Revised Mailing Standards on Folded Self-Mailers and Unenveloped Mailpieces

The Postal Service will revise Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM[supreg]) 201.3.14, to provide new standards for folded self-mailers (FSM) and unenveloped mailpieces that are mailed at automation or machinable prices. To avoid confusion with revised standards for FSM mailpieces having loose enclosures, the Postal Service renames mailpieces that are designed to carry discs, and expands the standards that apply to tabs to include folded self-mailers.

Effective January 5, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Vance (202) 268-7595 or Susan
Thomas (202) 268-8069.

On August 15, 2011, the Postal Service published a Federal Register proposed rule (76 FR 50438-50441) for changes to the design and construction of folded self-mailers and unenveloped mailpieces that are mailed at automation or machinable prices. The proposed standards were issued after two years of collaborative work with mailers to analyze and test a wide variety of folded self-mailer letter-size designs. In response to the proposed standards, the Postal Service received 51 comments. Many of those who commented provided input on more than one aspect of the proposal. Each comment was given consideration and modifications were made to the proposed standards when possible. This final rule will be adopted based on our proposed rule with only minor revisions. These standards do not apply to cards, envelopes, booklet style letters, or mailpieces designed to carry discs.

The final rule includes DMM recommendations for design elements and sealing methods for FSMs. To avoid confusion about the types of mailpieces included in this change, the Postal Service renames mailpieces that are designed to carry discs in 201.3.4. To simplify the requirements that apply to tabs that can be used to seal unenveloped letter-sized mailpieces, DMM 201.3.11 is modified to include folded self-mailers. The final rule also includes recommended revisions to the proposed requirements based on observations of a wide variety of FSMs tested over the past several years.

Although the effective date of these revisions is not until January 5, 2013, we encourage all customers who prepare FSMs mailed at automation or machinable prices to begin conversion to these design concepts as soon as possible.

A folded self-mailer is formed of panels that are created when one or more unbound sheets of paper are folded together and sealed to make a letter-size mailpiece. The number of sheets in the mailpiece and the number of the times the sheets are folded determine the number of panels. Sheets that are bound by one or more staples are not considered folded self-mailers even when all other preparation recommendations are met.

The maximum height for all automation and machinable FSMs is 6 inches and the maximum length is 101/2 inches, with a maximum thickness of 1/4 inch. The maximum weight of three ounces is applicable to all mailpieces prepared without envelopes.The paper basis weight for folded self-mailers is based on book-grade paper unless otherwise specified and varies depending on the total weight of the mailpiece and/or optional elements that are incorporated in the design. The final fold must be at the bottom for all designs except oblong style pieces. For oblong-style FSMs the final fold is on the leading edge. Tabs cannot be placed on the bottom open edge of an oblong-style FSM. A minimum of two tabs will be required to seal all FSMs when tabs are used as the sealing method. Tabs used as seals may not have perforations. Glue may be used as an alternate sealing method when applied according to the standards for FSMs.

After January 5, 2013, folded self-mailers that do not meet these requirements will be assessed postage as follows: First-Class
Mail[supreg] and Standard Mail[supreg] customers will pay nonmachinable prices; Periodicals mailers will pay nonbarcoded prices.

Overview of Comments

Eleven commenters
recommended that the proposed standards be abandoned and asked that no changes to the existing mailpiece format be made at this time. The commenters cited the economy and the lack of equipment capable of producing the types of designs expressed in the proposed standards. Commenters were also concerned about time and cost incurred for mailpieces that may already be designed and produced, but not mailed. Many new formats and sealing requirements not defined in current standards for FSM are added. To accommodate the mailing industry, the Postal Service will delay adoption of the new standards until January 5, 2013. This postponement will provide enough time for mailers to complete outstanding contracts for mailpieces that do not meet the new standards and will allow those pieces to be entered as automation compatible folded self-mailers prior to the effective date. Mailers entering FSMs before the effective date are encouraged to design and prepare their mailpieces using these standards. Four commenters expressed concern regarding the Postal Service’s proposal to require an additional tab on mailpieces weighing more than one ounce. As pieces get thicker and heavier it becomes more difficult
for those pieces to pass through processing equipment. The mailpieces do not retain their integrity and cause jams and damage to the mail and processing equipment. Heavier weight FSMs experience more stress on the leading edge, especially when it is not a folded edge. An additional tab placed on the lower leading edge improves efficient feed capability
and serves as added protection for the mailpiece during processing. The additional tab also maintains closure as pieces are handled and processed multiple times. Until January 5, 2013, three tabs are recommended to maintain sufficient sealing and to provide additional protection for heavier mailpieces and specific design formats.

Three commenters asked why it is necessary to limit the number of panels within an FSM. The number of panels affects the shape, thickness, and ability to create crisp folds required to maintain a streamlined shape. It also reduces the amount of stress placed on closures, and maintains the integrity of a mailpiece from acceptance to delivery. However, in order to provide increased options and ability to qualify for automation letter prices, the Postal Service will increase the allowed panel count to 12 for FSMs constructed of non-newsprint paper. Additionally, to accommodate the common practice of including half-pages in quarter-fold pieces made with newsprint paper, we increase the panel count for quarter-fold FSMs to a maximum of 24 panels.

Seven commenters expressed concern about the 101/2 inch-maximum length requirement. They expressed concern because smaller sizes will decrease the amount of space available to print advertising in a single mailpiece, and in some cases stock mailpieces will need to be redesigned to conform to the new size requirements. The FSM study revealed that, similar to booklets, mailpieces that exceeded 9 inches in length experienced a decline in machinability with significantly higher rates of damage and jams. The Postal Service maintains the proposed maximum length of 101/2 inches to balance the need for machinability with the customer’s need for the maximum amount of usable space.

Eight commenters questioned the thickness standards of .05 and .09 inches. USPS[supreg] revises the language to clarify that these thickness standards apply only to interior loose enclosures (single sheets that are not captured by the folds) and attachments. The standard for maximum thickness of a finished FSM letter is 1/4 inch, the same maximum thickness for all letter-size mail. Additionally, we allow the insertion of remittance envelopes, meeting all requirements for enclosed envelopes within automation letters, as enclosures when the envelopes are incorporated into the first (manufacturing) fold of the quarter-fold mailpiece format.

Two commenters asked that tabs made of material other than paper and tabs with perforations be used as seals for FSMs. To accommodate this request, the current standards that describe the types of materials used to manufacture tabs are expanded to permit their use for both booklets and FSMs. Tabs with perforations may not be used as a seals.

Nine commenters asked for clarification of tab placement and the number of tabs required. Section 201.3.14.4 is revised to clarify sealing mailpieces using tabs. Studies showed that sealing FSMs with one tab did not provide sufficient closure to withstand the rigors of automation processing for letter-size mail. The requirement to seal with a minimum of two tabs is retained.

Two commenters asked to use glue to seal the lead and trail edge instead of gluing along the top edge when the final fold is the bottom edge. We have revised and clarified the language to allow this as an additional sealing option.

One commenter suggested that the paper basis weight is unreasonably high. The basis weight of paper is one of the major factors that affect the machinability of a mailpiece. Pieces prepared with lower paper weight were unable to withstand the rigors of automation processing, resulting in higher rates of damage and jams and a diversion to more costly flat sorter and manual processing methods. We retain the paper basis weights as proposed.

One commenter asked about the perforation cut-tie ratio. The necessary cut to tie ratio is based on many correlative factors. A ratio that provides enough strength to prevent premature breaking of the perforation tie is needed. This need is balanced by the necessity of preparing a perforated line that can be opened by the recipient without causing unintended damage to the mailpiece. Due to the significant variation in cut-to-tie ratios of mailpieces currently in the mailstream, we modified the proposed standard and will allow a 1 to 1 cut-tie ratio for all perforated lines. The Postal Service will monitor the performance of mailpieces prepared with perforations and if the 1 to 1 ratio does not prove sufficient for machine processing, we will modify the standards to require a higher cut to tie ratio. Customers who have mailpieces that do not meet this reduced standard may ask that the FSMs be sent to the Pricing and Classification Service Center for review.

Three commenters asked for clarification regarding the need to print address information in a mid-to-left position. Section 201.3.14.10 is introduced as a recommendation for folded self-mailers produced on uncoated paper. Testing revealed higher rates of delamination and peel-back (cosmetic damage) to the lead edge of uncoated (raw) paper. This type of damage often exceeded 1/2 inch in length and impeded the ability of letter sorting machines to read address elements.

With this final rule, the Postal Service implements requirements and options that describe the construction of folded self-mailers and other unenveloped mailpieces. These standards allow significant design flexibility while maintaining mailpiece automation compatibility and address most current and proposed designs. Mailers designing and mailing FSMs before the effective date are encouraged to prepare mailpieces using these standards.

The Postal Service adopts the following changes to Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), incorporated by reference in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Direct Mailing is still the Best Marketing

Direct Mail

At least with CSG Direct is it !!

Even as new forms of direct marketing emerge in this new era, direct mailing is still setting the bar in response, results and accountability in marketing. Most every other media cannot get you out of the most expensive parts of marketing – prospecting. In Fact, most advertising dollars wasted on broad shotgun prospecting.

Direct Mail is very focused on sales and generating revenue.

Experience will tell you that there are 2 levels of marketing.

The first level is the most expensive and that is to find out who is interested in your product or services.  Prospecting or acquisition marketing is where you spend money to broadcast who you are to the public and see who responds with interest in your product or service. This is commonly done with Television, Radio, Newspaper, Billboards, Websites, Yellow pages, Magazine ads, Telemarketing and sure Direct Mail of course too (however it is more direct, personal and accountable in prospecting).

The second level of marketing is what you do with all the customers and prospects that contacted you with any level of interest. This is where all your long-term income is made. You see, once you have a list of people who like what you do you can build long-term relationships with a direct sales approach. This includes direct in-person sales, tele-sales, direct mail and email. (I will save social networking for a later topic – it follows email)

That is the proper order for results too:
1) In-Person sales cost the most and sell the most.
2) Tele-Sales still utilizes personality and relationship but you are easily pushed into voicemail hell.
3) Direct Mail is something they have to see and touch and they can save it and share it with others in the home or office.  They can keep it for later too. Direct mail costs much less than in-person or tele-sales but you can sell a proportionally less amount too.
4) E-mail, currently the lowest form of marketing. Sure, if you have a relationship and are working on projects with a client it is great.  But for sales and marketing it is the easiest to avoid, delete and annoy.

So the main point is that long-term SALES happen in a DIRECT approach not in broadcast prospecting or print ads. So decades of experience say you build a comprehensive database (or many) with as much detail as you can. Then you send very specific offers to very specific people.  You then follow that up in-person, via telephone and personal emails too. IN THAT ORDER FOR BEST SUCCESS!!

Only go back to prospecting when you have maximized your current list of interested customers and prospects.  Why would you go talk to 1000 people that are not interested when you have 100 that are and you haven’t sold them anything yet?

We can help you build a business plan for successful marketing too! Your first step is to contact us or let us give you a direct mail quote to start.

Direct Mailing Project? Get our Quote for Success!

If you are looking for Direct Mailing Pricing or Direct Mail Quotes for any kind of Direct Mailing Services make sure you are looking for more than just price. 

GET A QUOTE FROM US!
OUR QUOTES ARE FOR SUCCESSFUL DIRECT MAIL
Direct Mailing Quote
Are we inexpensive, sure! We are The Greatest Value in Direct Mail.

We are also highly qualified, focused and more experienced than most companies you will meet. Plus, 25 of us have been USPS Mail Piece Quality Certified and we have people certified in all departments and all steps of your project.  Your Bid should require expertise and a long deep track record of no-problem mailings, correct?

..nobody matches our accountability standards! – NOBODY!

As the only direct mailing company that lets you track every stage and status of your direct mailing project, we are the most accountable direct mailer in the country. Then we take it to the next level and you are able to track each and every mailpiece as they travel through the US Postal Service with our US Mail Tracking. Additional US Mail Tracking is available through our TrackDirectMail.com tools.

Direct Mail Guy

Here are some Testimonials
Here we are on Facebook

Also, our newly launched US Mail Tracking widget is now available.

GET A QUOTE FROM US!
YOU JUST MIGHT LEARN SOMETHING NEW

Direct Mail Awards

 

 

Casino Marketing Direct Mail Campaigns

I often have people ask “What is the best Casino Marketing Direct Mail Campaign?”.

There really is no easy secret formula or special tricks for getting the most impact out of a mailing. The best direct mail campaign is simply the one that gets maximum results for the lowest cost. In determining what will work best for each customer, the marketing professional must ascertain what the customer wishes to accomplish, whom the customer wants to communicate with, what the incentive is for the recipient to respond, determining a strong call to action, and producing the project in a cost-effective and efficient manner. It is crucial that the mailer takes advantage of the lowest postage rates available – as postage is often the most expensive aspect of the project.

The next question is: “How do I know I am maximizing my direct marketing efforts?”

This is where the experience pays off. Seasoned marketing professionals will seek out the mail marketers who are innovative, versed on postal rules and regulations, and focused on getting maximum results for their customers. Companies such as CSG Direct are in high demand due to the experience and innovation that they bring to the direct marketing industry.

While many printers and small mail shops may have the ability to put an address on a mail-piece, they do not have the ability to track delivery. They cannot ascertain the “in-home” timelines, analyze the market penetration, or track results in a comprehensive manner. Less experienced mailers do not have strong quality control systems in place, MQC Certified employees, expert data programmers on staff or the systems to expedite the projects efficiently.

This is nearly always followed by: “What type of direct mail piece is most effective?”

Once again: This is determined by the type of results that the customer expects, the type of offer that is being presented, and the demographic that is being pursued. One wouldn’t send a postcard as a high-end wedding invitation….however, they might send a “save-the-date” card prior to sending out the formal invitations.

This is the type of strategy that often increases results. Sometimes a postcard with coupons is the most effective, low cost medium for specific campaigns. Sometimes a personalized letter makes more sense, and can easily be tailored to the individual’s interests or purchasing traits. Self-mailers are often a great alternative, especially if one desires a lot of “real-estate” to get their message across. The type of mail-piece will vary with each project, and should be determined by demographic, content and end strategy.

Marketers should realize that a direct mail campaign is exactly as it sounds: a campaign. A single mailing is not a true campaign. In most cases, it makes more sense to mail to one-third of your top prospects three times than to mail to all of your prospects a single time. Repetition is the key to any campaign. With proper planning and implementation, the cost for a multi-tiered mailing campaign is very reasonable. With a strong offer, proper incentive and an effective call to action…your customers and prospects will react in a positive and timely manner.

In summation: Too often individuals plan, ponder, partially develop and ponder some more about their marketing campaigns. It is a “ready – set – wait” scenario. As the event or promotion draws closer, they are forced to react. At this point the campaign is pushed out late and valuable time is lost. Early planning and implementation will make for a smoother campaign. It is no coincidence that in most cases, the well planned campaigns are the most effective campaigns.

By approaching the objective ahead of time and applying a plan – develop – implement” strategy, your mailings will be received by your potential customers in a much more timely and effective manner. By working with an experienced, competent mail shop – you will have the proper tools to analyze your campaign (and you will sleep better at night).

Effective direct mail marketing….it’s as easy as C-S-G!

Does Direct Mail Experience Matter?

During difficult economic times, I find that the marketing professionals that I work with are more price-conscious than ever. Budgets are slashed, staff is reduced and expectations on marketing teams are raised. How do you do more with less?

Well, first of all you want to partner with a team that has A LOT of experience in dealing with direct mail marketing. Direct mail is the most targeted and trackable form of advertising. Savvy marketers have learned that having experienced vendors/partners is crucial when budgets are tight.

The anguish of having a budget overrun due to postage upcharges or undeliverable mail is an experience that has destroyed more than one career. One needs to analyze the true value of experience and leadership in their marketing campaigns.

You wouldn’t hire an attorney or surgeon based on price. The end results are just too important. The same philosophy holds true on your marketing – the lifeblood of your company. A vendor who is less than qualified to properly assess, critique (really), analyze, and process your mail probably is not going to save you any money on your overall campaigns.

A Direct Mail specialist, such as you will find at CSG Direct; is trained and versed on postal regulations, design elements, USPS rules and regulation changes, and targeted marketing strategies. Our staff of fully certified USPS MQC (Mailpiece Quality Control) specialists often find design elements, size constraints or data problems that would get past the most experienced of mail shops.

We also offer creative solutions to save our customers money on production and postage rates, which sometimes makes an individual project less profitable for us… but we are here as a partner, for the long haul. Your projects deserve the experience and expertise that comes from seasoned mail professionals.

Let your competitors work with the inexperienced, fly by night companies while you shop for a company that makes you shine.

You will look better for two reasons:

#1) Your campaigns are effective because you found the true value of experience and expertise. The mailings are dropped in an efficient and timely manner to the intended recipients. You can track your mail through the mail stream (a CSG Direct exclusive) to identify when your target markets are receiving their mailings. You have confidence that your projects stay within budget, and are offered the tools to fully justify the mailing.

#2) You sleep well at night because you know you are working with detail oriented partners who care about your success and are certified in every avenue as meticulous professionals.

The next time you plan a mailing campaign, take a moment to reflect on who you are working with. Are you getting true value?

Are you comfortable with the experience level of your direct mail partner? Are you taking advantage of all of the benefits of a great response and postal discounts that are available?

Either way, get a quote from us so you can compare your vendors to the benchmark in direct mail. You deserve a good nights sleep!

Mailing List Strategy

Mailing lists can be extremely complicated or very easy.  It depends on a couple of different things.  One of these is what you are trying to sell.  The other is what type of business you are.

If you are trying to open a new business or a new location, I believe the best strategy is to hit every address within a 2-5 mile radius. Your postage rate will go down significantly when you mail to every address in a neighborhood. The list is cheaper for more records (which is important in these times) and you can increase your overall ROI due to the larger area you are covering. Add “To Our Neighbors At” (which we pioneered!) and you give your mailpiece a more personal feeling.

If you are looking to target a specific group of people, then trust the experts at CSG Direct to guide you down the right path.  Whether you need to target golfers, motorcycle enthusiasts, or people interested in bingo; we can put together a great mailing list for you.  Since the data is self-reported, you know you won’t waste your valuable marketing dollars mailing to people not interested. If you can think of a list, CSG Direct can put it together for you. We can also add variable data to the piece to give the client the feeling that you know them.

Give us a call, or just shoot us an e-mail, and the experts at CSG Direct will be happy to guide you down the path to building a successful mailing list.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail – Sin #7

…and how our clients avoid them and save thousands

Finally we can confront Sin #7:

Direct Mail Sin #7

Proof sign-offs taken too casually

Every job that we receive with electronic files requires some kind of manipulation or adjustment prior to mailing. RGB to CMYK, resizing, recropping, data merging, font replacement etc…

When your project requires a final signoff we hope that you take this opportunity seriously!

By the time it gets to this stage you have seen it many many times. Take a moment and read every line of your offer and confirm that everything is exactly the way it should be. This is your final opportunity to adjust dates, copy or data before your clients or prospects see the piece.

This is also the moment in time when the mistakes slide though and become major issues when the customers start calling.

We know that you are probably tired of reading at this point but you need to try to read the piece like it was your very first time looking at it. Study the text, confirm the data, dates, phone numbers, call-to-actions and all other components.

Common errors found at this point:

* Right date/wrong day (is it really a Thursday on that date?)

* Brand colors off

* Wrong or missing telephone numbers

* Newest art changes not sent (were we sent the most recent version of artwork?)

* Wrong offers, or error in disclaimers

* Spelling errors/typos

We know this is cumbersome but it also one of the unavoidable steps. We highly recommend you let someone else look at it and sign off with you. This identifies more errors and changes the dynamic if something is missed.

On a personal note, it doesn’t leave you standing alone as responsible for errors if more people on the team miss the same detail. If many people missed it than it must not have been obvious.  If only one person signs off it is easy for everyone to just point at you and steer clear of responsibility.  This is human nature.

Either way, the signoff process and authorization for us to proceed is your decision only.  We will not proceed without it and we are responsible to print and mail it exactly as the proof you signed off on.

Added Note about all 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail:
Allow the time needed for the quality and price you desire. This time gives you the breathing room needed to be flexible if  things you plan go wrong. No human process or timing is perfect, however much you try!

You cannot be consistently successful when you are expecting everyone involved to “jump from miracle to miracle”! You’ll save money in the end by not paying for rushed and fixed jobs. Being rushed always creates additional errors as you skip details to meet timeframes.

Our most successful customers have learned to work backwards from deadlines, successfully creating a smooth process from start to finish.

Intelligent Mail Barcodes

This is a new feature from the Post Office that was originally slated as a requirement starting May 2009.  So many mailshops and software vendors freaked out that the USPS has decided to delay that requirement for one more year.  The program is alive and well, however, just not yet required.

We have been using and developing systems around the Intelligent Mail barcode since January 2008 and have had extensive experience in Planet codes before that.

Have you seen our new US Mail Tracking tools?

We are ready for this and have actually lead the way.  Is your mailshop using this technology?  How many other things are coming that your current mailshop is going to wait for, before learning on your project?  Why do they put your mailings at risk as they “figure it out” near deadlines? It’s because most shops are reactive instead of proactive.

You deserve to be kept at the front of the direct mail revolution, not in the backseat.  These new systems create dynamic advantages for the people that partner with us. What if your competition is using these advanced services and you are not?  Mailing with CSG Direct ensures that you are staying at the front of the pack. 

This is another core reason to work with a company that is a mailshop first, printer second.  It just makes sense!

Direct Mail Project Tracking Online 24/7


CSG Direct has been the pioneer in online transparency for your mailings. How many times have you called to see if your mailing went out and you just knew they were stretching the truth?

Well, if you do a great job and can handle the rigors of the tight deadlines and high quality demands of the gaming industry, then why not put it all online where customers can see every step and track every detail of their project?

This is a prime example of why some mailshops will be closing. It is 2009 already.  Websites are not new.  Why is it that mailshops all over the country have not adopted this idea? Heck, we’re the data genius industry, right?  I wonder.

We have had live access for our customers since 1999.
We pioneered this idea and we haven’t stopped there.

Unfortunately, it is going to take many vendors over 10 years to catch up with all the new stuff we have coming out. Our pricing is already very competitive and we are creating the new business model – not following it.

This is all part of the industry rebirth I have been mentioning.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail – Sin #6

…and how our clients avoid them and save thousands

We continue along with Sin #6:

Direct Mail Sin #6

Don’t use MS Excel for databases

Excel sucks for databases. I don’t know how else to put it. Sure, everybody has it and it is one of the easiest ways to display your database visually, but it doesn’t hold record integrity and it plays with the numbers in your database. The worst horror stories ever in our business have Excel in them. We like MS Excel for spreadsheets and mathematics, not for databases.

There is no describing the feeling that comes over you when you find out (after the mailing) that your customer had sorted the [Last Name] field of an Excel spreadsheet before sending it to you.  It’s like a bomb goes off and everyone involved gets hit with the collateral damage.

These “bombs” are always from excel. Every single time over the decades I have been doing database marketing, Excel is the culprit. Yes there are ways to use it properly to avoid these mistakes. But, the fact that sortation is possible in this manner means excel is NOT a database program.

You’ve been warned.  This is a Direct Mail Sin.