The U.S. Postal Service is one of the most technologically advanced institutions in the entire world. They have achieved this distinction through the implementation of automated equipment that processes mail through facilities at incredible rates of speed. The true champions of high-speed processing are the letter sorters and, like every piece of machinery, there are physical limitations to size, weight and shape of the pieces they can handle. Following the rules for mailpiece design is the easiest path to the deepest postage discounts available in the USPS rate structure. Postage savings of 50% or more are possible at the design stage of a printed piece.

Where do you start? The first step is to make every effort to design your piece so it can be categorized as a letter. There are additional physical criteria that must be met for total USPS automation compatibility but you should worry about the production issues and costs of tabbing, folding, sealing, spot-gluing, etc. after you have paid attention to size and shape and have identified the postage incentives for your mail class. Then you will be in a position to determine if meeting the additional criteria for total mailpiece automation-compatibility is worth pursuing. Postal issues must be considered at the very earliest stages of the evolution of a mailpiece ââ¬â¬â whether you are mailing a single piece or a large direct mail campaign.

The U.S. Postal Service has established a national network of Business Support Centers. Each of these Business Centers is staffed with one or more Mailpiece Design Analysts (MDA). They can provide you with a number of additional tools that you will find very useful in the design of a totally automation-compatible mailpiece. Remember your Postal Point of View ââ¬â¬â your local MDA should be the first contact that you make once you have identified your direct mail concept. Please visit to locate the USPS MDA that serves your area.

Start today by:
-- Looking at the design and shape of the pieces that your company puts into the mailstream
-- Determine the mailing category for each piece
-- Calculate the postage that is being paid now and the postage that could be paid with a new design 
-- Work with your design department and your local USPS MDA to establish a plan for redesign
-- Share your newfound knowledge with your clients

The USPS rate incentives for mailpiece design include a reason for you to contact every one of your current customers and a motivation to reach out to all those prospects on your list. Begin today to establish best practices for the details of design incentives and take advantage of the deepest postage discounts that are yours for the taking. Put them to work for your company first and then extend them to your current and future clients.

Mary Ann Bennett, a 33-year veteran of the direct mailing industry, is nationally recognized as an expert in USPS postal automation, a frequent speaker at direct marketing conventions and communication forums and is a frequent contributor to national publications. She established The Bennett Group, Inc. and Mailing Training Institute in 2003. This mailing training and consulting firm has the single focus of the development and delivery of educational products, services and training for the business of mail. Products developed at the facility include textbooks, publications, kits and templates, online forums and web-based seminars. Fore more information, please email or visit