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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

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Commercial Printing: A Few Bulk Mailing Postage Tips

If you design marketing materials of any kind, it will benefit you to learn as much as you can about the USPS rules and regulations. (Go online and read the United States Postal Service Business Mail 101 web pages, or visit the Post Office and ask for printed business mailing guides.) As a start, here’s some introductory information culled from the USPS website on ways to pay for postage.

Let’s say you have a 3,000-copy brochure print run ready to mail to clients. How do you pay for postage?

Stamps and Precanceled Stamps

If you are an individual, you put stamps on individual letters or packages. If you’re a business, one of your options is almost the same: the precanceled stamp. These stamps can be used on bulk mailings, but they require a permit, and there are regulations regarding address formatting and return addresses for the items mailed.

In addition, the face value of the precanceled stamp is not your total cost. You will have to pay an additional amount on the entire bulk mail drop.

The main appeal of this option is that precanceled stamps look like stamps, and direct mail marketers have found that people are more likely to open mail with a real stamp. It looks more personal. (Marketers also have found that hand-addressed mail is opened more often, which is why type fonts simulating handwriting are particularly suited to bulk mailings.)

The US Post Office recommends precanceled stamps for the low-volume mailer, presumably since they must be affixed to the letter or package.

Permit Indicia

The permit indicia is a much easier option than the precanceled stamp in that your commercial printing supplier can print the necessary information right on the letter, catalog, or package. You don’t need to affix anything as you do with a stamp.

In addition to the notation for bulk rate postage, the indicia includes the permit number and the city and state of the permit holder. As with the precanceled stamp option, you will need a permit. In addition, you will need to pre-fund an advance deposit account with the postage amount. The US Postal System will then debit the account to pay for postage on your mailing. You can also maintain funds in the account for future mailings.

This option comes with two other requirements. First, the indicia cannot be produced with a typewriter or be hand-written, and all items in the bulk mailing must weigh the same amount.

In addition, you need to bring the sorted bulk mail to the business mail entry unit for the specific indicia. You can’t just go to any Post Office.

You may want to choose this option, for instance, if you print a large number of self-mailer brochures to get a good printing price, but you plan to mail them over an extended period of time. The same indicia can be used for all mailings as long as the advance deposit account contains adequate funds.

Unlike individual letters and packages, though, you can’t use an indicia for a handful of brochures you drop in a mailbox. If you do, they will be returned to you, postage due. Like precanceled stamps, the indicia can only be used for bulk mailings.

Postage Meter Imprint

Postage meters allow you to buy a predetermined amount of postage and then print the exact amount needed right on the individual mail item. The imprint shows the amount of postage used and the date.

You can use a meter to pay for all your postage needs (except for Periodicals), but you will need to pay for a separate permit for bulk mail.

Once you have a permit for meter imprinting, you have various options for software and printing equipment (from very small options based on your computer, printer, and Internet service all the way up to equipment that folds, inserts, weighs, and meters the postage).

Fees for These Options

Do some research into costs and fees before you choose one of these options. Keep in mind that you may need to pay both a mailing permit fee (for one of the the various postage options, such as the start-up fee for an indicia) and an annual mailing fee if you’re doing bulk mailings. And in most cases the permits are tied to a particular commercial Post Office.

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