How to Address a Postcard


How-to-Address-a-Postcard.jpgIs there really a right way to address a postcard that you’re sending to prospects or clients? Well, what we’re talking about here isn’t ettiquette. We’re really not concerned about offending someone’s sensibilities. What we’re concerned about is addressing your business’s postcards so that they quickly arrive where they’re supposed to and don’t cost you more than you should pay.

Let’s look at a few specifics. In order to mail your postcard through the USPS and receive lower (bulk) rates, you have to address your cards in a very specific way.

  • Smaller Cards:If you’re mailing a card that’s 4.25” x 5.5” or 4” x 6” you have to allow an “ink-free-area” on the lower righthand side of the card bearing the address that is 3.75”w x 2.7”h. In addition, you have to leave .625”below your address (running the length of the card) to accommodate the barcode.
  • 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 have to allow an “ink-free-area” on the lower righthand side of the card bearing the address that is 4”w x 2.7”h. In addition, you have to leave .625” below your address (running the length of the card) to accommodate the barcode.

All cards (regardless of size) need t have return address area in the upper left corner and must have the proper postal indicia in the upper right corner.

Because the Post Office uses and Optical Character Reader (OCR) there are certain fonts that they prefer—to ensure that the address on your card is read properly. The USPS recoomends that you use a 10- to 12-point font size and avoid narrow type and script fonts. The following Microsoft Windows ® fonts work well for the USPS’s OCR equipment: Arial Black, Copperplate, Courier, Courier New, Helvetica, Lucida Fax, Lucida Sans, OCR-A, OCR-B MT, SF Sans Serif, and Tahoma. You can also talk to your mailing house for other options.

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 to do so within the parameters set forth by the USPS.

Of course there’s more to addressing your cards than getting the address in the right space and leaving room for the barcode. What about personalization? Your choices will depend on what kind 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 “Occupant” or “Our Friends At:” is probably fine. But if your mailing is a bit more personal in nature, you’ll probably want to include the name of the individual you’re trying to reach.

You can take personalization a step farther. If the list you’re going to is small (for instance, fewer than 200 addresses), you might want to consider hand-addressing your cards. With fewer than 200 addresses you won’t qualify for postal discounts anyway—and a hand-addressed card can catch the eye of your recipient.

How do you address a postcard? If you’re after the lowest possible postal rates and fast, sure delivery, follow the USPS regulations mentioned above (Your TMR customer service representative can help you make sure you’re within the regulations). If you’re looking to stand out and perhaps have a better chance of your card being read, you may want to consider personalization (both for the address and for the content)—or even consider hand-addressing your cards.

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