the years, I regularly find a lack of honest communication. Too often I find clients want to hold back from revealing the full details of a project for fear of putting too much on the table.

For example, a client may need to sell 500 hotel rooms in the next two weeks for fear of losing their job (random example), but instead of sharing that, they just say “I need a bid on a postcard mailing”.

Pull us into your battle! Get us involved in your mission. We have decades of experience at making things happen. Engage us!

The big crime in the scenario I just described is when they end up going with the lowest bidder because that is what they are trained to do. Then the event fails. No 500 rooms, no success – no job.

The proper bid-request should be “How can I use direct mail to fill 500 rooms in two weeks?” and then let the games begin. Now you will have idea after idea flowing your way and the good vendors quickly rise to the top. You can then make an informed decision based on your ACTUAL goals.

When you build a true relationship with a direct marketing mailing services shop as opposed to a average direct mail is an add-on vendor, you will find the direct mail success you seek.

Feel free to email me if you want to talk about it more.

A calendar with YOUR events on it. All over the web!

How much would you pay to advertise your special events on someone else’s website?  How about hundreds of websites where people are looking very specifically for events to attend?

 Special offer code: GH09BLG to do it for free! Priceless!

Well, that is how works. has become a national calendar of events, but listing your event with them is just the beginning. also provides calendar embeds for websites where your events will show up all over the web . active event areas:Calendar Users

So as the event season nears, has allowed us to give you this SPECIAL OFFER CODE: GH09BLG to add your events for free. This will give your events the extra exposure you desire and offer more events for your visitors to enjoy.  Win-win.

Additionally, I mentioned the calendar embeds. If you need an events calendar for your website you can grab one of these while you are there.  Show all events, just your events, or even private events that you have posted on  They work with Myspace, Facebook and standard websites too.

Just a couple of notes:

1) We noticed the site works best in Internet Explorer but we’re told some Firefox updates are planned.

2) Some people forget to upload their image. You cannot do it after the fact so if you forget to do this, delete the event and re-add it with your image included.

After you add your event you can log back into MyStuff and see your event stats, how many reminders have been set and your event views.

They said “add as many events as you like this year”, so the special offer code is good for all of 2009.  You enter it at checkout.

Direct Mail Flats Postage Rates are Under-Attack

What do you get when you take the heaviest piece of mail possible and force it to either jump through hoops or pay huge postage increases? You get the single largest opportunity for the US Postal Service to increase its income quickly.

As someone who has processed flats and catalogs, I can’t say I blame them due to the backbreaking nature of these heavy cumbersome pieces. But we like to help you save postage at each turn.  So I am here to guide you through this new information.

USPS Poster 182, January 2009 Specifically Reads:

New Address Standards for Commercial Flat-Size Mail
Effective March 29th 2009

Since you can download the document I won’t copy it verbatim. But I do want to talk about what I see and how it relates to all of you.

The first and most obvious aspect of this entire change of mail processing category is the conversation about the “top” of the mailpiece and specifically if it is on the right or on the left of the publication.  Let me repeat that because it sounds so odd (so postal).  The TOP is on the RIGHT or LEFT. *chuckling to myself*

Anyway, once you get oriented about RIGHT, LEFT, TOP and “bound edge” this gets easier to understand.

Look at this example:

Notice the Magazine is upside down to us and the address is vertical and parallel to the bound edge. To us this makes the most sense because if you rotated this 90 degrees to the right it would be envelope shaped and the address would be in the correct area.  Unfortunately, this is with an address block on the front cover. However, “front cover” is not required but the orientation is.  This is not the same place all of you are addressing right now so this was the most important change to look at. Be aware of the address block to the bound edge.

Here is another example:

This is where it goes from obvious to bizarre. First, you now see the “top half” is the bottom half of the magazine. You also see that the address is no longer in the top half and the address block is also inverted.  Interestingly enough this is considered with a “loose enclosure” which means it can slide around, however they want it in a specific location.  I have to imagine this was built very specifically to a certain project or projects because it doesn’t make much sense at first glance.

Here is another example:

This format seems like it makes sense to the Post Office but I imagine they just don’t realize that this is one of the biggest money spots on a magazine. A back cover ad is real estate that we do not want to give up.  It is very common to address on the lower half of the back cover, but rarely ever on the top.

I see this example as the most common money maker for the post office as they struggle to make you give up the largest money makers for you. You’re just going to have to move your customers’ ads to the bottom half and make them happy about it somehow. It is the same square footage ad space but it does feel submissive to the addressing itself.  Remember, this heavy magazine mails at first-class rates without it. $1 or more each.

Perhaps it is time to start addressing on the cover to save this valuable ad space.
Put it where you would put the newsstand UPC for non-mailed versions.

Last Example:

I think the most important part to observe on the large envelopes is that in either example the return address is on the left. The “top half” appears to be whichever side the mail-to address is on. These two formats have the smallest change and the option at the right is already the standard in all the large envelopes we mail.

In summary, the biggest concern from our perspective is magazines. There are so many of them out there that are mailed in the first week of each month.  I imagine that April 1st is going to be April Fools Day to so many of the Post Office’s largest customers. But this time you won’t be laughing.

Mailing Services for Database Marketing

If you are researching direct mail vendors on, what you really need to ask is:
The direct mail industry is full of “so-so” companies that struggle every day with new barcodes, new postage, new technology and changing regulations.

PLUS, what about the results you want from your direct marketing investment?

At CSG Direct, we have a long history in direct mail as direct mail trainers, mailroom managers, database marketing managers and mailroom equipment operators and technicians. We know you aren’t dabbling in direct mail and neither are we. We have one of the friendliest but most experienced teams in the direct mail business.

    America’s First Live Job Tracking System in Direct Mail – 1999 

    America’s First public bulk mailpiece tracking systems – 2008  (reuters)(Yahoo News)

    25 USPS Certified Employees working on all aspects of your projects

    Direct NCOALink® Limited Service Licensee with the US Postal Service® (

    Our prowess in database-driven everything

    Providing some of the Greatest Value in Direct Mail – Bonus Bucks, free advertising, great pricing and more…

We live and breathe direct mail strategy and results! In my experience, if you go with the cheapest bid in direct mail you are likely better to have not mailed at all. The road to direct mail success is littered with the bones of people who thought they tried direct mail only to fail because they thought they we’re saving a few bucks.

You are here today because you need results – so don’t click away. We promise you the Greatest Value in Direct Mail right here! We have the testimonials, the skills and experience; you have a project. Let’s get to work!

The 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail – Sin #4

…and how our clients avoid them and save thousands

We continue along with Sin #4:

Direct Mail Sin #4

Varnish or aqueous coatings

Some customers often need stuff printed and mailed much quicker than the normal required time. This crunch often leaves printers with no choice but to varnish or coat the print in order to meet the deadline. The problem is that this process seals out all additional inks needed in the mailing process. Allow the time needed for your print and mail project and require that no varnish or aqueous coat be used on address panels.

OR just have us print and mail the entire project and save yourself lots of headaches and get the speed you need.

Yes, there are inks that “work” on these coatings but they are not only tempermental, but inconsistent and we usually have to run at half speeds to use them.  This is not efficient and it ultimately costs you more money.

Don’t save one day with a printer just to lose a day or more in mailing services or the mailstream and ruin your mailpieces and delivery times from the US Postal Service.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail – Sin #3

…and how our clients avoid them and save thousands

We continue along with Sin #3:

Direct Mail Sin #3

Direct mailer approval before printing

Our job at CSG Direct is to help your designs and offers make it through the USPS to your intended recipients. We are your liaison to the US Postal Service. Let us help by getting your final design approved before you get it printed – a free service from CSG Direct.

Direct mail design is an art form of its own.  There are so many things to consider when designing a mailpiece.

First and foremost you want it to go through the Post Office efficiently so it makes it to your customers and prospects.

Second, you want to minimize postage and maximize mail services. Mostly, you just want the lowest postage you can get but you also want to have it delivered within a short time frame as well.  That balance is important.

Third, it is important to have a design that is cost efficient when printing. There is often a way to cut 1/4″ and cut 15% of your costs.  The opposite is also true.  Often you can add 1 or 2 inches of area for the same costs. You really want to know those things.

Not to digress, but I would rather have a higher priced vendor that managed these things for me than save $100 and miss out on all this information and details.

We balance all of these details for you and have taken it one step further.  We have dedicated ourselves to the task by training and certifying 25 of our employees as Mailpiece Quality Control Specialists by the US Postal Service.

We know it is 10 times better to have direct mail specialists that can keep you up to date and ahead of the pack than it is to hire cheap labor and offer substandard service.

So, Direct Mail Sin #3 is not getting your mailer approved and maximized prior to printing. You can no longer afford to pay for mistakes that can be prevented by proper professionals.

Speed, Quality, Price – Like the Law of Gravity

There is a common industry insider expression that I wanted to share with the rest of you.  It is considered as obvious and unbreakable as the laws of gravity on our planet.

The expression poses this choice to a client:

This expression is fun to play when you realize its validity. Many vendors will promise all three and only deliver one. Most vendors aim to provide all three, only to find that competitors and customer requests prevent it. Like the law of gravity, to try and ignore the rules may be dangerous to your programs.

Some of the reasons for this are:

No low quality shop can offer the high end services of a high quality shop so they have no choice but to be cheaper.  Saving $200 on an invoice may cost you $20,000 in direct mail results.  It usually does.

Also, for any shop to move a project quickly they have to consider the option of overtime pay which is 150% of normal wages. So higher speed always makes for higher cost.

Let’s play with a few of these:

* High Quality Print – Overnight – Costs Extra

* Low Cost Print – High Quality – Takes Time

* Low Quality Print – Done Quickly – Costs Less

Anyway, it’s yours to play with and now you know an industry insider’s secret.

I have tested it myself over the years and it holds true.

If a printer tells me he will print it fast and keep the costs down – the print always shows up damaged, scored wrong or with color problems.

If a vendor promises low cost, high quality work; it always shows up 3 days late. Perhaps you’re all familiar with this one?

We at CSG Direct are focused on quality and speed and we use our high quality staff (25 MQC certified by the USPS) to identify ways to save money through intelligent programs. With high quality staff you have more high quality options.  That is how we attempt to capture all three of the above choices. But sometimes customers just don’t allow us to provide our full service and maximize this process.

Direct mail is not an industry to cut quality on, especially if you want to save money! I have seen too many low cost vendors ruin entire campaigns because they offer low prices and miss all the most important steps (maximizing every step is important.)

Direct mail is a details business. Demand quality if you want success.  We’ll help you find ways to balance cost and speed from there.  Knowing what you’re dealing with is half the battle.

Mailing Services Have to Change with New Postage Rates

As most everyone knows, the postal rates for First Class postage rates are increasing on May 11, 2009 to 44 cents. Whenever a rate change is announced that the general public sees, a lot of rates and classifications are also changed for the business mailers (mail houses). One of the significant changes being proposed is the size and handling of self mailers and letter-size booklets. Some of the proposed changes include:

Larger Tabs: The post office is seeking to require two 1″ tabs on self-mailers and three 1 ½” tabs on booklets (2″ on larger and heavier booklets). The placement of tabs will also be a part of the proposed rule change, with more tabs required.

Smaller Size Limitations: The postal service has determined that folded self-mailers and booklets do not process as efficiently as envelopes, and seek to require smaller dimensional tolerances. The proposed rule will limit the size of self mailers and booklets to 6″ x 10 ½” x 0.25″.

Perforated Tabs: Perforated tabs will be eliminated under the proposed rule changes.

Paper Stock: The paper stock that self-mailers and booklets are printed on will likely be amended, and the paper requirements will be based on the piece size.

These changes are intended to assist the postal service in processing mail more efficiently. Unfortunately, it places the burden on the direct mailer and businesses preparing the mailing. The post office will be able to run more efficiently, but everyone else will be slowed down due to increased processing and higher supply costs. Many current mailpiece designs that are set up as templates will need to be revisited as well. As I stated before, the increase in postage is merely a single facet of the changes for the businesses whose livelihood is put to the test with each regulatory change.

This is an important time to partner with an experienced Mailing Services company, such as CSG Direct. We can help guide you through these tumultuous changes. With our staff of United States Postal Service MQC (Mailpiece Quality Control) trained specialists, you can be certain that your project is in capable and caring hands. As marketing budgets grow tighter, customer response and cost-saving methodology are more important than ever. It is critical to market… but even more critical to market wisely. CSG Direct is a leader in direct marketing because we offer experience, value and cutting-edge innovation coupled with individuals who are passionate about our customer’s success.
The difference isn’t just noticeable…. it’s obvious!

Please feel free to share your comments.

Guest blogger Dave Carsten is the general manager of CSG Direct, Inc.

First-Class Postage Rates Increase Hides the Real Story

We just completed the update on our postage rates short sheet that we share with our clients and prospects alike. It’s a quick glance sheet of the most common rates achieved with all of our mailing services clients. You can find the new postage rates on our homepage.

During my last 20 years in direct mail I have studied the interesting dynamics of the varying rate adjustments made by the US Postal Service each year.  You can tell a lot about the troubles or changes needed at the Post Office by finding the nuances in the rate adjustments.

For years the US Postal Service had been spreading the rates out to create benefits for automation processing.  It was a huge trend for about a decade.  I am noticing that this is no longer the big push over the last few rate cases.

Looking at the First-Class Mail postage rates this year I see that the First-Class stamp went up 5% to 44 cents.  The First-Class non-automation rate went up as well – from .394 to .414, which is also a 5% increase. Compared to the automation rates for First-Class Mail which only went up 3% it would look like the same automation rate spread was continuing.

In standard postage rates (formerly 3rd class), on the other hand, we see a different trend. Standard non-automation rates practically stayed the same while the automation postage rates went up 4-5%.

This area of the postage rates system is the US Postal Service’s bread and butter. Standard postage is the most common rate paid on every piece of direct mail sent. We have spent years creating innovative ways to help clients elminate First-Class postage costs by moving them to standard postage rates with creative add-ons like NCOA and Track Direct Mail services.

To me, this says a lot about the US Postal Service trying to make money at the risk of scaring off automation investment. The biggest value of a mailing services provider is that they can get you automation rates. Many of us have invested millions of dollars in equipment to do so.  The Post Office continues to put more of the burden of equipment and requirements on the direct mailers. They appear to be seeking ways to prosper under the huge burdens in labor and government intervention they contend with.

In nonprofit postage rates we see this same trend continue. In this case though, non-automation postage rates go down while automation goes up. That is complete irony to me.  I can see though that they may be trying to keep the business of the local churches and nonprofit groups that handle their own mailings.

Recent new requirements by the US Postal Service has made it tougher on the little nonprofits and small realtor groups.  It is completely backwards in my opinion to punish those that follow the program and provide automated mail and then reduce the rates for those that don’t get with the program. Nonprofit postage rates went up 4-6% in the automation category as opposed to down 1-3% for non-automation. This sure has reversed the trend I have watched over the last few decades.

The biggest increases of all (18%) was in the surcharges the US Postal Service charges for non-machineable pieces. Keep this in mind and make sure you are working with a mailing services company like ourselves that is US Postal Service trained and certified.

We should talk about this more – feel free to comment.

Special Events Calendars Embeds From

CSG Direct is proud to be an exclusive partner with in providing our direct mail clients with additional advertising of their special events with every mailing we do.

But did you know that ANYONE can take advantage of’s event calendar embed plug-ins?

Here are a couple live calendars:






Just go to and pick out your favorite style and manage all your public special events at  Then your events end up all over the internet on calendars placed from too.

Great extra exposure considering the free options.

If you don’t see your area (when adding events) do it anyway because they are adding new areas all the time based on demand from your geographic area.