In return for the discount postage rates it offers for First Class Presort and Standard Mail services, the USPS requires that both of these types of mail meet its Move Update standards. This is also called the NCOA processing requirement.
The Postal Service maintains a sizable registry of people and organizations who have recently moved; and it compiles this info in its National Change of Address (NCOA) database. Mailings that meet the Move Update standard must be checked against the NCOA database, and updated for any address changes.
This is good for mailers, since it helps ensure that addresses are up-to-date. And it’s good for the Post Office, since it minimizes the expense of handling all those bad addresses.
The downside to the NCOA requirement is that it costs money. And for a small mailer with a small list, an NCOA processing fee can seem just plain silly.
Luckily, the USPS provides two ways to avoid the NCOA requirement:
Add “Or Current Resident” to all your addresses
Since you’re letting the Post Office know that you’d like the mail delivered to the addresses regardless of who lives there, the USPS will waive the NCOA requirement.
To receive the waiver, you can add the line “Or Current Resident” (or “Or Current Occupant”) under the name line on each of your address labels.
Add an Ancillary Service Endorsement on your mailing piece
There are a few special postal instructions called ancillary service endorsements which you can print in the addressing area, and which instruct the Post Office what to do if the mailing piece is mailed to someone who has moved.
Here are a few of the common ancillary endorsements:
- Forwarding Service Requested
- Return Service Requested
- Address Service Requested
A full description of the USPS ancillary service endorsements is in Service Guide 507, a PDF file at the USPS site.
With an ancillary service endorsement, the USPS will waive the NCOA processing requirement. But be aware: you will be on the hook to pay the Post Office for subsequent postal fees that may result, depending on the ancillary service endorsement you select.
It’s worth noting that First-Class Presorted mail actually includes forwarding, or mail return, as part of its service. So, for First-Class Presort mail at least, adding “Forwarding Service Requested” would result in exactly the same level of cost and service without the endorsement. In this case, it makes sense to use this endorsement to avoid the NCOA requirement.
By the way, if you decide to use an ancillary address, be sure to add a return address to your layout. (A return address is usually optional, otherwise.)
The Move Update Standard
So, to summarize, the USPS’s Move Update standard requires mailings to be either 1) processed for NCOA (usually for a fee), 2) have the “Or Current Resident” line added to the address (for no fee), or 3) have an Ancillary Service Endorsement added to the layout of the mailing piece (subject to postal fees, depending on the endorsement).
It may not be pretty, but the standard is the best way for the Post Office to deal with the 40 million people per year who have to go and change their address.
Another attempt to help explain a complex world by the folks at magnetbyMail, your source for postcards, magnets and mailing.
OK, the secret is out: the most important factor in getting better direct mail results is improving the quality of your mailing list.
This may not seem that surprising. If you’re using really good criteria to select your mailing list, certainly you would expect improved results.
But a quality mailing list is more than the criteria you use to create it. It is quality content in terms of accurate names and deliverable addresses.
At magnetbyMail, we see hundreds of mailing lists each year — most of them are created by our customers who send them to us. They are usually lists of alumnus, subscribers, members, prospects or clients.
And many of these lists are full of errors that would cause the Post Office all sorts of delivery problems.
Now, the good news is that we’ll do our best to make the addresses deliverable. We’ll try to normalize and validate each address provided, so that it meets US Postal standards and matches an address that really exists.
But (although we try) we can’t do miracles. If you manage a mailing list of any size, you should understand some things about Normalizing and Validating an address, to ensure that your list is in tip-top shape:
Normalizing an Address
The Post Office wants to see addresses in a certain, normalized way. They expect an address with at least three lines of information: 1) Recipient Line, 2) Delivery Line address and 3) Last Line. For example:
1500 E MAIN AVE STE 201
SPRINGFIELD VA 22162-1010
The second thing you need to know is that addressing cannot be endless, there are data capacity limits for each address.
At magnetbyMail, we’ll encode a barcode based on the address you provide; and our inkjet printer allows 45 characters per line and 7 lines per address. (Be aware that, without a barcode, the USPS automated OCR reader does not process more than 40 characters per line or 5 lines per address.)
Here’s an example of a normalized, 7-line address, that we could use to encode a barcode:
VICE PRESIDENT FINANCE
MAIL STOP 123
1500 E MAIN AVE STE 201
SPRINGFIELD VA 22162-1010
In the above example, we’ve added an Attention Line (‘Bob Smith’), a Title (‘Vice President Finance’), a Department Name (‘Finance Division’) and an Additional Delivery Line (‘Mail Stop 123′).
Note that the Additional Delivery Line appears above the (main) Delivery Line — this is because the post office processes addresses from bottom to top, lines with more ‘important’ address info need to be below less important data.
The other thing worth noting is that each line is a distinct part of the address — it is not a continuation of the previous line. Instead of splitting long names onto multiple lines, accepted abbreviations are used to help fit information onto one line.
You may provide your data as upper and lower case letters, if you prefer; we’ll output the address in upper case when we inkjet the info on our postcard magnet mailers.
Normalizing: Step by Step
There are dozens of steps that are needed to ensure an address is normalized. Here are the major ideas you should be aware of before sending us your mailing list:
You have plenty of flexibility with the names on your list, as long as they don’t exceed 45 characters per line. Names can be full names, or fields with parts of names (First, Middle, Last). If the name uses a suffix (ex. ‘Jr.,’ or ‘Ph.D.’) or an alumni class year (ex. ” ’1933″) please provide this data as a separate suffix field; you can combine these if you’d like (ex. “Jr., Ph.D. ’33″).
If providing a Full Name field, you create combinations of two names (ex. “Mary and Bob Smith” or “Mary Smith and Bob Jones”). If you have enough address lines to spare, you can even have a line for one full name, and an Additional Contact line for another full name. If we’re running your list through the NCOA process (more on this, later), then at least one of the names you provide needs to be associated with the provided address, according to a USPS database.
Abbreviate if Necessary
As a general rule, the Post Office prefers to have Attention Name, Organization Name and the Address Line fully spelled out. It’s better to use “Highway 64″ rather than “Hwy 64″ if you have the space.
But if space is an issue (and you would exceed 45 characters per line), you should use an accepted abbreviation. If you need to shorten the name of a business, you should use the USPS’s accepted business word abbreviations.
The USPS prefers data without the punctuation (except for the occasional decimal point, hyphen or slash in a street number).
One Address Please
If you have two addresses for your contact, please provide one. If you provide a street address and a PO Box, we will use the PO Box address and ignore the other. If the address is “RR 3 Box 18 Bryan Dairy Rd”, then simply the box portion is best: “RR 2 Box 18″.
Related to this issue, avoid using corner addresses. That is, instead of an address like “5th and High”, the USPS needs a physical street address like “514 High St”.
The Secondary Designator
The most overlooked part of the address is the Secondary Designator. Whereas the Primary Designator is the main street number and street name (ex. ’123 Main St’), the Secondary Designator is used to describe a subset of that address, like an apartment number.
The USPS prefers that you include the Secondary Designator at the end of the Delivery Line (ex. “123 Main St., Suite 101″). But if you don’t have room, you can put the Secondary Designator on the Additional Delivery Line.
The Secondary Designator should be set up as the designator followed by the number / code. So instead of “6th Floor” it should be “Floor 6″.
If you need to abbreviate the Secondary Designator, refer to the USPS’s list of accepted abbreviations. The abbreviation of “Floor” is “Fl”, so the above example would be “Fl 6″.
Also, if you use a word (or abbreviation) like “Suite” or “Apt”, then don’t use the “#” symbol. But if you use only a number, then do add a “#” symbol before it (and place a space between the “#” and the number). Got it?
For US mail delivery, the 5-digit ZIP code is now pretty much an essential component for all addresses. Using the 5-digit ZIP you provide, we will use the USPS database to create a 9-digit ZIP plus additional delivery detail.
Take care to keep info in the appropriate fields. When the Post Office scanner is expecting to find a Delivery Address (like “123 Main St”) but finds a Name instead, then delivery could be compromised.
Here are several examples of bad information in the address fields:
- “University of Miami” in one of the address lines (should be in Organization Name field)
- “Psychiatric Dept” in one of the address lines (should be in Department Name field)
- “Attn: Bob Smith” in one of the address lines (should be in Attention Name line)
Having duplicate records in your address list is wasteful. Remove duplicates prior to your mailing. Better yet, let your software flag the duplicate as you enter data into your system.
Validating an Address
The other half to ensuring a deliverable address is to validate it. Validating an address means checking it against a database of actual, deliverable addresses. Software that provides this service will flag problem addresses (ex. “123 Main St — does not exist”).
Campus post office addressing standards can be tricky to validate. At UNH, “GSS, Box 777″ results in a bad address; but “777 Granite Square Station” works fine. For Dartmouth College, “Hinman Box 3010″ is a problem, but “3010 Hinman” is not.
Also, the validation process can burp if using a street address that is not standard for USPS. For example, the USPS might not recognize “789 Rt 12A” but does recognize “789 NH Rt 12A”. Unfortunately, these ‘standards’ can vary from community to community; there is no single standard for street addressing.
Many addresses fail simply because the Secondary Designator is missing. Be careful not to overlook this part of your Address Line.
A further offshoot of address validation is using the National Change of Address (NCOA) database, managed by USPS, to update addresses for people who have recently moved. If the software detects that “Robert Smith” at a particular address has moved, the software will modify the data to reflect the new address. The USPS reports that their database contains 160 million records of address changes for a 4 year period.
Fixing Your List
The best way to prevent bad addressing is to check your address info as soon as you receive it. There is software available that will normalize and validate addresses during the data entry process.
Alternatively, you can use CASS (TM) system software developed by the USPS, that will normalize and validate an entire list, and provide a certification upon completion.
Why go through this effort?
There are at least three big reasons you should be keeping your mailing list healthy:
First, your list is usually one of your organization’s most valuable assets. Doesn’t it make sense to keep it accurate and up-to-date?
Second, it reflects on you. If an address is full of inaccuracies the recipient will likely wonder about your organization’s service quality.
Third, list quality makes a huge impact on deliverability and cost. Bad or outdated addresses wastes your investment in postage and the cost of preparing your mailing piece. Moreover, there’s an opportunity cost for your organization from each piece that is not delivered.
If you have questions about getting your mailing list into better shape, please call us at magnetbyMail. We’re firm believers that an address is a terrible thing to waste.
Another tidbit of useful information from magnetbyMail, your source for magnets, postcards and mailing.
What is good design, exactly, when it comes to direct mail marketing?
The short answer is: the design that achieves the results you need.
And with that you’ll note good design is above all, results-oriented. The entire reason for good design is, not to make the world a prettier place, but to maximize the impact of the message.
The longer answer is more helpful perhaps, although no more precise: good design is using visual elements of form — space, lines, shapes, color and textures, along with function — a compelling message — that achieves an action or some goal for the marketer. Often, it’s about finding an appealing balance between form and function — that is, a pleasing presentation; but this is not always the case.
There’s no single design that is the perfect design. Further, a design that works for one type of message may not work for another.
And a design for one audience may not work for another.
When it comes to postcard magnet mailers (what we do at magnetbyMail) we’ve seen all types of designs for all types of messages and audiences.
The designs that work best seem to be the ones that:
- get your attention, either through imagery, a few words, or both;
- draw you in to explore and learn more details;
- change your emotional state — make you angry, curious, intrigued, excited, etc.;
- and lead you to a next step — to a website, a phone #, a donation, etc.
Personally, I like simple layouts. Grab the attention, give a message that’s succinct, and ask for action.
The design philosophy for this is “less is more.” The principle is that unessential elements are distractions. So if an element isn’t necessary to your core message, consider doing without it.
Where do you find good ideas for good design? I suggest starting on the Web.
For postcard designs, check out BestPostcardDesign .
On a future post, I’ll provide a list of my favorite websites that are helpful for design inspiration.
Until then, I suggest: less is best.
Another little marketing nugget from magnetbyMail, your source for postcard magnet mailers and other nifty marketing aids.
Sure, the real estate market is tough. Nevertheless, with proper pricing and good real estate marketing, properties are still selling.
According to Bloomberg, realtors are selling over 4.5 million units of US existing homes per year.
Based on the average home being sold for about $150,000 (Real Estate ABC), that’s $675,000,000,000 in sales total, just for existing residential properties.
And it’s no secret. Every good real estate agent knows the keys to selling real estate in 2012:
- Pricing it right
- Property looks its best
- Seller is flexible — it is a buyers’ market afterall
and also, you should be
- Web savvy
Now, considering 90% of properties are being sold by agents who already know about these four keys, what can an agent do to make his/her properties stand out from the rest?
The answer is: mail a folding postcard with magnet.
And if your response to that is ‘What?’, well let us tell you. (You see, we happen to make these.)
Our Foldup Magnet Mailer is a large 8-1/2″ x 11″ postcard folded in half, with a large 3-1/2″ x 4″ magnet inserted inside. The card is sealed with easy-peel glue, inkjet addressed on front, and mailed by the US Post Office to your prospect list or a direct mail list we can provide.
The postcard can be printed with all sorts of useful info, including color photos of homes for sale and listings in the area. The magnet typically includes your photo, contact info, website address and facebook url.
Check out all our magnet mailers at magnetbyMail .
The Foldup Magnet Mailer makes a double impact: one, when it is received in the mail, and another when the magnet is applied to your prospect’s fridge or file cabinet.
The true power of the Foldup Magnet Mailer is in the distribution. Our experience shows that you should target your own community. You’ll likely gain more listings for yourself and you’ll be creating an invaluable network of neighbors who can become your Facebook friends and a great source for leads.
And you’ll have accomplished a nearly impossible feat: getting people to focus more than 2 seconds on the properties that you’re marketing.
The entire Foldup Magnet Mailer costs less than a dollar (1000 are 64 cents each). It provides you a high-impact presentation in the short term, and an effective way to keep your message in front for weeks, months or longer.
So be a part of that $675,000,000,000 in real estate sales, and kickstart your real estate marketing with a foldup magnet mailer.
Another service from magnetbyMail, doing our part to help promote the economy.
The Next Big Idea in Direct Marketing
Late last year we asked potential customers looking at our products what they wished for.
They said, as much as they liked the idea of our postcard magnets, what they really wished for was more room to express themselves.
You see, we’ve always had our basic postcard magnets — these are jumbo postcards and custom printed magnets, one glued to the other and mailed via directmail.
But the Venti, our largest postcard magnet at 5-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ just wasn’t enough. Some marketers want more than the Venti’s 115 square inches.
So in January, we introduced our Foldup Magnet Mailer. This a very big, 8-1/2″ x 11″ postcard, folded in half, a magnet attached to the inside, and sealed shut with easy-peel glue. Marketers now can have over 200 square inches of printing area.
The fold provides lots of benefits. The standard postcard format has two sides or ‘facings.’ But the Foldup Magnet Mailer has three facings: the front, the back, and the inside. This gives marketers more space and flexibility to develop their message.
Another benefit of the Foldup is, because the folded piece is thicker than our regular magnet mailer, and the magnet is held securely inside, we don’t need to use poly laminate to keep the mailer as rigid for mailing purposes.
Saving poly laminate saves time and reduces costs. (We still provide a UV coating for shine and protection.)
Our customers can receive a Foldup Magnet Mailer for about the same price as our smaller postcard magnet.
A final benefit is that we can enclose custom shaped magnets with the Foldup. (Our standard postcard magnets could use only rectangle shapes, mostly.)
Foldup Magnet Mailers make sense for any marketer who wants all the benefits of delivering a magnet to a home or office, but who needs lots of space to convey their message.
One thing we should mention for designers: the positioning of the Foldup’s magnet is more restrictive than for our regular postcard magnets. The magnet needs to be attached on the ‘inside’ of the folded postcard, and ‘behind’ the area where the mailing address is to printed.
But if your design can work with that location, the Foldup Magnet Mailer may be the perfect way to deliver your message. You can deliver it with a 200 square inch format, and provide a custom magnet to help keep your message in full view for weeks or months.
Another innovative marketing device from your friends at magnetbyMail.com, your source for magnet mailers and other ingenious communications tools.
Animal Rescue: A New Breed of Marketing
It’s startling to find out how many dogs and cats are rescued from our streets. According to the Humane Society, there are 6-8 million dogs and cats in animal shelters each year, in the US alone.
Each one of these animals needs to find a home. And many new organizations have sprung up to take on the challenge.
These groups don’t necessarily call themselves marketers, but that’s exactly what they are.
Their mission is to raise the awareness of the abandoned animal issue, recruit likely adoptee families, match animals with new owners, promote best practices to the community, and even sponsor legislation that helps save animals.
The animal rescue groups of today use many of the same cutting edge marketing strategies you might find in any major business, using social media like Facebook and Twitter to broadcast rescue news to thousands.
But because not everybody subscribes to their Twitter feeds, these groups have found they need to use traditional media.
And that’s where we come in.
You see, we make postcard magnet mailers. That’s a custom-printed, jumbo postcard and a magnet, one glued to the other, and mailed to a mailing list via the post office.
These magnet mailers are one of the most effective ways for rescue groups to get their message out: to ask people to consider adopting an animal in need.
Our Foldup Magnet Mailer is good for helping tell a more complete story — it’s designed with the magnet attached inside a large, folded postcard, and provides over a hundred square inches of space for text and pictures.
So how does the whole thing work exactly? Simple: the Foldup Magnet Mailer reaches the family through the mailbox. It will likely be opened and read, and maybe discussed. The magnet will be added to a file cabinet or refrigerator, working as a mini billboard for on-going awareness.
Then, one day, the Forces of Good will converge and the family will decide that they’re interested in learning more about adopting an animal and will find the rescue group’s web address on the magnet.
It sounds like great fiction but this process is really what happens every single day.
In fact, there aren’t many other ways for an animal rescue organization to get so much exposure, for so few dollars (…cents, actually).
It might take three or four months for a family to reach that magic moment, and decide to adopt a pet. The Foldup Magnet Mailer provides all the right ingredients to facilitate that multi-month process, and help keep the rescue’s message at top of mind.
Of course, you don’t need to be rescued to benefit from our postcard magnet mailers. You just need to be interested in getting your message out, and keeping it there.
Another timely message (we hope) from your friends at magnetbyMail.com , your source for of postcard magnets and other neat promotional devices.
or How To Grow a Church
The time for church marketing is now. We see two big reasons for this:
First — many people are having financial troubles or family problems. Or they just feel adrift and are looking for some guidance and community.
But what many churches are discovering — the relevation — is this: the things that work to grow a business also work to grow a church.
Church marketing today includes: setting up a table at the county fair, writing columns in the local paper, speaking at the Rotary Club, building a website and hosting a page on Facebook.
But the best way to reach everyone in the community is this: (drum-roll, please) a mailing.
It used to be that direct mail was ineffective, and highly expensive.
But new technology has made printing and lists both better and cheaper. A gorgeous full-color promotion and a mailing address costing $3 each a decade ago, can now be less than 50 cents.
And what is the most effective type of mailing? Call us biased, but we think it’s postcard magnets.
These are jumbo, laminated postcards and custom printed full-color refrigerator magnets. One is glued to the other, and mailed to a list that you provide.
When recipients receive your church’s postcard magnet mailers, they’ll see your message immediately. With the right art and message, they’ll decide to keep your magnet on their fridge where it could promote your church for weeks or even months.
Until now, no other form of advertising has ever been able to promote your church’s message for so long, for so little.
And that, is the second reason we think the time is right for church marketing.
Another inspired idea about postcard magnets from magnetbyMail.com . Because when it comes to effective marketing, we’re all on the same mission.
OK, you’re fed up. You’ve had enough with ‘politics as usual’ and you think that it’s time for the bickering to stop and for your views to be heard.
Maybe you want to re-focus the dialog onto an important issue. Maybe you have a good solution or insight. Maybe you want to change the Constitution.
But you need to convince many, perhaps millions of your fellow citizens.
The problem is that, no matter what you want, there is a buzz and banter that you need to break through for your message to be heard. From cable TV to the blogosphere, the buzz and banter is at full volume.
How do you get your message in front of the people who will make a difference?
Basically, you need to change the channels.
Rather than sending your message through the Internet, print media, or cable TV, send it via a way that gets maximum impact. Send it via a Postcard Magnet Mailing.
A Postcard Magnet Mailer is two parts: a custom-printed, laminated jumbo postcard with a refrigerator magnet attached, sent together through the US Mail with bulkrate postage. The postcard is the carrier, and the magnet becomes the billboard.
Recipients open their mailboxes and instantly see your message. If they like it, they’ll use the magnet on their refrigerator or file cabinet.
They’ll start thinking of your ideas, start visiting your website, and start helping change the political dialog.
All this for much less cost than a cup of coffee.
If you’d like to make sure your message makes an impact, check our Postcard Magnets at magnetbyMail.com .
And start making a difference!
[ ...Without Going Broke ]
Every two years, political campaigns spring to life throughout the US. Incumbants work to keep their seats against an onslaught of indignant wannabes.
If you’re running for office, you’re focused on the issues that are important to your voters.
But what are campaign managers focused on? The same thing, right?
Campaign managers are focused on issues like: fund raising, scheduling, disclosure filing, and building name recognition.
If you can picture the circus entertainer who keeps a dozen plates spinning atop a dozen poles, that’s basically what a campaign manager looks like.
The biggest challenge for a campaign manager? Making sure the candidate’s message is reaching voters.
Even if a campaign has lots of money to spend, which it probably doesn’t, getting out the message is not that easy. In a matter of months, voters are bombarded with thousands of messages from candidates, local and national.
For example, in just one of the days leading up to the Iowa Caucuses in February 2008, there were nine hours of TV commercials to promote the various Presidential hopefuls.
How does a campaign get its message out through all that? What can campaign managers use to sleep at night?
A postcard magnet mailer is an oversized laminated postcard with a magnet attached. And because its small and simple, it’s become a useful tactical device for political campaigns…
- each one is sent by US mail so it bypasses spam filters, and TV clickers
- with the right design, it contains a useful and informative magnet, which can be kept in voters’ sight — on the fridge
- the recipient is usually appreciative, which is good for the candidate
- a magnet mailer costs under a dollar, and in many cases under 60 cents, including postage
So while opponents spend big bucks for a 30 second TV spot, a candidate can spend less than a dollar to receive coverage all day and all night.
That’s another tip from magnetbyMail.com — making campaigning affordable for all. Check out our political postcard magnets online.
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Welcome to the blog for magnetbyMail.com.
Here you can find ideas to help promote your event, build your campaign and grow your organization. Find out the best ways to use custom imprinted postcard magnets mailers. Discover why Postcard Magnets are a powerful way to promote your message.
Have a question? Just ask us.
Need some postcard magnets? Please visit: magnetbyMail.com.
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