Email vs. Snail Mail

Message to the mail man

When’s the last time you received actual mail?

Not a bill. Not an advertisement. Just a straight up piece of mail – bonus points if it was handwritten.

Can you even remember?

First class mail volume through the US Postal Service has declined over 50 percent in the last decade. Junk mail, just over 10 percent. In fact, advertising mail outstripped first class post by over 15% in 2012.

Even with shrinking numbers, the US Postal Service still processes an average of 528 million pieces of mail each day.

When was the last time you got an email? Or is a better question, how many emails do you get each day? Estimates vary on the number of emails sent each day, but the low end is 144 billion.

Even if you can’t remember when you last got personal mail by post, you probably remember what you do still receive. A birthday card from Mom, a sympathy card from a friend, a get well card from your aunt… You get the picture.

As for email, it’s easy to get lost in all the digital noise of our busy world. Facebook notifications, text messages, and work email after hours add up. An iPhone dings in a crowd and everyone dives for their pocket to see what new communiqué awaits them.

Digital communication is great! It’s efficient, inexpensive, and convenient. But it’s also common.

Junk mail flyers go straight into the recycle bin, but real mail simply carries more weight than email. A physical paper card has more impact than an e-card. Even if you save an e-card in your inbox, what’s the chance you’ll look at it again? I’ve never seen suggestions for attractively displaying e-cards for the holidays.

Make your communication meaningful. Don’t add to the noise, cut through it with something concrete. Whether it’s a birthday celebration or an expression of genuine sympathy, seasonal greetings, or a congratulatory note, people appreciate the extra time, energy, and thought that go in to sending a real card.

When is the last time you sent real mail?

Photo credit: gajman

Return Address Standards

When we send greeting cards to friends and family, we can be casual. But when you’re sending business greeting cards that represent your company, you should observe the correct protocols.

You spent time selecting a card style and verse that you think is the best fit. But don’t spoil the effect by getting sloppy when addressing the card. We’re going to focus on the return address here, but first a few quick reminders about the main address:

  • Don’t use printed mailing labels: You don’t want your card to look like junk mail. Take the time to handwrite the address.
  • Always include the recipient’s full title: Even if it’s a close business relationship, the envelope should be done correctly.
  • Neatness counts: If you have horrible handwriting, ask a colleague to address your cards. Then buy them lunch.

Return Address Guidelines
If you want your mail to be delivered, you should follow USPS guidelines. It’s also a matter of common sense. You want your business greeting card to reach its destination. Here are some tips for your return address:

  • If you use a return address: Your mail will be returned to you if it can’t be delivered.
  • Printed return addresses are OK: You may have the company’s return address printed on your business greeting card envelope or use printed return address labels. Although you should handwrite the main address, it’s acceptable to use a printed return address.
  • Include the company name: Sometimes we leave off our name on a personal mail return address. But it’s important to include the company name (and your name, if appropriate) so it’s recognized by the recipient.
  • The Post Office would like it: The USPS has stricter standards for the main address, but there are guidelines for the return address as well. The post office prefers that you put the return address in the upper left corner of the envelope. But it is also acceptable to put it on the back flap.
  • Always include the ZIP Code: The USPS requires the ZIP Code to be in the return address. Either 5-digit or ZIP+4 are acceptable.