Understanding Postal: Web Exclusive - Stay Close to Postal ... Now More Than Ever
Cross-channel marketers who have historically left postal matters in the hands of their service providers may find that the rapidly changing postal landscape requires more hands-on knowledge and involvement than ever before.
As the USPS and its business customers continue to face economic pressures, “business as usual” no longer meets the needs of the Postal Service or direct marketers. Both are finding new ways to reduce costs and increase revenues, which means that direct marketers need to be more aware than ever of how changes to the USPS’ processes and requirements can impact their businesses. Here are a few areas to stay close to in 2010.
Keeping Addresses Current
The USPS is more committed than ever to ensuring mailing addresses are complete, correct and current. Effective January 4, new requirements for address quality were put in place — and the postage consequences for noncompliance can be significant. For catalog (Standard mail) mailings, a penalty of 7 cents per piece for the entire mailing could be assessed for address quality (i.e., move update) deficiencies.
Catalogers who own or maintain their own address lists must ensure that processes are put in place to meet the requirements — a task which cannot always be left to your service providers, who are likely to have you sign a document to ensure that you're responsible for any noncompliance postage consequences, not the service provider.
Meeting USPS Catalog Design Requirements
Another area where noncompliance with USPS requirements can have significant consequences is that of your catalog's physical design. Although the USPS delayed implementing some design changes for catalogs (such as the “droop” requirement, which now is scheduled to take effect in June), there are likely to be additional requirements implemented during 2010 that'll impact catalog designs.
In April 2009 the USPS said it may propose additional changes in catalog design and preparation requirements, including new requirements for inserts (e.g., blow-in cards) within catalogs. These rules will require that all catalog marketers — whether claiming USPS automation discounts or not — meet USPS automation design requirements, and new requirements for Flats that are “flimsy” or too rigid.