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Navigating the USPS with the help of PS!

Alex Newell Alex Newell Senior Sourcing Manager

We love Direct Mail! Even in today’s digital revolution, it is still one of the most cost-effective and reliable ways to reach donors and create fundraising campaigns. After all the time spent perfecting the right mailpiece, building the best list, and planning for the ideal maildate, the last hurdle is the United States Post Office.

USPS processes can be complicated with lots of regulations to manage in order to submit a mailing. Thankfully, you have some experts in your corner that have been dealing with the ins and outs of the USPS for decades. At Production Solutions, we work daily with the Post Office to knock down hurdles and make Direct Mail a breeze from mail entry to delivery!

1) Mailpiece Design Questions and Approvals

All Non-Profit organizations have a few stand-by direct mail packages that are both efficient and effective for fundraising. For example:

  • #10 Carrier with an 8.5”x14” Letter/Reply.
  • 6×9.5 Carrier with an 8.5”x7” Reply and a Newsletter.

These are solid mailpieces with proven results. But what about when you want to push the needle a bit and try something a bit more adventurous?

Exploring unknown territory with mailpieces is when Production Solutions’ mailing experts can provide a significant benefit to your direct mail program. We have analyzed hundreds of unconventional packages from a multi-panel “Iron Cross” self-mailer to a 10×13 “Kitchen-Sink” package that includes several freemiums and personalized components. Unfortunately, the challenge often isn’t designing creative packages, it is getting those creative packages approved by the USPS!

2) Understanding and Interpreting the DMM

The Direct Mail Manual (DMM) is the central repository for all rules and regulations created by the USPS. If you haven’t had the pleasure of perusing it in the past, we would recommend diving into it right before bed – you’ll be out like a light before you reach the fifth page! It’s incredibly long, incredibly detailed, and incredibly necessary for mailing anything through the USPS.

Thankfully over the years, your friends at Production Solutions have been able to decipher some of the mystery of the DMM and use it to provide answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions, such as:

  • “Can we print a faux-postmark over stamps?” (Yes, but anything beyond the standard marks needs approval.)
  • “Do I need a Return Address on my Carrier?” (Depends on the type of postage, among other things.)

Like any ponderous tome of knowledge, many passages are open for interpretation. But we have the resources and the connections at the Post Office to clear up any confusion quickly.

3) Postal Promotions

The various Promotions offered by the USPS are a great opportunity to reduce expense on your most costly factor in Direct Mail – POSTAGE. Most promotions offer up to 2% in rebate postage funds applied directly at the point of mailing. But like anything else with the Post Office, they won’t make it easy for you to take those funds without jumping through some hoops. Allow Production Solutions to do the jumping and get your organization registered and approved to take those deep discounts!

4) Postal Rates

There is SO MUCH that can affect the postage rate you have on a particular package! Apart from the basic size and weight, HOW you mail is just as important. Commingle, Co-Palletization, or Drop Ship? NDC, SCF, or Local Entry? Indicia, Stamp, or Meter? All these factors contribute to your final postage rate. Through our expertise and partnerships, we can make sure you are getting the best postage rate for your mail. Additionally, we are always keeping on top of the rate changes that happen annually and are partnering with various industry groups to fight for keeping non-profit postage rates low.

5) We don’t just have answers, we have SOLUTIONS!

Whether your organization is brand new to Direct Mail, or just has been out of it for a while, our postal experts stand ready to answer all of your questions. We navigate the Business Customer Gateway or help guide you in your own portal. We track down CRID’s, MID’s, and Non-Profit Authorization numbers. We can create Business Reply artwork and IMBs. We submit hundreds of Informed Delivery campaigns every year. We track almost every piece of mail our client’s send out through Informed Visibility. And most importantly, we are always looking for what is coming next from the United States Postal Service so our clients are ahead of the market curve and on top of industry trends!

Have you tried planning for your response mail yet? The USPS has an On-Demand portal for reporting all charges to a particular Business Reply Mail permit so you can see what you can expect for your responses. Reach out to your PS Account Manager today to find out how!

About the Author

Alex Newell
Alex Newell Senior Sourcing Manager

With over 15 years of experience in the Direct Mail industry, Alex Newell has become a leader in many areas of the field and is currently working as Senior Sourcing Manager for Production Solutions. In that role, he is responsible for supplier relations, postal issues, and RFP management. A graduate of the University of Maine, he has also received his MBA from Northeastern University with a dual-concentration in Supply Chain Management and Sustainability. 

Alex lives in the Portland, Maine area with his wife, two kids, and more pets than might seem reasonable! He spends his free time on golf, hockey, camping, and travelling with his family and friends.