How Catalogers Can Optimize Formats and Save on USPS Postage Costs

As the July USPS postage increases loom on the horizon, retailers are faced with unique challenges due to these rising costs.

The impact on their operations can be significant, affecting everything from budget allocation to overall campaign effectiveness. At Nahan, we understand the challenges faced by catalogers and are committed to providing expert guidance to help mitigate these impacts.

Building on our recent article about strategic recommendations for direct mailers, this follow-up article zeroes in on strategies specifically tailored for catalogers.

By optimizing catalog formats, leveraging USPS promotions, and strategically using co-mail options, catalogers can navigate these postal increases more effectively. Nahan’s team of experts is here to offer the insights and support needed to develop robust strategies that keep your catalog program both cost-effective and impactful.

Optimize Catalog Formats

Trim the Size and Weight of Your Catalogs

One of the most effective strategies to mitigate the impact of the upcoming USPS postage increases is to optimize the size and weight of your catalogs.

Here are some specific strategies:

  • Reducing Page Count or Trimming Book Size: One practical approach is to reduce the page count or trim the size of the catalog. This not only decreases weight but also results in cost savings. As Mark Groff, VP of Eastern Sales, advises, “For large page count books, reducing page count or trimming book size can bring down the piece weight to stay under 4 ounces.”
  • Saving on Paper Costs: Even minor adjustments can lead to significant savings. For instance, “For every ¼” you shave off the width of the catalog, you can save 3.5% on paper costs,” Groff notes.

Switch to Letter Rate Formats

One effective strategy to mitigate rising postal costs is to switch the format of your catalogs to mail at the letter rate instead of the flat rate. This change can result in substantial postage savings. As Groff explains, “If you change the format from a standard catalog to a 6×9” or 6×10.5” catalog to mail at the letter rate, you can save $0.10 to $0.15 per piece in postage.”

Here’s a comparison to highlight the benefits:

  • Letter Rate Catalogs: These typically mail at approximately $0.35 per piece.
  • Standard Catalogs: In contrast, an upright standard mailing catalog averages around $0.50 per piece.

Consider Alternative Mailing Formats

In addition to switching to letter rate formats, catalogers can explore other cost-effective mailing formats such as self-mailers and postcards. These formats offer versatility and can significantly reduce mailing costs.

Mike Dietz, Nahan’s Creative Director, suggests: “Consider converting flat rate size catalogs to letter rate size to take advantage of lower postage rates.”

Here are some practical steps:

  • Integrate Self-Mailers and Postcards: These are cost-effective alternatives that can complement your catalog strategy. They provide a versatile format for promoting specific products or offers and reaching lower-performing audience segments without incurring the higher costs associated with larger catalogs.
  • Adopt Mini-Catalogs: Mini-catalogs are gaining popularity as a cost-effective option. These smaller formats can deliver impactful content while keeping postage costs low. They are particularly useful for targeting specific customer segments with tailored messages.

By adopting these format optimizations and integrating alternative mailing formats, catalogers can effectively reduce their mailing costs while maintaining the impact and reach of their direct mail campaigns. Nahan’s expertise in logistics and postal affairs ensures that we can guide you through these adjustments seamlessly, helping you to maximize your cost savings amidst rising postal rates.

Leverage USPS Promotions and Discounts

One of the most effective ways to counteract rising postage costs is to take full advantage of USPS promotions and discounts. These promotions are designed to help mailers save on postage while encouraging innovative and engaging mail pieces.

Maximize Postal Promotions

Starting early and leveraging expert guidance can streamline the process of registering for USPS promotions and maximizing their benefits.

Brandon Jacklin, Nahan’s VP of Postal Affairs, highlights the importance of early preparation: “Registering for USPS promotions can seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can be streamlined and highly beneficial. The key is to start early and allow experts like us at Nahan to guide you through the process.”

Here are some tips to effectively leverage these promotions:

  • Understanding the Promotions: Familiarize yourself with the various USPS promotions available, such as Tactile Sensory and Interactive (TSI), Emerging and Advanced Technology (EAT), and Informed Delivery. Each of these promotions offers unique benefits that can significantly reduce postage costs.
  • Eligibility and Activation: Ensure that your mail pieces meet the eligibility criteria for these promotions. For example, including a QR code or interactive elements can qualify your piece for the Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion.

Cost Avoidance Tools

Postal promotions not only help in reducing immediate costs but also serve as valuable tools for long-term cost avoidance. Jacklin emphasizes the value of these tools amidst future changes: “Postal promotions remain a good cost avoidance tool, though the proposed changes for 2025 would reduce the discounts for all promotions across the board.”

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Stay Informed on Future Changes: Be aware of upcoming changes in USPS strategies and promotions. For instance, the proposed reductions in discounts for 2025 underscore the need to maximize current promotions.
  • Strategic Planning: Incorporate postal promotions into your strategic planning from the onset. This ensures that you can capitalize on the available discounts and avoid higher costs as rates increase.

By leveraging USPS promotions and discounts, catalogers can significantly mitigate the impact of rising postal rates.

Strategic Use of Co-Mail Options

To effectively manage the rising postage costs, catalogers should also focus on the strategic use of data and co-mail options. These approaches can enhance the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of direct mail campaigns.

Utilize Co-Mail Programs

Co-mailing is a powerful tool for achieving the best postage discounts. By combining mail pieces from different clients into a single mail stream, co-mailing enhances the sortation process and secures the best carrier route discounts. Groff emphasizes the benefits of this approach: “Co-mailing drives up the carrier route qualification for your mail stream and achieves the best postage discounts.”

Here’s how to maximize the benefits of co-mailing:

  • Understand and Leverage Co-Mail Pools: By participating in co-mail pools, you take advantage of aggregated volume discounts by combining your mailing with hundreds of others. This approach requires all participants to adhere to the same production and in-home schedule, but reduces postage costs and optimizes delivery for all participants.
  • Optimize Mail Streams: In many cases, mail that already qualifies at the carrier route level can be split off from the rest of the mailing to bypass co-mail and deliver directly to the post office. This two-pronged approach ensures that postage savings are captured for pieces that will benefit from co-mail, and production savings are captured for pieces that will not.


Navigating the upcoming USPS postage increases requires a strategic approach tailored to the unique challenges faced by catalogers. By optimizing catalog formats, leveraging USPS promotions and discounts, and utilizing advanced targeting, creative, and co-mail options, you can significantly reduce mailing costs and enhance the effectiveness of your direct mail campaigns.

At Nahan, we are committed to helping our customers adapt to these changes with expert guidance and innovative solutions. Our team of seasoned professionals, including sales experts, data optimization specialists, and creative directors, is dedicated to providing you with the tools and strategies needed to thrive in this evolving landscape.

Let’s connect! We’d love to learn more about your catalog campaign goals.