Direct Mail Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. I don’t know where to start – HELP!
2. What kind of mailings do you do?  How are they different from mail sent with stamps or meters?
3. Do I need my own USPS permit?  Can I have my own permit?  And with my own, why should I use you?
4. So with you, what kind of postage discount am I getting?  What is my postage rate?
5. What is the minimum number of pieces that I can print and mail with you?
6. What is a print-and-hold service?
7. What is this non-profit postage discount I have been reading about?
8. Do you also provide printing services?
9. Do you accept credit cards?
10. What is your turnaround time?
11. What are CASS Address Validation and NCOA (National Change of Address)?
12. Excellent – how do I get started?

ANSWERS:


1. I don’t know where to start – HELP!

First, read this FAQ in its entirety, and then Contact Us if you have any follow up questions.  Call us anytime at 888-617-MAIL to get a FREE consultation.  But in a nutshell, check out what we can do for you here.


2. What kind of mailings do you do?  How are they different from mail sent with stamps or meters?

Short answer: all kinds!  But primarily what we do for you are First Class and Standard Mail.  Both are delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

First Class mail is equivalent to the mail you deliver with stamps or meters.  They have faster delivery times, usually between one to two business days for local mailings, and up to seven business days for nationwide mailings.  USPS provides guaranteed return service for First Class mails, for no additional fees.

Standard Mail (also called Bulk Mail) is cheaper, slower, but also as effective.  Local mailings usually take up five business days, while cross country mailings can take up 10 business days.  Return service is not automatic, but there are ways to include return service on Standard Mail.

Standard Mail is your lower-cost alternative to First Class with significant postage discounts.  For example, Standard Mail is a great delivery vehicle for restaurant menus, marketing flyers, postcards, advertisements, or newsletters for members.  On the other hand, items such as invoices, bills, or monthly statements should probably use First Class because they contain private and sensitive information.

Mail delivered with meters or stamps are also First Class mail, but we can do it for cheaper than the stamp “retail” price, since we have a special mailing permit with USPS, and sprinkle magic dust on them to make them cheaper.  Kidding!  We help USPS the automate the sorting and processing, and in return, we are qualified for lower rates, which we then pass on to you.


3. Do I need my own USPS permit?  Can I have my own permit?  And with my own, why should I use you?

Great questions.

First, no, you do not need your own permit.  As a mailhouse, we can deliver your mailpieces under our permit, since in this case technically we are acting as your mailing agent.  As a client, we do not charge you extra for the use of our permit.

Second, of course you can get your own permit.  The real question is, “Why?”  Why would you want to spend $200 per year, per Post Office, plus all necessary paperwork if you do not use it often enough?  And did we mention you can use ours for free?

Lastly, say you have a permit, and would like to do the mailing yourself, since obviously  our services are not free.  Allow us to explain how working with us is a WIN-WIN for everyone involved.  Too good to be true?  Here is how:  Although you have your own permit and willing to do all the hard work yourself, you still cannot fully take advantage the postage discounts available.  But we can.  We can make it easier for USPS to sort and categorize the mail during processing, and for that, we get additional postage discounts.  Can you?  Yes, if you have a postal sorting software, a USPS barcoding machine, a subscription to address certification services, etc.  Should you?  Not unless you mail millions of pieces per year and have over 20 years of experience working with USPS – knowing their rules, regulations, and paperwork requirements.

The  closest analogy we can present you is: USPS is like the IRS – they are both large, complex, with myriads of rules and regulations.  We are like your boutique, professional tax attorneys.  You can absolutely file your tax returns on your own, but for complex returns, or if you want to optimize your returns, these guys would be worth every penny.  Shouldn’t you view us the same way?  Absolutely.


4. So with you, what kind of postage discount am I getting?  What is my postage rate?

It’s… complicated.  (See if you can find out from reading these USPS charts and rate sheets).  To even give you a range of rates, we will need some information from you.  You see, the way USPS calculates their discounted postage rates is based on three factors:

  • Size and weight of your mailpieces;
  • Where you mail to; and
  • How concentrated are the destination addresses.
The first two is easy to understand and calculate, but allow us to explain the last one: USPS gives us bigger price breaks if your mailing is more concentrated.  To put it simply, mailing 100 pieces to 100 ZIP codes would be more expensive than mailing 100 pieces to one ZIP code.
Once you engage our services and send us your mail list, we will run the addresses and calculate the actual postage totals for you.  How?  All of us here are math geniuses.  No, we use the postal software, not these charts!
Call us at 888-617-MAIL to get a FREE consultation!

5. What is the minimum number of pieces that I can print and mail with you?

We have minimum charges, so generally it is worthwhile to engage our services if you have 25,000 pieces or more per mailing.  If you mail regularly and the design does not change, you should consider our print-and-hold package.


6. What is a print-and-hold service?

This is our way of passing on the savings to you.  In printing, the larger the quantity, the cheaper the individual per-piece price becomes.  But mailing them all at once may not be such a good idea since (a) it can get really expensive, and (b) mailing too many may flood you with too much business to handle effectively.

Enter print-and-hold.  We will print in bulk for you, to lower your printing costs, yet mail the materials over time, so your mailing campaign can fit within your monthly marketing budget.  Generally print what you plan to mail in about three to six months’ time.  The flexibility of print-and-hold is tremendous, you can choose to saturate an entire ZIP code in bite size chunks over time, or you may choose to mail to the same targets to increase your brand awareness, or a combination of both.  With us, your marketing plan will be customizable to your business needs and type.


7. What is this non-profit postage discount I have been reading about?

501(c) non-profit organizations do get additional postage discounts from USPS, and we will pass on these savings to you too!  Having said that, USPS is very strict in making sure that you do qualify for this privilege, so work with us to ensure that your mailers do not get  disqualified because you fail to meet the requirements.

NOTE: Being a 501(c) non-profit does NOT automatically make you eligible for non-profit postage rates; you have to apply and be certified directly by USPS.

8. Do you also provide printing only services?

Unfortunately, no. We are a full service direct mail agency.


9. Do you accept credit cards?

We accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.  But since USPS does not accept credit card payments (from us) we will need to add a 4 percent  fee to cover the merchant services fee charged to us.


10. What is your turnaround time?

Typically 5 business days to print and mail, starting from the receipt/approval of the final design.  Complex jobs that may require additional steps (i.e., folding, insertion, metering, stamp affixing, tabbing, sacking, etc.)  will require additional time, depending on the quantity and elements required.

Call us at 888-617-MAIL to flesh out the steps required, so you have a better handle on the timing.


11. What are CASS Address Validation and NCOA (National Change of Address)?

We run every address list on our Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) address validation software.  This way, we save you from wasting money and postage on addresses that are not mailable (typically due to typos, or non-existent buildings).  That’s just good practice, and it is required by USPS.

The next step in our service is National Change of Address (NCOA).  If you maintain a customer or member list, naturally you want your mailpieces to get to the right people, not just the right address.  We can track address changes by tapping onto the USPS database that logs all NCOA entries (forms that you fill out when you move to a new address).  As mentioned above, USPS does not always forward your mails to the new addresses, so this process sidesteps the issue and corrects the address prior to mailing.


12. Excellent – how do I get started?

Email us at: sales@iprintnmail.com with your questions if you do not find them here.
Call us at 888-617-MAIL to get your FREE consultation.

 

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888.617.MAIL (6245) • sales@iprintnmail.com