Nuts & Bolts: The 411 on Flats
February 1, 2007

This spring, postal rates are set to increase for the second time in as many years, and for mailers in the flats category this hike brings some especially damaging hits. Further confounding the issue is the move from two presort tiers to four for flats and the addition of a Not Flats-machinable rate category for pieces that are too rigid or lumpy. There is good news, however: These additional presort tiers represent more ability for worksharing discounts, and entry discounts are set to rise as well. The chart below illustrates the cost per thousand for machinable flats—weighing 3.3 ounces or less—under the proposed rate case.

Think Outside the Box to Reduce Your Postage Costs
January 17, 2007

The new year marks a fresh start, a time for new beginnings. For the U.S. Postal Service, 2007 signals the end of its outdated rate system. In just a few months, the USPS is expected to overhaul its pricing structure. The current system uses weight alone to determine postage rates. Beginning in May, the shape of a mail piece also will affect rates, doubling postage in some cases. The new system will come as a shock to the unprepared. But many fulfillment companies have taken a proactive stance, educating their clients on the upcoming changes and offering cost-effective packaging options. “We’re starting the conversation now so they

Nuts & Bolts: USPS Unleashes the 4-State Customer Barcode
January 1, 2007

After a large-scale test that included more than 24 million mail pieces, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has formally launched its 4-State Customer Barcode (4-CB), an advanced mail coding technology that combines the capabilities of POSTNET and PLANET codes, and will be the cornerstone of the USPS’ OneCode Solution suite of services. The 4-CB includes 31 digits that translate into 65 vertical bars each in one of four states—full bar, ascender, tracker or descender. Although just slightly longer than the POSTNET code, 4-CB can carry more service-level and identifying data, thereby adding functionality without multiple barcodes and human-readable information. According to the September edition

BREAKING NEWS: Postal Reform Passage Imminent?
December 8, 2006

Eleven years in the making, and written off as dead and buried just a few weeks ago, a new postal reform bill is expected to be passed through the House and Senate possibly by the end of Friday — if not, Saturday. The House on Dec. 7 introduced H.R. 6407, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. Once approved by both chambers of Congress, sources say that President Bush will sign the bill into law. The new bill has all the elements that the White House has been demanding. In brief, what this means to catalogers is as follows: * Future postal rate hikes will be

Six Ways to Keep the Yikes! Out of the Postal Rate Hike
December 6, 2006

With the sting of one postal rate increase in recent memory and another looming on the horizon, the mailstream can be a pretty expensive place to do business. But the upcoming postal rate hike does not have to be as painful as it looks—if you take the time to explore the many ways you can trim costs from your direct mail program, particularly by taking advantage of the many workshare and automation discounts the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has, or will have with this new rate case, in place. Here’s a look at just a few of the tactics you can try. • Scrub those

The Great Postage Debate: Can it Really Pack a Punch?
December 1, 2006

Oh, the plight of poor, misunderstood postage. You certainly can’t send mail without it. In truth, an outer envelope looks rather bare with an empty upper-right-hand corner; yet, mailers seem to harbor mixed feelings over just how neutral this territory actually is. One camp regards postage as nothing more than an expenditure, perhaps part of a tertiary round of testing (at best) reserved for only the largest mailers with equally large budgets. Others raise postage out of the confines of inconsequence and deem it an integral part of creative development. Caroline Zimmermann, president and CEO of The Zimmermann Agency, even goes so far

Direct Marketing Association’s Peter Johnson on the Year Ahead in Direct Marketing
October 25, 2006

Direct marketers, like everyone else in the business world, fret about and second guess the decisions they made yesterday, and lie awake at night worried about the decisions to be made tomorrow. While such is the nature of the game, marketers can take heart that there’s someone else burning the midnight oil: Peter Johnson, a Ph.D. economist and the Direct Marketing Association’s vice president of research and market intelligence. Johnson keeps late hours analyzing data, crunching numbers and checking his crystal ball, all in an effort to give direct marketers an accurate picture of what happened last quarter, or last year, and of what’s

Custom Postage Goes Commercial
October 1, 2006

In mid-2004, the U.S. Postal Service ran a seven-week market test of custom postage for consumers; the success of that initiative led it to relaunch the program in May 2005 as a longer-term trial. This year, the Postal Service gave its stamp of approval to a one-year test of custom First Class, Priority and Express postage for commercial efforts. According to Nick Barranca, vice president of product development for the Postal Service, this commercial application came about due to the recent amendment of a Civil War-era law that prohibited commercial messages from being used on any obligation of the federal government. The law was

The New Vanguard
September 9, 2006

Every industry has its luminaries—pioneers whose names become synonymous with the techniques or products they developed. Ed Burnett, Ralph Lane Polk II, Richard Benson, John Caples, Leon L. Bean, Lillian Vernon, Jeff Bezos and, of course, Lester Wunderman come to mind. But not every trailblazer operates in the white-hot spotlight. Many conduct brilliant work day after day for their companies in relative anonymity. That is, until Target Marketing decided to nose around and find those professionals who are setting new standards for direct marketing performance. With the help of our Editorial Advisory Board and other key industry figures, we’ve selected eight exceptional direct marketers who

Keeping Down the Cost of Delivery
September 1, 2006

Challenge: Decrease cost and improve efficiency of delivery options Solution: Adopt a new postal delivery system for packages of one pound or less Result: Operational improvements and approximately 35 percent net savings on overall delivery expenses Cost-efficient, timely product delivery is at the heart of any successful mailer’s operation. Empi-Compex Technologies, a division of orthopedic device marketer Encore Medical, is no exception. The New Brighton, Minn.-based pain management and rehabilitation products marketer wanted to lower the cost of shipping its medical devices, particularly those weighing one pound or less. These lighter weight products make up approximately 42 percent of all packages sent by the company, and more