Mailing pieces are an essential part of almost every marketing plan. Making them catchy and creative is important, as is having a message or offer that converts.  But there’s one element that many marketers may overlook: the actual physical design of that piece. Done right, it can save you money on mailing costs. Done wrong, well…

Your mailing piece will be “read” by an automated mail-processing machine. If certain elements aren’t in the right place, addresses may be missed altogether. Also, certain design goofs may interfere with your ability to qualify for postage discounts. Corporate Mailing and Data Services (CMADS) has years of experience working with all kinds of companies, showing them smart ways to save on their mailing costs. We have great relationships with postal centers all over the region. Here are a few of their helpful tips.


Yes, a square-shaped mailer may look cool, but it will likely have to be processed manually. Same goes for things like tubes. These fall in the category of Customized Marketing Mail and aren’t eligible for bulk mailing discounts. On that same note, don’t try to get away with mailing something like a pen in a regular envelope; little (but bulky) items cost more in postage and are very likely to break through the envelope during the mailing process. That’s not an impression you want to leave!


To qualify for mailing discounts, your mailer must have certain pieces of information in certain places so that the post office can process it efficiently through their machines. So, factor in the need for space for these items:

-The delivery address must be in the front, on the same side as the postage. Depending on the size of the piece, there are certain spacing parameters, such as how low or high it can be placed from the top/bottom.

-Return address in the upper left corner. If you want the USPS to return undeliverable mail or you’re using a company permit imprint, this will be required.

-A barcode is essential for receiving a discount. It helps the postal system to track and route your mail most efficiently.

-Endorsement. This is optional but it tells the post office what to do with mail that can’t be delivered and can also provide address updates to keep your database current.

-Postage. Of course, make sure there’s a place on the front for that!

Here’s a basic diagram of where things need to be.


If all of this seems a little confusing, not to worry. The USPS offers help with something called a “Mailpiece Design Analyst” or MDA. This a postal worker with special expertise in the ins and outs of design; they’ll look at your piece to ensure that it’s mail-able. Plus, they’ll offer tips to ensure that you get the most savings.

If someone in your company wants to learn these parameters for themselves, they can also  take this online course to become your internal expert.

Keep all of the above in mind when your creative professionals start to work on their next marketing piece. It will save you time, but most of all, it will save your company money!