Paper | Coatings and Crackings

Coatings and Crackings

paperfoldtestEver received a brochure, booklet or other piece of mail that appears to be cracked along the folded edge? This sometimes occurs with full coverage ink or digital toner when the document is folded unless precautions are taken in advance.

There are three items to consider: Coated papers, toner vs ink and paper fiber orientation.

The Paper Factor

Ink soaks into uncoated paper and digital toner adheres to its rougher surface. Adhesion ability is reduced with a coated paper for both ink and toner. You may get the glossy or satiny finish you like, but you may also experience cracking through both layers – coating and ink or toner.

Specially coated papers will work with non-water-based inks and there are specific papers used with toner based printing.

Should I Choose Toner or Ink?

Most digital toners are made of plastic or wax powders that are fused to the paper using heat. Water or alcohol based inks are commonly used on home inkjet printers; these inks soak into uncoated paper before drying. Glossy printing on a home inkjet printer can only be done using specially coated photo papers.

Commercial printing presses use oily inks that adhere to the paper much like paint.

The Big One: Grain Orientation

Paper is made of wood or cotton fibers and are directed in one direction, although papers such as tissue or the 20# bond you probably use in your office are non-oriented.paperteartest

To determine the orientation of your paper do a tear test. Tearing with the grain produces neat, parallel strips, against the grain ends with ragged and unpredictably shaped pieces. Take a piece of paper and tear it both on the short end and the long end of the paper to test.

How to Reduce Cracking

For short print runs you will most likely want to choose digital printing. The first line of defense to prevent cracking of toner based pieces is to design without full toner coverage where the fold is to occur. Heavier stock such as card or cover, should be scored whether or not there is toner at the fold line.

Ask your printer if they have a stock that can be run with the grain oriented to fit your fold configuration. Often times a larger sheet paper can be used although the price may be a bit higher.

You could also employ the use of special coatings such as UV, varnish or aqueous. UV coating requires the use of a special ultraviolet light. All three options are available as either “spot” or “flood” coating.

Make sure to use your vendor’s expertise during design and paper selection. They will be able to steer you to the best possible outcome!

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USPS | The Mail Eater

The Mail Eater

mail eaterYou’ve done it. You and your team have formed an alliance of the best of data, design and technology and brought forth the perfect mailpiece, a scintillating message that will bring you the ROI of your dreams. It is ready for launch.

Beware! Between home port and the final destination, a fearsome danger lurks: The Mail Eater.

It will shred your envelopes, mangle your budget and sink your dreams. But do not despair, there is something you can do to defend yourself.  The Mail Eater is nothing more than the machinery the USPS uses to process mail in a swift and cost-effective manner. Properly prepared, your mailpieces will sail through unscathed. But the unwary will fall prey to being macerated, rejected or slapped with the higher cost of manual processing.

Here are three of the riddles you must answer to get past the Mail Eater’s gaping jaws:

  1. What is your Aspect Ratio?
    • Take the length of the mailpiece and divide it by the height. If the answer is between 1.3 and 2.5, take heart, your message’s journey will be blessed. If not, it will meet its doom.
  2. What is your mail piece thickness?
    • Letters must be a minimum of .007 thick, or 0.009 inch thick if more than 4-1/4 inches high or 6 inches long or both. Thin paper makes poor armor against the speed and impact of the postal machines’ maw.
  3. What are your barcode reflectance properties?
    • What do you mean—background reflectance, print reflectance difference or opacity? The automation machines must be able to distinguish the printed barcode from any background designs or print showing through the material of the envelope. It is essential to refer to the USPS DMM code 708.4.4 to combat these issues.

It may seem daunting, but be brave! These answers and more are found in the USPS Quick Service Guide at http://pe.usps.com/.  Congratulations, you have now equipped your message to face and conquer the threat of physical damage and increased mailing costs. Good luck, and may the post be with you!

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Addressing Your Mailpiece!

Where To Put The Address On Your Mailpiece!

We’ve discussed many times the importance of your address list – quality, completeness, Move Update compliant and list hygiene. Now that you know what you need for your address list, where oh where to put the address on your mailpiece!

The delivery address instructs the USPS where to deliver the mailpiece. You want to make sure you are giving all the necessary information as well as placing it on the mailpiece that makes it most efficient for the USPS.

Outgoing Address must include:

  • Recipients name or other designation
  • Street number and name (including any pre-or post-directional), or PO Box number, rural or highway route or box number, and secondary description such as a suite or apartment number.
  • City and state
  • ZIP Code or ZIP+4

Alternative Addressing Formats:

  • Simplified addressing is used for general distribution to all residences/businesses on a rural route, highway contract route or all boxholders at a Post Office.  In this case “Postal Customer” is used in place of a person’s name.
  • “Occupant” can be used instead of a recipients name on a mailpiece with a complete delivery address.
  • “Or Current Resident” can be used in addition to a recipient name. This indicates that the mailpiece should be delivered to the specific address even if the person named has moved.

Return Address:

  • A return address tells the USPS where the sender wants the mail returned if it is undeliverable. A return address is required on certain types of mail. The USPS preferred placement of the return address is the upper left portion of the mailpiece on the side bearing the postage.
  • Include all the necessary information as for the outgoing address

Tips:

  • The USPS prefers a simple sans serif typeface (some examples are Helvetica or Arial).
  • Use a minimum of 8 point type unless the address bears an Intelligent Mail Barcode, in which case you can go to 6 point in all caps.
  • Type or machine print in dark ink on a light background. Reflectivity between the ink color and the paper stock color may effect whether your mailpiece will qualify for automation rate discounts.
  • Left justify every line.
  • Use two letter state abbreviations.
  • There should be one space between city and state, two spaces between state and ZIP Code.

Now that you have all the address components down, where should you place the address on the mailpiece?

The address must always appear on the side of the mailpiece bearing postage. In order to claim automation postage rates, it must be parallel to the top edge.

The USPS will want to place a barcode on your mailpiece. The barcode acts as a driver for the mailpiece. USPS sorting equipment reads the address and sprays a corresponding barcode onto the mailpiece. For this reason you need to keep a clear space (Barcode Clear Zone in USPS speak) 5/8” from the bottom edge and extending 4 ¾” from the right edge. If you plan to seek automation discount postage rates, keep this area free from any logos, artwork or messages.

The outgoing address block needs to appear in an area that begins 2 ¾” from the bottom edge, and leaves a ½” space on the left and right edges.

Dark shaded area indicates “free space” for nonaddress printing.

Light shaded area indicates preferred clear zone to enhance readability.

If using a window envelope, make sure your address shows completely within the window and leaves at least an 1/8” clearance between the address and/or barcode and the edges of the window. Tap the envelope on a solid surface to make sure address doesn’t shift outside of window – perform this tap test on all four sides of the mailpiece.

Address placement for flat size mail differs slightly. As in letter size mailpieces, the address must appear on the same side as the postage. It should placed in the upper portion of the flat (top half) and should be parallel to the top edge although it may be placed perpendicular to the top, near or at the open or bound edge.

Now that your mailpiece is designed to meet postal requirements, you’ve included a great offer or call to action, you’ve compiled a clean, targeted mail list and perfect address placement you are ready to mail away! Happy mailing and good luck!

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Personalized URL Tips!

Tips for Using PURLs

If you’ve ever considered using Personalized URL as part of your mail campaign, here are some helpful tips we’ve compiled.

Starting at square one –

  1. Start with a new domain name. You can use Go Daddy’s bulk registration tool to see which ones are available to you. Get creative and tie your domain name into your campaign vision.
  2. When crafting your PURL message, don’t offer too many choices to the respondent. Give them one offer or one premium, not 10 different offers. When a respondent has to stop and think over an offer, they are more likely to click away and never respond.
  3. Keep the landing page clean, simple and relevant. Don’t crowd your message or add distractions. White space is your friend here, just as in a direct mail piece.
  4. Get them to the submit button as quickly and painlessly as possible. Only ask questions that are absolutely necessary; oftentimes you can get some of this information after they respond.
  5. If they are able, ask your PURL vendor to customize the thank you page and email follow up as well. Personalization goes a long way in increasing response and customer loyalty.

A PURL offers valuable information. You can track who visited their landing page and responded, who visited but didn’t choose to respond, and who didn’t visit at all. Each type offers unique insight to the effectiveness of your marketing, allowing you to tweak future communications to prospects and clients.

How do you see yourself using PURLs to enhance customer communications? We’d love to hear your feedback.

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USPS | Holiday Mailing Tips

Holiday Mailing Tips

Follow these helpful tips for successful holiday mailing.

Here, from the U.S. Postal Service, are suggested tips for preparing and mailing cards, letters and packages this holiday season. 

Mailing Greeting Cards

Customers who receive door delivery are welcome to give their holiday and other mail they are sending to their letter carrier, rather than placing it in a collection box or making a special trip to the post office. Customers who receive curbside delivery may leave their mail in their receptacle for pickup.842811-01-main-600x600

Preparing Packages

  • PRINT addresses clearly.
  • Include all address elements (apartment numbers, suite numbers, directional information for streets, etc.).
  • Include both “to” and “from” information on packages – and only on one side; no extra writing.
  • Never guess a ZIP Code — NO ZIP is better than WRONG ZIP! Check USPS.com for a convenient ZIP code look up tool.

Packaging Tips

  • Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents. Leave space for cushioning inside the carton.
  • Package contents with shredded or rolled newspaper, bubble wrap, or Styrofoam peanuts. Plain air-popped popcorn is also good for cushioning; it’s inexpensive and environmentally friendly. Pack tightly to avoid shifting.
  • Always use tape that is designed for shipping, such as pressure-sensitive tape, nylon-reinforced tape, paper tape, or glass-reinforced pressure-sensitive tape.
  • Do not use wrapping paper, string, masking tape, or cellophane tape.
  • Put the delivery and return addresses on only one side of the package.
  • Recommendation: Place an index card inside the package that contains the sender’s address and the recipient’s address along with a list of the contents. This will help us re-pack boxes that were improperly wrapped and came apart during transporting and processing and help ensure that the package is either sent to its destination or back to the sender.
  • Take packages that weigh at least 1 pound into the post office for mailing. Do not put boxes into your neighborhood mailbox or expect for your mail carrier to pick them up for you.
  • Obtain Express Mail and Priority Mail boxes, envelopes, and tubes for free from your post office.

Prior to Mailing

  • Stuff glass and fragile hollow items, like vases, with newspaper or packing material to avoid damage due to shock. When mailing framed photographs, take the glass out of the frame and wrap it separately.
  • Remove batteries from toys. Wrap and place them next to the toys in the mailing box.

Special Tips

  • Access the Postal Service’s web site, usps.com, for postage calculations, the latest addressing information, and unique gifts. Avoid waiting in line for your Holiday stamps by using Stamps by Phone (1-800-STAMP24), Stamps by Mail, or stamps from postal self-service vending machines, neighborhood retail outlets and ATMs.
  • Sign up for text and email alerts to track your package. Just go to My USPS.com

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USPS 7 Day Service for Holiday Mail

USPS 7 Day Service for Holiday Mail

Getting everything done – both personal and professional – during the holiday season can be tough. The Postal Service is stepping in to help you out by offering seven day a week delivery in major cities and high volume areas beginning November 17th through Christmas day.

They expect double digit growth of their package services during this period – up roughly 12% over the same period last year. The expectation is that they will handle 450 – 470 million packages. This is in large part due to continued e-commerce growth and improvements to Priority Mail services.

“Football has its season. But the holidays? That’s our season,” said Donahoe. “That’s crunch time for us, and year after year, we step up our game. E-commerce package business continues to be a big player now more than ever, so we’ve enhanced our network to ensure America that we’ll deliver their cards, gifts and letters in time for the holidays.”

USPS’ competitors recently announced increases to their services, while the Postal Service lowered some of its prices for businesses and other large shippers. The reduced Priority Mail pricing has affordable options and improved tracking ability.USPSHoliday

“The Postal Service will be out making deliveries every single day during the holiday season, including Christmas Day,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “During the holidays, no carrier makes more deliveries to more places than the Postal Service, and this year, we’re raising the bar with enhanced tracking and Sunday delivery.”

With the continued growth of online retailers, more products are shipped directly to consumers.

“Every household in America relies on us to get their packages in time for the holidays, and we take great pride in taking on that responsibility,” said Donahoe. “We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to deliver for our customers.”

 2014 Christmas Shipping Deadlines

For expected delivery of holiday mail and packages by Christmas, the Postal Service recommends keeping the following mailing and shipping deadlines in mind:

  • Dec. 2 – First-Class Mail International/Priority Mail International
  • Dec. 10 – Priority Mail Express International
  • Dec. 15 – Standard Post
  • Dec. 17 – Global Express Guaranteed
  • Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail/Priority Mail (domestic)
  • Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express (domestic)

Skip the lines and ship online

Consumers can avoid holiday hassles by visiting usps.com — the Postal Service’s website that will help make mailing and shipping easier. Nearly 75 million customers will skip the trip to the Post Office altogether and take advantage of convenient online shipping this holiday season. Click-N-Ship and other online services allow customers to print shipping labels, order free Priority Mail boxes, purchase postage and even request free next-day Package Pickup.

Next week’s blog? Our annual guide to holiday shipping tricks and tips!

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USPS Update | USPS Cyber Intrusion and Employee Data Compromise

USPS Cyber Intrusion and Employee Data Compromise

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You may have heard in the news this week that USPS has experienced a data security breach. This impacted USPS employees and also consumers who directly contacted the USPS call center. Mail Systems Management Association has provided a great review of what happened and who is at risk.

You can read it here:

USPS IT performed work this past weekend to upgrade system security, which resulted in some loss of system functionality. It is also in response to a cyber-intrusion into some of our information systems. You may see this in the news today.

The extent of the breach is somewhat limited. We have had some employee data compromised and some customer care data compromised. We are notifying our employees today and are providing resources for them.

The compromised call center data was submitted by customers who contacted the Postal Service customer care center with inquiries via telephone or email between January 1, 2014 and August 16, 2014. The compromised data consists of names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and other information for customers who may have provided this information. At this time we do not believe that affected customers need to take any action as a result of this incident. It appears that no customer credit card or financial data was compromised.

We are investigating the intrusion and are working closely with all the agencies you would expect – the FBI, the Department of Justice, our own Inspector General and Postal Inspection Service, and the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team. Additionally, we have brought in outside experts who specialize in investigations and data systems to help us understand what happened and how to improve our security.

We have already implemented some important security measures over the weekend and we will continue to roll out other new security measures in the coming days and weeks.

As things currently stand, it is business as usual for nearly every aspect of our operations – Post Offices are functioning normally and mail and packages are being delivered as usual. We have posted Q&As and other information about this on usps.com.

Click here to read FAQs written by the USPS.

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Strahm Automation | Open House

Add A Splash Of Color To Your Day!

Come join the Strahm Automation & Mailing Open House from 3-6pm TODAY!! Introducing our new Océ ColorStream 3500 Inkjet Printer.

This video showcases the newest addition to the Strahm Automation & Mailing family: Océ ColorStream 3500 Inkjet Printer.

It provides sharp, full color CMYK printing, even printing duplex simultaneously. This high speed printer can produce up to 1,000 letter size sheets per minute. Added to that is the ability to perf – both horizontal and vertical – and trim in line. What can’t this workhorse do?

With the Océ ColorStream 3500, Strahm gains the ability to more effectively respond to ever-changing customer demands, resulting in a finished product that delivers on expectations. At the same time, cutting edge technology and low-waste operation allow Strahm to pass savings along to customers.

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Strahm Open House | Add a Splash of Color

Add a Splash of Color!

StrahmOHStrahm Automation invites you to join us on Friday, November 7th from
3–6pm at our open house. We are proudly introducing our new Océ ColorStream 3500 Inkjet printer!

The newest addition to our production facility provides sharp, full color CMYK printing, even printing duplex simultaneously. This high speed printer can produce up to 1,000 letter size sheets per minute. Add to that the ability to perf – both horizontal and vertical – and trim in line.JoinUs

What can’t this workhorse do? We think our customers will love the new Océ 3500 as much as we do!

So come by November 7th, add a splash of color and something sweet to your day. We will be holding the open house from 3–6pm. Just follow the balloons at 17th and Broadway.

 

Strahm Automation & Mailing Services
1700 Broadway, Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 756-2733

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USPS to Maintain Current Product and Service Prices

U.S. Postal Service to Maintain Current Product and Service Prices

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Oct. 1, 2014– The Governors of the U.S. Postal Service have decided not to seek a price change for mail and shipping products and services in January in part because of the uncertainty regarding the exigent price increase. This means that the current pricing of postal products and services will remain in effect through the holiday season and early part of 2015. The Board will continue to evaluate pricing strategies and will communicate about any potential price change filings in early 2015. As always, the Postal Service will provide customers advance notice of any price changes.

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Please visit us on the USPS Industry Outreach website.

Thank you for your support of the United States Postal Service.

–Consumer and Industry Affairs

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