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Special Section Mailing & Fulfillment -- Creating Mail with Fo

November 2004
By Laine Ropson

Helping your customers design a mailpiece that's both creative and meets the USPS automation requirements oxymoron? A challenge? An opportunity?

In the real world, it's all of the above. A mailpiece needs to be mailable, automation compatible and deliverable, as well as having a clear message.

Back to Basics: Mailable

Review the size of the mailpiece relative to the postage costs. Letter-size is cheaper than flats, for instance. Letter-size must be greater than the minimum mailing size (31⁄2x5x.007˝) and less than the maximum letter-size (61⁄8x111⁄2x1⁄4˝).

Don't forget that the aspect ratio—length divided by height—must be between 1.3 and 2.5). If you want to use an envelope that is not the normal #10, 6x9˝ size, be doubly sure to check the size and aspect ratio. You don't want to be hit with an unexpected non-machinable surcharge. If your customer absolutely must mail that square envelope, factor in the extra postage when calculating your cost-per-response.

Automation Compatible

In order to get a response, the mailpiece must be delivered in the first place. That means following the rules.

Start by blocking out the areas needed by the Postal Service. This includes: address area, postage area and return address. These areas need to be clear of other copy and the text used must be legible. Keep the address window/block at least 5⁄8˝ from the bottom and both sides (this is easier than remembering it needs to be 1⁄2˝ from each side, but you have to allow for press tolerances and insert shift).

Plan for Barcoding

Your mailpiece will be barcoded unless the client specifically agreed to pay the non-machinable surcharge for manual handling. The best postage discounts are when you pre-barcode the mailpiece.

Be sure the barcode is correct and legible. If you are using a presort bureau, talk with them about their needs for address readability and the barcode clear zone. If you don't put the barcode on, the Postal Service will attempt to. Therefore, don't put any critical information in the barcode clear zone (the lower right corner) that you wouldn't want covered by a barcoded label.

Get it Delivered

Quality addressing is the most critical factor in delivery. Why pay for printing and postage if the piece is returned or treated as waste?

Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) processing is required for barcoded discounts. The investment in change-of-address processing, as well as more in-depth address hygiene such as locatable address conversion system (LACS), delivery point validation (PDV) and delivery sequence file (DSF2), provide valuable information for making decisions on what addresses to use for mailing.


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