Mail by Definition

#MailMatters: Mail by Definition
November 29, 2017
Josh Kivett

Print advertising comes with its own lingo.

Do you and your colleagues talk about red tags or PMS colors? What about 3602s or seeds?

We do.

Understanding the terminology that comes with print advertising will help you communicate more effectively with your mail vendor and better understand what’s happening with your direct mail project.

Let’s dive into Mail by Definition.

3602
The USPS won’t accept any mailing until it is deemed “deliverable.” When we drop mail by checking it in at the USPS facility, we receive what’s known as a 3602. This is the USPS paperwork that verifies the date, count, total weight, mail piece individual weight, category, and type of postage of every “deliverable” mailing.

Backing Up
Backing up in print advertising refers to how two sides of a mail piece are oriented to one another. We instruct our printers how a direct mail piece folds and how the two sides of a piece are oriented to one another before printing. We always orient our designs to see the cover first, not the mail panel.

For example, a 10.5x11 that folds in half vertically will open like a book when looking at the cover; a 10.5x11 that folds in half horizontally will open like a calendar when looking at the cover. This is often referred to as “head-to-head” or “head-to-toe.”

CMYK
CMYK is the color space that is shorthand for the four colors that combine to create four-color printing. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (K). For more on color spaces, check out what our team of graphic designers had to say here.

Count: Also “Universe”
The count, or universe, is the data file that each piece is mailing to, or the number of pieces needed for a printed handout.

DPI
This stands for “dots per inch” and defines the resolution of an image. High-resolution images at 300dpi or greater are needed for quality print advertising. In the world of web and video, we can cleanly use images as low as 72dpi. For printing, though, we need the high resolution to prevent images from appearing pixilated or grainy. For more on resolution and how to take a great photo, please download Part 1 of our photography guide here

Drop Date
This is the day we check in our mail at the United States Post Office entry unit that serves the area. The drop date is not the day the mail is delivered; it is the day that we turn it over to the USPS for delivery. We typically see delivery within 2-5 days from when we drop the mail, although some areas of the country will deliver in 1 day while others will take 7-10 days. We routinely include a tracking system (IMB Tracing, Intelligent Mail Bar Code) with our mail to help easily identify where a mail piece is in the USPS system.

Drop Ship
In order to ensure the quickest turnaround, we have the ability to check a mail piece in where we produce it and then ship our mail for the USPS to the post office mail entry unit in the area where the mail is dropping. For example, if we have a client in Cleveland, Ohio, we may print and mailshop the mail in Columbus, Ohio, check it in with the USPS in Columbus, and then put it on a truck for delivery to the USPS in Cleveland. The benefits? Cheaper postage and (usually) faster delivery.

Indicia
Almost all of our work is mailed using an indicia rather than a live postage stamp. The indicia is the small box in the upper right corner of a mail panel that spells out what kind of postage is being used (i.e. non-profit or presort standard) and by whom.

Mail Panel
This is the area on a mail piece that “flies the package.” It includes the indicia, return address and recipient’s mailing address.

Red Tag
When we mail political direct mail, we affix a Red Tag 57 to the mailing. These red tags alert the USPS to the mailing, tell them that it needs to be treated like first class mail, and ensure the USPS gives it special handling. The red tags signal first class treatment for the cost of bulk rate postage.

Seeds
These are addresses we add into a data file to ensure specific households receive a direct mail piece. These are sometimes called “salts.” We use “seeds” or “salts” to ensure that no matter how targeted the universe for a mail piece may be, certain individuals are always on the list to receive the mail.

Have questions? Ready to learn more about Majority Strategies print solution?

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