United States Postal Service

Susan Plonkey on the Challenges that Face the USPS and Direct Mail
July 30, 2008

At the National Postal Forum, held from May 18 to 20 in Anaheim, Calif., more than 7,000 industry professionals came together to discuss, even confront, the myriad challenges that face both the United States Postal Service and direct mail, as well as our collective customers. It became clear that big challenges, such as environmental concerns, are actively being addressed, while others—the climbing price of oil along with a faltering economy—are exerting new pressures.

Nuts & Bolts: Postal
April 1, 2008

Sophisticated mailers triple bid printing and lettershop services, buy paper direct and seek out volume discounts, but often stop short at maximizing, or even fully understanding, logistics methods, tools and techniques. Here are six places to tap for unrealized savings: 1) Deliver directly. The closer mail is delivered to its ultimate destination, the deeper the discount. For instance, if you can deliver your mail to one of 29 Bulk Mail Centers nationwide, or even one of the 400-plus Sectional Center Facilities (SCFs), it saves the post office time and money—and it will pass those savings on to its customers. There are more than 38,000

Four Pointers on Postal Pricing
March 5, 2008

By now, it’s common knowledge that the USPS is going to adjust postal rates again come this May. But before you go into a tailspin about another draconian increase, here are some facts behind the new rates—to help you understand and apply the new postal pricing to your business model. The law has changed. This rate adjustment is the first one to be carried out under the new Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, passed in December 2006. Last year, when the USPS hiked rates considerably and created shaped-based pricing, it was operating under the old rate-setting system. Now, the PAEA puts a cap on

In the Same Boat
March 1, 2008

More than a year has slipped away since postal reform legislation was enacted. During that time, a rate case developed under pre-reform rules was enacted and decimated flats mail; overall mail volume was down for the U.S. Postal Service’s first fiscal quarter of the year; and the Federal Trade Commission reported that the USPS is hampered by regulations requiring it to use more resources than necessary to support its products and services. So, the real work of postal reform continues. To get some perspective on what mailers can expect in the near future, Target Marketing called on Leo Raymond, director of postal affairs for

Prep Now for ’08 Move Update Changes
February 13, 2008

Undeliverable-as-addressed mail costs the USPS nearly $2 billion annually to process. That’s a financial burden the organization cannot continue to shoulder while maintaining a healthy postal delivery system that provides benefit to all stakeholders. To that end, business mailers are being asked to upgrade their role in using addresses that are clean and deliverable. As of Nov. 23, 2008, the USPS’ Move Update standards will require mailers to: - increase the minimum frequency of Move Update processing from 185 calendar days to 95 calendar days prior to the date of mailing, which means mailers should have scrubbed their lists as early as Aug. 20, 2008; - apply

Three USPS Insider Tips for Effective Direct Mail
October 24, 2007

As a member of the panel speaking on “Maximizing Customer Engagement in Direct Mail” at last week’s DMA07 Conference and Exhibition, Carlton Shufflebarger, brand manager of direct mail for the USPS, shared some tips to help mailers increase impact and response. 1. Create mail and online synergy. Send catalogs and mailings to online shoppers who might enjoy receiving product information this way. “In sending someone a catalog, you create a stronger online prospect. They are more likely to visit the site, spend more time on the site and more likely to make purchases,” Shufflebarger said. Catalogs also discourage comparison shopping because when shoppers visit

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

Developing Your Firm’s Environmental Policy
May 30, 2007

As awareness of the earth’s declining environment broadens, both consumers and businesses are compelled to assess their environmental footprint. To support direct marketing member companies that wish to implement sustainable business practices and to hasten other direct marketers to adopt progressive plans for improving their firms’ commitment to the environment, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has developed the Environmental Planning Tool and Optional Policy Generator and set forth 15 key areas by which marketers should evaluate their progress. These areas fall under the general categories of: paper procurement and use; list hygiene and data management; mail design and production; packaging; recycling and pollution reduction. For

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