Producing a direct mail piece can be overwhelming – “what size should it be, what format should it be, how do I generate a list, how should I mail it?” These are common questions we receive from clients when moving through the direct mail process.
There are guidelines that must be followed to meet USPS regulations. And given how often USPS changes their guidelines it is always best to do your homework and double check to make sure the mailing fits those guidelines before you print.
A few quick direct mail tips:
- Establish your audience and target area. Once that is determined you can work with a list company to generate list counts which, in turn, helps determine the printing and postage budgets.
- Determine the format – most people automatically think postcard but depending on your message, you might want to consider a letter and/or brochure mailing. I would recommend a test of both to determine which works best if budget allows.
- The standard postcard sizes include (flat and/or folded) – standard mailer 4.25×5.5 (minimum size), oversize mailer 5.5×8.5, and jumbo mailer 5.5×11. Of course you can do custom sizes as long they adhere to USPS guidelines.
- The mailing panel setup – within the design, make sure that all ‘clear zones’ are established. These are defined areas that USPS needs for the indicia, barcode, mailing address, etc. Below is a graphic that indicates clear zones.
- Explore your postage options – First Class vs. Bulk mail. If your mailing is time sensitive, First Class Mail is your best option. It is generally delivered within 3-5 days. Also, USPS provides free forwarding/return of your mail if the mailing address is outdated. Bulk Mail offers lower postage rates but has a longer delivery time. Typically you can expect delivery in 10-14 days. The USPS will not forward or return mail if the mailing address is incorrect. IMPORTANT NOTE: While USPS sets delivery expectations, it does not guarantee delivery times for Bulk Mail. It can take considerably longer at peak mailing periods (ie. political season, holidays, etc.), and not recommended for time-sensitive messaging.
Direct mail may be considered an “old media” by today’s standards but it’s still extremely effective if the campaign is executed right.