When you want to get something right, consult the experts. For direct mail, there is no greater expert than the U.S. Postal Service. Here are five tips for foolproof direct mail from the USPS that every marketer should know. 

1. Choose your format carefully. Before you start your design, choose your mailing format carefully. Know how much space you have to work with and design within those guidelines. If you have a lot of content, consider using larger formats, such as flats, that give you more space. 

2. Details matter. The major components of direct mail (design, format, and color choices) are important, but there are other details to consider, as well. Is that postcard too small to fit all of the copy you expected? Is that oversized “postcard” not a postcard at all, but a non-standard format that increases the postage budget? Sweat the details. 

3. Faux stamps deliver. Delivering mail with real stamps gets better results than bulk mail, but it is expensive. Consider using pre-canceled stamps instead. Pre-canceled stamps offer the personalized look without the price. To qualify, your mailing must have a 200-piece or 50-pound minimum. 

4. Pick the right class. Do you know the difference between First-Class Mail, USPS Marketing Mail, and commercial mail? Do you know how your postage would change if you switched to a postcard instead of a letter? Or if you used an oversized postcard rather than a standard one? Consider all of your options before your next mailing. 

5. Add a letter. Adding a letter to a direct mail package can really boost your ROI, even if it costs more in print and postage. Peter DeLegge, a marketing consultant, has recounted the story of a company that tested two packages promoting its mail-order tool catalog. Package A consisted of a sales letter and reply form. Package B was a double postcard. The result? Package A out-pulled Package B by a 3:1 ratio. Postal costs are important, but they have to be weighed against the potential return. 

When it comes to direct mail, details matter!