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Perfecting Your Address Quality: 5 Easy Steps to Overcome the Major Hurdles Page 18
Outside the box thinking
when it comes to government mailings. Page 20
3 free (or almost free) ways to process mail online Page 22
Full-Service IMb: a gold mine for direct marketers. Page 26
LOOK INSIDE FOR YOUR INKJET SOLUTIONS
Volume 27 Issue 4
MAY - JUNE 2014
A 5-Step Plan to Address Quality Optimizing your mailing efforts is easier than you think! By Greg Brown
Outside the Box Thinking… Making It Work in Government! By Mike Sexson
Three Free (or Almost Free) Ways to Process Mail Online By Adam Lewenberg
Full-Service Intelligent Mail: “Big Data” for Direct Mail By Kurt Ruppel
For Greater Leadership Effectiveness, Grow Your Capacity to Lead By Marie Peeler
Editor’s Note Overcoming the Obstacles in Your Operation By Amanda Armendariz
USPS OIG Focus Group Report By Mike Porter
Direct Marketing 101 What Print and Mail Providers Need to Grow and Transform Their Businesses By John Foley, Jr.
Everything IMb Getting Familiar with IMb Tracing By Harry Stephens
Why Load Leveling Matters By Kim Mauch
My Two Cents Stronger Together (Part 2) By Todd Butler
Keys to Developing Good Relationships By Wes Friesen
Application Articles 17
It’s Not Just the Mail – It’s Customer Communication!
Ship It It’s Time To Re-Think Ecommerce Returns. . . Again! By Jim LeRose
YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THERE WAS NO
Software Byte in this issue. Because it was a time-sensitive subject, we included it in our May e-newsletter instead. Scan the QR code to read the article: Software Simplifies Monthly Updates.
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with Amanda Armendariz
Mailing systems technology PUBLISHER Marll Thiede
Overcoming the Obstacles in Your Operation Many motivational speeches, posters and quotes touch on the idea of overcoming your obstacles, but when one decides that the time for overcoming said obstacles is nigh, well, those abstract ideas and quotes sometimes leave us lacking. Many of us need concrete, clearly laid out steps that we can cross of our list after completing them, which is why I was so pleased with our story, A 5-Step Plan to Address Quality, which begins on page 18. As mailers, we know that undeliverable mail costs us not just the wasted postage — it can also mean lost opportunities to connect with customers, especially if it’s regarding a time-sensitive matter, like a sale or other promotion. But the thought of improving our address quality can seem rather daunting. Luckily this article gives us a concise look at five steps to take to drastically improve the addresses in your operation. But what if the specific obstacle you need to conquer isn’t improving your address quality? If that’s the case (lucky you!) there’s still plenty of information you can glean from this issue of Mailing Systems Technology. We have a fantastic feature on three free (or almost free) ways to process your mail online, and really, who doesn’t like to be able to do things for free? And if marketing to your customer base is more you’re thing, we’ve got that covered too, with a great look at how Full-Service IMb is a veritable gold mine for direct mailers.
Amanda Armendariz email@example.com
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Greg Brown, Todd Butler, John Foley, Jr., Wes Friesen, Jim LeRose, Adam Lewenberg, Kim Mauch, Marie Peeler, Mike Porter, Kurt Ruppel, Mike Sexson, Harry Stephens
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 27, Issue 4
We hope you enjoy this issue of Mailing Systems Technology; we think it’s one of our best yet. And if you have a colleague who you feel could benefit from this information, please feel free to pass the issue along and encourage them to sign up for a subscription.
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For high-quality reprints, please contact our exclusive reprint provider, ReprintPros, 949-702-5390, www.ReprintPros.com. All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2014 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 27, Issue 2] 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, 608241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098
Real Life Management Keys to Developing Good Relationships “Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.” People are naturally social creatures — we crave friendship and positive interactions, just as we do food and water. The better relationships we have in life — including in the workplace — the happier and more successful we will be. President Teddy Roosevelt was on the mark when he said, “The most important ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” How can we build stronger relationships that will help us be more successful — and add value to the people we are trying to serve in our lives? Let me share 12 principles of developing good relationships that may be helpful.
Twelve Principles to Build Good Relationships Here are 12 principles that can help build good relationship with people:
1. Develop your people skills. Good relationships start with good peope skills. People skills are primarily “soft skills” like collaboration, communication and conflict resolution. How do we assess our current level of people skills and identify areas for improvement? Having trusted mentors or close friends that have the freedom to speak into your life is helpful — as is periodically taking confidential surveys and soliciting honest feedback.
2. Develop relationships with ALL people. Some people are very status conscious when it comes to building relationships. These people focus on establishing relationships with people perceived to be important in the hierarchy — those viewed as low on the totem pole are given little attention. But the people we most admire are those that treat all people as important. I resonate with the Bill McCartney when he said “Anytime you devalue people, you question God’s creation of them.” And I agree with Ann Landers when she says, “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good”
3. Be a giver — not merely a getter. Commit to being a servant leader who gives of oneself to help meet the needs of others. We can give of our time, knowledge and resources to help people around us. Giving of ourselves is the ultimate win-win that benefits both the receiver and the giver. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Anne Frank reminds us that “No one has ever become poor by giving.” And A.L. Williams reminds us that selfless giving also benefits us when he said, “The greater you help others, the greater your own success.” 6
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Anthony J. D’Angelo
4. Employ active listening techniques. Carefully listening to what people are saying is crucial to developing good relationships. Rachel Naomi Remen emphasizes the importance of listening when she advises, “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention … A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.” Active listening techniques include maintaining good eye contact, asking clarifying questions, and repeating back to the person what you think you heard him or her say.
5. Promote open and effective communication. The starting place in developing open and effective communication is to be a good listener as we just covered. In addition, relationships are enhanced when we encourage people to freely express their thoughts in a non-judgmental manner. It’s also important to communicate with respect, and to stay rational and avoid being overly emotional. Also, we all have our preferred channels of communication (e.g. face-to-face, phone, email, texts, etc.) so using preferred channels can enhance communication effectiveness.
6. Work on building trust. Trust is foundational to good relationships. Tips to build trust include consistently following through on what we say we will do; never break confidences; and avoid bad mouthing others behind their backs.
7. Get to know people on a personal level. To really develop good relationships with others, we need to find ways to get to know people on a personal level (within reasonable boundaries). Asking non-probing open ended questions is a good starting place. Then look to build bridges and find connections. Joseph Newton said, “People are lonely (disconnected) because they build walls instead of bridges.” To build bridges that connect you to people in a lasting way, share common experiences with them. Share meals. Go to a ball game or other events together. Take people to meetings with you. Participate on work projects together. Anything you experience together helps create a common history and build connection.
8. Be mindful — and know when to dial it back. Being mindful means taking responsibility for our words and actions. Those who are mindful are careful and attend to what they say, and they don’t let their own negative emotions impact the people around them. Being mindful also includes knowing when to have fun and
With Wes Friesen
when to be serious, when to be over the top and when to be invisible, and when to take charge and when to follow.
9. Appreciate others. Showing sincere appreciation whenever someone helps you opens the door to great relationships. Prominent psychologist William James spend much of his career researching what our deepest needs were — and landed on the need for appreciation being at the top of the list for most of us.
10. Be positive, not negative. Focus on being positive. Positivity is attractive and contagious, and it will help strengthen relationships with those around you. On the other hand, no one wants to be around someone who’s negative most of the time.
11. Be willing to compromise. Compromise involves each party getting something that he or she wants so that everyone wins (think Stephen Covey’s “win-win” concept). People are drawn to those that are not self-centered and willing to put relationship over having everything done my way.
12.Practice common courtesy. A simple exchange of smiles and a “Hi” can be the first step in building a relationship. Making eye contact, saying “thank you” and picking up after yourself are also common courtesies that bring people together. Zig Ziglar was right when he said, “When you choose to be pleasant and positive in the way you treat others, you have chosen, in most cases, how you are going to be treated by others.” Building better relationships with people will enhance your influence and help you have greater success in achieving your goals. How will you use your greater influence? I resonate with Booker T. Washington when he said, “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” I wish you the best as you pursue better relationships with people and add even more value to the lives of people around you! ¾ Wes Friesen, MBA, CMDSM, MDC, EMCM, CBA, 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 830,000 customers. Wes leads his teams with the able assistance of Supervisors Allison Rowden, Jan DeMeire, Heidi Fouts and Matt McHill. Wes teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at national Conferences like MAILCOM, National Postal Forum, NACUMS, and other regional and local events. Check out his personal website for free information (www. wesfriesen.com). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Kim Mauch
Why Load Leveling Matters On the surface, the recent load-leveling changes seem benign. USPS operations noticed mail carriers delivering significantly more mail on Mondays, causing increased overtime and other complaints. In an effort to cut costs, USPS took a magnifying glass to the mail entered at SCFs. Mail entered at an SCF between 4 PM on Wednesday and 4 PM on Friday would need to be delivered by Monday to meet the service standards. This mail entry window was longer than most delivery days, so USPS wanted to shift the days just a bit, so only mail entered before 4 PM on Thursday would be guaranteed for Monday delivery.
Starting the project: MTAC Similar to the start of other industry-impacting changes, a workgroup was created through the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC). USPS presented the problem of too much mail on Mondays, and key representatives from across the mailing industry were asked to participate. Early on in the meetings, it became clear that there was a disconnect between the assumptions made about mailer behavior and the reality. USPS noticed that a large percentage of SCF mail was entered on Friday, close to the 4 PM cutoff time for Monday delivery. They assumed this was due to mailers and mail consolidators holding mail at their plants until the end of the week and then shipping. Mailers stated that this was not the case. They entered mail on Friday specifically to ensure it was delivered on Monday, to link mail delivery with instore promotions and other activities. This misunderstanding was quickly disregarded, and the new proposed delivery schedule took the main focus, with both sides agreeing that a test of the new standards would be necessary.
The Jersey Test The USPS test proposal schedule and methodology was introduced to the MTAC workgroup in summer 2013, and a two-week trial was scheduled for September. While industry workgroup participants continued to express concern about the methodology and length of the trial, USPS pushed forward with the test at the South Jersey Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC). Initially, USPS suggested that mailers in the test area not be notified to ensure a clean test. After industry pushback, mailers received a letter notifying them of the new schedule, weeks before the test was performed. After the test, USPS surveyed its employees, and unsurprisingly, their response was positive. From the USPS perspective, there was a reduction of over 30% in overtime, and carrier volumes were more consistent throughout the week. Mailer impact wasn’t as closely measured. While this was a good initial test, the industry requested additional testing to consider small changes to the program that USPS was 8
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already proposing. Rather than continuing work through MTAC, USPS abruptly closed the MTAC workgroup in late 2013.
Making the Case to the PRC Despite industry feedback that the test was too short and did not account for many variables, USPS sent the load-leveling change proposal to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) for an advisory opinion, and announced plans to implement in spring 2014. The PRC stated that the test results did not contain enough information, and that additional analysis was needed. The PRC analysis closely mirrored the concern expressed through the MTAC workgroup. Additional week-long tests were performed at sites across the country; however, no formal announcements were made, nor were results shared, to the now-disbanded MTAC workgroup participants or to the industry at large. These tests did not account for the concern mailers had regarding the necessary test length to measure mailer impact. USPS then announced a nationwide delay in implementation, but only by a week, with no changes to the methodology.
Looking to the Future After the implementation of load leveling, USPS continued to communicate additional changes to the industry. The most drastic of these was an announcement that mail would be held not only at the SCF, but also at delivery units. This made the last scan event out of the SCF unreliable when calculating the delivery date, a key feature of Informed Visibility. Additional scans and processes were proposed to shore up the gap in information, creating more cost for both USPS and the industry. In retrospect, it seems USPS had an agenda before the creation of the MTAC workgroup and was determined to implement these changes regardless of industry feedback. Mailers have expressed the need for consistent processing to time their mailings, and prefer early-week delivery for certain mailings. Despite this feedback, USPS charged ahead. Even the PRC advisory wasn’t able to sway them. This calls into question the purpose of MTAC, especially when feedback garnered from the industry is swept aside in favor of a predetermined agenda. It appears USPS has lost sight of a business’s most important asset – the needs of their customers. ¾ Kim Mauch is a subject matter expert in mailing preparation and submission at Satori Software. Contact her at email@example.com.
Direct Marketing 101
With John Foley, Jr.
What Print and Mail Providers Need to Grow and Transform Their Businesses The age of new media has taken over every facet of life from one side of the map to the other, and the question remains, “What are traditional media industries doing to stay relevant?” The reality is, many don’t realize that they can use the changing times to not only grow and transform, but to thrive within the print and mail industries as well. The answer to the nagging question about what print and mail providers need to do to grow their businesses lies within two simple words: provide solutions. That’s right! In order to grow your print and mail businesses in the age of digital marketing, you must first focus on the services that you already offer customers. From your original services, revolve marketing your business around the solutions those services provide, and you are then well on your way to becoming a marketing service provider.
How to Grow Face the facts — if you want to survive and thrive as a print or mail provider, becoming a marketing service provider has proven to be the most effective way over the past decade. Many providers find it effective to focus on the customer end of the services they already provide, and grow from there. Usually these services, such as variable print, wide format, and customized mail services, are ones that already stand out to new and existing customers. They are unique to each print and mail business based off of location, experience, and so on. It is important to focus on advertising and selling the experience these services give not only to your customers, but to their customers as well.
Many providers find it effective to focus on the customer end of the services they already provide, and grow from there. Business Transformation Print and mail service providers transforming their businesses is nothing new, yet it can seem like an impossible task if you don’t know where to begin. In my book, Business Transformation: A Path to Profitability for the Mailing and Fulfillment Industries, I cover just that:
have about your customers and their communications needs in order to deliver a broader portfolio of products and services that will make you a trusted partner, and them a loyal customer.” By building on the services you already offer as a print or mail provider — and let me say it again, focusing on the solutions your services provide — you are already much closer than you think to the key behind transforming your business from an average, run-of-the-mill print or mail house, to a full-blown marketing service provider.
Here’s a Hint If you’re still stuck on what kind of solutions your customers are looking for, consider multi-channel. Adding multi-channel offerings to the marketing solutions of any service provider is critical in this age of information accessibility. Focus on how your print and mail products can carry, if not support, a variety of messages throughout multiple channels. The traditional industries of communications are changing daily and an endless introduction of new technologies have made the job of marketing more complex than ever.
Keep in Mind The important thing to keep in mind as a print or mail provider transforming into a service provider, is that many of the tools and offerings you need to make the transformation successful are already in your arsenal. Think of print and mail as your roots — where you came from, and all the ways your traditional materials can tie into other channels, as the future — where your business is going. Change is never easy, but as far as business is concerned, it is necessary. Consider print, mail, and the services you have always provided as the nourishment your business needs to transform successfully in this brand new world of communications. ¾ John Foley, Jr. is the CEO of interlinkONE and Grow Socially. John and his team consult with print and mail companies on transforming their businesses, write strategic online marketing plans to get them on a path to success, and John speaks frequently about business transformation throughout the industry. John is the published author of three books available at www.JohnFoleyJr.com/Bookstore, including Business Transformation: A Path to Profitability for the Mailing and Fulfillment Industries. Learn more about John at www.JohnFoleyJr.com, and his companies at www.interlinkONE.com and www.GrowSocially.com.
“Clearly, if you have heavy investments in printing, mailing, and fulfillment systems, you don’t want to abandon your heritage in the transition to becoming a marketing services provider. Rather, you want to build on the knowledge and expertise you already www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MAY - JUNE 2014
Ship It It’s Time To Re-Think Ecommerce Returns. . . Again! Everyone knows the customer return experience has a tremendous impact on customer retention. So the question is: which companies have the best policies, and is yours one of them? Here are nine key questions to ask: 1. Does your company’s return policy help drive sales or cause shopping cart drop-outs? Of course it’s critical to know the answer to this question; however, many simply don’t. Check shopping cart drop-out percentages and engage with industry experts, internal data and get feedback from customers to recognize whether drop-outs are related to your stores return policy. Gain a competitive advantage by acquiring a consistent flow of metrics that will enable you to gauge this critical aspect of your business.
8. Are you paying your carrier for every return label included in each shipment? I often find companies are paying $.50 for each return label placed in the carton at shipment execution, whether it gets used or not! Many don’t even realize it’s happening. Check your invoices, you might be surprised.
2. When was the last time you reevaluated your company’s return policy? In the world of ecommerce, a “few years ago” is the equivalent of a lifetime. Periodic reviews are critical and a best practice of top ecommerce companies. Carriers hungry for this growing business are continually offering new solutions, some of which can help reduce costs, delight consumers and even transform returns into a profit center.
9. Does your company offer a mobile return solution that differentiates it from the competition? In 2013, one-third of ecommerce orders were initiated from a mobile device. Consumers who buy on a mobile device want to return the same way!
3. What are your company’s financial goals as it relates to returns? Make a profit? Break even? Lose money? While this decision is largely driven by competition, a new and unique offering by your company can provide a boost to sales.
1. Returned Merchandise - The product did not meet the customer’s expectations (wrong size or color, not satisfied with quality, wrong product shipped, etc.). The customer may have simply changed their mind.
4. Do you have complete visibility of returns data? Knowing consumer behavior as it relates to returns can help formulate a more effective marketing effort that increases sales and reduces returns. The more information retailers can collect from a customer, the better chance of understanding the reasons for returns and reducing fraud.
2. Repairs - The product was damaged.
5. When was the last time you checked what your competitors were doing? This should be done frequently, and of course the goal should be to ensure your policy is in line with or better than theirs. On occasion, buy products from the competition to gauge the experience and be sure to offer one that is at least as good or better. Also, return at least some of what you buy so that you can get a real feel for the entire process. 6. How soon after a customer decides to return an item(s) is the inventory updated? Knowing what item(s) are on their way back and when they’ll arrive helps companies increase profits and provide better customer service. Return information should be captured the moment a customer decides to initiate a return, not days or weeks later. 10
7. Does your company’s return policy require the generation of paper and return labels that don’t get used, don’t get recycled and simply clog our landfills? Try reducing paper and labels in the supply chain, including packing slips that no one pays any attention to and return labels that never get used. Generate return labels only when you know they’ll get used. This will help reduce costs, benefit the environment and attract new customers. In this case going green can help your company make more green!
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In case you are wondering, here are the top four reasons for returns:
3. Recalls - The retailer requests the customer return due to a manufacturing defect. 4. Recovery - The product is usually an old electronic device that is returned to either recover/recycle its useful parts. The USPS is now offering Scan-Based Payment (SBP). This service enables USPS return labels to be printed and included in the carton at shipment execution (or, for the green-minded, transmitted electronically after a customer decides to place a return). The shipping charge occurs at the point the carton is scanned. SBP enables merchants to: } Leverage the flexible label print option so the customer can generate a returns label online. } Enable the merchant call center agents to generate a return label and send it to the customer. } Monitor the status of returned merchandise with built-in USPS tracking. } Access detailed reporting of piece level returns activity.
With Jim LeRose
} Improve the customer returns experience by receiving returned items faster. In addition, the USPS reduces time in transit for its customers through the streamlined payment process using an average uniform price or a fixed price multiplied by the number of packages that are scanned as “Delivered.” This eliminates the need for manual handling. There are five USPS service level return options: Priority Mail Return Service, First- Class Package Return Service, Ground Return Service, Critical Mail Return Service and Parcel Return Service (PRS) Full Network. There are three Scan-Based Payment shipping label options which are available through: a cloud-hosted API; a cloudhosted shipping label tool; and customer-generated shipping labels. In addition to charging return postage based on scanning vs. when the label is printed another unique feature the USPS offers is called
“proximity routing.” This addresses the return package on demand to the merchant's closest returns receiving location, shortening the return package distance it needs to travel and therefore helping to drive down return costs. A perfect fit for Omni-commerce. Never to be outdone, both UPS and FedEx, along with many other shipping carriers, routinely add new return solutions too, so be sure to speak with your carrier representatives and stay informed. ¾ Jim LeRose is Principal of Agile Network, North America’s leading provider of multi-carrier shipping software and transportation cost reduction strategies. Jim is also CEO/Founder of EcoReturn.com. Contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888.214.1763. Visit www.agile-network.com for more information. To get started using the USPS' new innovation, contact Peter Manning, ecommerce expert for the USPS in the New York Metro area. Peter can be reached via email at email@example.com or by calling 212.330.5052.
www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MAY - JUNE 2014
The Trenches USPS OIG Focus Group Report I was reading the whitepaper published by the USPS Office of Inspector General, “What America Wants and Needs from the Postal Service.” While I thought some of the conclusions were a bit slanted to match preferred results (reduction of delivery days and cluster mail boxes), there were some interesting facts that came about from the focus group study and interviews upon which the paper was based.
American Taxpayers Think They Pay for the Postal Service Based upon earlier surveys, the USPS had established that over two-thirds of Americans believe the Postal Service is funded with tax dollars. When focus groups were informed about the actual funding facts, they still believed the organization should be responsible for delivering mail to all Americans, but according to the authors of the whitepaper, recognized “… citizens had less authority to make demands on levels of service and were more sympathetic to the Postal Services’ struggles.”
What does this rural/urban split mean to mailers? In some cases, decisions about paperless conversion strategies could be affected. Rather than treating all customers alike, the best approach might be dual strategies. Rural recipients of paper mail might be more inclined to switch to electronic delivery if their local stand-alone post office were slated for closure. A personalized campaign that took USPS facility consolidation plans into account could be an effective means to increase paperless adoption rates for these customers. In contrast, rural residents unaffected with post office consolidation have strong connections with the status quo. This may be a segment better left in the paper delivery channel. Of course, availability of internet connections and an analysis of the devices in use in different rural areas would play into this strategy as well.
Whether or not you agree with this interpretation of the focus group responses is less important than the fact that so many people are basing their opinions about mail delivery on false assumptions about who pays for it. More education needs to be done. Mail service providers should not presume all their customers are adequately informed. Mailing professionals could probably do a better job of getting the word out about how the postal system works and what is behind the rate increases. This goes for both in-house operations and outsource service providers.
The consumers just want a basic system that works and isn’t too inconvenient. They don’t seem to think about the mail too much, which probably means the current system is working OK for them.
Urban and Rural Priorities Split
Consumers Not Ready for New Ideas
The second point that hit me about the OIG focus group study was a distinct separation between rural mail customers and those who lived in urban or suburban areas. Rural customers looked upon their post offices as more of a community anchor than their city-dwelling counterparts. Perhaps this is because there is likely to be only a single post office serving a large rural area, where there might be several units within reasonable driving distance from urban residences and businesses.
New concepts such as electronic notification of mail delivery, offering government services at post offices, digital mail boxes, or hybrid mail elicited mixed reactions and skepticism from the focus groups. As one might expect, average citizens who don’t work in the mailing industry are unfamiliar with many of these ideas. Interestingly, consumers who did understand details about new services often expressed the opinion that they wouldn’t use them, but projected the services might be valuable to others. The authors of the whitepaper recommended additional research before embarking upon any of these initiatives – pretty good advice!
Rural focus group members were also generally more concerned with security of the mail, both outgoing and incoming. This difference was revealed in questions concerning depositing mail at nonPost Office locations such as grocery stores where mail might be handled by store employees instead of official USPS clerks. From a delivery perspective rural participants reportedly favored cluster boxes as a security improvement over standalone mail boxes, though response statistics were not included in the whitepaper. When asked about the impact on their lives if the Postal Service ceased to exist, almost all the focus group participants said they would be impacted. Older Americans and those living in rural com12
munities believed the impact would be greater than young urban residents.
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The focus groups were not especially creative in coming up with their own ideas about how to change the Postal Service. Copy machines, parcel wrapping stations, and computers hooked to the Internet were mentioned, but suggestions were widely varied. One idea that did have wide appeal was expansion or modification of Post Office hours of operation. Nobody likes waiting in line or having to rearrange their work day to make it to the Post Office before closing. Other than this issue, the consumers surveyed
With Mike Porter
seemed satisfied with their current USPS and saw no great need to make changes.
They don’t seem to think about the mail too much, which probably means the current system is working OK for them.
A Good Start
If commercial mailers and the United States Postal Service can find ways to mutually support the American postal system at a reasonable cost then perhaps drastic changes won’t be necessary. A period of certainty and stability would be a welcome change. ¾
Although the administrators of the focus groups seemed to do a good job at recruiting a diverse set of individuals from different geographies, community sizes, and other demographic attributes, they still only interviewed 101 people. This may be enough of a representation for narrowing down or refining possible future strategies. However, it doesn’t seem like a large enough number to consider the results a widespread consumer mandate. This conversation with a cross section of average consumers is an interesting contrast to all the anguish mailing professionals sometimes feel in their dealings with the Postal Service. The consumers just want a basic system that works and isn’t too inconvenient.
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 questions on this topic are welcome. Send them to mporter@printmailconsultants. com. Follow PMCmike on Twitter.
www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MAY - JUNE 2014
My Two Cents Stronger Together (Part 2) Well… I’m still waiting! I told you I was delusional. Of course there is no spaceship on its way to beam me up (see the January/February issue by scanning the QR code at the end of this article). Even more preposterous was the thought that the Postal Service intended to build a strong partnership with mail service providers. And of course no one at postal headquarters took my challenge to prepare a simple mailing using their IMsB Tool, online guides, and local acceptance employees. Postal VIPs are just too busy “managing” operations and ensuring the smooth running of the USPS to personally learn what it currently takes to produce a fully compliant mail marketing campaign. But so are the small business people (future customers) targeted to save the United States Postal Service, its management, and union employees from bankruptcy. “Stronger Together,” the theme of the recent Postal Forum, was a canard, an empty promise. It was another slogan not taken seriously by postal management. Most believe they do not need mail service providers of any size. The impression I got from the Forum was that package services are the future of the USPS and direct mail is dead. There are no plans to promote it, there are no plans to advertise it, and they certainly do not plan to support those that try to sell and produce it. Good news though; in their push to grasp the new shiny thing just out of reach (parcels), they have also given up on selling direct mail to our customers. There was still talk about EDDM but no schemes to compete with mail/print service providers (MSPs). Like I said, the attitude from postal marketing was that direct mail is dead, long live parcels! The bad news is that this is not a parcel company; it’s a mail (letters/flats) delivery company. Parcel success may get people promoted over the next few years but it will never float the delivery infrastructure of the USPS. And the Postal Service will never truly compete with UPS or FedEx. If the USPS wants to increase revenue, it will have to increase mail volume. To increase mail volume postal management will have to change course on several fronts. First, mail service providers are not the enemy. As a mail service provider I am (like it or not) a USPS partner. After embracing the delusional group think that they can service mail owners better than MSPs, it is time for postal management to face a hard reality! They need MSPs to cultivate and take care of postal customers if they want to increase sales. Next, the complexity that has been added to mail production starting with the redesign of flats through Full Service implementation has been horrendous. Smaller mailers (the vast 14
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majority of print and mail service providers) only have one or two people that work with address data and postal regulations. The complexity of Full Service, PostalOne!, the Gateway, report cards, electronic ACS, mailpiece design, tracking, various support tools, numerous barcodes, and the thousands of different types of parcels is beyond the ability of a couple of people in these smaller operations to understand and comply with the standards. And yet, as mail volumes continue to decline, the USPS needs these smaller MSPs to stabilize marginal customers and revenues.
Parcel success may get people promoted over the next few years but it will never float the delivery infrastructure of the USPS. And the Postal Service will never truly compete with UPS or FedEx. YOU MUST SIMPLIFY THE PROCESS!!! We can no longer keep up. Finally, if postal management wants to increase mail volume they need to promote mail! The most interest in mail I have seen in years was when the USPS ran ads on TV for EDDM. What a thought, advertise your product and it generates sales. Concentrating all of your advertising on parcels is like bailing out a sinking aircraft carrier with one, two and a half gallon bucket. If we (the Postal Service and the direct mail industry) are going to succeed we must build on our strengths. The direct mail industry has never been able to sell direct mail. We have successfully sold our services and managed the needs of direct mail customers! What the Postal Service must do is provide the resources for a significant, sustained, nationwide advertising campaign that sells the concept and value of direct mail to future mail owners. We have a great story to tell, but since the early 2000s the word on the street has been that direct mail is dead. This negativity cannot be changed at the local level by an MSP. This attitudinal change has to be accomplished at the national level by the USPS. What the Postal Service needs to promote is not only the low cost of EDDM but the value generated by personalized cross-channel marketing. The Postal Service must promote the concept that the best way for businesses to get actionable information from con-
With Todd Butler
sumers is by using direct mail to ask for it. The only way the Postal Service and this industry succeed is if the USPS sells the bottom line value of integrated direct mail to businesses and organizations of all sizes. And the mailing industry sells our ability to provide integrated marketing and easy access to this complex delivery system. In the past, mail service providers needed the Postal Service more than it needed us. For years most of us have been treated with contempt because of our small size. I love direct mail and want to continue producing it in my business. But MSPs can make more money from designing landing pages and producing integrated email campaigns for our customers than we will ever make producing direct mail jobs. Our industry is at a tipping point. Many large businesses in our industry have already signaled that they will not be making any
more investments in physical mail. With the complexity, cost of compliance and general lack of interest from the advertising industry, direct mail has become a tough sell. It is time for the Postal Service to partner up and grow â€œStronger Togetherâ€? (for real) or I and many like me will be leaving the Postal Service desperate, broken and all alone! a Todd Butler, Butler Mailing Services, can be reached at 513.870.5060, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.butlermail.com.
Scan here to read Part 1 in the January/February issue
With Harry Stephens
Getting Familiar with IMb Tracing Knowing the delivery status of your mailing or shipments can help improve the effectiveness of those of business mailings with the added benefits of lowering costs and also improving customer satisfaction. With the Intelligent Mail services now offered by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), it is possible to know when the USPS receives mail and when it is sorted on our automated processing equipment. We have been talking about the Intelligent Mail barcode, formerly referred to as the 4-State Customer barcode, for some time now. Today, mailers as well as the USPS can gain end-to-end visibility into the mail stream through electronic documentation that creates actionable information about mail for every department in the corporate chain—from marketing to financial to operational environments. One important feature to know about is IMb Tracing. It provides a company with near real-time tracking information about its FirstClass Mail, Periodicals, and Standard Mail letters and flats. Getting the data is not hard, but interpreting the data, applying it, and navigation of postal rules and delivery patterns is where third party experience and knowledge is often invaluable. There are two types of IMb Tracing that let you know where your mail is, and when it will be delivered. Both provide you advance notice of when your mailpieces will arrive. Destination IMbTracing service (for outgoing mail) gives you advance information about when your mailpieces will reach their destinations. Origin IMb Tracing service (for incoming mail) lets you anticipate when customers’ checks, replies, or correspondence are on the way back to you. When your mail is in the system, you’ll be able to monitor it several times each day.
Here are three of the major benefits gained with IMb Tracing: } Data Access - You will be able to view your data on the USPS Mail Tracking & Reporting website. You also can receive your raw scan data directly from USPS several times each day. Again, here is where more sophisticated programming capabilities may be required. } Scan Data - As USPS processes mail, scan data records are created each time mailpieces are sorted. } Predicting Delivery - You can predict the delivery time of your mailpiece, based on the information you receive from the scan data. IMb Tracing is often part of third-party software being used by companies in financial services because it provides solid benefits 16
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such as improved cash management and improved response. For those in advertising or retail, benefits include ensured delivery with in-home dates, knowing when your message reaches your target and the ability to track the success rates of direct mail. While IMb Tracing provides evidence of the date of delivery, it does not provide proof of delivery because carriers do not scan Intelligent Mail barcodes at recipients’ delivery point. It can provide the subscriber with the last automated processing scan, which can indicate that the mailpieces will be delivered later that day. So just to be clear, IMb Tracing is not a substitute for Certified/ Return Receipt mail. Before you can send IMb Tracing mail using Intelligent Mail barcodes, you must become an IMb Tracing subscriber. The IMb Tracing subscription process requires you to complete an application form and verify your firm’s and/or your service provider’s ability to generate accurate and scan-ready barcodes prior to mailing. Similar to applying for IMb certification, there are steps a company needs to take and it can take as little as two weeks from receipt of your application to process and verify your firm for IMb Tracing mailings and activate your IMb Tracing subscription. To learn more, go to the USPS Apply for IMb Tracing page (you can scan the QR code below), or talk to your Postal Service account representative. ¾
Apply for IMB Tracing! https://mailtracking.usps.com/mtr/landing/ resources/confirm/landingApply.jsp
Harry Stephens is President/CEO and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations. He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Atlanta Postal Customer Council, Major Mailers Association (MMA), PCC Advisory Committee (PCCAC), and the Board of the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC). He is a board member of The Imaging Network Group (INg), an association for Transactional and Direct Mail Marketing service bureaus. As an expert on high-volume print and mail, he has frequently been asked to speak to various USPS groups. You can contact Harry Stephens at email@example.com.
It’s Not Just the Mail – It’s Customer Communication! There are some common challenges that every mailer faces. They begin with requirements for great pricing and meeting Service Level Agreements, but as commonly they involve the ability to create segmented mailings, mail packets with customized interior and exterior content, and personalized mail targeted to a specific recipient. Meeting all of the requirements often requires some combination of traditional offset printing, imprinting, and a digital white paper factory environment.
equipment to add blocks of digital content, including full color images, local maps, and an unlimited variety of marketing messages. Help your customers take their marketing conversation from static to dynamic! HP Print modules can personalize your mail pieces at 800 feet per minute, helping you meet your SLAs. If your needs call for handling high volume, targeted mail pieces in a white paper factory, high speed inkjet web presses from HP come is a unique range of sizes. In addition to the traditional 20 inch format commonly found in digital print shops, HP offers 30 inch and 42 inch wide models that open the door to extreme inkjet! Without click charges and with one of the most diverse media support portfolios available, HP T Series Inkjet Web Presses use thermal inkjet technology and can produce print at up to 800 feet per minute in black 600 feet per minutes in color.
What does this mean for you as a mailer? It means that no matter what type of mailer you are, HP has solutions to help you increase business, add more value to what you print, and establish a platform for long term growth. You know that the competition is tough and creating differentiated options for your customers is the best way to keep them loyal. Adding inkjet-based options for imprinting or white paper factory solutions keeps you in the mainstream, opening the door to taking on more complex mailings with higher margins. Why not join the hundreds of customers who are already seeing their businesses grow with HP Print Modules and HP Inkjet Web Presses? To learn more please visit us at www.hp.com/go/printmodules for HP Print Modules and hp.com/go/inkjetwebpress for HP Inkjet Web Press. Today the solutions that provide the greatest versatility involve inkjet technology in its many forms. As an innovator in Scalable Printing Technology, with thirty years of thermal inkjet solutions in the market, HP has the solutions mailers need to grow their businesses. Combined with HP digital printing inks developed for a variety of applications, mailers who already use HP inkjet technology have confidence in their ability to meet their customer’s color and print quality requirements. HP Print Modules are the tool of choice for adding digital content to preprinted envelopes, forms, and marketing collateral. They provide the option to allow your customers to add black or full color digital content that is targeted to regional variations, customer segment variations, or individuals. They can be fitted to existing printing
HP www.hp.com www.hp.com/go/printmodules for HP Print Modules www.hp.com/go/inkjetwebpress for HP Inkjet Web Press
By Greg Brown
TO ADDRESS QUALITY With the recent postal increase set to generate $2 billion in annual revenue for the Postal Service, this might be a big wake-up call for mailers. As pricing pressures continue to mount, it’s more critical than ever for mailers to ensure that each mailpiece contains the most accurate contact information to increase deliverability. Every mailpiece that fails to reach its intended recipient leads to lost opportunities, unnecessary costs, or a diminished brand experience — a devastating blow to your business. So don’t overlook the key to success — a quality mailing list. 18
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STEP 1 VERIFY YOUR ADDRESSES How can you be confident that the information in your mailing list or database is accurate and up-to-date? Verifying and standardizing your contact data is the most important, cost-effective step to achieving a clean database. Mailers can employ a CASS-Certified address verification and cleansing solution that will validate, correct, and standardize customer address data to qualify for the highest postal discounts. You’ll also want to integrate SuiteLink into your operations, as it takes care of adding known secondary suite information to a business address — a critical element to improving mail deliverability. Adding missing apartment numbers based on the contact’s last name is another capability to think about incorporating into your business. What about movers? Of course, there’s NCOALink and other types of move update processing, but what about those movers who don’t file a change-ofaddress (COA) form with the USPS? To identify those movers, there are databases that contain 60 months (5 years) of address changes. This type of database — known as Multisource Change of Address (mCOA) — consists of 121
million records from sources including magazine subscriptions, catalogs, insurance companies, and other datasets. Another issue mailers should keep in mind is globalization. As you expand your mailings outside of the US, you will encounter address data that comes in different formats, character sets, and languages, which could pose a big challenge. There are mailing solutions that correct and standardize address information for hundreds of countries and territories, whether it’s a canton, county, state, province, or prefecture. Some solutions can go the extra step, offering the ability to transliterate global address data to better standardize your records. Transliteration is the process of converting words or letters in one script to another script. For example, if you have an address that is in simplified Chinese characters, a vendor can transliterate it to Latin — making it easier to read for more efficient delivery, and help mailers manage their data better. Verifying and standardizing your global addresses not only lowers costs due to fewer undeliverable mail shipments, but it also improves the matching and consolidation of duplicate records.
STEP 2 REMOVE DUPLICATE RECORDS An estimated 10% of names and addresses in an average database are duplicates. Conflicting data is corruptive to the integrity of your database and prevents organizations from gaining a single, unified view of their contact data. Duplicate records come from many sources including data entry errors, acquisitions or mergers, legacy systems and data migrations. These issues add the costs of your mailing operations — in the form of returned or undeliverable mail, missed opportunities, and erroneous views of information. Identifying duplicates and merge/ purging them are critical actions needed to improve the quality of your list and optimize your mailing efforts. Still, the process is easier said than done. Most databases contain “non-exact matching” duplicate records, which are very difficult to identify. For example, an “Abby Lewis” might be listed as
“Lewis, Abigail” in another database, but the two names are the same person. Mailers might want to consider looking into solutions that can not only weed out duplicates, but also merge multiple records into one “Golden Record.” A Golden Record is the best and most accurate record in a group of duplicates. There are also solutions that offer deep domain-specific knowledge and fuzzy matching logic — to help identify more obscure duplicate records — such as nicknames and abbreviations and addresses that come in different formats. Fuzzy matching is an advanced mathematical process that determines similarities between data sets, information, and facts. By eliminating duplicate records in a mailing list, and bringing out the most accurate record in a group of duplicates, you can reduce unnecessary printing, postage, and mailing/shipping costs.
Some vendors now offer automated Web services for mailers that frequently process files and require fast turnarounds.
STEP 3 UPDATE YOUR RECORDS “Undeliverable” is the dreaded word every mailer fears. One of the causes of undeliverable mail? It’s the estimated 40 million people that change their addresses each year, according to a 2014 USPS report. People are not static, which means that customer data is also in flux. As a result, within a year, 13% of the contact data in your list becomes outdated and incorrect. Implementing change-of-address processing to regularly update the contact data you mail to, will reduce and prevent undeliverable mail. NCOALink is a database owned and operated by the USPS. It contains about 160 million permanent change-of-address (COA) records filed with the USPS over the last 48 months. Mailers can have their lists matched against the NCOALink database to identify individuals, families and businesses that have moved and completed a USPS COA form.
Accessing NCOALink is now easier than ever. Mailers can send their files to a licensed NCOALink vendor via email or through a more secure FTP transfer. The turnaround is typically one to two business days depending on the time of the day the vendor receives the file and paperwork. Most vendors can usually accommodate a same-day processing request. Some vendors now offer automated Web services for mailers that frequently process files and require fast turnarounds. Utilizing a Web service allows the mailer to build a seamless address verification and updating process into their application, so there is no transfer of files or formatting issues. The process occurs in real-time, so a mailer can process an unlimited number of records 24/7 without having to wait for a vendor to process and return the updated file.
STEP 4 ELIMINATE THOSE UNLIKELY TO RESPOND Mailers can avoid the costs associated with mailing to uninterested recipients, such as those who have registered with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Do-Not-Mail list, by deleting their records from your list. Mailers can also remove the records of those who can’t take advantage of your offer, like those who are in federal or state prisons, or other correctional facilities. Mailing to a deceased member of a household can also negatively impact your company’s image and be potentially embarrassing. Avoid this unfortunate situation by flagging and removing their records from your list.
STEP 5 ENHANCE YOUR DATA WITH MISSING INFORMATION Mailers can enhance the value of the database by adding more critical pieces of information, such as email addresses, phone numbers, demographic, and geographic data (latitude and longitude coordinates). This helps mailers better understand who they’re trying to reach and expand marketing opportunities. And, if you provide fulfillment, you can optimize shipments and ensure deliverability across the board — by looking for a vendor that can verify delivery to over 5 million non-USPS addresses. These addresses include many smaller and rural communities that the USPS does not directly deliver to. Greg Brown is Vice President of Marketing for Melissa Data. Since 2006, Brown has been in charge of the company’s brand management, business to business, internet and email marketing strategies. Prior to joining Melissa Data, Brown was marketing manager for Newport Corporation, a 400-million dollar laser manufacturing company in Irvine, CA. He is a DMA-certified Marketing Professional with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Juris Doctorate from Western State University College of Law. www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MAY - JUNE 2014
OUTSIDE THE BOX
MAKING IT WORK IN GOVERNMENT!
By Mike Sexson As we know, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been on the verge of mandating that all bulk mailers must use FullService IMb in order to continue to get discounted automation rates. Since the actual date of implementation is still not known, governments are scrambling to make sure they are ready for when that date is finally announced. The world is changing faster and faster each day and to be able to keep up with the changes, we are seeing more and more governments working together so that they can utilize each other’s resources. State agencies, counties, and municipalities are step20
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ping out of their comfort zones by using ‘outside the box thinking’ in order to keep up with the pace of ever changing technology. The State of Colorado’s Motor Vehicle License Plate Renewal Program is a great example of a program that shows how governments are now working with each other as a resource, and a partner, in order to achieve a common goal! The State of Colorado and 59 of the 64 counties have come together to solve the issue on how to make sure the license plate renewal cards that are mailed out each month by the counties are processed as Full-Service IMb. This was accomplished
by working together, standardizing the process as much as they could, and being willing to try some new ideas on how renewal cards should be mailed out. With much discussion, the group came to the conclusion that it would be best to use the services of the State of Colorado, Department of Personnel & Administration, Division of Central Services’, Integrated Document Solutions (IDS) Print and Mail Operations as the centralized location for all processing of the renewal cards; and IDS is Full-Service IMb certified. In doing so, not only did they solve the Full-Service IMb issue, they ended up developing a much more efficient program that would not cause issues with the integrity of the program and actually elevate the service that they provide to their constituents by using innovative ideas. This was made possible by stepping outside of their comfort zones and into the world of ‘outside the box thinking.’
The Background: The Colorado Department of Revenue manages the Motor Vehicle License Plate Renewal Program. They work with the 64 counties each month to decide what renewal cards should be printed and mailed monthly. During this process, the counties would each receive a digital (PDF) print file produced by the Department of Revenue, including each of the cards that were to be mailed that month with all the barcodes, as well as any necessary paperwork that USPS needed. The counties would print and separate each of their cards, and once complete, they would have to sort and tray the cards before presenting to the USPS. It is inconceivable in the amount of time that it took to process the cards between the Department of Revenue and the counties each month. The process they had in place was followed so that the counties would be able to be in compliance with the USPS and receive presort discounts. The issue that developed was when USPS made it clear that, in the near future, if any bulk mailer would like to continue to receive discounted postage, their mail must be processed as Full-Service IMb. The challenges that were presented to the Department of Revenue and the counties to move to Full-Service IMb included: } Each county must register with the USPS. } Each county must learn to submit paperwork electronically to the USPS by using Mail.dat, Mail.xml, or Postal Wizard. } They must obtain and use a Mailer ID for each county. } Tray tags and pallet labels must meet IMb requirements for each county. } Serial numbers must remain unique for 45 days for each county. } USPS Education on what Full-Service IMb is for each county. } Keep each county’s budget from increasing. } Department of Revenue training on USPS process and procedures for Full-Service IMb. } Start-up costs could occur — (software, equipment, etc.).
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT Stamp & Print In One Pass! The Postmatic Print One uses standard HP-45 inkjet cartridges and thermal inkjet technology making static printing easier and more affordable than ever. Simply download your image or text form your PC or laptop to the print head and you’re ready to print over and over again. No print driver or PC integration required! Postmatic, Inc. 763.784.6046 firstname.lastname@example.org www.postmatic.com
After looking at what processes had to be developed between the Department of Revenue and the counties, it was decided they did not have the resources to ensure Full-Service IMb.
Continued on page 30 www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MAY - JUNE 2014
THREE FREE (OR ALMOST FREE)
BY ADAM LEWENBERG
WAYS TO PROCESS MAIL ONLINE It used to be you had two options to process mail. You either waited in line at the Post Office and kept inventories of stamps or you got a postage meter or PC Postage solution that might have hefty
charges. There are now three ways that you can process mail through the Internet for free (or almost free) that we will go over in detail. If you are doing hundreds or thousands of dollars in mail per month
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these might not be the right solutions for you, but they may fill in some of the gaps. Here are the main places these solutions could helpful:
1. People working out of their homes or in small offices that do less than $100 per month in postage or need simple ways to process packages. 2. Travelling workers who need to post letters and packages while on the road. 3. Entities that have lots of locations and want to distribute postage to their field sites and control the expense centrally. 4. Starting on January 25, 2015, Postage Meters users will get a 7-78% increase on their Priority and Express Mail rates because the USPS will require a full address label with the barcode. Anyone who does not use these labels will only be eligible for the Retail rates (vs. the Commercial Rates they get today), which are seven percent to 78% higher. These free solutions can meet these labeling requirements and maintain your current discounts. I have done extensive research and spoken to all of these providers to better understand what their offerings can provide. The chart on page 24 is a full comparison of their features so you can see which will be most important to your application. Instead of going through each line on this chart, we are going to break the discussion into two areas so you can see what is best for you:
Each of the providers offers a tremendous value for free or with only minimal fees. The type of mailer/shipper you are will determine which one is right for you.
and store addresses, process bulk shipments, and the site has great visibility to all of the different options available through the USPS. The only complaint that I had is this site may be difficult for the casual user as there are so many options. This will not be an issue for someone who ships regularly but the occasional user may find it cumbersome to get through. The good news is there are no fees to use the system to process packages and you can take advantage of Commercial Based Prices, which save seven to 78% over the retail rates.
Letters and Flats
The impressive part in looking at all of the providers is the amount you can do online through their tools for free.
The USPS offers a way for you to order stamps that can be shipped to your office and cost $1.35-1.85 per order (based on quantity and includes Priority Shipping). They have hundreds of stamp options to choose from of all different designs, denominations and quantities. The downside to this is you need to plan your purchases and it may be difficult to have the exact stamp value for odd-sized pieces.
The United States Postal Service now offers tools where you can process packages online and order stamps that can be shipped in three to five days to your office. These tools have come a long way from when they were first launched and can be a great solution for your organization.
Postageanywhere.com is a startup out of Silicon Valley that is on a mission to make postage simple. They have designed a site that is incredibly easy to use with the ease you would expect on a smartphone app. According to Greg Ojeda, CEO and Founder of PostageAnywhere.com:
“We created PostageAnywhere to make shipping simple and fast, giving our users access to the products and services
} Processing Packages } Processing Letters and Flats
The site has a lot of capability when processing packages. You can validate
they want, from any Internet-connected device, all without monthly fees. This is only the tip of the iceberg; in the coming months, we are launching exclusive pricing discounts and features that are going to revolutionize the small and mid-volume shipping markets.”
Packages This site was incredibly easy to use to process packages, and anyone with almost no experience could figure it out in minutes. They can do almost everything you can do on USPS.com but it was much faster to complete a transaction. What impressed me when speaking with Ojeda was their ability to customize the application for the future. As an example, they can create a front end that can be branded for a large organization that will be a central portal for all packages to be processed across the enterprise — all for free!
Letters and Flats They are only doing packages at this time but have plans to expand the capabilities in the future.
Dymostamps.com Endicia.com provides this offering as a no-cost way to be able to process mail and parcels. It is one of the leaders in PC Postage and also produces its own line of scales, label printers and supplies. It is the only offering that can generate postage for letters and flats online. The system has options that will satisfy many small volume mailers and the system can be upgraded to increased
www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MAY - JUNE 2014
functionality through its paid plans starting at $9.95 per month. According to Amine Khechfé, General Manager and Co-founder, Endicia: “Smart businesses take advantage of technology like DYMO Stamps for a quick and easy way to print on-demand the exact values of postage right from their desks. Our unique no-monthly-fee DYMO Stamps service means they can run their mailing operations like the big dogs even when working from a home office.”
Packages The system can process packages, but the free version is not as robust as the other two offerings. It can produce Priority and Express Mail but you will not be able to get the Commercial Based Rates discussed above unless you upgrade to the paid version. This site will let you connect to its USB label printers and scales (if purchased) or you can enter the amount and print from your local printer. It has a good amount of flat rate shipping options and you can key in the
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sizing. Heavier items may need to have the rates entered manually.
Letters and Flats This is where this system shines. You can print on sheets of labels from your local printer that can be ordered from its website or through your office supply store. The label sheets come 24 to a page and the system very easily prints one stamp, multiple different denomination stamps or an entire sheet at the same amount. You can add reference numbers to your
transactions and all of the postage can be tracked on a central dashboard for one site or the entire enterprise. What I liked is the amount of payment options including credit card, ACH or linking to your CAPS account with the USPS. Finally, when you process letters, you get a two percent savings on the rate over buying stamps.
Postageanywhere.com is great for simplifying the shipping process and has future plans that will expand services—something to definitely keep updated on. Dymostamps.com is hands down the best solution if you are doing letters and flats but lacks some of the package functionality of the other two. This can be rectified with low monthly subscriptions. For most basic mailers and shippers the ideal solution would be taking the shipping simplicity of Postageanywhere. com and combining it with the letter and flats capability of Dymostamps.com for an unbelievable free option that can make it easy to mail and ship whatever and where ever you are (in an office, home or on the road). Regardless of the solution, it is truly amazing what is available online at little or no cost to make your mailing and shipping lives easier.
and Recover firm in the United States. Their mission is to help entities with large numbers of locations reduce mail related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. Over the last year, they have helped their clients save an average of 63% and over $3 million on equipment, fees and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or email@example.com.
Conclusion Each of the providers offers a tremendous value for free or with only minimal fees. The type of mailer/shipper you are will determine which one is right for you. USPS.com has a lot of functionality for packages but may be too complex for the casual user. Also, it is great to be able to order stamps and have them shipped to your office but many may need faster turnaround times.
Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit
www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MAY - JUNE 2014
Full-Service Intelligent Mail: “Big Data” for Direct Mail As most mailers are aware, the U.S. Postal Service has withdrawn its proposal to make the use of Full-Service Intelligent Mail a requirement for claiming automation discounts. This change is the result of a Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) ruling, which held that requiring the use of Full-Service to claim these discounts in conjunction with the January price increase would result in increases
in excess of the inflation-based cap. But whether it is required or not, the information available through Full-Service has the potential to be the “Big Data” that powers greater value and efficiency for direct mail marketers.
Relational Database Full-Service Intelligent Mail provides marketers with a relational database that ties
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By Kurt Ruppel
together all aspects of a mailing — from manufacturing through in-home delivery. By uniquely identifying each mailpiece, handling unit, and container, we can use processing scans not only to better predict and target mailpiece delivery, but also to better understand response activity. We can then apply what we’ve learned from the current campaign to improve outcomes for future campaigns.
This isn’t new. The overnight and package delivery business has been providing piece-level tracking and tracing movement history detail for years. What is new is applying the same logic and discipline to mail communications and messaging to improve the experience for both sender and receiver.
Making Mail More Transparent One of the biggest changes being driven by Full-Service is much greater transparency throughout the mail value chain. Marketers will have more data to monitor the flow of their mail through the supply chain, into the USPS processing and delivery networks, and ultimately into the hands of the recipient. A transparent system, built on data, can identify pinch-points in the production and delivery of mail, make troubleshooting more effective when problems do occur, and eventually build trust throughout the supply chain as everyone will be working from the same set of data.
Common Quality Measures Full-Service data also changes how mail quality will be measured in the future. The Postal Service has built a series of mail quality reports, called Mailer Scorecards, that are available to mail service providers and mail owners through the Business Customer Gateway (sign in, choose “Mailing Services” on the left, then choose “Mailing Reports (PostalOne!)” from the list that appears). The reports are designed to measure mailer performance over time, looking at trends rather than individual mailings. This way of measuring mail quality is new for both the mailing industry and the Postal Service. We are in a period of understanding and vetting the data, but as we refine these reports together, they will provide a shared standard of quality.
Fine-Tune Direct Mail Production and Logistics Mail service providers can use the unique barcodes on mailpieces to monitor manufacturing quality and efficiency throughout their production processes. Mailpiece barcodes can be used to track quality issues by linking an individual mailpiece to its data source, which production lines were used to manufacture it, and which employees were responsible for its production. Unique barcodes allow us to track manufacturing hand-offs throughout the production process, monitor workflow, and proactively intervene if mailpieces are not scanned at expected times for expected operations.
Trays and pallets of mail with unique barcodes allow us to monitor logistics flow and hand-offs prior to postal induction, tracking trays and pallets throughout the consolidation and logistics process, and then follow processing and delivery across the USPS network. “At risk” pallets or trays can be identified at any point in the process and action can be taken to get them back on schedule before the planned in-home date is put in jeopardy. At IWCO Direct, we have developed a number of reports that allow us to track pallet status and movement to ensure all transportation and delivery expectations are being met.
New Tools to Manage Mail The Postal Service also uses its Informed Visibility program to aggregate data by facility, class, and shape to provide better understanding of the state of its processing network. The Postal Service uses this information internally to track mail as it moves across facilities, measure turn-time for work-in-progress (WIP) staged at each facility, and identify and remedy mail that is at risk for missing its service standard. Mailers benefit from improved network performance and more reliable delivery. This information is also made available to mailers through the “IMb Planning Tool” (https://ribbs.usps.gov/imb_planning_ tool/). Using the Planning Tool, mailers can review national performance or the performance at a specific facility to determine expected delivery times. There is also a rolling five-day average of the percentage of mail delivered early, on-time, or late, based on the delivery standard for that type of facility and class of mail. Using this information can help mailers work around “pinch-points” in the processing network and better time mail entry to achieve intended in-home dates. Full-Service data is also the backbone of a number of new Postal Service programs that will streamline mail payment and entry activities. This includes eInduction, which replaces paper 8125s with pallet scans to verify postage payment for destination entered mail; Seamless Acceptance, which replaces many manual mail verifications with passive scans on mail processing equipment; and Mail Anywhere, which allows mailers to use a single permit to present mail anywhere in the country.
Mail as a Marketing Tool With the visibility provided through FullService data, the delivery of direct mail becomes more predictable and reliable, keeping mail competitive with other media and allowing marketers to: } Fine-tune campaign cadence so mail waves are in-home in the right sequence, with the proper timing between waves; } Have a better understanding of campaign performance by tying response rates to delivery metrics and troubleshooting poorly performing campaigns; } Use email and text to alert consumers to watch for a mailpiece or to follow-up a mailpiece with a call to action; } Coordinate mail with promotions such as retail sales or sponsored marketing events; } Coordinate mail with other media such as television, radio or newspaper advertisements; } Level-load call centers so inadequate staffing doesn’t result in abandoned calls during peak periods or excess staff unnecessarily driving increased costs; } Use mail to provide stronger support for omni-channel campaigns by coordinating mail with social media, internet promotions, or mobile technologies. Marketing is about getting the right message to the right person at the right time. As mail delivery becomes more predictable and reliable, direct mail becomes a stronger channel to carry those messages and a stronger player in omni-channel campaigns.
More information on how to use Full-Service is available on RIBBS!
As I concluded during the presentation at the National Postal Forum, this Big Data available through Full-Service creates mail that is more valuable, more relevant to the recipient, and drives greater Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) for the mailer. Kurt Ruppel is the Marketing Services Manager for IWCO Direct.
Enhance the Value of www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MAY - JUNE 2014
LEADERSHIP EFFECTIVEN Grow Your Capacity to Lead
s the mailing industry continues to face uncertainty from rate increases, competition from alternative media, and the complications of ever changing automation requirements, being a leader in the space doesn’t get easier. In an attempt to survive, leaders get tough and get lean, focusing precious resources on executing winning marketing strategies and developing new opportunities, while trimming operating costs. In an effort to control the seemingly uncontrollable, leaders can become myopic in their attempts to manage their environment. They try to work harder and to do more. They become dogged in their determination to ensure that each person they are responsible for is doing the right thing in the right way. They do their very best to always have the answers and they run a very tight ship.
It sounds good but it can feel downright exhausting. It also isn’t necessarily the most effective strategy for a leader. Leaders do themselves and their organizations a disservice by not tending to their own growth and development as leaders and agents of change. Similarly, it’s tempting for leaders who are focused on just keeping the ship afloat, to not pay adequate attention to developing organizational cultures that can weather and thrive in the chaos we face. Leaders need to stop and take a more holistic view, one that accounts not only for projects and day-to-day tactics, but their impact on the culture of the organization and their own capacity to lead. Develop Your Capacity to Lead When a leader stops growing, the leader’s organization similarly becomes stagnant. A leader I once knew told me that he was
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finished growing — that he wasn’t looking for a promotion and he knew all that he needed to in order to effectively lead his organization. He said this as I watched him bumble through interpersonal challenges that made his already tough job much more difficult than it needed to be. Stretching your capacity to lead is important to anyone seeking to move up the career ladder, but even if you are not looking for a promotion, it’s critical to stay in development as a leader. Developing your leadership capacity increases your resilience, better equips you to handle increasing complexity and helps avoid the burnout that comes with constantly trying to slay dragons with the same tired weapons. Developing leadership capacity means developing leadership competencies, skills, and something else that is maddeningly intangible but even more critical to
P NESS, By Marie Peeler
passionately to deliver the critical messages that the organization needs to hear. They are decisive and action-oriented; they cultivate an understanding of the complete organizational system that helps guide their decision making. They are credible and trusted and, therefore, influential. They are visionary and are skilled in communicating their vision. They are collaborators and mentors; they genuinely care about people and relationships, as well as goals and results. They are composed and they live in balance. They are self-aware, accept their strengths and weakness, and are committed to learning. The Developmental Journey The journey of developing one’s own capacity to lead — that is, both the being and the doing of leadership — is an intentional journey. The leader must choose it and decide to develop as both a leader and a person. Fortunately, there are a number of tools and supports available. 1. Feedback is an important developmental tool. One can obtain feedback using an informal approach of simply asking questions (to learn how, see www.peelerassociates.com/blog/ seven-questions-to-get-the-feedbackyou-need) or utilizing a formal 360-degree feedback survey instrument. Although many leaders don’t receive feedback well, learning to process feedback constructively is one of the most powerful things that a leader can do for her or his self-development.
leaders who aspire to influence the culture of the organization. Being Versus Doing Developing one’s capacity to lead is as much about learning to master the being of leadership as it is about mastering the doing. If doing is the tasks and behaviors that one executes (what a person does) then being is the character, beliefs, and attitudes (who a person is) that one brings to leadership. Successful being drives successful doing. Working on both being and doing is the discipline of personal mastery that successful leaders develop to allow them to move from being reactive managers to being influential, proactive, productive, creative leaders, that are highly effective. Highly effective leaders are both taskand people-oriented. They learn to speak boldly and courageously, as well as com-
2. Leaders can work with a coach, who will use many tools including acute listening, power questioning and constructive feedback to partner with the leader to achieve specific objectives. Coaches will often do assessments that help increase the leaders selfawareness and self-understanding. Mentors and role models, who are themselves strong in the leadership competencies that the leader wants to develop, can also be invaluable. 3. Leaders can avail themselves of formal learning opportunities such as classes on management and leadership. When I first came into the mailing industry as the General Manager of a newspaper owned lettershop, I studied up on the DMM to learn industry regulations but I also signed up for a management course at the
local community college, despite being a college graduate. The academic learning was great but the interaction with peers facing similar leadership challenges was even more valuable. 4. When is the last time you read a good book? Not the latest James Patterson thriller, but something for your own learning and development? For a handful of great books, check out some favorites — all of which are relatively quick reads — at www.PeelerAssociates.com/resourses. Or simply get started by reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a perennial favorite from Stephen R. Covey. 5. Cultivate a connection with others. When you cultivate connection, you show others that they matter. This can not only pay enormous dividends to your organizational culture, but can also allow you to tap into your best resources to learn more about yourself and your operation. For specific tips on how to do this, see Tapping Your Best Resources to Improve Your Operation in the February 2014 e-newsletter by scanning the QR code below. As you grow and develop as a leader, your ability to influence the culture of your mailing operation will also grow. And you will be better able to create a culture that can not only weather, but thrive in the chaos that impacts the mailing industry. More important, developing your own capacity to lead can make the difference between daily drudgery and a fulfilling leadership endeavor. Marie Peeler is a principal of Peeler Associates, a Pembroke, Mass.-based organization that helps leaders clarify objectives, find engagement, improve interpersonal effectiveness, and attain their goals through services that include executive coaching, team development, leadership workshops, leadership assessment, business retreats, and conference and meeting presentations. Learn more about Marie or Peeler Associates at www.PeelerAssociates.com or read more of her thoughts on leadership at her blog, Leadership Perspectives at www.PeelerAssociates.com/blog.
Read Marie’s article from the February enewsletter!
www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a MAY - JUNE 2014
Continued from page 21 The Solution The solution that the group decided on was to develop a strong partnership between the State of Coloradoâ€™s Integrated Document Solutions (IDS), Colorado Department of Revenue, and all Colorado counties. In order for a program to be developed that would help the Department of Revenue with getting the counties to Full-Service IMb compliance, the following objectives needed to be identified and in place: } All counties must be willing to standardize their renewal cards to one format. } All counties are willing to have one centralized location print and mail their renewal cards each month. } Develop a process and procedures on how the program will work, having all counties and the State agree upon (standardized program for all counties). } Leverage cost savings in printing, mail processing, and postage that can be shared with all counties. } Develop a billing system that is completely transparent between the state and the counties. } Training would be needed with each of the counties on the new processes and procedures working with IDS. } Training with IDS on new process and procedures. } Training with Department of Revenue on the new process and procedures. } Develop the best format for sending variable data between the Department of Revenue and IDS. } Develop an Address Quality Program for all the counties that will have NCOA, DPV, CASS, LACSLink and SuiteLink. } Develop a process that will identify, from the Address Quality Program, good addresses that are formatted correctly, addresses that show moves within the county and moves away from the county, addresses that cannot be DPV or CASS and might be returned, addresses where P.O. Boxes were shut down with no forwarding address. } Develop testing and quality control program each month as new counties are added. } Be able to bring on a set number of counties each month until all are enrolled in the program. } Use the Address Quality Program as a resource for best mailing practices.
It was agreed that all objectives would be used as the foundation for the new program by all the stakeholders. The Motor Vehicle License Plate Renewal Program (MVR) was implemented and in July 2013, the first four counties sent out their license plate renewal cards by having one data file sent to IDS for variable data printing. Once printing was completed, the renewal cards were rolled over to the mail side for processing. The Department of Revenue and IDS were able to bring 59 counties on board, beginning July 2013 through December 2013, so that they were ready for the January 2014 target date for FullService IMb, originally set by USPS.
The Results } 59 out of the 64 counties are part of the new Motor Vehicle Renewal Program. } The five counties that are not part of the program had already started working with individual private sector companies to process their mail. } All 59 countiesâ€™ renewal cards are processed as Full-Service IMb each month. } All counties pay the same cost for printing and mail processing, no matter how big or small. } All counties receive the same presort discounts. } Counties no longer have full-time employee (FTE) hours that were dedicated to processing their renewal cards each month. } Department of Revenue was able to free up some FTE hours that were dedicated to each county on all the processing they had to do on the front end. } The counties developed a new process and are now able to identify individuals that have moved but still reside in that county. To help keep their county data records current, those individuals that have moved receive a slightly different type of card that encourages them to update their current address when paying for their new tags. } The counties also now identify individuals that move away from their county each month. The counties do not mail a MVR card to them, instead, they notate the account of a NCOA move. } The counties do not mail MVR cards that are identified as bad addresses. These
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are addresses that cannot be DPV, CASS, SuiteLink, LACSLink, plus any other elements in the address that would make it undeliverable as addressed.
Snapshot Beginning in July 2013 and adding new counties each month: } The Motor Vehicle License Renewal Program has processed 1,039,228 addresses through the Address Quality Program; the cost of running it through the program was $2078.46. } Total renewal cards printed and mailed from July 2013 to January 2014 is 993,237. } 45,991 total renewal cards were not mailed due to the State of Coloradoâ€™s IDS Address Quality Program: bad addresses, moves outside the county, moves with no forwarding address, and closed P.O. Boxes. } Average cost of renewal card that includes print, mail processing, and postage is $0.2905. } 45,991 renewal cards that were not mailed x $0.2905 = $ 13,360.00 in savings the first 6 months. } The overall savings as a group for the counties the last 6 months is $91,302.10. } These savings are from Full-Service IMb presort discounts, cost savings from volume pricing, and increased efficiencies with how the cards are printed and mailed.
Outside the box thinking in government is the new norm! The Colorado Motor Vehicle License Renewal Program was developed with the assistance of front line government workers from the counties, the Department of Revenue, and IDS, not because they had to do this, but because they wanted to do it! Outside the box thinking in government is the new norm! Mike Sexson is the Project Manager for State of Colorado/Integrated Document Solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.