4 Effects of USPS’ Proposed Rules for Self-Mailers

4 Mar

Originally published in Target Marketing’s Tipline E-Newsletter
by Britt Brouse
Feb 18, 2009

Self-mailers are popular across multiple sectors for their affordability and visibility. In fact, more than a third of all mail received annually by the Who’s Mailing What! Archive, Target Marketing Group’s library of direct mail and e-mail campaigns, fits into the self-mailer category, including catalogs, booklets or slim-jim mailings, folded self-mailers, and postcard formats.

For marketers already using self-mailers or considering self-mailer tests, it’s crucial to note some highlights from the rule changes proposed by the U.S. Postal Service in December 2008 for implementation in May.

The proposed rules primarily will affect folded self-mailers and booklets (slim jims) and aim to eliminate those formats, proven through testing to be incompatible with USPS machinery. Below are some implications of the proposed revisions:

1. Tabs Grow in Size and Number
The USPS proposes more tabbing to secure open edges on folded self-mailers and booklets. Folded self-mailers are required to have two tabs, measuring at least 1″in diameter, and booklets must have three tabs of 1-1/2″ in diameter or 2″ for larger and heavier items. All tabs must be placed with 1/4″ variance in either direction, and pieces must be sealed on the top and/or leading edges—not on the bottom edge.

2. Perforated Tabs Are No Longer Accepted
Although tabs without perforations are arguably much harder for prospects to open, perforated tabs regularly get caught in machinery and increase the USPS’ time and costs. Additionally, when a perforated tab opens during processing, the folded self-mailer or booklet is no longer machinable. Under the proposed rule, only plastic, vinyl, translucent, opaque and cellophane paper and tape closures, all without perforations, will be accepted as tabs.

3. Glue Sticks Around
One solution for those print services providers or fulfillment houses with noncompatible tabbing equipment may be to seal mailers with spot glue or strips of glue. According to the rule, spot glue or continuous glue may be used in lieu of tabs on many folded self-mailer formats and some booklet formats outlined in section 3.15.4 of the new regulations. Glue spots must be placed within 3/4″ from open edges, and continuous glue must run along the entire length of an open edge, no more than 3/4″ from the opening.

4. A Change in Format Definition
Under the new rule, a folded self-mailer will be defined only as a continuous sheet of paper. That means marketers cannot use creative formats like pull tabs, extra panels, pockets, sticky notes or stickers if they are to achieve machinable rates. Booklets have more inclusive parameters—defined as multiple sheets folded together and bound or permanently fastened. Additionally, booklets may be folded for mailing as long as they maintain a uniform thickness.

Go to http://pe.usps.com/Booklets_and_Folded_SelfMailers.pdf to download the full proposal.

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