New Postage Rates Approved Effective May 31st

The pending rate increase has just been approved below is a recap of the general changes.

The average overall increase by class is 1.966%, which aligns with the CPI cap. The increase for Standard Mail letters will be about 1.8% for automation mail and 1.2% for walk-sequence carrier route. First-Class Mail Automation Letters and Cards increase about 2.4%. (Commercial First-Class got a higher bump because most single-piece rates didn’t change.)

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First Class postage Increases to .49 cents. New prices coming January 2014?

Postage increases

Postage increases

Today the USPS announced its intention to seek a 5.9% across the board increase in postage rates and services. With the major part of the increase coming from First Class mail. The cost of the first class stamp will be raised to .49 cents if approved.

We will keep you advised and you can review the complete information for all classes of mail at this link.

New prices and services for 2014.

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How can IMb Tracing help my business?

IMb Tracing is a service that provides real-time tracking information for your automation-compatible letters and flats, giving advance notice for both incoming and outgoing mail. GSI Marketing’s direct mailing services can show you how.

  • Destination IMb Tracing service (for outgoing mail) gives you advance information about when your mail pieces will reach their destination.
  • Origin IMb Tracing service (for incoming mail) lets you anticipate when customers’ checks, replies, or orders are on the way back to you.

How does IMb Tracing help my business?

For outgoing mail:

  • Obtain near-real-time notification when your mail receives its last processing scan.
  • Identify mail delivery trends and ensure delivery is within in-home dates.
  • Know when your message reached your audience so you can synchronize multichannel marketing.
  • Enable fulfillment, staffing, and inventory planning based on mail delivery.

For incoming mail:

  • Obtain near-real-time notification when your return mail enters the mail stream.
  • Know when return items are on the way so you can better manage your supply chain.
  • Manage cash flow and accounts receivable more effectively.
  •  Evaluate the success of advertising campaigns in near real-time.
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Postage savings planned around mobile barcode promotion for 2012.

The Mobile Commerce and Personalization Promotion will give mailers a chance to integrate QR codes and other mobile technologies into direct mail.

The promotion will run from July 1 through Aug. 31, 2012. The campaign will offer business mailers a 2-percent postage discount on Standard Mail and First-Class Mail letters, flats, and cards (presort and automation only) which include a two-dimensional barcode or print/mobile technology that can be read or scanned by a mobile device.

Mobile Marketing

Scan this QR Code. See how Mobile Marketing can get you more business.

The Postal Service wants mailers to build on their successes from a similar promotion last year. “By encouraging marketers to invest in integrating the best practices in mobile technology with mail, we can reinforce mail’s relevance as an effective marketing channel,” said Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products.

To qualify for the promotion, mailpieces must include a barcode or similar technology that, when scanned by a recipient, leads directly to either a mobile-optimized Web page that lets the recipient purchase an advertised product or service on a mobile device, or to a unique URL that leads to a Web page personalized for the recipient.

Registration will open May 1 and continue through Aug. 30.  Click here for more information and additional resources

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USPS Postage Rate Increase Coming

Get your forever stamps now Postage increase set for January 2012

Forever Stamps get them if you can

As of January 22, 2012, the prices for most Postal Service mailing services will change. Mailing Services includes First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services. Learn more about the United States Postal Service price changes taking place in the new year. Here is a quick overview.

Prices for most Postal Service mailing services will change on January 22, 2012. Mailing services includes First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services. Prices for shipping services will also change on January 22. We will provide customers the new shipping services prices later this fall. While actual percentage price increases for various products and services varies, the overall average price increase across all mailing services is capped by law at 2.1 percent, the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index.


  • Letters (1 oz.) – 1-cent increase to 45 cents. This is the first increase in the price of a First-Class Mail stamp since May 2009.
  • Single-piece letters additional ounce rate – unchanged at 20 cents.
  • Postcards – 3-cent increase to 32 cents
  • Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 oz.) – 5-cent increase to 85 cents
  • Letters to other international destinations – 7-cent increase to $1.05
  • The second ounce will be free for First-Class Mail Presort pieces weighing between one and two ounces.


  • The price increase for Standard Mail Letters is slightly below the overall average at less than 1.9 percent
  • A new 3-month pricing option will be available to rent PO Boxes for people on the move and others that need a PO Box for a shorter time period.
  • Delivery Confirmation will be free for several parcel products as the Postal Service continues to make tracking an integral component of parcels mailed at commercial rates.

*With the exception of Delivery Confirmation and Confirm, most Extra Services prices increase at about 2.1 %. Adding Delivery Confirmation and Confirm services as included services for some parcels results in the overall price reduction for Extra Services.

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Neuroscience and Direct Mail

Recent research has shown that Direct Mail leaves a deeper, more lasting impression on people’s brains when compared to digital advertising of the same message.

Bangor University, North Wales, UK.,  in partnership with the Royal Mail and published in the USPS MailPro publication suggest ” the brain is more emotionally engaged and is potentially reflecting more on a response” when viewing  physical media such as Print and direct mail.

The message is clear. While we should not exclude digital channels from our marketing mix, it is equally as clear that we must standout with our printed and Direct Mailing efforts to gain the best ROI possible.

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A Smart Guide To Smart Codes

Mobile Marketing

Scan this QR Code. See how you can get 30% more business.

Quick Response codes (or QR codes, as they’re better known) are here to stay. Though these “next-generation bar codes” have originally been used for tracking purposes (of packages and equipment parts), they are increasingly being used for new marketing and advertising purposes in the consumer world. We’ve all seen QR codes popping up on everything from real estate signs to magazine ads, and even appearing on digital mediums like TV and websites.

So… what are these ubiquitous but mysterious-looking black and white squiggly squares, and as a marketer, how can you use them most effectively to maximize value?
To put it simply, QR codes effectively link non-digital and digital content, enabling smartphone users to quickly access additional valuable information about the product, which leads to increased conversion rates.

But how do the most effective marketing programs use QR codes? Typically, through three simple but critical steps:

  1. Identifying clear objectives for the QR code’s purpose: i.e., What information will it provide?
  2. Defining the end-goals of the program: Increased sales? Increased client base? Increased community interaction?
  3. Ensuring increased user-value: Is the additional information provided by the QR code fun, interesting, useful, and relevant?

Creative and Value-Laden QR Code Content:
Taking it to the next level, many successful programs deliver highly creative and varied amounts of valuable information to their QR code users. For example, I recently received a sample package of K-cups, those little single-serving size coffee cups that are used in specific kinds of coffee makers to yield a fresh cup of coffee with minimal effort to the caffeine-deprived user. This particular sample contained four different flavors of tea, not coffee. As a dyed-in-wool morning-joe-drinker, at first, I thought, “into the trash you go!” until I was brought up short by the text on the package that reminded me: “what better way to enjoy a summer day than with iced tea? To see how to brew this tea over ice, scan this code with your smartphone.” Intrigued and thirsty, I scanned the code to find out how I could enjoy a frosty iced tea from my coffeemaker. The QR code immediately brought me to a perfectly designed mobile site including video content that demonstrated how to brew single-serving K-cup iced tea, as well as providing links to their Facebook page (over 120,000 “likes” strong!), Twitter feed, and a menu of tea flavors that, frankly, all sounded good as iced versions, on this particular steamy afternoon.

This marketing program clearly used packaging text and QR code content effectively to market a previously unknown product to a new user, likely increasing summer month sales of K-cups (if not teacups).

As a contrast to the prior example, take the following case as an illustration of how NOT to use QR Codes.

A Really Dumb Way to Use Smart Codes:

Recently, I found an ad in my mailbox with the headline, “Scan to Win!” above a QR code. Sounds good (and simple), right? Maybe at first glance, except the text continued in a rather circular and confusing way: “Scan this QR Code to get your special code.” To further complicate matters, the program required participants to write down the “special code” and mail it back to the company via snail mail. A marketer using technology developed to capitalize upon rapid response and immediate results somehow managed to create additional confusing (not to mention old-fashioned) steps for the poor user. Who has time for all of these additional steps with no guaranteed return? Few to none.

The structure of this program is also in direct conflict with goals of mobile marketing: defined as giving users what they are looking for at the most opportune time. This case clearly highlights ineffective use of a new marketing technology, resulting in countless lost opportunities!

If you’re thinking about how to get started with Smart codes, consider these questions:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What additional information do you want to give your audience?
  • How is your information best delivered?
  • What markets will the smart code target? (e.g., rural areas without internet access are not the best market for QR codes!)

Keep in mind that QR codes can be used not just for product marketing, but in other marketing avenues including travel, retail, loyalty programs, brand building, social media, lead generation and information-dissemination.

And for some final tips on using QR codes effectively, make sure to:

  • Use shortened URLs. The size of the URL directly corresponds to the complexity of the data that must fit in the QR code. The more complex the code, the more difficulty some applications may have in scanning the code.
  • Make sure that your content has value.
  • Ensure that your content is easily viewed on a mobile device: Make all content “Mobilized.”

Though the “hype” around QR Codes might appear overwhelming at first, the technology yields significant opportunities for enhanced customer engagement, improved user experiences, and increased conversion rates. In addition, with the ability for real-time tracking and updating, QR Codes are a cost-effective tool we should all add to our cross-media marketing mix.

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“Junk” QR Codes!

I was reading an article “Stop Sending Me Junk Mail!” by David Fellman of David Fellman and Associates about marketing using Direct Mail and QR codes and began to think about how to really use QR codes in integrated marketing communications so that they are useful and don’t become the equivalent of “Junk Mail”!

QR codes are so flexible they can be put anywhere but just because one has the technology to do so, doesn’t mean that one should if it does not enhance the viewer’s interaction with your product.

QR codes on a printed piece allow you to jump from the printed piece, whether it’s a brochure or packaging, to video, audio, a relevant landing page or a website. I admit that I really appreciate QR codes that give me information NOW on a particular item or product so I’m not searching all over a website.

In the example below, Mr. Fellman offers the following as an example of a cross media campaign utilizing direct mail and a QR code that failed due to lack of planning in the design and little thought given to what the QR code was to accomplish.

“I have a piece of junk mail right here in front of me, and I’d like to tell you about it. It’s a postcard, finished size 8 1/2” x 5 1/2”, printed 4/4. The sender/marketer is a local real estate agent, and the headline reads “What are homes selling for in your area?” In addition to that headline, the front face of the postcard features the company’s logo, the agent’s photo and contact information, an image of a home in my neighborhood, 3 lines of variable text including my wife’s first name, and a rectangular white block which includes a QR Code and two more lines of text which read “Go to and enter code 3E942XXXXX” and “Or textMLS 3E942XXXXX to XXXXXX.” Finally, the front face also includes the image of a stake sign which says “just listed” and points in the direction of the house image.

I’m pretty sure that the desired result of this mailing is to stimulate listings. I think the agent wants us to call her and ask her to help us sell our house. But the postcard doesn’t say that …”

Mr. Fellman further noted that neither the postcard nor the web landing page had a Call to Action on it. And the three contact methods offered on the postcard only took the viewer to the same landing page but the webpage had not been optimized for mobile phones. How frustrating for the viewer using a mobile phone.

QR codes, like any other marketing tool, can be effectively used to reach your objective but your content/message has to be relevant to what the prospect needs.

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Nuts & Bolts of Offset Printing vs. Digital

People often ask whether their particular project is going to be printed on an offset press or digital press and quite frankly, the answer can change based on the specifics of that project or the intended end use of the product.

If all the pieces produced will be exactly the same (static art), most likely offset will be the most effective choice. BUT the run length or due date may make digital the preferred choice. Then again, if the paper stock specifications exceed the tolerances of the digital press, offset is the only choice.

With Static jobs, run length (how many pieces you need) plays a factor also. A rough rule of thumb is that at 2000 sheets or more of 18×12, most likely offset print will be more cost effective than digital. But considering that you can net 4000 sheets of 8.5 x 11. Postcards – depending on size – from 8,000 to 12,000, unit cost for digital printing can be very competitive.

Need something today? Digital is the way to go for those jobs that have a quick turn. See how the job specifications can change the decision to print either on an offset or digital press for static files?

However, with the increased use of PURLs and Personalized Variable Data for marketing pieces, a digital press is the only way to go no matter what the run length. As the elements (text and images) in a document layout change depending on rules or formulas in a segmented database, each piece produced is completely unique. An offset printing press is incapable of producing such personalized versions.

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USPS gives a 3% postage savings using QR codes and Direct Mail


Marketers get 3 percent off and more effective mail.
The Postal Service wants to show marketers how mobile barcodes can increase the value of mail, so it’s offering an upfront 3 percent discount this summer for integrating the technology into direct mail campaigns.

“Two-dimensional barcodes, which can be scanned or read by mobile smart phones, can increase response rates, improve campaign tracking and attract younger consumers,” said Tom Foti, manager, Marketing Mail. “They also demonstrate how integration of both offline and online marketing efforts blur the lines between the two channels.”
Customers who receive the special mailpieces can use mobile devices to scan the barcodes for more information about the product or service the mailing is promoting.

The Mobile Barcode Promotion runs July 1, 2011, through Aug. 31, 2011, and is applicable on Standard Mail and First-Class Mail letters and flats. “We recognize that the online world will continue to grow and thrive,” said Foti. “So we want to make customers aware that mail can be an integral part of that communication and that online campaigns that use direct mail are more effective.”

Click for more information  2011MobileBarcodePromotion

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Never a Silver Bullet- Multi Channels makes sense across demographics.

Recently I was talking with a customer regarding an upcoming project. The project was fairly tight in scope, a financial services product targeted to 55+ demographic. After talking over a couple of integrated marketing concepts for the project, it was concluded that direct mail would be a good course of action with Telephone based follow-up.

And certainly it is! However, by thinking outside the box I may be able to add more value to this campaign.

Consider this, an estimated 100 million people will be hip locked to digital communications and their personal device by the year 2020. How does this shape our decision? Marketers need to be sure that utilizing only analog channels, even one as great as direct mail, is our best action. Taking note of this, recent research shows that *38% of U.S. adults age 65 and older go online.
Looking in the review mirror is easy. But it certainly seems that with valuable information like this, an integrated marketing solution could have leveraged our investment in direct mail, allowing all channels to work as a team on the field and not as an individual touch points as in our case of direct mail and phone follow up.

My conclusion:
Why not extend our marketing reach and touch points to allow easier access to our offers, products and services? I think we missed the mark by not applying the tools we have to extend our reach into each segment and related segment we have.
*According to PEW Internet and American Life Project
Four in ten seniors go online
By Susannah Fox
Jan 13, 2010

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A brand new website and blog!

A long overdue overhaul of our website has finally been completed and we have added this blog to keep our clients up to date and informed.

Stay tuned!

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