New US Postage Rates 2016

The First-Class stamp has increased to 47 cents as of April 10, 2016. The US Postal Service has officially announced the postage rates for the 2016 mailing season. The Post Office has recently switched from doing large postage increases every 4 years to a smaller increase each year to keep up with costs and industry fluctuations.

This April we actually got a postage PRICE REDUCTION.

CSG Direct likes to keep you informed of changing postage rates!

New Postage Rates for January 2013

New Postage RatesThe US Postal Service has released it’s January 2013 postage rates proposal.

The cost of a First-Class stamp is rising to 46 cents, up from 44 cents currently. That is a 4.5% increase starting in 2013.

One of the more common postage rates we all pay as direct marketers is the 3-digit and 5-digit barcode-automation rates.  Those rates are scheduled will increase to 26.6 cents and 24.7 cents respectively. Those rates have only been raised 2.2% for 2013.

If you would like to do some comparisons here are the 2012-Postage-Rates.

It’s a smaller increase then expected

A lot has been said in the news lately about the US Postal Service having trouble with reduced mail volumes and the cost of pension payments. With all that hype you would think that postage would be doubled in the coming year to help make up the shortfall.

That is just not the case.

Interesting new programs proposed for 2013

Some of the other programs being planned for the coming year include:

  • Direct Mail Mobile Coupon/Click-to-Call
  • Earned Value Reply Mail
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Picture Permit
  • Product Samples
  • Mobile Buy-It-Now

These programs will continue on the successes of the QR Promotions offered summer 2011 and 2012 that we helped our customers take advantage of.  Both programs earned customers discounted postage for active QR-based hyperlinks to websites.  The rules have changed along the way so we will have to wait to hear more about these new programs in the months ahead.

Branded Postal PermitsPicture Permits

An interesting development on the branded permit problems we told you about in recent months is the “Picture Permit” promotion planned for 2013.  It looks like they swept us out of our fancier designer permits recently so they could bring it back as an income opportunity.

Intelligent Mail Barcodes Required!

IMB-BarcodeWell the day has finally come that the US Postal Service is requiring everyone to be using the new Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMB).  CSG was a pioneer in these “Intelligent Mail Barcodes” and have launched some very detailed tracking systems including our CSG direct mail app in the iTunes Store.

These new barcodes allow for twice as much data as the older Postnet Barcodes and replace the double barcoding that was done in years past with Planet-Codes.

Unlike direct-mail-centered digital print shops, many printing companies have struggled to keep up with this new technology.  CSG Direct has led the way in maximizing the opportunities these new barcodes present for you.

If you would like a direct mail quote from a direct mail company on the bleeding front edge of technology, you can get a digital printing and mailing quote here.

Postal Service Announces New Postage Rates for 2013

New US Postage Rates being announced for January 2013.
About a 2.4-4% Increase.
Here is the Press Release just out:

U.S. Postal Service Announces New Prices
and Services for 2013
First-Ever Global Forever Stamp Debuts When Prices Change January 27


WASHINGTON — Beginning early next year, the Postal Service will introduce a First-Class Mail Global Forever Stamp. The new stamp will allow customers to mail letters anywhere in the world for one set price of $1.10, and is among new mailing and shipping services filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission today.

The price for First-Class Mail single-piece letters will increase by just a penny when prices change in Jan. The new 46 cent Forever stamps will allow customers to mail letters to any location in the United States. Forever stamps are always good for mailing a one-ounce letter anytime in the future regardless of price changes.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 27, 2013 include:

  • Letters (1oz.) – 1-cent increase to 46 cents
  • Letters additional ounces – unchanged at 20 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1oz.) – $1.10
  • Postcards – 1-cent increase to 33 cents

Prices for all products (Mailing and Shipping services) will increase by 4-percent, but prices for Mailing Services, such as regular letters and advertising matter, will increase only 2.6-percent.  The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) will review the prices before they become effective Jan. 27, 2013. Today’s Shipping and Mailing price filings will be available on the PRC website at www.prc.gov and the new Mailing Service prices are also available at http://pe.usps.com.

STOP THE PRESSES, BRANDED PERMITS BEING REJECTED

no branded indiciasSTOP THE PRESSES, BRANDED PERMITS BEING REJECTED Developing Story 7/27/2012

The USPS has decided to stop accepting any mail with branded permits of any kind – TODAY.

Permit holders all over the country received certified letters today 7/27/2012 (we did too) with a formal cease-and-desist on using anything other than standard font permits. So as of this moment they are rejecting mailings all over the country if you have one of these permits.  These permits have been used for years and we received no advanced warning.  Even mailings with partial drops last night cannot be completed today without covering the permits with generic black and white permits.

STOP THE PRESSES!!  They are forcing us to apply labels by machine and by hand to cover all permits before they can be accepted.

Change the permits on your art before you print..

If you are about to press Print call Paul Erickson at 800-881-2150 ext 17 for up to the minute information.

Story developing, more details to come…

UPDATES:

The Postal Service has a long track record of rolling out changes to their rules and regulations in a very slow and methodical manner. For example, the upcoming requirements in January that eliminate discounts for anyone using the old Postnet barcodes have been discussed since 2010 or earlier.

However, that history aside, the Postal Service surprised us all recently with a rule that rejected mail all over the country without any prior notice at all.  The US Postal Service will no longer accept decorative company indicia permits like this one:

Branded Postal Permits

Branded Permit

Marketing departments all over the country have modified their permits to be more decorative to take full advantage of the direct mail customer experience. Wither you put your casino name in your permit with a fancy font or completely colored it like we did (above), they are no longer allowed.

The only correct and acceptable company-indicia permits are built more like this:

Acceptable Postal Permit Indicia

Standard Permit Indicia

Like I said, traditionally they would give a long drawn-out notice. Sometimes it seems that they don’t understand the processes we must all go through. Mailings all over the country were already approved and on the press or being completed when these rejections started happening on August 1st.

If you would like us to take a quick free look at your permit situation, just let us know.
We’re happy to help!

Marketing Parcels Build Customer Loyalty

In this article we talk about how Marketing Parcels increase customer loyalty.

Marketing Parcel for higher responseI went to my mailbox today as part of my regular check for bills, offers and coupons.  Normally I expect a stack of envelopes, postcards and newspaper coupons that I pull apart and sort into stacks.

Today was just like every other day but when I opened the mailbox I was surprised to find a box inside. “What is this?” I wondered.

My birthday was over a month ago. Could it be a belated birthday gift? I don’t know.  Maybe I ordered checks and forgot to expect them.  Maybe it’s something from Amazon.com or Ebay?

WHAT IS IT?  All the other mail was quickly forgotten.

As I walked back to the house that the box was all I remember about my mailbox.  I stuffed the rest of the mail in my folded arm and carried the box home like it was something special; something fragile and that box had all my attention.

We are all so easily excited and highly curious about sealed boxes.  It’s like we are programmed as a child on Christmas day or birthdays and special occasions.  This curiosity of this moment was no exception, my heart actually raced a little. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

In the marketing space of the mailbox, the box wins, hands down.

When you think about that moment at your mailbox don’t you think we should all be mailing boxes to our most important customers?  If we can make them feel special and have them hold our brand in their hands with excitement and curiosity then we can create a lifetime relationship.

It’s not as expensive as you might think; especially when you look at the increased response rates and long-term relationship the investment creates for you.  Our best guests have so many options delivered to them each month.  A box from you can increase your wallet-share of business.

What’s that worth?  Perhaps millions!

Quite honestly it doesn’t have to be too elaborate either.  You can use a very thin box and insert an invitation, 2 tickets to your event and a special parking pass.  I would also include a personal note from the host as well.  Make it special!

The US Postal Service even has a special category of box mailing called “Marketing Parcels” that allow for up to 16 ounces of weight and up to a 9”x12”x2” box that gets special discounts.

Get your best clients to brag about your casino to their friends. Make them feel special and prove you care about their business.  Postcards have their place but don’t let them replace the more effective approach to client loyalty that includes irregular parcels, boxes and fed-ex or UPS envelopes.  Show guests they are special to you and that you look forward to spending more time with them.

The increased loyalty will be obvious to your bottom line.

Making USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) work for you

Guest Post from Pam Bush from CSG Direct Mail. Pam has been certified by the USPS for mailpiece quality control and she is our in-house Every Door Direct Mail EDDM expert.

How we can make USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) Program work for you!  

EDDM Every Door Direct Mail

Pam Bush EDDM Support

Are you frustrated because you’re trying to use the USPS EDDM Simplified mailing program but find that it really isn’t that simple?  What could be better than a mailing program that costs you less to print and even less to mail?  According to the USPS website, you can even do it yourself.

However, many businesses have tried this approach of doing it themselves and then end up bringing us their mail pieces that have not been printed the right size or on the right paper stock and have been rejected by their local post office when they tried to mail their “simplified EDDM mailing”.  Fortunately for them, we have found ways to salvage their print/mail job and still get it mailed for a reasonable cost.

A simple phone call to CSG Direct in the beginning would lead you in the right direction. As a premier Print and Mail Shop, we specialize in knowing what postal requirements are required for EDDM mailings.  We can design your mail piece, obtain the addresses you need, do the postal paperwork, print the facing slips, all the required bundling and then present them to the post office for you.

We have had many successful EDDM mailings.  One of our local clients printed and mailed out over 75,000 pieces. Their overall cost’s including postage was approximately $20,000.  When their six month direct mail campaign ended, the ROI was $207,000.  Due to their success they have chosen to continue using the EDDM program with CSG Direct, expanding their mailing area to reach even more new clients.  We would like the opportunity to help you try to achieve these same amazing results.

*New ways to reach out to potential clients at a significant cost savings for your business.

*Get postage rates as low as 14.5 cents a piece depending on the mail area.
For postal approved Non-Profit companies: postage is only .07-.122 cents a piece.

*No mailing list purchase costs.

*Mail only to the zip codes or carrier routes YOU choose.

*Your mail pieces will go directly to the carriers and not have to go through postal machinery.
This allows for quicker delivery & a cleaner looking mail piece when it reaches its recipient.

This program works well for large corporate companies and as well for the Mom & Pop corner store/business.  We can help make the USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) Program work for you.  We’re here to help!

Call me at 1-800-881-2150 ext 36 and I’ll walk you through the whole program.

Pam Bush
CSG Direct Mail

Quality Control, Your life depends on it!

quality control paperwork at CSG direct mailQuality Control is the process in which the details and consistency of a job are reviewed before the job is advanced to the next stage of protocol. QC includes the job’s artwork and its data.

Both steps are crucial when preparing a print job. For instance, you may have the correct amounts in the data, but it may be mapped to the wrong version of artwork. The job could be going presorted first class mailing, but the barcode reads standard mailing.

These are two of many possible examples of errors that can lead to costly mistakes. One mistake is all a job needs to go horribly awry! That one mistake could cost you thousands of dollars or even your client altogether. This guide is here to help you prevent such mistakes from happening.

Preemptive Measures
Q: What is the first step in preventing a mistake from happening?

A: Having all the proper details written where everyone who handles the job can read them. This means writing up the proper instructions for everything: art, data, postage, assembly, etc. By gathering all the job details at once before the job begins, it will help insure the customer has full knowledge of the outcome of their project and what it requires; therefore lessening the likeliness that there will be changes. Remember, every time you go back and change something in a job that’s already begun, the odds of errors greatly increase! After being in this business for 7 years, I can’t stress that enough.

Proofing
Due to its very nature, variable printing can contain many details to keep an eye on. For example, one mailer alone can have variable dates, freeplay amounts, hotel offers, account numbers, addresses, disclaimers, and varying graphic fields. I think you get the picture. That’s a lot of fields to keep in line.

Steps to proofing a job before sending it out for customer sign-off:

1. Know the variables and all aspects involved in that particular job.
a. Dates, amounts, disclaimers, address fields, snipes, graphic fields, etc.

2. How many versions are there? Are there multiple versions being run as one? Proof each and every version!

3. Mailing Class? Presorted standard, Full rate first class? What is your mailer being run as? Are there multiple versions being run as different postal rates?

4. Check the proofs against the original start data. For example, on the proofs it says John Smith Account# 40456 is getting $5,000 in freeplay. Wait! That’s a lot of money to just be giving away. Now going back to the start data you may find out that John Smith Account# 40456 is only supposed to get $500 in freeplay. Try explaining that mistake to your customer. So, when comparing the proofs to the start data look for these things:

a. Name and address. Is John Smith at 123 Liberty Lane on the proof as well as in the start data?
b. Any type of offers that may be included in the start data, such as: Amounts, dates, hotels offers, disclaimers, locality (This is where knowing all the variables in data really comes in handy).
c. Version: The proof says John Smith is getting “version A” does the start data reflect that?
d. Double check if there are “bi-weekly” or “semi-monthly” type offers. It would be a shame if John Smith got $100 every day when he was supposed to get $100 every other week!

5. Is the mailer size the proper dimensions? Does it go in an envelope or is it folded down to proper size? Ultimately, does the final product reflect the instructions given by the customer AND what is written up in the instructions for the job?

6. Color. Do the colors match those of the original artwork? (You may have to consult with a graphic designer on this.)

7. Spelling and grammar mistakes! Proofread every single word and sentence!

Comparing the final product to the start files is one of the most efficient ways to ensure you will be providing your customer with proper proofs. Many times customers will not fully understand the magnitude of the seemingly miniscule details involved in digital variable printing, thus overlooking small (but huge!) mistakes. This is why it is crucial that we catch these errors before we send proofs to our clients.

Address Block Sign-offThis is it. This is your last chance to change or fix the job before all five thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand (!) pieces are printed and money is thrown away because nobody checked a silly little thing like class, barcode, quantity, etc.

Things to check before signing off on the address block:

1. Class. For each version that you sign off on.

2. Barcode. Does it scan? If so, make sure the barcode reflects the class and work order.

3. Address. Make sure all the proper fields are there, such as: First Name, Last Name, Company, Address 1, Address 2, City, State, Zip Code, Country, etc.

4. Once again I recommend going back and comparing the given record(s) with the start data.

5. Check the postal paperwork. Does the postal paperwork and tray tags reflect the information in the job instructions?

6. Color, size, paper – make sure all of these are correct.

In closing, I must stress that communication between the sales rep and the customer is the most essential part to ensuring a smooth process that will lead to a successful marketing campaign. Furthermore, this communication must be transcribed orderly and properly into the job’s instructions. There is no reason for an error to happen if the proofing process is properly utilized and every small detail is checked. Look at it this way: would you rather spend 10 minutes proofing your job or 10 hours and double the cost reprinting it because you were too busy to proof? I know, that’s a no-brainer!

Okay, you’ve proofed it, the customer signed off, and now it’s in your lap for address block sign-off? I know you’re probably asking yourself, “What the heck! I thought this job was good to go?” But who knows, maybe something was accidentally changed in the time that the customer signed-off to the time it took a press operator to get the job ready, this is your last chance to catch any mistakes, take advantage of it!

By Chris Ohm -Data and Design Department

Paul Erickson joins CSG Direct Mail

When I look back through my career it is divided into “Phases”. Those phases are always centered around our largest milestones and the progress that follows. I know 2012 is one of those milestones and 2012 is the beginning of “The Era of Paul“.

We are very excited to share with you that Paul Erickson has joined our team (your team) as General Manager of our CSG Direct digital-printing plant in Reno, Nevada.  Paul brings with him over 34 years of print plant management, team development and print manufacturing experience.

Paul is a Six Sigma Champion and is experienced in Business Management Strategy.

For anyone in our region that is aware, Paul is known for his tenure at RR Donnelley where for 9 years he was the Vice President of Manufacturing at the Reno plant.  However, Paul has many other accomplishments that demonstrate his deep level of experience.

Paul began his career after he earned his BS in Printing Management from South Dakota State University.  More recently Paul was the managing director of Polestar Sheffield, the largest gravure printing facility in the U.K with a very demanding customer base and a high level of customer satisfaction.

Paul came back to the US to run the very prestigious US Government Printing Office for 3 years as the Deputy Public Printer and Chief Operating Officer.  In this very demanding position Paul still adopted and implemented the ISO 9001 standard for quality assurance and management in GPOs production facilities and led the effort to adopt 5S, a world recognized continuous improvement process in both manufacturing and office environments.

I cannot say enough about how excited we are to have Paul leading our team.

Paul recently shared his insight with us “The future of Printing is digital and CSG Direct has positioned itself well in this market segment. The CSG niche is strong and our unique services offer us unlimited growth and opportunity.”

We’ll if anyone should know… it’s Paul.

Welcome aboard Paul!
We look forward to the new era.

the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012

The US Senate voted 62-37 yesterday to pass S. 1789 (as amended), the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012, as amended. Sixty votes were needed to pass the bill.

About S. 1789
S. 1789, as amended, works to refund the USPS billions of dollars in overpayments to the Federal Employees Retirement System, streamline its structure and operations, adjust an onerous retiree pre-funding requirement, and seeks compromise solutions on controversial issues like facility closures and Saturday mail delivery. The bill does not include legislated rate increases on first class/standard mail above the current rate cap tied to the Consumer Price Index. While S. 1789 is not a perfect solution to the USPS crisis, Printing Industries of America supports this bipartisan bill as the legislation best suited to reform the USPS.

Action on postal reform now moves to the House The House version of postal reform (H.R. 2309), sponsored by Reps. Issa (R-CA) and Ross (R-AL), has been heard, amended and approved out of committee, but no floor vote has yet been scheduled. The House GOP leadership and bill sponsors said that the House had been waiting for the Senate product and will likely move postal reform legislation this spring/summer. There are a few procedural avenues this could take, but the current expectation is that the House bill will go to a full floor debate/vote. It would then need to be merged with the now-passed Senate bill in a conference committee in order to receive final approval and be sent to President Obama for his signature. Keep in mind that the House legislation takes a dramatically different approach to postal reform than does its Senate counterpart. Printing & Mailing Industries and its allies will continue our work in the House and put pressure in that chamber to achieve legislative success as soon as possible.

– Printing Industry of America

Boost Creative Services from CSG Direct Mail

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of our dynamic creative design vendor-partners.

CSG Direct Mail has more Boost than ever.

Boost is a creative partner for everything over-the-top, effective and impressive.

Boost Creative is a top tier agency with clients like Porsche, Harrahs, KOA and Wells Fargo.

Here is the Boost Creative story:

Acceleration. Power. Ascent. To lend a hand, to enhance, to make better. All visions of Boost, and the inspiration behind a new type of company. A little giant capable of big league work. Where did we come up with such an idea? We’ve dreamt it all our lives.

You know those Friday happy hour conversations you have when you’re first out of college and mixing up in the “real world”? Well, ours pretty much went like this: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a collaborative of creatives who worked together, yet independently, with nothing getting in the way, taking up space and cluttering up communication with our clients? And wouldn’t it be a miracle to choose with whom we wanted to work – from clients to vendors to the UPS driver -so that our relationships were a good fit, serving an even nurturing the spirits of everyone involved? And wouldn’t it be perfect to do awesome work, the kind that not only puts our clients head and shoulders above the crowd, but also gives us a gut feeling of satisfaction.

This is who we are: innovative, resourceful, efficient, and honest.

We are a creative collaborative and culmination of tequila doused musings and professional dreams. We know the difference between advertising and “badvertising” and we won’t sell our for the latter. We understand technology, but we are not the “techies”. We work in a world-class space, which we designed and built with our own hands. We are students of design, art, communication and live. We love what we do and we do what we love. We are not a group of head nodders. We are not an advertising agency. We are an idea company.

Founded in January 2002, we strongly, honestly, absolutely believe that the best work comes when a client communicates directly with the individuals who will be producing the campaign or project. This saves clients a lot of money and us a lot of headache. We have seen the waste in advertising agencies. Hey, we’ve even been a part of it, but we have seen the light.

Strategy is at the core of how we run our business and how we work with our clients. Being able to say big words like Brand Positioning, and Core Competencies, are the easy part. Knowing how to do the work, that’s different. We can work to understand you, your business, your market, and your customers. Then, we make the recommendations, and we execute. Our strategy will always help clients communicate with sincerity and honesty, and create an emotional response. When it’s all done, we’re not off to Tahiti, we’re accountable. We analyze what went right or wrong, adjust, rebuild if necessary, move to the next steps, whatever is needed to truly accomplish goals. One step, one project, one magnificent moment at a time.

We love to brainstorm. We want to be your off site think tank. Whether brought in at the front of a large campaign, or simply called on to be one small part of it, we’ll help solve problems. When we mix it up with your people, there’s going to be some kind of wonderful going on. No doubt.

We approach every job, large or small, with the same level of energy and attention; your business, your budget, our reputation…all on the line. Yes we love to laugh, we always have fun, but we take this seriously.

Learn more about Boost Creative Services.