4 Direct Mail Design Tips

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Greeting card makers make it cool to be square, with cards that buck the typical rectangular format.

direct mail design tips
Square cards go against our direct mail design tips. If you’ve ever bought one of these square cards, you’ve noticed another feature that makes them different from traditional greeting cards–they require extra postage, and for good reason. What seems like a penalty for being creative is actually an upcharge for being impossible to automate. A square envelope won’t zip through the USPS’s machines. Instead, it tumbles, causing all kinds of problems. Mail that doesn’t work in the automated equipment requires more handling and, as result, more postage.

When you mail a square birthday card to a friend, a few extra cents for postage doesn’t matter much. But if you are mailing thousands of pieces of direct mail, and you hope to earn the USPS’s discount for having mail that can be processed by its automated equipment, you had better make sure your mail meets the postal services’ rules. Not adhering to USPS regulations can result in a piece that can’t be automated or that might be unmailable.

So, don’t be a square. Get hip to postal rules and follow these direct mail design tips.

Get your mail in shape.

Measuring your mail pieces is more than a matter of minimum and maximum widths and heights. Proportion is key, as the example of square greeting cards proves. The post office provides templates to ensure customers understand required ratios of height to width.

Too thick? Too thin? Too bad.

Mail that is too thick or too thin also causes problems in the automated mail system. Being off by as little as a tenth of an inch can get your piece dinged. In other words, it will be ineligible for automated mailing and will cost more to mail.

Mail can be a weighty issue.

The weight of direct mail piece is major consideration in postage costs. A few ounces one way or another can save or cost you money. Making slight changes in weight can shave costs.

Other reasons the mail won’t go through.

Mail that is too rigid or that has clasps, strings, buttons or other closures can’t be automated. Mail that contains pens, keys, badges or other elements that add to its thickness will also be disqualified for automated mail. There are also regulations concerning non-paper surfaces on envelopes (billing windows are among the exceptions to this rule.)

My advice? Turn to a pro

These direct mail design tips will get your started. However, because postal rules change almost daily, there is no way for you–or your printer for that matter–to keep up with the postal service’s rules. My advice is to have a USPS Mailpiece Design Analyst review your proposed mail piece before it is printed or consult with a company like Bluegrass Integrated Communications to make sure the design of your piece meets post office standards. Going either route will save you money and headaches.

by:

Bill Nichols


April 25, 2016

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