Give Undeliverable Mail a Fighting Chance
June 20, 2007

It’s no surprise that one of the goals of the postal rate increase is to reduce the amount of mail that does not have high enough address quality to reach its destination. But be that as it may, “People make the assumption that they have got good, clean, updated databases,” says Mary Ann Bennett, president and CEO of mailing consultancy The Bennett Group. “Clearly they don’t, or the post office would not be forcing these requirements on people in an effort to reduce their undeliverable-as-addressed mail,” she adds. What mailers should be doing, according to Bennett, is evaluating their existing databases to determine their

Special Report: The Shape of Things to Come
June 1, 2007

As I write this, it’s a week before the May 14 implementation date for the majority of the rate increases and mail prep changes associated with the 2007 postal rate case. And while mailers are focusing their attention on these current challenges, they just might get caught looking the wrong way as the bigger postal picture gets tuned. The hard work of mapping out the new structure for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and its customers is just starting, says Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council, an Arlington, Va.-based organization that represents marketers on postal policy and legislative issues. Target Marketing spoke with

Special Report: Paper and Production
June 1, 2007

This special report bears the moniker of “Printing and Production,” but in all honesty, it’s missing a third “P” for postal. Every discussion of direct mail production for this editorial section either started with or came around to the topic of the recently implemented rate case and the way it’s affecting campaigns. Given some of the drastic changes to postage based on shape, marketers and their mailing services partners have good reason to zero in on these developments. But not every marketer is heading for the online hills or abandoning large-format controls in favor of letter-size mail. In this report’s main story, “Driving Innovation,” freelance

Straight Talk: The New Green
June 1, 2007

Increasing numbers of investors, regulators and customers want the so-called triple bottom line (environmental, social and financial) that factors in corporate responsibility, natural resource conservation and climate change. “Call it the New Green,” says Don Carli, senior research fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Communication (ISC), a nonprofit group that promotes environmentally responsible practices for the printing, publishing and packaging industries. Here’s a small part of my recent eye-opening chat with Carli, a former strategic planner within these industries. To read the entire interview transcript, go to EB: What got you interested in the topic of sustainable printing? DC: It grew out of

Mailers Council’s Bob McLean on the Next Steps in Postal Reform
May 23, 2007

A little more than a week ago, what might be the last pre-reform rate case went into effect. And this case took a strong stand on correcting prior ills throughout the various classes; larger, heavier and irregular-shaped mail saw a significant rise in rates that some said better reflected their true cost to process for the U.S. Postal Service. However, such steep increases handed down at the last minute in a rate case are exactly what mailers are hoping to avoid under postal reform. Target Marketing interviewed Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council, an Arlington, Va.-based organization that represents marketers on postal policy

Three Other Reasons to Consider the 4CB
May 16, 2007

The Intelligent Mail barcode made its official debut last September, when the U.S. Postal Service announced it would start accepting mail bearing this unique tracking code. Also called the 4-State Customer barcode, or 4CB for short, this tool is a data-rich code that allows mailers to track the movement of mail at the individual piece level. And as of 2009, it will be required for all automation-class mail. While the 4CB offers mailers unparalleled ability to track mail throughout the postal system, and thus provide the insight needed to optimize delivery, this device can be leveraged to assist mailers interested in improving their direct marketing

Three Things to Consider While You Wait for the Flats Decision
May 9, 2007

This week’s Target Practice was supposed to discuss designing flats for machining and automation, but the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) foiled our attempt, just as it’s frustrated hundreds of direct mailers with its recent confirmation of upcoming rate changes. On May 2, 2007, the USPS released a statement reiterating that all new rates are scheduled to go into effect on May 14 (except for those lucky Periodicals, which are off the hook until July 14), but “still pending is the [Board of] Governors’ request that the PRC (Postal Regulatory Commission) reconsider its decision relating to Standard Mail flats.” The kicker? “No date has

Postal Changes Take Shape
May 1, 2007

When the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) approved most of the recommendations made by the Postal Regulatory Commission in March, it set into motion an often confusing set of regulations and cost increases that will have a wide-ranging impact on direct mail users of all sizes, budgets and markets. Since the initial rate changes for First Class and Standard mail are scheduled to be implemented on May 14—followed by scheduled changes in July for periodicals and catalogs, and in August for mandatory use of Delivery Point Verification (DPV)—hopefully you’ve already begun preparing for these adjustments and new requirements. If you

Hughes Network Systems’ Peter Gulla on Mail Tracking
April 4, 2007

Because so much of the direct marketing process is based on the probability of whether a prospect will take certain actions, marketers put significant stock in gathering as much information as possible about their contact with the target audience. For Germantown, Md.-based Hughes Network Systems, a provider of broadband satellite networks and services, mail delivery dates are an important factor in running an efficient prospecting program. The marketer’s target audience is households located in areas that are not served by DSL or cable Internet providers but that would like high-speed Internet access. The HughesNet service is a high-end item—plans start at $59.99 a month, depending

Editor’s Notes: An Open Rate of a Different Kind
February 1, 2007

In the 14 years I’ve spent researching, writing about and advocating for the direct marketing industry, I’ve done my share of editorializing on the woes of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the need for reform. And after witnessing several versions of a reform bill bite the dust in one congressional session after another, I certainly qualified as being jaded. That was my state of mind last fall, when it looked as if another sun would set on the battle started by Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) in the mid-1990s. Oh me of little faith. Behind the scenes, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Carper (D-DE)—assisted