New Postage Rates for 2011

New Postage 2011

First we’ll share the announcement from the US Postal Service about the newly released 2011 Postage Rates then we’ll give you our take below.

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Announcement from the US Postal Service:

January 14, 2011

Announcing the continuation of POSTNET barcodes for automation rates beyond May 2011, the continued use of those barcodes for CONFIRM subscribers, and new pricing set to take effect April 17, 2011.

• The new price sheet for CONFIRM can be found online at www.usps.com/prices.

• POSTNET usage has been extended for automation rates beyond May 2011.

• CONFIRM subscribers using PLANET barcodes will also be allowed to continue using the PLANET barcodes beyond May 2011.

• CONFIRM subscribers who have already transitioned to the IMb are encouraged to continue using the IMb. Please do not reactivate a PLANET Code subscriber ID in your system if you have already discontinued its use.

Thanks,
USPS-National Customer Support Center
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New Postage Rates ChartHere is our compiled list of common new postage rates for 2011

As we dig through the new rates there is a lot you can tell by where they raise the rates the most as well as hidden rate reductions. Over the years we have been able to design services based on where we see the direction of increases going.

This year we see the biggest changes in the smaller postcards (4.25×6″ max).
We also see a small reduction in non-profit automation:

postage rate review

There has been a lot of pressure on the post office to increase rates and still balance the public relations nightmare of hurting all the small non-profits that count on direct mail to raise funds. In this rate-case we see a decrease in the automation rates charged to non-profit groups. This is likely to help push them into automation and away from stamps, labels, tape and staples.

The rest of this rate-case is pretty small really. One of the smallest I have seen in a long time.  This is probably due to the fact that we are now getting increases annually instead of every 4 years like in decades past.

Notice also how the largest increases are in the smaller postcards in 1st-class non-automation and single piece rates. This would tend to indicate that this is either a category that is more labor intensive, or there are so few that nobody will notice; which is highly possible. I know from experience that these cards rarely have enough room to do a proper address and the full rate ones are those handwritten ones you get at every tourist attraction in the world.

Those postcards are impossible to automate with that old-fashion vertical-line style design in the middle of the address side of the card.  They need one of our new postal automated designs from one of our USPS Mailpiece quality certified designers here at CSG Direct.direct mail quotes

(postage rates at csg here)

Setup a Direct Mail Postage CAPS Account?

What is a Direct Mail CAPS Account and how do you set one up?

A CAPS Account stands for Centralized Account Processing System. The post office makes it easy for your business to electronically put money into your postal account, instead of the hassle of getting a check prepared and deposited at the Post Office before the 5:30 deadline every day. It is the easiest way to fund your permit, business reply mail, merchandise return service, postage due account, and express mail corporate account.
There are two different CAPS Accounts available for postal customers to use. There is a centralized trust account, where customers deposit funds using electronic funds transfer to the CAPS bank prior to mailing. Then, your account is automatically reduced when your local post office processes postage statements. The next CAPS account is the centralized debit account, where customers designate a debit-enabled bank account for postage charges. The bank account is debited for the total day’s postage on the next bank business day.
Each CAPS account customer will have their own unique account number and password to ensure that funds are properly administered. It makes it quick and convenient to mail under the same permit imprint that they have already held (if a personal permit previously existed.) Postal Customers can set up their accounts to have mailing and accounting fees administered automatically.
To set-up a CAPS account contact your USPS local post office, or you can call the CAPS Service Center at (650) 377-1334. You can also download the forms to sign up for CAPS at http://caps.usps.gov/business/caps.asp and mail them into:

CAPS Service Center Postage CAPS Account
2700 Campus Drive
San Mateo, CA 94497-9442

CSG Direct, Inc works very closely with the USPS and we know all about CAPS Accounts. If you need my help, I am just a phone call away 775-852-9777.

CSG Direct Mail app US Mail Tracking at PCC

The Northern Nevada Postal Customer Council Direct Mail vendor fair took place last Friday, the 19th of November; at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno Nevada.

This was Reno’s first direct mail vendor fair in a very long time as the new PCC board is revamping the local chapter.  The PCC used to be held in the state capital of Carson City but has since moved to Reno since it is the SCF and the main BMEU for the region.

Direct Mail Booth

CSG Direct was there (of course) to show off lots of our current technologies and direct mailing innovations. We brought samples of our variable data personalized printing, dimensional or textured printing, personalized 2d barcodes, Intelligent Mail Barcodes and of course our direct mail tracking application CSG DIRECT MAIL.

We had hoped to bring samples of our newest variable personalized digital mapping for direct mail printing but they were not ready in time, so we’ll save those for another day. We didn’t really need the variable maps though, since our direct mail application on the iPad stole the show.

We brought two iPads so we could show many as many people as possible as the crowds gathered around our booth. Michael Hemphill jokingly declared, “We come from the future” as he proudly demonstrated his newest US Mail Tracking innovations.

No Postage Rate Increase this January

In an announcement that shocked many today, the Postal Direct Mail PostageRegulatory Commission soundly rejected the Postal Service’s request for a postage rate increase of 5.4 percent on January 1, 2011.

This means that postage rates will remain the same until they can be legally changed under the price cap formula next May.  This is also a stunning loss for the Postal Service has it has pleaded that it desperately needs the money to sustain its operations and it comes in the middle of union negotiations with two of the largest postal unions.

The Envelope Manufacturers Association strongly fought this increase through our Affordable Mail Alliance and we filed many hours of testimony showing how this rate increase would damage a recovery in our industry.  This decision to hold prices stable will have a positive impact on mailings both in the Fall and next year and upholds an important principal in the Postal Accountability and Enforcement Act that price increases could not be greater than inflation.  EMA fought hard for that position as we did to uphold the law.

PCC Newsletter – July 2010

PCC NewsletterThe July PCC Newsletter is out.

Click on the image to open it –>

Michael Hemphill from CSG Direct was last months guest speaker. He taught the local market about the USPS Business Gateway.

The Northern Nevada PCC is one of over 200 PCC chapters across the country. The PCC’s mission is to provide a professional environment where both the USPS and local business mailers can interact and learn from each other. Our Lunch & Learn events provide information on current topics and the opportunity to network directly with colleagues and USPS representatives.

Direct Mail for iPhone v1.2 Released

Direct Mail for iPhone v1.2 Released

After the launch of CSG Direct Mail for iPhone in April we received a lot of feedback about the features you crave most.  So we went back to the data lab and built them!! Pivoting around our US Mail Tracking datasets some really robust features were born.

iPhone      Customer Lookup

With the release of Version 1.2 we have added CUSTOMER LOOKUP.

This is a very unique feature where you can look up your own customers based on your own inhouse account numbers or player id’s.

Once you have found the client you are looking for you can see instantly which mailings you have sent him in the last 90 days.

Then select one of those mailings and you will see the actual piece tracking from our tracking system.

We display the dates times and locations of every time the US Postal Service processed your mailpiece anywhere in the country.

US Mail Tracking    Map

This is direct live feedback about the path that individual mailpiece took to get to your client with dates and times from each stop along the way.

I have never been so excited about ANY postal related service I have ever seen created in 20 years.

This is the evolution of mail.

Look Smart, be in control and have all your direct mail information at your fingertips. You are now prepared for those crazy questions you know you are going to be asked.

How many times have you been in a meeting and someone told you that somebody didn’t receive their mailpiece?   Plenty!

Now you can look them up without getting up.Direct Mail for  iPhone

This tool answers all those common daily questions you have never had answers to before.

Find CSG DIRECT MAIL in the iPhone app store and we have Android and Palm mobile versions as well.  Best of all, it’s free to our customers.

Consider switching to CSG Direct today, The Greatest Value in Direct Mail

Direct Mail Printing: Our 5th Digital Printing Press

Direct Mail Printing: Our 5th Digital Printing Press is here, installed and running.
Here is our new Kodak 2500 VP. (Variable Printing)

Direct Mail Printing

We are a large direct mail printing company and one of Nevadas largest direct marketing companies.

It’s very interesting to have Canon, Xerox and now Kodak presses running side by side. Each digital press has it’s strengths and weaknesses.  We bought the Kodak because it can print in 5 colors and the others cannot.  Not that anyone is asking for the 5th color but we like to add unique services that other people cannot offer.

“Dimensional Printing” is the process of printing the 5th color without blending it in with the other colors. With Dimensional printing the 5th color is CLEAR. The idea is to lay down very precise spot coloring of clear to make for a raised feel.  The raised feel is the dimensional (as in 3D) feel.  It is pretty cool.

The growth of our digital printing department has been nothing short of historical.  I think we owe it all to printers that decided to get into mail (because they thought it was easy) and then lost customers due to screwing up major projects.

With so much print being direct mail oriented our customers find great comfort in have us (being in direct mail since birth) handling the print too.  In the age of print being commoditized, this makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, you really should get a print quote from us, digital is the bomb on price, efficiency and speed; and we have 5 presses. The direct line is 800-881-2150 x12 or you can get a direct mail or print quote online.

Update: We have grown to 9 Digital Presses

Direct Mail: Top 10 Reasons to Use Snail Mail

Direct MailGrowing up I remember waiting with anticipation for birthday cards and other sentiments to arrive in my mailbox from family and friends across the country.  It was and to this day remains a great feeling to know that someone cared enough to send me a personal note via the United States Postal Service.  Nowadays with email being so fast and free some of that personal touch is gone and it really is a shame.  Given the speed of email versus the slower delivery times of USPS mail, sending a letter or card via the USPS has now commonly been referred to as sending “Snail” mail (slow to deliver).  Well for some of us it still has a special meaning so I prepared this short list of 10 reasons to still use snail mail:

1. It’s exciting to receive a personal letter or note.  Whether it’s a love note passed in class under your desk or a carefully written letter from a loved one, reading a personal letter or note has always been exciting and feels special in direct proportion to the effort the sender went through to get it to you.
2. You can add confetti or creative designs to your letter or card.  This again points out the time and effort that can be relayed by snail mail much more easily.  For birthdays and other special events I like to fill the envelope with stars or confetti so if you get a letter from me be prepared for a surprise inside!
3. There’s more privacy to snail mail. Unlike with email it is much less likely that a letter or communication sent via postal mail will get intercepted and read by another party.  It’s possible but unlikely and the recipient can generally tell of the letter has been opened.
4. Emails can get lost in junk mail filters.  While it’s possible that a letter sent via snail mail can get lost in shipping it happens far less than emails getting lost in the abyss that is the modern day junk mail filter.
5. Emails are prone to quicker judgments and rash decisions.  It’s so easy to send an email that we can write something in haste and send it before we actually take enough time to think it through.  That is generally not the case with postal mail unless you work in a post office and have direct access.
6. You can send more variety of items via snail mail. Sort of like my confetti trick above you can also add pictures or other personal touches to a snail mail all the way up to complete packages, boxes, etc.  So far we haven’t found a way to transport something like that through our computers.
7. People tend to elaborate more with snail mail.  In general, people drop the abbreviations when they are handwriting a letter so instead of (LOL, ROFL, OMG, etc.) people tend to actually write out their words and thoughts.  If nothing else, sometimes it’s just good to know that you can still do that.
8. There’s no virus attached. Generally speaking there are no viruses attached to a snail mail that you can catch on accident by previewing the snail mail before opening it.  I’m not saying that someone couldn’t send a virus via snail mail it’s just far, far less likely.
9. It’s too easy to forward your email content to thousands of people worldwide (on accident). With a few clicks of the button, you can send it to everyone on your list, which is dangerous if the content is important.  Unfortunately there is no undo button for sending email in most cases so you are stuck with the consequences of your actions.
10. The check is in the mail… yes it still works.  One of the most important reasons to use snail mail is for cash management purposes if you need to pay a bill but have a couple of days until you are going to get paid or have the money, then snail mail is much more effective for you that online bill payment.  You can simply call the provider/vendor and let them know “the check is in the mail”.

So these aren’t the only reasons but they are some good one’s.  An honorable mention that didn’t make the list is the excuse that you can always use for a greeting being late (birthday card, graduation card, etc.).  You can say you had trouble getting to the post office or that your letter was lost in the mail, but be careful with that one though as most people are smart enough to look at the postmark date.

shared by our friends at changeofaddress.org

Hi Michael,

We would love to share with you an article that we just posted on our own blog! “Top 10 Reasons to Use Snail Mail” (http://www.changeofaddress.org/blog/2010/top-10-reasons-to-use-snail-mail/) would be an interesting story for your readers to check out and discuss on your blog, so we hope you will consider sharing it!

Thanks so much for your time, and have a wonderful day!

Sheryl Owen

PCC Lunch and Learn: Business Customer Gateway

Postal Customer CouncilPCC of Northern Nevada Lunch and Learn Series

Guest Speaker: Michael Hemphill of CSG Direct, Inc

The US Postal Service continues to Michael Hemphill PCC Luncheonmodernize and automate steps to keep postage low and better serve its clients. Come learn about the new Business Customer Gateway from the US Postal Service.

The Business Customer Gateway gives you a single, unified landing point to access the Postal Services’ online business offerings. These channels consist of the products that support intelligent Mail Full Service Mailing. This includes PostalOne!, FAST (Facility Access and Shipment Tracking), CLDS (Customer Label Distribution System) and Mailer IDs (MID).

Here is the USPS Business Customer Gateway Powerpoint (trimmed)

Speaker: Michael Hemphill of CSG Direct, Inc

Topic: Business Customer Gateway

Location: Atlantis Casino, 3800 S Virginia St, Grand Ballroom 5

Date: Thursday May 20, 2010

Time: Registration at 11:30 am, Lunch served at 12:00

Cost: $20

Reserve your seat by contacting Cindy Cornelison at 775-788-0690.
Call early to request a vegetarian meal.

Here is a scanned copy of the postcard invite from the PCC:

PCC Luncheon

Direct Mail Marketing Strategies (5 of 5)

Direct MailerStrategy #5) Tracking and Reporting for Success

Every sale in your company should be recorded where the sale came from.  EVERY SALE!!  If you miss this trick you will throw 3/4 of your annual direct mail marketing dollars in the trash.

I know it feels like you drive your own fate and ‘shoot from the hip’ with your ‘gut instincts’ but don’t be so vain that you don’t track the number of sales and value of each from every thing you sell.

This applies to direct mail as well.  Every redeemed piece should be recorded in your CRM tools.  CRM tools you say? If you don’t know what they are or don’t have them in place you and your job are at serious risk.  It’s the year 2010 – get serious.

The strongest businesses around got there by using math, reports and tracking sales. So how are you going to come anywhere near them if you don’t know where your wisest marketing dollar was last year.

Here are some things you should be tracking.

What brought the customer in? Did they see your sign or did a friend tell the to check you out? Did they see your ad n the paper or were they just at the store next door and liked your window display.  Whatever it is you want to focus some effort there.

How much did they spend? If the people than randomly walk by your store spend an average of $20 per visit, but the people that drive to your store directly spend $100; you’ll want to spend more time on your direct mail and print ads since they earn you more money.

Who are your multi-trip customers? If you have customers that return to your business time and time again would you know who they were?  Identify loyalty and reward it! Then give them an offer for them to bring a friend.  Birds of a feather do what?

Who are your top spenders? If they like your products why do you wait for them to randomly come in?  Personally invite them for something they would like.  It’s really simple if you take action.

Your best Direct Mail Marketing strategies start with you understanding your clients and learning how to market to each type of client. If you are not tracking anything how will you ever do that?

Step up; it’s not a game you want to lose.