The Postal Service proposes to revise the Mailing Standards

The Postal Service proposes to revise the Mailing Standards of the USPS Domestic Mail Manual to provide standards for creating folded self-mailers (FSM) and other unenveloped mailpieces such as forms, statements, and official notices that will improve processing of these pieces on automated Postal processing equipment.

In this proposed rule, the Postal Service defines letter-sized FSM, provides detailed standards about the basic elements of all FSM letter-sized pieces, and introduces “panels” as a basic element for constructing FSMs. Additionally, optional creative elements that are currently found in FSM designs, but are not defined in the DMM, are added.

To improve the quality of FSMs, the USPS, in collaboration with the mailing industry, implemented a series of tests designed to identify the characteristics of FSMs that could be processed successfully on automated letter-sorting machines. Industry members, recommended through the Mailers Technical Advisory Council (MTAC), Postal Customer Councils (PCC) and the Business Service Network, were asked to provide sample mailpieces for testing. A wide array of mail owners, mail service providers, and vendors participated. The collaboration resulted in a better understanding of the capabilities and needs of the mailing community and enabled the Postal Service to align terms commonly used in the mailing industry with those in the proposed standards. Working together, the Postal Service attempted to strike a balance between innovation and mailpiece machinability.

The outcome of this collaboration is a streamlined framework of proposed standards that aligns with existing letter-mail standards, provides specific information, and clearly defines the characteristics of additional design elements for mailers who create FSM mailpieces. Folded self-mailer maximum dimensions and weights are now proposed to align with other unenveloped letter standards. The dimensions will better delineate envelope and over sized cards when compared to unenveloped-type mail. Improved standards that are clear and easy to understand will encourage consistency and level-set the playing field minimizing delays in production and will help the Postal Service to control costs.

Postal letter sorting equipment is capable of processing letters at the rate of 10 pieces per second. When prepared according to current standards and processed at that speed, some FSM designs have higher rates of damage and cause jams in letter sorting equipment that result in diverting those pieces to flat sorters or manual handling. Both alternate processes are time consuming and costly. This proposed rule provides standards for FSM and other unenveloped letter designs so those mailpieces can better withstand the rigors of letter automation processing.

To find out more about this proposal please download our PDF.

We also have a Folded Self-Mailer Reference Material PDF for your convenience.

We at CSG Direct are focused on quality and speed. We use our high quality staff (25 MQC certified by the USPS) to identify ways to save money through intelligent programs. High quality staff menas you have more high quality options. Direct mail is not an industry to cut quality on, especially if you want to save money! I have seen too many low cost vendors ruin entire campaigns because they offer low prices and miss all the most important steps (maximizing every step is important.)

Direct mail is a details business. Demand quality if you want success. We’ll help you find ways to balance cost and speed from there. Knowing what you’re dealing with is half the battle!

US Postal Service® is proposing to cut its workforce


The United States Postal Service is the cornerstone of an industry that employs over seven million Americans. Mail service providers, fulfillment companies, shipping firms, printers, transportation companies, and “Mom-and-Pop” small business owners all combine to use the mail and generate over $1 trillion in sales and revenue for the nation’s economy. This important segment of the business world represents seven percent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the United States.

Today, despite unprecedented cost and staffing reductions over the past decade, the Postal Service is facing the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the need to reorganize. While our business remains vital to the U.S. economy, we will be insolvent next month. Since 2007, the Postal Service has faced the financial strain of steep declines in mail volume and revenue, combined with increases in network costs, wages and benefits, and new legal requirements.

The financially strapped US Postal Service® is proposing to cut its workforce by 20% and to withdraw from the federal health and retirement plans because it believes it could provide benefits at a lower cost. They are talking about a reduction of 220,000 people which includes converting some to part time. The forced retirement and layoffs would be achieved in part by breaking labor agreements, a proposal that drew swift fire from postal unions.

The plan would require Congressional approval but, if successful, could be precedent-setting, with possible ripple effects throughout the government. It would also deliver a major blow to the nation’s labor movement. During the past four years, the service lost $20 billion, including $8.5 billion in fiscal 2010. Over that period, mail volume dropped by 20%. They are also talking about reducing the number of processing facilities by two thirds.

The USPS will need legislative action on the following:

• Allow the Postal Service™ to establish its own health benefits program
• Allow the Postal Service to administer its own retirement system
• Give the Postal Service the ability to adjust the size of its workforce to match operational needs and the changing marketplace.

Two Postal Service white papers provide details on these options. You can download them here.

Workforce Optimization Discussion Draft


The new legislative proposals are in addition to ones previously identified, including:

• Eliminate Congressionally mandated retiree health benefit pre-payments
• Enable the Postal Service to access Federal Employees Retirement System overpayments
• Give the Postal Service the authority to determine the frequency of mail delivery.

The Postal Service is facing dire economic challenges that threaten its very existence and, therefore, threaten the livelihoods of our employees and the businesses and employees in the broader postal industry and overall economy, of which the Postal Service continues to play a large part.

If the Postal Service was a private sector business, it would have filed for bankruptcy and utilized the reorganization process to restructure its labor agreements to reflect the new financial reality. Because this option is not available to the Postal Service, we believe that this extraordinary request is a key to securing our future and our continuing ability to provide universal service to our nation.

Full color variable envelopes, a Direct Mail Revolution

CSG direct is now equipped to print full color variable envelopes! We are your full service mail shop and print shop. Variable Direct Mail Printing can be one of the most powerful mediums of our times.

For those of you that are new to Variable-data printing, let me break it down for you. Variable-data printing is a form of digital printing, including on-demand printing, in which elements such as text, graphics and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process and using information from a database or external file.

For example, a set of personalized letters, each can have a different layout, different content and can all be printed as 1 run together with the different names and addresses on each letter. Now we can also have a completely different look on every single envelope to match the unique letters as well. This often costs less than ordering printed envelopes and then addressing them. This is a new revolution in direct marketing.

At CSG Direct, we have over 2 decades in Real Variable Data: Variable Data Printing, Variable Data Coding, Randomization, Variable Data Email, Websites, and more.

CSG Direct lives and breath variable data so you get Better Results Fast!

Lower Postage Rates for Full Service Intelligent Mail Option

The Intelligent Mail Barcode is a 65-bar code for use on mail in the United States. The term “Intelligent Mail” refers to services offered by the United States Postal Service for domestic mail delivery. IM is intended to provide greater information and functionality than its predecessors POSTNET and PLANET. The Postal Service was going to require use of the Intelligent Mail barcode to qualify for automation prices beginning May 2011.

Some of the benefits for Full Service Intelligent Mail barcodes include: Better visibility into the mailstream, Ability to track individual pieces, handling units and containers, Receive information about mail preparation and address quality, Determine when a mailing was inducted to the postal system, Address correction services, if requested Mail induction (start-the-clock) information and Optional Confirm Service.

Mail pieces prepared in accordance with full-service requirements are eligible for the applicable discount. Full-service discounts are summarized as follows:
• First-Class Mail Letters, Cards, and Flats: Subtract $0.003 for each automation piece that meets the requirements of the full-service Intelligent Mail option.
• Standard Mail Regular and Nonprofit Letters: Subtract $0.001 for each letter that meets the requirements of the full-service Intelligent Mail option.
• Standard Mail Regular and Nonprofit Flats: Subtract $0.001 for each flat that meets the requirements of the full-service Intelligent Mail option (not available for saturation).
• Periodicals Letters and Flats: Subtract $0.001 for each addressed piece that meets the requirements of the full-service Intelligent Mail option.
• Bound Printed Matter (BPM) Flats: Subtract $0.001 for each flat that meets the requirements of the full- service Intelligent Mail option.