What is the process for bulk mailing?

If I had a company and wanted to do a bulk-mailing, how would I go about this? If i owned a restaurant, what is the standard procedure for mailing based on bulk rates for advertising.

Credit card companiersdoitallthe time…whats the procedure?

Listed here at the U.S. Postal Service website.

It’s a pain.

No no no.

What you want to do is find a local print shop that has bulk rate priviliges. You take the printing (even if it’s just photocopying) to them and say ‘I’d like this printing and distributed to this list I provide. What’s the charge?’ Then they’ll give you a quote broken down by printing, handling, and postage.

Trust me. It’s what I do.

I found it is easier and still rather economical to have a company that specializes in bulk mailing do it for you. Do a quick google and you will find several.

First, let me endorse the idea of having someone who does bulk mailings do it for you by contract; it’s much simpler and, in point of fact, cheaper, to do it that way than to do it yourself, unless you intend to do large and regular bulk mailings.

Now, the details on the hard way. See Walloon’s post for a link to the current regs; the following is from my own experience working for an agency which did them (and at which I was responsible for preparing them).

You need a bulk mail permit, at a $50 per year cost, to prepare and send them. You set up a deposit account with the Post Office against which to charge the postage for each bulk mailing you send, depositing to it as needed.

Any single bulk mailing must be a minimum of 200 pieces, properly sorted and delivered to the Post Office with appropriate paperwork. You need Postal Service rubber bands, stickers, and mail trays, which you can pick up from them, and the appropriate form.

You imprint the piece with your bulk mail permit indicia, in lieu of stamps and in the same location:

Label all your pieces with the appropriate mailing labels, which MUST include an accurate mailing address. Ideally they’ll have zip-plus-four addresses and scannable bar codes, which Word can generate from the zip codes.

You then weigh a group of pieces, rubber banded, to find out the weight per piece, and enter this on the form, along with the number of pieces and what they work out to in weight, along with cost (bulk rate postage per piece, times number of pieces, multiplied to give you a cost for the mailing). Since the bulk mail clerk will check your mailing by weight, it’s important to have this accurate (and including the weight of the rubber bands used).

Now, you sort the entire mailing by zip code. Ten pieces or more to a given five-digit zip code must be rubber banded together with a “D” sticker in the lower left.

Every major metropolitan area along with the small towns in a given radius around it constitutes a Regional Distribution Center, identified by the first three digits of the zip code. (Most RDCs have more than one three-digit service area. Syracuse, NY, for example, has zip codes starting with 132, along with a few suburbs. Outlying smaller towns have zip codes starting with 130 and 131. All three three-digit sets are processed in the Syracuse RDC.)

Once you have grouped out and set aside the ten-pieces-to-a-zip-code bunches, you then identify from the remainder all that have ten pieces or more to a given three-digit service area, and band and tag them with a “3” sticker.

Having done this, you take the remainder and peel out groups of ten or more pieces to a state, banding them and tagging with an “S” sticker. What’s left gets banded and tagged with a MX sticker.

I always prepared an inventory of what bunches I had made up, to where and how many pieces. I’m not sure if this was required or simply something the bulk clerk greatly appreciated.

Having prepared all those banded bunches, you now tray them. Fifty or more pieces to a given zip code go into a tray labeled for that post office and zip code. Fifty or more to a given RDC go into a tray labeled with that RDC’s mailing address (in the case of Syracuse, “RDC Syracuse NY 13200”). The remainder go into a tray labeled with a DIS and your local post office, the one you’ll be delivering the bulk mail to.

Now, finish filling out the form, sign it, make yourself a copy, and transport form, inventory, and trays to the bulk mail acceptance site at your local post office. (Usually this is a back door adjacent to the sorting and delivery site.) Have it checked in and accepted by the bulk mail clerk, get a receipt, and you’re done.

There’s a real cost-benefit question to be addressed here: will the savings from getting the lower bulk-mailing rate offset the cost of the annual permit, the time it takes to perform that sortation, etc.? If you are doing a dozen or so bulk mailings a year, probably yes. If not, mailing them first class, or contracting with someone to do the mailing, is probably the better way to go.

You can legally do a bulk mailing for anyone in the same rate eligibility as you. If doing it in behalf of someone else, you so indicate on the form. I regularly prepared and mailed out a newsletter for the association of small towns which my state agency provided technical support for, as a part of our services to them. (For example, the United Way can do a non-profit rate bulk mailing for a member agency that has legal non-profit status.) Printers will often get bulk mail permits and offer the service of preparing a bulk mail to their clients, so Sam’s Pizzeria doing a one-off mailing to its clientele doesn’t have to go through the above preparation process; Speedy Print will do it for them.

Adding to Polycarp’s fine description of the monumental pain that is bulk mail sorting, banding and traying…

You really need an address validation application to generate properly conformed and formatted ZIP+4 addresses. If your batch has too many invalid addresses, you’ll get dinged by the post office. Most bulk mailer address apps will also output the labels in sorted order so you don’t have to count things by ZIP code to see if they get a D or a 3 tag, and what ZIPs go to what RDC.

But, unless you plan on going into the business of bulk mailing and abandoning everything else you do, have the local quick-print shop do the mailing. Small-business owners have enough on their plates already.

When I was the head of my local K of C Fourth Degree Assembly, I was responsible for this process once per month for our newsletter. Polycarp’s post is (as usual) right on the money.