INSIDE: MAILING INSERTER AND SORTER SOLUTIONS! MARCH - APRIL 2013
What’s Really Happening to Business Mail? Page 18
Mail Isn’t Dead… But Some Are Trying to Murder It. Page 22
Take Your Operation to
NEW HEIGHTS Implementing some simple but effective quality control measures can make a world of difference to your organization. Page 16
and Cut Hours: Handling USPS Facility Changes Page 13
Volume 26 Issue 2
MARCH - APRIL 2013
Implementing Quality Control in Mail Operations Despite protests that “error-free isn’t possible, so why bother?” there are a multitude of ways to get your business processes running at 100%. By Mark Fallon
What Is Really Happening to Business Mail Mail isn’t going away, but the mailing practices of businesses today are vastly different than in years past. By Adam Lewenberg
Mail Isn’t Dead... But there are some who are trying to murder it. By Gene Del Polito
Making Your Mail Smarter Intelligent Mail barcodes provide greater visibility into mail operations to improve customer service, response rates, and cash flow. Are you ready to switch to Full-Service? By Christine Erna
Generating Revenue By Todd Butler
The Changing Face of Mail By Amanda Armendariz
The Trenches Sticking with Paper (Until Something Better Comes Along) By Mike Porter
Postal Affairs Closures, Consolidations and Cut Hours: Tips for Handling USPS Facility Changes By Kim Mauch
Direct Marketing 101 Direct Mail and the Benefits of 1-to-1 Marketing By John Foley, Jr.
Software Byte Getting a Little More Personal By Christopher Lien
Ship It Want To Increase Transportation Costs This Year? By Jim LeRose
[ PLUS ] 4
Checklists – A Simple Tool with Complex Benefits By Wes Friesen
My Two Cents
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Special Inserter and Sorter Section: Check out the companies and products on pages 28, 29, 30 and the back cover.
Make sure you sign up for our monthly e-Newsletter so we can keep you posted with news alerts and updates! www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com
Mailing systems technology
with Amanda Armendariz
PUBLISHER Marll Thiede
EDITOR Amanda Armendariz email@example.com
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Todd Butler, Christine Erna, Mark Fallon, John Foley, Jr., Wes Friesen, Jim LeRose, Adam Lewenberg, Christopher Lien, Kim Mauch, Gene Del Polito, Mike Porter
Rachel Spahr firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTISING 608-442-5064 Ken Waddell email@example.com
GRAPHIC DESIGN Kelli Cooke
2901 International Lane • Madison WI 53704-3128 608-241-8777 • Fax 608-241-8666 firstname.lastname@example.org www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com
Volume 26, Issue 3 Subscriptions are free to qualified recipients: $20 per year to all others in the United States. Subscription rate for Canada or Mexico is $40 per year, and for elsewhere outside of the United States is $45. Back issue rate is $5. Send subscriptions to: Mailing Systems Technology, PO Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098; or call 608-241-8777; fax 608-241-8666; e-mail email@example.com or subscribe online at www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com. For high-quality reprints, please contact our exclusive reprint provider. Scoop Reprint Source 800.767.3263 ext. 307 www.scoopreprintsource.com. All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2013 by RB Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Mailing Systems Technology, RB Publishing Inc. or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing Inc. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing Inc. or Mailing Systems Technology. RB Publishing Inc. and/or Mailing Systems Technology expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine. Mailing Systems Technology (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 26, Issue 3] is published six times per year, (January/February, March Buyers Resource, March/April, May/June, September/October, November/December) by RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison WI 53704-3128, 608-241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098
The Changing Face of Mail There’s been a lot going on in the mailing industry lately — sometimes I feel like I’ll read one thing in the news before I go to bed at night and when I get up the next morning, something new has already taken its place. But of course the biggest buzz amongst most mailing professionals is the talk about the USPS ending Saturday delivery this summer. I admit, I was taken aback a bit when I first read the news on CNN. Ending Saturday delivery? Could such a thing even be done? Well, of course it could, but it just seemed so foreign to me. What about Netflix movies; now we’ll have to get them on Friday if we want them in time for Saturday night? (Oh, but I guess most people stream their movies...) Or what about birthday cards? You’re telling me that I’m going to have to be even more on top of things in order to make sure the birthday card arrives by Friday in time for the weekend birthday? (Oh, that’s right... personal mail volumes are down dramatically; most people don’t send birthday cards, Christmas cards, etc. in the mail anymore.) Hmm. Well, clearly I’m in the minority regarding a lot of things when it comes to physical mail — I like my physical DVDs from Netflix (much better selection than the movies available via streaming), and I much prefer to mail special occasion cards; they’re so much more personal than an email. So while the elimination of Saturday delivery, if it comes to pass, won’t be earth-shattering for me, it will be slightly inconvenient. But I get it — the USPS needs to cut costs, and according to surveys, the vast majority of Americans are supportive of cutting Saturday delivery. (Of course, the elephant in the room is that eliminating the pre-funding requirements would save more money for the USPS than cutting Saturday delivery ever could, but I’ve beaten that horse enough). It will be interesting to see how this all pans out. And as you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re thinking that I must hate change. Not at all! There’s plenty of change that I embrace, and you’ll see this theme throughout the book. Quality control is something that we can all take on as we strive to make our organizations run more smoothly, and Mark Fallon’s article on page 16 is a great place to start. And Adam Lewenberg gives some great insight into the changes that business mail is going through, and it all ties in to Gene Del Polito’s article, in which he asserts that while mail certainly isn’t dead, there are some who are trying to murder it. But luckily there are ways we can combat the negativity facing mail; after all, it is still a vital part of our nation’s day-to-day life. I hope you enjoy this issue of Mailing Systems Technology, and as always, thanks for reading.
Real Life Management Checklists – A Simple Tool with Complex Benefits looking for a simple tool that will drive your operations to higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness? The checklist may be what you are looking for. i recently read atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto and was inspired to read real-life examples from the medical field, construction, aviation, finance, and others to show how simple checklists — coupled with timely and effective teamwork — can vastly improve the quality and effectiveness of what we do, and in some cases, literally make the difference between life or death.
and improve our quality and effectiveness. i have had multiple teams earn Quality certifications like the mpTQm (mail processing Total Quality management) from the postal Service and iSO-9001. a key component to earning these certifications and ensuring consistent quality in our operations is the use of checklists. Our ultimate goal is not just to have people ticking boxes on a checklist. Our ultimate goal is to have our teams embrace a culture of teamwork, discipline, and quality — and checklists can be a useful means to that end.
Gawande is a surgeon, and he shared how he and his team developed a two-minute checklist that covered some basics for surgery (e.g., do we have enough blood and antibiotics?), as well as some basics for good teamwork (e.g., does everyone in the Operating room know the name of each person in the room?). They then tested these lists in eight different hospitals. The results were stunning. When they took the time to make introductions and follow the checklist, they had a 35% decline in deaths and complications related to surgery!
Benefits of Checklists
The Problem: Avoidable Mistakes The problem is that mistakes are being made that harm people and our organizations. Why? The reality is that our know-how and sophistication have increased remarkably across almost all our realms of endeavor, and as a result so has our struggle to deliver on them. You see it in the frequent mistakes authorities make when hurricanes or tornadoes or other disasters hit. You see it in the increase in lawsuits against attorneys for legal mistakes — the most common being simple administrative errors, like missed calendar dates and clerical screw ups, as well as errors in applying the law. You see it in flawed software design, in foreign intelligence failures, in our tottering banks — in fact, in almost any endeavor requiring complexity and significant amounts of knowledge. The communication world — including print, mail and e-communications — has not been exempt from errors. We have recently seen a large company mistakenly mail out thousands of mailpieces with sensitive customer information; unfortunately, information was sent to the wrong customers and a security breach transpired. Sad to say, this example within our industry is not an isolated one. avoidable mistakes are common and persistent, not to mention demoralizing and frustrating. and the reason is increasingly evident: the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us. We need a tool to help us navigate complexity and avoid unnecessary and harmful mistakes.
The Solution: Checklists checklists by themselves are not the proverbial “silver bullet” that will eliminate all mistakes — but they will help reduce mistakes 6
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here are some of the benefits of checklists. checklists: 1. help with memory recall and clearly set out the necessary steps in a process. This provides verification and helps ensure consistency. 2. Establish standards of good performance and helps ensure proper execution. 3. help defend everyone — even the experienced — against making mistakes. help combat complacency. 4. Serve as a “cognitive net.” They catch mental flaws inherent in all of us — flaws of memory, attention, and thoroughness. 5. Serve as a great training tool to help ensure people are completing tasks correctly. For me the bottom line is that checklists can help eliminate “stupid” mistakes. in some fields like medical, aviation, and construction, these avoidable mistakes have not only cost organizations millions of dollars — they have also cost people their lives. in our industry normally lives are not at stake — but service to our customers, avoiding risk, making money for our shareholders, and creating a high performance culture for our employees is on the line.
Checklist for Developing Checklists a key to successful checklist development is participation, especially with the end users of the checklist. participation builds buyin and support and will result in better quality end results. You can go to www.gawande.com and download atual Gawande’s “a checklist for checklists”, and also see a few sample checklists. let me share some key questions (guidelines) in building effective checklists:
Step One: Development • Do you have clear, concise objectives for your checklist? • Is each item: a critical step and in danger of being missed? Not adequately checked by other mechanisms? actionable, with a specific response needed? • Have you involved all relevant team members in the checklist creation process?
With Wes Friesen
Step Two: Drafting • Does the checklist: utilize natural breaks in workﬂow (pause points)? Use simple sentence structure and basic language? Have a simple, uncluttered, and logical format? Fit on one page? Minimize the use of color? • Is the font sans serif, upper and lower case text, large enough to be read easily and dark on a light background? • Is the date of creation (or revision) clearly marked?
Step Three: Validation • Have you: tested the checklist with front line users (either in a real or simulated situation)? Modiﬁed the checklist in response to repeated trials? • Does the checklist ﬁt the ﬂow of work? Detect errors at a time when they can still be corrected? • Can the checklist be completed in a reasonably brief period of time? • Have you made plans for future review and revision of the checklist?
Checklists aren’t the total solution to eliminating mistakes. But they are an important tool to helping us and our team members from making those “stupid” mistakes — which are easy to make when we’re working hard and trying to keep up with the many details of getting the work done. Good luck to you as you expand the use of checklists and lead your team to an even higher level of quality and performance! a Wes Friesen, MBA, CMDSM, MDC, EMCM, ICP, CCM,CMA, CM, CFM, APP, PHR is the Manager of Billing, Credit and Special Attention Operations for Portland General Electric, a utility in Portland, Oregon that serves over 825,000 customers. Wes leads his teams with the able assistance of Supervisors Allison Rowden, Jessica Eberhardt, Heidi Fouts and Matt McHill. Wes teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at national Conferences like MAILCOM, National Postal Forum, FUSION and others. Check out his personal web-site for free information (wesfriesen.com).
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The Trenches Sticking with Paper (Until Something Better Comes Along) ask just about any producer of high volume transactional documents and they will tell you they wish more of their customers would migrate to paperless delivery. That’s not so surprising. Given the large gap in production and delivery costs between paper and electronic documents, every customer who suppresses paper represents hard-dollar savings. What is surprising is that most companies will look you straight in the eye and then go about promoting the idea that consumers should abandon that old, wasteful print channel in favor of something better. Because in most cases, it’s not better! at least not for the customer. maybe that explains why paperless adoption seems to plateau for most organizations at levels below their desired goals. The people who still prefer print today are not stodgy, unbending, give-me-the-good-old-days non-conformists. They just find the alternative delivery channels lacking in some way. Usually what is missing is convenience. people will change if there’s a good reason. They will quickly replace decadesold habits for something better. making the change has little to do with their overall comfort with modern innovations. it has nothing to do with saving the environment. Sometimes there is a monetary incentive, but that isn’t always the case either. Nope, the big reason humans abandon the old for the new is convenience.
how about Daytimers, rolodexes, or those spring-loaded telephone directories? Why don’t we use them anymore? it’s because databases on our phones, our computers, or in the cloud are more convenient. We can get the number for friends, relatives, and business associates without having to rely on the paper-based solution sitting back in the office. heck, we don’t even have to dial the digits today! The bad part is that i can’t recall anyone’s number by memory anymore. if my phone battery is dead, i’m sunk! But there’s no way i’m going back to a rolodex. remember mapQuest? Getting driving directions and a customized map to take with you in the car was a huge improvement over the Thomas Guide or folding maps from the gas station.
Arguments for Suppressing Paper
Why I’m not switching
What would make me change
Good for the environment
I’m not convinced that the electricity consumed and materials that go into building the hardware and networks necessary to create and distribute electronic messages really offset the environmental impact of paper-based communications.
If paper recycling was no longer available, or if our paper consumption exceeded the replanting of our timber forests, I may become more environmentally driven. For now, I see paper fibers as real winners when it comes to efficient use of a natural resource.
It’s not inconvenient for me to walk 50 feet to the mailbox to get my mail. At least I get to go outside for a brief period instead of spending even more time in front of a screen to retrieve bills and statements.
Major disruptions in postal delivery that render the system unreliable or large postage increases passed along to me could affect my confidence in using this channel.
Convenience – Access/Archive
If it takes an Internet connection to view my mail, the cost to receive communications has shifted from the billers to me. I am responsible for providing hardware, software, and an Internet provider. Accessing the stack of mail on the corner of my desk is a lot more convenient than logging into a web site – particularly in the case of Internet service outages or slow-running computers.
Virtually all of the companies who want me to go paperless already provide access to the documents online. If I need to see an electronic statement (such as when traveling) I can do so. But I still have the convenience of working with the paper bill. It’s the best of both worlds. An always-available, affordable, secure and fast Internet connection, combined with some easier form of credentialing could change my mind about the convenience of online access to bills and statements.
It hasn’t happened. None of the competing consolidators are likely to host all my mail. Visiting multiple consolidator sites isn’t convenient.
All my electronic bills and statements would have to be in a single place, hosted by a trusted organization.
Physical mail theft can be a concern. But a consolidated electronic repository has got to be a better looking target for an identity thief than the mailbox in clear view of the street.
A major increase in mail theft could make me reconsider the security of the delivery channel. I don’t see that happening.
My time-tested workflow for bill-paying is triggered with the receipt of a bill in the mail. Replacing the paper bill with an email or text message does not have the same impact. I get so many electronic reminders now (meetings, deadlines, webinars) that the physical bill stands out as a more important notice.
From a workflow perspective, I’d be willing to consider opting-in to a cheaper mailpiece, such as a folded self-mailer or even a postcard that was delivered in lieu of a statement to serve as notice for me to go online, view the statement, and make a payment. A QR code on the mail piece could ease the transition.
Myth: People that are comfortable with paper won’t change When was the last time you looked up a business in the phone book? remember when the Yellow pages were the most reliable and current source for contact information, hours, and services? We still get three or four versions of Yellow pages delivered to our home every year. The only thing i use them for these days are doorstops. They never even make it out of the shrink-wrap. instead, it is the internet (and more often than not the smart phone) that provides the kind of information i need. The net gives me all the data the phone book did plus tons more. Even though we had a long history with a familiar
solution, we stopped using paper phone books because better alternatives were developed.
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With Mike Porter
MapQuest is still around but I never print a map or directions anymore. The navigation system in my car makes that unnecessary. Same thing with boarding passes for the airlines. I’ll print them out from home for my outbound flight because the printer is right there in the office. But coming back, I’ll go with the electronic boarding pass on the smart phone pretty much every time. In both these examples, the electronic versions provided benefits that far exceeded the printed paper solutions they replaced. It didn’t take consumers long to abandon the familiar maps and boarding passes when they discovered they could use something better, with a minimum of hassle. My point here is that the reason more consumers don’t opt out of printed bills and statements is because the alternative is either less convenient or the advantages to electronic delivery are not great enough to make changing worthwhile. Once there is a clear advantage, people will jump on the band wagon. But until then, no amount of statement messages, bill stuffers, envelope overprints, or on-hold messages pleading them to save the environment is going to make them change. Who wants to fire up the browser, navigate to the proper web page, and try to remember the credentials just to see the statement? Not me. Like most people I know, I pay my bills online. I rarely write checks anymore. Why? Because paying online is faster and easier. It saves me from spending money on check printing. It also preserves my stash of Forever stamps that continue to increase in value. Even though it can sometimes be a hassle to log into websites and enter payment information, it is still better than writing checks. So I switched. The Internet has improved the payment side of billed transactions. The presentment side? Not so dramatically. Bill consolidators and services like digital mail boxes promised to create centralized repositories so that we didn’t have to log into all those separate websites. But we’ll still have to log into the consolidated digital mailbox multiple times. Our bills don’t all come on the same day, so even if all the bills were available in one central location (and we’re a long way from that scenario) it still takes about the same amount of effort to retrieve them as it does today from the individual biller-hosted sites. Maybe that’s why consumers aren’t clamoring for such a service. None of the digital mailbox solutions has really taken off from a consumer-adoption standpoint. a Mike Porter is an expert in Print and Mail operations and President of Print/Mail Consultants, an independent consulting firm that helps companies nationwide lower costs and integrate new technologies in their document production workflows. For more of his thoughts and ideas visit www.printmailconsultants.com and sign up for Practical Stuff – the free newsletter for document operations. Your comments are welcome. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MARCH - APRIL 2013
With Christopher Lien
Getting a Little More Personal a personalized piece of direct mail can still yield an appreciable response rate when compared to other forms of direct marketing such as email. according to a June 2012 study from the Direct marketing association, the average response rate for direct mail was 3.4% whereas the average response rate for email was 0.12%. That is a significant difference and one that underscores the value a physical mailpiece has for overall messaging. however, it is easy to forget that part of the reason mail works so well is that it is personable. With the USpS now continuing to push its Every Door Direct mail program and even considering expanding the concept, it would be wise to consider leveraging the latest in software and data to make the mail more personal again. Fortunately, there are numerous sources and technology available for direct marketers to consider when crafting their message. The first step is to start with a good prospecting list. Often this could be your own customer list. as noted in earlier Software Byte columns, it is vital to keep this list complete, correct, and current. So make sure you are cleansing and updating the names and addresses at least every 95 days pursuant to the USpS requirement. Best practice, though, recommends updating the list at least every 30 days. if you are renting a list, ask them how often they cleanse the data. You may also want to ask them for a copy of the latest pS3553, the USpS caSS Summary report. This report has some excellent statistical information including the Qualitative Statistical Summary section on the bottom that can provide a snapshot of the quality of the list. Once you have a clean list, it’s time to merge/purge the data against other data sources. For example, you might want to match the list against a prison suppression or deceased list using a purge feature. This will allow you to remove undesirable records and not only save postage, but also improve the overall response rate. You can also use demographic information in some cases to also suppress out undesirable addresses. The Direct marketing association also provides a list for their members to suppress records from people who have asked to not be included in certain types of promotions. leveraging this Dma Suppression list, part of Dmachoice, is the responsible approach to avoiding a national do-not-mail legislated list. merging data means more than just removing duplicate records. it also means matching and consolidating data to form a better, more complete view of the prospect. For example, some software solutions provide enhanced merge/purge functionality that can perform complex matching such as householding. household10
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ing is usually defined as two or more records that have a matching base address, but different occupants. This classic example is a husband and a wife who have individual records in a common database and the mailer wants to merge their records into one to address both of them. Enhanced merge/purge tools generally use “fuzzy” matching, meaning that a percentage is applied for the match score. The software user would select the fields in the databases to match and then choose a percentage score to indicate a threshold for considering what constitutes a match. in many cases, merging multiple records together should result in a single, more complete record. Software generally allows a user considerable control here as well with options such as choosing the first record found, last record found, the record with the last update applied, most populated fields, or highest priority record just to name a few examples. With a complete and accurate list, we can now prepare the personalized message. however, here too we must be careful and not make it too personal or we will face a significant increase in postage. most direct marketing pieces are mailed at Standard mail rates. however, according to Domestic mail manual (Dmm) 243 section 2.2, certain personalized pieces of information cannot be mailed at Standard mail rate and must be mailed at First-class mail rate. This includes bills and statements of account or handwritten and typewritten matter. There is a line where the message can become too personalized, so mailers need to check the rules in the Dmm to make sure they conform to Standard mail rates if they want the discounted postage. Finally, while personalized direct mail continues to prove an effective way to market goods and services on its own, it is substantially enhanced when combined with supportive channels. This includes mobile devices and Qr codes. according to an infoTrends report, a printed piece combined with a web landing page increased the response rate by 19%. That same print piece when combined with email increased the response rate by 28%. all three methods combined together as a multi-channel approach, the response rate increased by 34%. Direct mail still continues to be a solid foundation for direct marketing. however, today’s marketer needs to carefully leverage new data, evolving software solutions, and rapidly emerging technology together to achieve the highest response rates and overall return on investment. a christopher lien is Vice president, Software marketing, Bell and howell.
With Jim LeRose
Want To Increase Transportation Costs This Year? Wasteful spending is not just rampant in Washington D.C, but with small package shippers as well. The fact is, there are only a handful of companies in the US that get the best shipping rates with UPS and FedEx (The Dynamic Duo) and even fewer that ensure their rates are fully optimized. Rates rose another six percent or more, yet most executives I speak with are convinced they are getting the best deal. So why are so many shippers absolutely, positively certain they are saving the most money on transportation when in reality, they’re not? Executives feel good when their carrier representative provides higher discount percentages in their agreement than they did the year before. As long as the discount percentage goes up a point or two, they eagerly accept the new terms. While this method may have worked years ago, it’s a surefire way of increasing transportation costs today. This is because discount percentages are only one of many factors that contribute to overall cost. Old techniques are no longer effective.
ibly well run companies that I admire and respect. My advice is designed not to interfere with the relationship you’ve built, just help you to pay them less. Have you seen the numbers? UPS revenue is approaching $50 billion and at FedEx, it’s about $40 billion. That’s billion. Their shareholders and employees thank you for your generosity. But is it your company’s goal to increase what you pay them?
Conclusion: Want to increase your transportation costs this year? Accept a few points better than your previous agreement, trust your carrier, don’t take the time to validate and avoid optimization. Want to lower costs? Don’t be fooled by high discount percentages, take steps to confirm the rates you are getting are indeed the lowest, then optimize them. I hope one day the term Glasnost will apply to shippers, but it doesn’t today. You have to take control, trust no one, steer the ship to save every penny, beat the competition and grow your business! I hope this information helps you ship better and save money! a
Also, there’s a perceived inability to shop for the best rates. Glasnost was a term used in the 80s during the Ronald Reagan years meaning “openness.” President Reagan had built rapport with Russian President Michael Gorbachev. They worked together to prevent economic and world catastrophes and made agreements with one another that profoundly changed our world. But, they didn’t trust each other. They publicly smiled at each other and used terms such as “Trust but verify.” Conversely, “concealment” best describes the approach of the Dynamic Duopoly, who both prevent their customers from sharing discount information. This essentially means they are thwarting their loyal patrons from executing the critical verification process.
Another tactic: carriers inflate the non-discounted rates to incredibly high levels so that when discounts are applied, it appears more impressive than it really is.
Here is an example: List rate: $1,000 | Discount: 65% | Net Cost: $350 The large double-digit discount excites people but it’s in fact…. virtually meaningless. What is meaningful is the actual net charge of $350 and how that compares in the marketplace. Department stores deploy the same tactics. Last month I bought a $700 list price product for $250. I was very pleased, but when I performed a competitive evaluation I realized it was essentially a fair price and nothing special. The discount percentages are largely unimportant; what you end up paying is.
Jim LeRose has been a transportation industry consultant for three decades. Formerly with Pitney Bowes, he is Principal of Agile New York, a leading provider of multi-carrier shipping software / shipping cost reduction strategies and CEO/Founder of EcoReturn — a revolutionary ecommerce return solution. Visit: www.agilenewyork.com and www.ecoreturn.com. Contact him at email@example.com or 888.214.1763.
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT Mail Smarter, Not Harder Streamline your mailing operation with Satori Software mailing solutions. Take the guesswork out of mail preparation and achieve higher satisfaction rates while improving your ROI. From data processing to post-presort and entry planning, it’s time to take a fresh look at our comprehensive mailing solution set. Learn how you can take advantage of the high-quality service and support enjoyed by Satori Software customers. Satori Software 800.553.6477 firstname.lastname@example.org www.satorisoftware.com
Your carrier’s profits are going through the roof. This is America and there’s nothing wrong with that. The Dynamic Duo both are incredwww.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MARCH - APRIL 2013
My Two Cents
With Todd Butler
Generating Revenue Everyone at postal headquarters has been tasked with the job of significantly increasing revenue. Unfortunately people at the top (survivors of years of postal conformity) have had all vestiges of creativity and ingenuity removed from their persona by a system that severely penalizes people for consistently thinking outside the box. So what do bureaucrats do when forced to be inventive? postal employees’ answer to this dilemma has been to look around, see what their partners are doing and try to take customers, market share, and revenues away from those partners. They tried to provide print and mail services (The Direct mail hub) because companies were getting rich off of web to print technology (joke’s on them). They decided to expand tracking of mail and provide not only raw data but also the analytics and mapping that is done so well by many companies in our industry. They moved into data services such as providing address cleansing and data prep (presort) by developing an imsb tool, in direct competition with many mailing companies and software vendors already providing these services to small businesses. So how can the postal Service generate new revenue rather than destroying the direct mail industry it is supposed to serve? Google dominates a medium (the internet) with its ability to deliver a large number of ads to consumers. The postal Service also dominates a medium: physical direct mail. With the postal Service’s imb and a third party’s unique technology, this physical medium has the capability of delivering demographically and/ or geographically targeted mobile ads to every consumer in the United States. The technology, seen at the National postal Forum in 2012, is capable of reading postal imb barcodes as if they were Qr codes. Unlike Qr codes, a proprietary app connects a smart phone to an ad delivering server. With the information contained in the imb and limited information (recipient’s name, the miD, and sequence number range) provided by a marketer, the app can display personalized landing pages. These landing pages include a prefilled form and deliver ads, white papers, and/or coupons. The landing pages are also able to collect additional voluntary information from consumers through their mobile device. This is how this unique service is being promoted by the company that developed the technology. But the potential of this technology is much, much more and could provide a significant, alternative revenue stream for the postal Service. Since nearly every piece of mail now has an imb on it, it is possible for the
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USpS (using this or similar technology) to deliver a mobile coupon or internet link with every piece of direct mail it carries. most importantly the technology requires no pre-loading of consumer information. Using its reverse look-up capabilities, the technology is able to provide the physical address of mobile consumers to a marketer when the consumer scans an imB barcode. it is also able to capture information such as the name and email address of consumers that provide such data in exchange for product information or coupons. The USpS delivers approximately 632 million letters and flats with an imb barcode daily. Each one represents a potential for delivering a mobile ad. actually, one imb scan can deliver any number of ads, links, or coupons depending on how the ad servers are set up. if the USpS produced as many imb consumer scans as Google registers click throughs (0.4 %*), and the scans were valued at $1.04* each (as in a study in 2011 of a select group of marketers), the postal Service could generate $2,528,000 dollars per delivery day, or $728,064,000 per year. in fact the potential revenue generated from selling mobile ads is only limited by the postal Service’s ability to sell advertisers on the concept. The delivery of mobile coupons based on imb scans not only has the possibility of delivering additional revenue to the USpS, but of significantly increasing the value of every direct mail piece that enters the mail stream. Think about how much longer the marketing message on a mailpiece might be exposed to consumer’s scrutiny if there was the possibility of a 50% off coupon for a favorite restaurant hidden in the imb. imagine how long direct mail pieces might lay around the house waiting for someone to take the time to scan their imbs looking for high value coupons before throwing the pieces away. Just think of consumers holding on to direct mail until scanned during the Sunday afternoon ritual of going through the newspaper looking for grocery and other ads. Just imagine the ad revenue the USpS could generate, if it would think outside the box and support new technology and potential partners. Think of the mail volume the USpS could generate if it was to truly support, not compete with, existing partners! a Todd Butler, Butler mailing Services, can be reached at 513.870.5060, email@example.com or www.butlermail.com.
With Kim Mauch
Closures, Consolidations and Cut Hours: Tips for Handling USPS Facility Changes in late January, USpS announced the consolidation of 18 more mail processing facilities, on top of the 92 already scheduled for this spring. in addition to these changes, USpS is quickly moving forward with its Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) program, which continues to analyze and restructure the carrier routes. What do these changes mean for mailers? how can you ready yourself (and your customers) for the mail processing bumps ahead?
Facility Consolidations — Watch and Wait USpS successfully consolidated 48 plants in late summer 2012. Fortunately, these consolidations went quite well. The USpS planning committee did a fantastic job — navigating and implementing thousands of steps in the process. This same team will be handling this year’s changes. a complete list of the locations impacted by these consolidations is available at http://bit.ly/USpS2013. Just like last summer, your mail entry should not change throughout this consolidation period. Facilities today will continue to accept mail, even if the actual mail processing moves to another location. however, you may see changes in the available hours for these facilities. Designated processing facilities may experience backups as they absorb the new mail volume. Your best tool to manage the unknown is information. look at the list of consolidations — both closures and absorption facilities. if you send mail to any of those locations, talk to your contacts there to get their take on the situation. Depending on how your mail is routed, you may be better off taking your mail directly to the processing facility. Start those conversations now to plan for the future. if you experience any problems with your mail service, reach out to your Business mail Entry Supervisor or postmaster.
DUO Emphasizes Address Quality The Delivery Unit Optimization (DUO) program looks benign on the surface, but may cause some delivery issues as it is implemented. DUO plans to move the home base of some carriers from one facility to another. moving the carrier function further away from retail facilities could result in re-assignment of routes among carriers. This means the route knowledge of some long-time carriers could be compromised. To handle this, be extra-vigilant about your address quality processes. You could see a small spike in returned mail from affected routes.
POSTPlan and First-Class Delivery Changes The pOSTplan program will reduce the open hours of thousands of smaller retail USpS locations across the country. While this generally will not affect your outgoing mail, it can affect your incoming mail. The restricted hours will limit the availability of retail windows, potentially causing mail from those facilities to be delayed by a day or two.
in addition, the First-class service changes implemented last year are already affecting incoming mail. mail that used to be delivered overnight within a facility service area can now take a day or two longer to be delivered. This is especially important to note for transactional mailers. When return payments are delayed, it can have a direct impact on your accounting processes. To combat delivery delays, communicate these changes to your mail recipients. let them know that getting their payment back in a timely manner is good for both you, and for their credit status. You may also want to explore extending your required payment dates to adjust for mail delays. USpS is moving fast to right-size itself this year. With changes happening at all levels of mail processing, it’s likely your mail will be affected. Being proactive, getting information early and adjusting your processes ahead of time will get you ahead of the curve. additionally, tracking your mail can help you identify small problems before they grow. as always, information is your best defense. a Kim mauch is a subject matter expert in mailing preparation and submission at Satori Software. contact her at kmauch@ satorisoftware.com.
product spotlight Increase Profits – Affix Stamps Inline Postmatic manufactures a full line of High-Speed, HighProduction Postage Stamp Affixing Systems for use inline affixing while inserting and no rewinding of the coil is required. Inline Vacuum Transport Bases available for Stamping, Ink-Jetting, Read & Print Systems, Camera Verification and others. Manufacturing proven reliable inline solutions since 1972. Postmatic, Inc. 763.784.6046 firstname.lastname@example.org www.postmatic.com
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Direct Marketing 101
With John Foley, Jr.
Direct Mail and the Benefits of 1-to-1 Marketing Few marketing channels see response rates as positive as those seen by direct mail. Whereas you might be happy with a three percent response rate from your email campaign, it’s not unusual to see a response rate of 30% or more from a direct mail campaign. 1 to 1 marketing (also referred to as 1:1 marketing) is still characterized by direct mailing efforts, by companies large and small alike. it’s not surprising that 1 to 1 marketing would go hand in hand with direct mail. Direct mail done “right” is all about personalized marketing. Direct mail pieces are sent to a geographical area, or to specific recipients based on particulars ranging from income, age range, household type and so on. Unlike a billboard that hopes to be seen by anyone who just happens to be going by it, the direct mail piece is sent directly to a person or persons in a household in order to get a message across, to make a specific call to action: “Do ‘a’ and you will get ‘B.’” 1 to 1 marketing typically uses four steps in its implementation: 1 – identification of the customers by collecting in-depth data and
using this data to determine how to fill the customers’ needs and how to appeal to prospects; 2 – differentiation in which the customers are segmented according to personal needs and priorities; 3 – interaction in which it is determined what ways the customer likes to communicate and what ways are best to use; 4 – customization in which the business figures out how to personalize the product or service to provide exactly what the customer wants. Direct mail figures precisely into the four parameters of 1 to 1 marketing. in order to effectively utilize direct mail pieces, there must be identification and differentiation of the target audience. a single message will be hard pressed to make the same impression on a large audience that may straddle different economic issues, age ranges and so on. So the interaction and customization of the direct mail pieces is key to an effective direct mail campaign. another benefit to direct mail is that it provides a tactile “touch” in your multi-touch marketing strategy. You can send email after email and hope to capture the attention of your audience. But add some direct mail pieces into the mix and you’ve upped the ante. You have added in a redundancy that is a positive aspect to your overall contact with your customers and prospects. You can give them a heads up via email that the direct mail piece will arrive any day. They receive the direct mail piece. and you can follow up with email to remind them of the direct mail piece they just received and of the call to action. in early 2012, the Target marketing 6th annual media Usage Forecast indicated that direct mail clearly delivered the strongest rOi for B2c acquisition of customers (approximately 34% for direct mail compared to 25% for email), as well as for contact and retention of customers (37% for direct mail compared to 31% for email). The 2012 response rate report from the Direct marketing association, however, indicates that rOi on email is higher. Yet direct mail gets a far better response rate. in essence, when 1000 people are contacted via email and direct mail, 34 of those people will respond to the direct mail piece and only 1 person will respond to the email. marketers can certainly use these numbers to determine how they should approach direct mail and integrate it properly with 1 to 1 marketing strategies in order to maximize both the response rates and the rOi. a John Foley Jr. is the founder of Grow Socially, an online marketing company including Social media. They provide marketing consulting and delivery services. created in 2010, Grow Socially, inc (www.GrowSocially.com) helps companies with their online marketing efforts, with a focus on social media. in addition to his role at Grow Socially, mr. Foley serves a cEO for interlinkONE, contact him at 978.674.8081 or email@example.com.
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Implementing By Mark Fallon
in Mail Operations
a competitive environment, “good enough” isn’t “good enough”. Customer expectations continue to rise. They want to receive their documents with the correct information, and expect a printing job to be error-free. They want the right statement, with the right address, in the right envelope to be delivered at the right time. The ﬁrst step of introducing quality control into an operation is to document the existing process, including process maps displaying the individual steps and the hand-offs between teams and operators. Even if written procedures exist, it’s important to validate the steps with the employees who do the actual work. Using the process map, you need to identify key areas where errors can occur. Based on this information, you can formulate the objectives of your quality control program. Then, you must clearly state which errors will be reduced or eliminated through the implementation of quality control, and identify the factors required for success.
In the mailing industry, the address is the keystone of the entire process. You may print a beautiful page with stunning colors, and ﬁnish the piece with an exquisite bind. However, if the address on the envelope is wrong, the intended recipient will never beneﬁt from your hard work. For external mailing addresses for customers, organizations must implement automated cleansing at every possible step. The besttrained customer service representatives may make a keying error. External customers may move without notifying their bank or insurance company. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will add and change ZIP Codes in different parts of the country.
The common errors that take place in mail operations include:
Two tools that will improve your address management process are the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) and NCOALink. Created by the USPS, these products are used to standardize addresses (CASS) and detect changes of address (NCOALink). Vendors offer solutions that include installing this software on your computers or accessing the software via the Internet (a.k.a., “the cloud”).
• addressing errors (external and internal) • printing errors
Using the process maps described earlier, managers can determine when addresses are accessed and how they can be updat-
Reduce Opportunities for Error
• ﬁnishing/inserting errors • delivery errors
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ed. With the different solutions available, operations can implement address checks at any step: • • • •
when addresses are entered by a customer service representative when a customer enters an address on a website on a scheduled batch basis (e.g., every 90 days) as part of the printing process
Mail operations that handle internal mail deliveries also must be concerned about addresses. Employees need to know their correct mail stop designations and provide the right address to people sending mail to them. Working with the Human Resources, Facilities Management and Information Technology departments, mail center managers need to develop processes for tracking employee moves and updating databases. Instead of quarterly or monthly updates, weekly updates are recommended. Printing errors may occur due to programming, machine or operator errors. If data fields aren’t properly mapped, the wrong information will appear on a bill or statement. If printers aren’t properly maintained, the quality of output will degrade over time. And if an operator loads the wrong paper or forms, the results can be disastrous. In most operations, quality control in printing is performed by an individual or team. These quality control specialists use a checklist to review specific areas of the document, including form type, logos, key fields, fonts and readability. Checks should occur multiple times — during programming and testing, randomly throughout the printing process, and before the printed output is handed off to the finishing department. Then, signed logs are completed and filed appropriately. In many shops today, cameras enhance the quality control process. Using job information files, camera-based systems can check the output for correct stock, data fields, print quality and alignment. Additionally, the systems can track every page to ensure a job is completed accurately. These systems can increase your quality significantly, but physical checks by humans are still important. Like printing, errors in the finishing and inserting processes can be caused by programming mistakes, machine faults and operator missteps. And like printing, a combination of reviews by people, cameras and software decreases the opportunity for error. These reviews are checks at the start of the job, during the job and at the completion of the job. The best shops use work-order systems that include checklists — machine setup, envelope stock, test pieces, etc. Leads, supervisors or quality control staff review the checklist before the beginning of each phase. Integrating these checks into the entire process focuses your team on the importance of quality. For external customers, delivery is usually handled by a third party (e.g., the USPS), and this is why address quality is so important at the start of the process. For valuable documents using manifested mail, the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) or Delivery Conﬁrmation service adds a system check to the process. Operations should conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine which level of tracking is worth the cost. For internal deliveries, a similar cost-benefit analysis is needed. Accountable mail and overnight packages should be tracked
from receipt through delivery. At a minimum, physical logs with signatures should be maintained. Automated systems with barcodes and electronic signatures should be implemented, wherever possible. Most of these automated systems include a web-based interface, allowing users to create barcoded labels for interoffice deliveries.
Overcoming Roadblocks When implementing a quality control system, managers may face resistance from within the organization. People may say they want quality, but aren’t willing to take the steps necessary to support the process. Common excuses include: • • • •
“Error-free isn’t possible, so why try?” “Quality control costs too much.” “Quality control slows down production.” “Nobody really cares.”
Many people think that defect-free products and services are not practical or economical, and that some level of defects is normal and acceptable. Quality is frequently associated with cost, meaning that high quality is synonymous with high cost. Organizations may be reluctant to spend on quality control, especially when they don’t see an immediate payback. Leaders can overcome roadblocks by explaining why quality control is important before directing how quality control will be implemented. Managers should explain the competitive environment for the organization and the department. Companies must demonstrate value and integrity to their customers, or lose their business. Similarly, internal mail operations must generate defect-free products and services, or lose their jobs to an outsourcing vendor. Whenever possible, share direct feedback from customers — positive and negative. There may be more negative feedback, as most people don’t say “thank you” when they receive their correct statement in the mail. However, by tying a complaint to a solution, managers can demonstrate the value of a new process. Most employees want to perform their jobs well. People don’t come to work thinking, “I want to screw up” or “I want to do poor quality work.” In most operations, people want to do a good job. As managers, your role is to help employees do a good job. To give them the tools to do a good job. That’s what you’re doing when you implement quality control. You’re giving your employees the tools to do a good job. Achieving quality requires commitment and the establishment of an environment in which quality can flourish. Managers must dedicate the time and resources necessary to map out existing processes and identify where errors occur. Integrating quality review techniques with automated technology will provide the foundation of a system that will reduce errors. Demonstrating the benefits to employees will improve adoption of the new processes. In an ever-competitive world, following these steps will help managers successfully implement a quality control program. Mark Fallon is President & CEO, the Berkshire Company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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What Is Really Happening to Business Mail Mail isnâ€™t going away, but the mailing practices of businesses today are vastly different than in years past. By Adam Lewenberg 18
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ccording to the latest Census information, there are roughly 27 million businesses in the United States. We want to look at what is changing regarding how they mail and communicate with their communities. The goal is not to look at the largest credit card and insurance companies, but at how the rest of the business community is changing their mailing habits.
• Consolidating Print – Many companies are getting smarter about
• Invoices and Statements – This is by far the largest first class mail
what they are sending, allowing them to mail less. This could be consolidating invoices going to the same location, suppressing low value balances, and printing from centralized locations. • Checks – This was typically the second biggest First Class mailing because of Accounts Payable and Payroll checks. • Accounts Payable – Just like all of us who have moved to pay our personal bills online, so have many companies. Also, many AP departments have done a better job at consolidating multiple payments to the same vendor on one check, further reducing volumes. • Payroll – We used to all get paychecks, and then we moved to direct deposit but still got the remittance stub mailed. Today, many employers expect you to access that information online, eliminating the majority from being mailed. • Marketing Mailings – Many companies used to send mailings First Class, but have outsourced these to mail houses that can do them more efficiently and at lower cost as Standard Mail. The reduction in postage by switching service levels helps pay for the fees and the work is left to the professions. • Day to Day Correspondence – This is the majority of what is left, and it is typically items that need the personal touch of being mailed or requires a signature on a document. This area is decreasing because of our comfort level with PDF formatting that can maintain the document’s integrity when opened through email.
generator because all businesses need to get paid. These pieces have to be sent out as First Class because of their personalized nature. Here are the biggest changes: • More going online – As a society, we are getting more comfortable opening these documents online, and tablet and smartphone adoption is at over 50% of the population.
To further prove this point (see Chart 2 below) about the changes in business mail, we can look at the Postage Meter Market over the same time period. The majority of mail run on Postage Meters is First Class, and there has been a 21% decline in meter units over the last five years.
We all read the news that talks about the huge declines in mail, but I want to break it down to the areas that impact businesses. I have a unique perspective on this because I have managed thousands of clients across all industries and have had national visibility to volume data that shows how businesses mail.
First-Class Mail Let’s start by looking at the postal volumes by class of service. The main reason that the USPS is in financial trouble is because of the decline in First Class Mail, which is its main revenue driver. We mail 32% fewer First Class pieces than we did in 2008. This is happening because people are moving to electronic forms of communications. Let’s dissect the main areas of business mail to look at these changes:
USPS Mail Volume by Class - in millions Year
Postage Technology Changes Year
%Change from 2008-12
%Change from 2008-12
Postage Meters Commercial Mid
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The bigger indicators are the shift in meter segments typically deﬁned • Using Print to Drive Digital – Frequently we see mailings with QR by the machine speed. The commercial segment (automatic feed Codes and Augmented Reality as part of a multi-channel campaign machines that run at the highest speeds) has seen a 67% decline. where they can drive people to speciﬁc web content. This is because many of the institutions like banks, insurance companies, manufacturers, colleges, and nonproﬁts, etc., had decreases • Higher Personalization – Businesses are getting smarter about in volume that no longer predicated they had this level of equipment. the segmentation and personalization inside their offers to achieve Mid-range meters had a 24% growth because these units had similar better return on investments. This may mean sending fewer higher features allowing many from the commercial segment to downgrade. impact pieces. The big issue is that commercial meter segment represents 65% of all metered mail revenue compared to 11% for the mid-range. As the commercial group continues to shrink, it PC Postage Customized will have huge consequences Revenue Postage Revenue to future mail volumes.
Postage Technology - Spend By Category
The next big change is a 25% decline in the small segment deﬁned as convenience postage meters. This is because many businesses ﬁnd that they do not use them enough to justify their cost or they have switched to PC Postage.
Small Business Meter Revenue 12% Mid-range Meter Revenue 11%
Commercial Meter Revenue 65%
PC Postage is where you can generate stamps through a program loaded onto your computer or from a website. From the From 2011 July YTD USPS Metrics Postage Technology numbers, there are now over one million PC postage users, but it still only makes up 12% of the postage technology revenue. This number is also disproportional The biggest bright spot is Every Door Direct Mail, which offers a very because many PC postage users are heavy shippers vs. ﬁrst class letsimple approach to generate projects without an address list and with ter mailers and will have higher postage spends because of larger per very little cost and effort. The goal is to get businesses mailing who may piece costs. not have been doing it in the past. It allows the local insurance agent to send out a mailing to all of the residents in a speciﬁc city, or a block that they can target from the USPS website. It has been met with huge Standard Mail Although Standard Mail has seen a 24% drop in volume, most of success and I anticipate further enhancements and offerings. the decline occurred at the start of the ﬁnancial downturn and levels are holding much steadier than we saw in First Class. Businesses Shipping Services still need to advertise products and services to get customers, and Another bright spot for the USPS is around its growth in the shipping the mail is still a very effective media channel. Here are some of the markets, where it competes head to head with UPS and FedEx. To trends that we see: start with, the USPS has the best last mile delivery network in the country and will even deliver many of the residential shipments for the • Using Professionals – We used to see more businesses doing private carriers. The reason for their growth in shipping services is that marketing mailings in their ofﬁces. They would purchase the they have the lowest rates for light weight residential shipments. The equipment to do the work and have teams of people get together private carriers charge residential fees and surcharges as well as have to help get the projects out the door. With the amount of print- minimum service rates that can make the USPS less expensive. We ers and mail houses, many businesses have left the work to the are all ordering more products online and successful shippers underprofessionals who can get lower postage rates and manage the stand how to maximize the carriers to select the lowest rates. changing USPS requirements like Intelligent Mail Barcodes and Folded Self Mailer. International
• Converting to Email – Businesses have moved many communications they were mailing to email because of the cost, simplicity, and immediate feedback it can provide. Newsletters, surveys, and special offers can now be generated in minutes for less than $.01 each.
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Mailers who do a lot of international mailing will typically use a consolidation service that will process pieces at a discount. These consolidators may use the USPS through its per-pound rate structures or drop ship it right into that country’s postal system, bypassing the USPS entirely. There are three types of mailers who make up the bulk of the international spend:
Although Standard Mail has seen a 24% drop in volume, most of the decline occurred at the start of the financial downturn and levels are holding much steadier than we saw in First Class. Businesses still need to advertise products and services to get customers, and the mail is still a very effective media channel. 1. Marketing/Periodical Mailers â€“ Businesses with a set mailing list and are sending large projects in bulk. This makes up the majority of international mail from businesses. This group is declining as more people access content online. 2. Shippers â€“ Businesses sending ecommerce packages outside of the US. This is a growing group because different providers are now offering ways to estimate custom duties upfront at the time of order. This group will increase as we all want to compare prices of buying products from different countries. 3. Miscellanies Mailers â€“ This is the university or financial institution that has clients abroad and needs to send correspondence. From my experience, businesses spending over $15,000 per year in miscellanies international mail will be using a service. This group is declining rapidly as more mailers look for electronic ways for delivery.
Periodicals I do not think I need to tell you that the periodical market is in a tough spot. How many newspapers and magazines have folded, consolidated, or are putting more emphasis in their online versions. Many people now prefer to get their news on a tablet or smartphone as it is happening vs. waiting for the printed copy. As tablets become less expensive and people get more comfortable with the technology, along with our increased focus on the environment, we should see drastic shifts to consuming this content online, further reducing printed Periodicals.
Conclusion I am sure that most of this information is not new, but it is hopefully in a format that dissects how the business community in the US mails today and the trends that we can expect to see for the future. Mail is by no means going away but it is inevitable that we will see less First Class and Periodical Mail with higher emphasis on advertising and shipments. The big question is how the USPS will adapt to these changes and work within this new reality. Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS is President of Postal Advocate Inc. with over 19 years of experience in the mail industry. Their mission is to help entities with large numbers of locations reduce mail related expenses, and to make these spends easy to manage. He can be reached at 617.372.8653 or email@example.com.
For many businesses across america, these have been tough times. The economic ditch we so cleverly put our nation into has taken a toll on every business whose vitality is tied to a thriving economy. The mailing industry has not been spared any pain. in fact, the pain is quite apparent when you consider the number of businesses that have gone bankrupt, those who have been purchased by others, and the thousands of jobs that have been lost to workforce reductions. The following is an article prepared by PostCom President Gene Del Polito for publication in Mailing Systems Technology magazine. The thoughts expressed are his. Perhaps they also should be yours.
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While congress has had the nation as a whole perched on the edge of a fiscal cliff for longer than anyone can justify, it has had the postal Service on the edge of a precipice that, with one little push, could cause the nationâ€™s entire postal system to plummet to its demise. The members of our industry have
BUT THERE ARE SOME TRYING TO MURDER IT
Misguided concerns about paper harming the environment; baseless threats of identity theft; the denigration of “junk mail” — no wonder mail gets such a bad rap. But is all this criticism founded? We think not.
been working hard to get Congress to recognize precisely what’s at risk. When you consider that the mailing industry accounts for some $900 billion worth of the goods and services that make up our gross domestic product, the risk of doing nothing to address what is ailing our postal system is significant and very consequential. Humans like to pride themselves on their ability to “multitask.” The plain and simple fact is that humans don’t multitask. They may have machines that evidence this ability, but, for the most part, humans tend to be consumed with one task at a time. If you don’t believe that, just consider for a moment how well these multitaskers do while driving (or even crossing a street) and texting or talking on the phone.
This inability to multitask (if not multifocus) has at times been apparent in the way some within our industry have tried to address what they perceive to be the more significant challenges facing the postal industry. Everyone tends to think about the need for postal legislative reform — even when faced with the unpleasant reality that getting Congress to actually do something positive about the nation’s postal dilemma can be somewhat akin to getting a stubborn jackass (or elephant, for that matter) to move. There are, however, other challenges that imperil mail’s usefulness and vitality as a commercial vehicle. For instance, for years the advertising mail industry has had to suffer seemingly endless “junk mail” denigrations from competing media, ill-informed, so-called environmental advocates, and self-styled (but profit-based) privacy www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MARCH - APRIL 2013
activists. You know the “Gimme ten dollars and I’ll get you off mailing lists” types. These rather ill-informed greenies, money-grubbing privacy weenies, and competitive media meanies often premise their cases against the value and utility of commercial mail on bases about as substantive as a Delmarva beach sand castle built right on water’s edge. One good wave or wind-blow and the ostensibly fact-based arguments used to buttress these castles are shown to be without any real foundation. Let’s take a look at a few.
NOBODY WANTS MAIL ANYMORE, PARTICULARLY “JUNK MAIL.”
• Most paper today does NOT end up in landfills. Increasingly, more and more paper that is discarded today is collected and either recycled or used as raw material from which energy content can be extracted to provide electricity for those who need it. As a matter of fact, today America has more landfill capacity than it had 30 years ago, and the capacity it has is more environmentally safe than what existed years ago.
First of all, you’ll never win an argument that your medium is better than someone else’s by attacking that which you are trying to convince some business to give to you. When you use the term “junk,” you infer that what you are talking about has no real value. When competitors and detractors use the term “junk mail,” they’re really referring to advertising that is distributed through the mail.
• At the household level, energy and CO2 emissions associated with the entire mail life cycle are roughly comparable to those from operating any of several common home appliances over the same period of time. Household appliances! Not smokestacks belching carbon and other particulate matter.
You’ve got to wonder. Would newspapers refer to advertising that’s distributed through newspapers as “junk news?” Or would broadcasters refer to the advertising they broadcast as “junk TV” or “junk radio?” Of course not, because advertising in any form has real value. it has value to the people and companies that pay for it to be broadcast or distributed and it has value to the people who are interested in the goods and services advertisers are trying to sell. In spite of all the noise our detractors make about advertising mail being a nuisance, are you aware that data gathered by respected research firms for well over two decades has indicated that over 80% of all advertising mail, when it is received, is either read immediately or set aside for later reading? in other words, those who receive advertising mail find it interesting or useful enough to want to give it attention by reading it. Tell me, is the same sort of attentiveness given when you hear advertising on the radio or view it on TV, cable, or the Internet? advertising mail provides all mail recipients with another very valuable benefit. The money paid to the Postal Service to distribute advertising mail helps keep our nation’s universal mail system free to all mail recipients. That’s right. People who receive the mail pay nothing as a result of the benefit of having senders pay for the mail they send. When you want to get mail, you don’t need to subscribe at great cost to someone’s telecommunications or cable network. You don’t even need to pay some heady subscription fee to have your mail delivered. all the mail you receive comes to you at no additional cost.
DISCARDED MAIL IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL PARIAH Some ill-informed, self-styled, and so-called environmental advocates would have you believe that when you received mail you’re helping to despoil the American landscape by denuding forests, fill to capacity the nation’s landfills, and add to the world’s carbon footprint more than some other medium of information exchange. Not so, and here are some of the facts with which you should be familiar. • The wood pulp from which most paper is created comes from tree farms, not preciously endangered national forests. The key word to remember is “farms.” You know, those places where things are grown, harvested, and regrown again. in other
words, places where there is a cycle of providing and replenishing the raw materials that are used to produce paper.
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• In fact, the carbon footprint of mail is substantially less than the total carbon footprint of the internet.
MAIL CONTRIBUTES TO IDENTITY THEFT Some would have you believe that when you opt to receive mail in your mailbox you’re foolishly exposing yourself to a very real likelihood that someone will come by, take out your mail, learn everything about you that there is to know, and deceitfully and illegally use the information that they learn to drain your bank accounts, steal your identify, and render you a pauper. The fact is you have an even greater exposure to identity theft if you make available information about yourself on the internet. These days Facebook and Google will know more about you and the manner in which you choose to live your life than your own mother. Security holes on the internet are very easy to exploit. That’s why so many hours and dollars have been spent on software and other services to help thwart online theft. Heck, “Boris” can have an easier time breaking electronically into your bank and stealing your money than any misguided mail thief. And when Boris decides to violate the sanctity of a mail box, the postal Service has a dedicated police force (the postal inspection Service) that will be sent out to get him. Tell me, who do you go to get attention to the online theft you last suffered?
CONCLUSION The misinformation and disinformation of those who simply want to advance agendas of their own ostensibly for good or even ill reasons pose a greater threat to the fiscal viability of the republic than postal reform ever could. postal bills will come and go. most will never find their way to enactment. But the threat to public confidence in the mail by those who would rather have mail-based dollars flow from your pockets into their own constitute the real threat. and when the threat of an ill-designed postal bill will go away with each expiring congress, the threats posed by mail ‘s detractors will be more enduring. These are the threats your mail-based business faces every day. These are the threats you cannot afford to ignore. Arm yourself with facts, and make sure the universal mail system you enjoy today will still be around to serve you and your business tomorrow.
Making Your Mail Smarter Intelligent Mail barcodes provide greater visibility into mail operations to improve customer service, response rates, and cash flow. Are you ready to switch to Full-Service?
By Christine Erna
Using postal mail has been a vital tool for organizations for hundreds of years. Whether for marketing, invoicing, or customer communications, postal mail is critical to businesses. Yet, it has many challenges. Each year, more than 40 million people in the US change their addresses, resulting in more than one billion mailpieces returned to senders annually and another six billion discarded by the United States Postal Service as undeliverable. That’s money and opportunity lost to businesses. Mail services can also be a guessing game when it comes to delivery. While there are generally agreed-upon delivery windows for mail — measured in days — it’s difficult for businesses to anticipate exactly when to staff for increased call or transaction volumes. That’s all changing. With the advent of the Intelligent Mail barcode, businesses gain a valuable tool with which to better manage their mailings and access vital delivery data in real-time. The Intelligent Mail barcode is a relatively new tool from the USPS used to track and sort letters and flats. The 65-barcode combines the data that were embedded in POSNET and PLANET Code barcodes into one compact, height-modulated barcode. The Intelligent Mail barcode provides mailers with a much more powerful tool for encoding significantly more information than before. The Intelligent Mail barcode: 26
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• Provides mailers with many more digits for their use, enabling unique identification of up to one billion mailpieces per mailing; • Provides more accurate, detailed, and timely information to enable better decision making; • Reduces the amount of space previously required for multiple barcodes, freeing up valuable real estate on the mail piece; • Allows mailers to participate in several USPS service programs with a single barcode. Effective January 28, 2013, Intelligent Mail barcodes are required to qualify for automation pricing — saving up to 50% off retail pricing. In addition, companies opting for the “full service” also get access to free “start the clock” information to track USPS delivery performance, free address correction and, in some cases, even greater discounts. The real advantage for organizations that fully utilize Intelligent Mail barcodes is the ability to make more informed and timely business decisions. With powerful analytics to manage the data provided by the USPS, businesses can improve customer service,
increase response rates to marketing efforts, expedite cash flow, and eliminate waste and redundancies.
Better Customer Care Nothing frustrates a customer more than talking to a service representative that doesn’t have complete information. The ability to track the status of mailed communications — including check disbursement, fulfillment kits, statements, and compliance notifications — provides call center representatives with the facts they need to better respond to customer inquiries, improving service levels. Just as important in caring for customers is reaching out to them with timely information. Yet, companies often miss those opportunities because they send them to incorrect addresses month after month as they don’t have a way to capture address changes in a timely manner. This not only wastes the cost of printing and mailing the correspondence, it is also a lost customer touch. intelligent mail tracing services notify businesses immediately if an address has changed or a mailpiece is undeliverable, helping to ensure that future communications arrive in a timely manner.
More Effective Integrated Marketing Campaigns
Knowing when a remittance is mailed also improves collections by prioritizing whom to call and eliminating “the check is in the mail” excuses. it also reduces unnecessary late notices being sent. at one leading credit card company, intelligent mail tracing reduced outbound collection calls by 18%, resulting in millions of dollars in savings annually without reducing the effectiveness of its collection operations. There are other mailings that can also significantly affect a company’s bottom line.
Documenting Compliance proxy mailings and product recall or safety notices are expensive and often disruptive for companies. Worse still is having no visibility into whether customers received the vital information or if they have taken the desired action. When a government agency is monitoring the compliance effort, mail operations intelligence is even more critical. With intelligent mail services, companies can monitor compliance mailings every step of the way and document precise delivery information to support regulatory or legal requirements. it also provides the peace of mind of knowing that vital information was delivered to customers.
Managing the Data companies run on data, but the extra flow of data from intelligent mail services can be daunting to manage. many companies choose to use their internal resources or hire programmers to interpret the raw data from the USpS and turn it into actionable reports.
intelligent mail tracing further enhances the customer experience by synchronizing the marketing messages sent to them. Knowing exactly when a mailpiece will be delivered can trigger pre-arrival or follow-up e-mail or mobile messages. By coordinating the timing of those marketing messages, companies can boost anticipation of offers and special events, or direct customers to additional information on their websites, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the integrated marketing campaign.
more often, companies turn to experienced vendors who offer turnkey solutions to integrate the mail operations data with the overall company infrastructure. a vendor with years of mail management experience can help companies — no matter what their mail volume — reap immediate benefits of intelligent mail barcodes with powerful, easy to use analytics. These solutions let companies have as much detail as they need — even drilling down to the 5-digit Zip code level to monitor delivery and identify problems. an experienced vendor can also help companies maximize the benefits of using intelligent mail barcodes.
With precise visibility into when mail is delivered, companies can staff up to handle increased traffic into stores or, for mail order, increased call center activity. intelligent mail tracing provides businesses with the tools to manage their resources more efficiently so the optimal number of employees is deployed at any given time.
a turnkey solution reduces risk to the company by requiring no internal iT resources or investment in hardware or software while delivering powerful, proven analytics. it allows companies to focus on improving their business processes, instead of developing applications from scratch.
Improved Revenue Streams
Calculating the ROI
most companies rely on postal mail for invoicing and remittance, yet the USpS estimates that 34% of mail contains address errors that delay or prevent delivery. intelligent mail services reduce the volume of undeliverable mail, but just as importantly, it provides companies with the data to better predict and manage cash flow.
The argument for intelligent mail barcodes is obvious for large volume mailers — they’re required for automation pricing, which can save up to 50% on postage costs. however, for mailers of any size, the investment in integrating intelligent mail tracing data into business processes is easily returned in better customer service, more effective marketing campaigns, balancing staffing with transaction volume, expedited cash flow, and eliminating waste, like postage on returned mail and unnecessary re-mails.
For companies using lockbox services, the time it takes to process and post remittance checks can cost thousands of dollars in interest revenue. intelligent mail services enable companies to track the time a remittance leaves the customer’s hand to when the revenue is posted, allowing them to troubleshoot any potential problems.
christine Erna is Engagement manager, Enterprise postal consulting, pitney Bowes. www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a march - april 2013
Optimization Is Key to Improved Productivity & Profitability NPI Sorting systems are designed to optimize your sorting operations with advanced design and intelligent software. Built around patented anti-jam technology, the sorters run more economically as time-wasting jams are virtually eliminated. Multiple motors precisely located throughout the sorter, instead of a single motor power transmission system, drastically reduce maintenance costs and power consumption. Modular ergonomic design promotes seamless upgrades and modifications to support your expanding operations and improve production efficiency. NPI Sorting Systems provide solutions for products ranging from postcards, letters, flats, and even small to large parcels. The NPI Catalog of Sorting Systems represents some of the most innovative, advanced and fastest Sorting Systems on the market, but Sorting Systems are only half of the equation. NPI Software Suites are as versatile and innovative as sorters. Through the advent of Intelligent Mail and the universal Mail.dat format, efficient data management is now the key to sort optimization, enhanced qualification and postage savings. NPI’s OptESuite of software products allow our customers to predetermine sort
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plans, identify what levels of qualification is best for their operation and understand what it takes to maximize postage savings before a mail piece even hits the sorter. This allows customers in the Printing Industry and Large Standard mailers to realize real savings through commingling and co-palletization. The same technology also allows Service Bureaus to analyze different mail streams to determine the most profitable mail streams to commingle. In today’s mailing world, you can’t afford to be second. If you want your operation to be as efficient, profitable and successful as it can be, you need to contact NPI. We will analyze your operation and offer real solutions to help you be first.
www.npisorters.com firstname.lastname@example.org 888.821.7678
Innovation in Document Output Management: Faster, Better, Cheaper Kern is a leader in document output management with a rich history of technology innovation and product “firsts” that spans over 60years. Kern continues that tradition in 2013, and looking forward, by helping customers with solutions that are faster, better, and at the most competitive total cost of ownership. In production mail, that means the Kern Ai-33 production inserting system that produces 33,000 mailpieces per hour, once again, the fastest in the industry. But excellence isn’t just about speed. Today, it’s about the intelligence and reliability to keep your production moving and with perfect accuracy. In production payment and ID card applications that means the Kern 90 and Kern 91 card attaching systems that integrate the process of personalizing, matching, attaching, and inserting your revenue critical plastic cards into finished mailpieces in a single process. But excellence isn’t just about process integration. Today, it’s about perfect personalization and customer trust.
In document management, that means following document output into electronic forms with Kern EDGE, the Electronic Document Gateway to the Enterprise. Kern EDGE combines a powerful and performant document archive with a flexible and configurable workflow engine, all managed “in the cloud”. Never before has it been faster to streamline your business processes by organizing your workflow and the supporting documents without the need for any capital investment. Kern will continue to provide world-class production mail platforms and innovate to follow document output wherever it goes.
Mailing Systems Technology March/April 2013