Is there really a right way to address a postcard? Well, what we’re talking about here isn’t etiquette. We’re not concerned about offending someone’s sensibilities. What we are concerned about is speedy, accurate delivery an not paying more than you should.
Let’s look at a few specifics.To mail your postcard through the USPS and receive discounted postage rates, you must address your cards in a very specific way.
Consider the card size
- Smaller Cards: If you’re mailing a card that’s 4.25” x 5.5” or 4” x 6” you must allow an ink-free-area in the lower right side for addressing that is 3”w x 2.7”h. In addition, you must leave the bottom .625” of the addressing side blank (running the full length of the card) to accommodate the intelligent mail barcode (IMB).
- Larger Cards: If you’re mailing a card that’s 5.5” x 8.5”, 5” x 7”, 6” x 9” or 6” x 11” you need an “ink-free-area” in the lower right side of the card that is 4.25”w x 2.7”h. Alternatively, you can also follow the above directions for small cards (leaving the bottom .625 inches blank).
Postal indicia and fonts
All cards must bear a proper postal indicia in the upper right corner. The indicia should be .75″ to 1″ square with a white background and placed .25″ from the top and right edges of the postcard. Additionally, postcards mailing at nonprofit rates must include the return address registered with the USPS when nonprofit was granted.
Because the USPS uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) there are fonts they prefer to ensure the address is read properly. Recommended font sizes are 10- to 12-point. Avoid narrow, condensed or script fonts). The following typefaces work well with USPS OCR equipment: Arial , Courier, Helvetica, Lucida Fax, Lucida Sans, OCR-A, OCR-B, SF Sans Serif, and Tahoma. You can also talk to your mail service provider for alternatives.
These are all reasons why choosing a graphic designer who understands direct mail design is so important. Your card not only needs to look good—it needs follow USPS regulations to maximize postage savings. Keep in mind that postage is about half the cost of a typical mailing.
What about personalization?
There’s more to addressing than getting the address and IMB in the right area. What about personalization? Your choices depend on what sort of mailing you’re doing. If you have a restaurant and want to mail to everyone within a specific ZIP code or geographic area, a salutation such as “Neighbor” or “Our Friends At:” is probably fine. But if your mailing is more personal in nature, you’ll want to include the name of the individual you’re trying to reach.
You can take personalization a step farther. If you are mailing to a members or donors, leverage variable data printing to vary messaging and graphics for different groups. Variable printing is more expensive than traditional “static” printing but may be worth it. Varying your message can illicit higher response rates and a greater return on investment.
If you’re mailing to a very small list (less than 200 addresses), consider hand-addressing. Fewer than 200 addresses won’t qualify for postal discounts and a hand-addressed card can catch your recipient’s eye.
How do you address a postcard? For the lowest possible postal rates and fast, sure delivery, follow USPS regulations. TMR customer service representatives are here to help. If want to truly stand out and maximize response, consider personalization and variable printing.