Postage rates just went up - again - in what is now an annual rite of spring for the U.S. Postal Service. The latest round of postal rate increases boosts prices across a broad spectrum of business mail types, including first-class letters, flats, postcards, flat rate priority mail envelopes and boxes, single-piece parcels, as well as presorted letters and flats. The cost of each additional ounce, however (currently $0.17), did not go up.
Check out this super-handy Quick Guide to USPS Prices, from postage meter leader Pitney Bowes. It has details on new rates for all of the key mailing categories, including first class, standard mail, express mail, package services and extras such as registered and certified mail. Here are nine tips for turning the price changes to your advantage:
1. Make statements and invoices do double-duty: Sending a one-page invoice first class now costs 44 cents. But you could include perhaps two or three pages of marketing inserts along with it for no additional postage. You could even bulk up with brochures and other cross-selling materials at only 17 cents per additional ounce - perhaps less than you could send the items separately via third-class "junk mail." If you already do inserts, consider doing even more.
2. Combine your mailings: If your business regularly sends out communications to customers - notices, reminders, updates, statements - you could save money by bundling a few of them into a single mailing.
3. CAUTION: Although you can benefit by sending fewer but fatter mailings, be careful not to exceed a 3.5 ounce threshold for letter mail. The USPS will classify anything above that weight as a "flat," thus increasing your costs significantly.
4. Stay in shape: The Postal Service now uses "shape-based" pricing, which means higher rates for letters and packages that don't conform to standard shapes. For example, "flats" (large-sized envelopes) can cost more than letter-size envelopes of equal weight. Do this: Fold your flats to fit a standard business envelope. This could save you big money on mailings of one to 22 pages (more than that will likely exceed the 3.5 ounce limit).
5. Convert parcels to flats: Just as letters go for less than flats, flats cost less than parcels. Keep in mind that a flat can actually be as much as .75 inches thick, so some things you now send as parcels might go for much less as flats
6. Be weight-wise: Using two-sided printing, lighter-weight papers and smaller inserts can all help you put more information into a single mailing of under 3.5 ounces.
7. Pull your weight with postcards: While the price of a postcard just went up a penny to 28 cents, these tiny billboard mailers are a great way for small businesses to reach prospects and customers. Printing technology makes it easy to personalize postcards to each customer, plus they are quick an easy to produce.
8. Get free supplies and discounts online: Order free shipping boxes and envelopes online at the U.S. Postal Service website. The site also offers discounts on international express shipping rates, and commercial priority mail. The site can also help you calculate rates.
9. Get the guide: The 26-page Practical Guide to USPS Prices from Pitney Bowes has detailed information on pricing and money-saving strategies across all types of business mailing.
Every letter and parcel your business sends represents a money-saving opportunity of some kind.