Mailer Design - What You Need To Know

It's nearly the new year, and with it comes another year of lessons learned. In this blog post, I'd like to discuss some very important lessons I learned about mail.

While working at a post office for a few weeks this holiday season, I got to see a lot of packages, and a lot of mail. I especially saw a lot of presorted, standard, direct mail, or what the average person calls "junk mail". It was one of my jobs to sort through the stuff headed for the recycling bin looking for first class mail that might have mistakenly gotten into it, and return all that first class mail to the proper carrier for delivery. I probably sorted through 500 pounds of the stuff.

First off, let's discuss what EDDM® is. Every Door Direct Mail® is a low cost program created by USPS to make direct mail easier and more affordable for small businesses. You can basically pick a zip code (or codes) and directly mail your promotional materials without the need for a mailing list. You can just pick your zips, upload your design, make a payment, and they do all the rest. It's a great deal and a fairly low cost solution, but it's a waste of your money if you don't design your mailable pieces correctly. (If you're going the DIY route, I recommend using their online design service.)

I'm going to mention another service USPS has that most people don't know about, that's their MDAs and District Business Mail Entry Offices.  MDAs are Mailpiece Design Analysts, and you can reach one via the MDA Support Center. You can also visit a District Business Mail Entry Office (find one near you here). Use either of them if for any reason you might be unsure of your mailer design specs. If your mailers are not set up correctly they could cost more OR end up in the recycling bin.

Two things I noticed, that ended up in the recycling bin more than anything else were, HUGE mailers and small business postcards or flyers with improperly designed areas for postage, indicia, addresses, barcodes, etc. In the case of one, unnamed, international, Italian restaurant chain, their mailer was so huge (something like an unfolded 11" x 17") that it would not fit into most mail boxes, PO boxes, apartment mail boxes, etc. It must have cost them a fortune to design, print and mail, and yet I saw so many of them dumped into the recycling bin.

But, the saddest of all things I saw, (because of poor design, improper addressing, etc.),  were small business mailers tossed in the recycling bin. Small businesses don't have a lot of money to spend on promotional materials, printing, and advertising, and here they were just tossing their money away. I literally saw bundles of local menus tossed into the bin.

Just like addressing a letter, there are standards and specs for mailing pieces. If you're a DIY type of person and you'd like to read about and familiarize yourself with the basics of mailer design, please follow this link: 202 Elements of the Face of a Mailpiece or if you'd like to learn more about Business Reply Mail, please follow this link: 505 Quick Service Guide Or, if you'd just like to hire someone to design it all for you, please follow this link: Contact Us



    •   This is just a suggestion, but you might not want mail any promotional or marketing materials during December, or the weeks of Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. Those are the major shipping holidays for packages, cards and flowers, which might leave your investment lost in the shuffle.

    •    Anything that is NOT MARKED FIRST CLASS MAIL (which includes PRESORTED FIRST CLASS), such as Presorted Standard, or Standard is more than likely to be junk mail and not personally sent to you, so checking the indicia can save you the bother and the time. (For more info on how to spot junk mail, there's an excellent article online here.)

    •    Don't waste your time writing, "Return to Sender", "Deceased", or "Not At This Address" on junk mail. (Which is typically marked PRESORTED STANDARD or PRSRT STD.) It doesn't get returned and only ends up in the recycling bin. You can simply recycle it yourself.

    •    There are presorted non-profit and pre-sort standard stamps, that can make mail look a lot like first class mail.

If you'd like to see examples of indicia formats (first class, presort, etc.) from USPS, please click here. Or, if you'd like to learn more about EDDM® from USPS, please click here.