Page 1


Has the Postal Service Been Holding Millions of Mailers’ Dollars—and Making It Almost Impossible to Get Them Back? Page 18

Succeeding with the right purchases for your mail center. Page 26

Make sure your RFP process is a fruitful one. Page 28

Getting intelligent about workshare discounts. Page 8

Volume 27 Issue 1



Features 18

Special Report — Has the USPS Been Holding on to Millions of Dollars of Mailers’ Money? Could your mail center have lost money in dormant prefunded permit accounts, and not even know it? By Adam Lewenberg


Helping Your Organization Succeed with the Right Purchases... And avoiding the pitfalls that are common when buying software solutions and mailing equipment. By Theresa Lang


Planning for the Future When Buying for Today Making sure your RFP process is a fruitful one. By Mark Fallon


Departments/Columns 5

Editor’s Note


Succeeding in the New Year By Amanda Armendariz



Real-Life Management

End Home Delivery in the US? By Mike Porter


Planning Your Way to a Better Future By Wes Friesen


Software Byte

Ship It E-commerce Alert: Get an Absolutely, Positively Competitive Advantage! By Jim LeRose




Everything IMb There Is Still Time to Get On-Board for Full Service By Harry Stephens



Postal Affairs What’s Next for Full-Service? By Kim Mauch

Application Articles 17

MAILERS+4… Take it to the Max: Direct Mail Savings & Response


Beyond the Basics with Data Enrichment Services

Direct Marketing 101 Impress Your Customers with Unique Direct Mail Pieces By John Foley, Jr.

My Two Cents Stronger Together By Todd Butler

Getting Intelligent about Workshare Discounts By Bill Jamieson


The Trenches

editor’s note

with Amanda Armendariz

Mailing systems technology PUBLISHER Marll Thiede


Succeeding in the New Year Success seems to be today’s catch-phrase; it’s everywhere. Diet pills, exercise equipment, home-based businesses promising a six-figure income with only 10 hours of work... You can’t really avoid the concept.

Amanda Armendariz

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Todd Butler, Mark Fallon, John Foley, Jr., Wes Friesen, Bill Jamieson, Theresa Lang Jim LeRose, Adam Lewenberg, Kim Mauch, Mike Porter


But it’s not just a word used by savvy marketers hoping to sway consumers over to their products—success in our industry is real and measureable... and much of it is related to the efficiency of your mail center. We hope that by reading this issue of Mailing Systems Technology, you’ll have a much better grasp on just how to succeed as a mailer, especially when it comes to researching and deciding on those purchases that could make or break your mail center’s efficiency. The thing about big purchases like these is that they usually only happen once every few years, which means that the tips and tricks for an effective RFP process may not be at the forefront of most mailers’ minds. Luckily, in this issue, we cover anything and everything related to purchasing, from how to engage in the most effective RFP process to avoiding the pitfalls that lurk in the purchasing process. So whether new software or mailing equipment is on your list of things to purchase in 2014,or purchasing is something that won’t be on your to-do list for a couple of years, be sure to check out these features in this issue; taking away just one of these tips will help you push your mail center to the forefront of efficiency. And don’t miss our special feature on page 18, in which Adam Lewenberg examines the possibility that you could be losing funds from dormant prepaid permit funds; after all, who doesn’t love found money? As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.

Rachel Spahr

ADVERTISING 608-442-5064 Ken Waddell


2901 International Lane • Madison WI 53704-3128 608-241-8777 • Fax 608-241-8666

Volume 27, Issue 1 Subscriptions are free to qualified recipients: $20 per year to all others in the United States. Subscription rate for Canada or Mexico is $40 per year, and for elsewhere outside of the United States is $45. Back issue rate is $5. Send subscriptions to: Mailing Systems Technology, PO Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098; or call 608-241-8777; fax 608-241-8666; e-mail or subscribe online at For high-quality reprints, please contact our exclusive reprint provider. Scoop Reprint Source 800.767.3263 ext. 307 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 1] is published six times per year, (January/February, March Buyers Resource, March/April, May/June, September/October, November/December) by RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison WI 53704-3128, 608-241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098

Real Life Management Planning Your Way to a Better Future As I write this column, I am in the middle of teaching a university course on Strategic Planning. There is no way to cover all the key principles of planning in one short column — but allow me to share a few key highlights that may be helpful.

What Is the Purpose of Management?

How Do We Plan?

The primary purpose of management is to effectively and efficiently use organization resources to strive for organizational goals.

Here are some basic planning principles: 1. Lowest possible relevant units should be involved in the planning process. Goal is participation which results in “buy-in” and a higher quality plan. 2. Planning should precede action 3. Planning horizon should not exceed the available known resources 4. Plans must be coordinated among related functions 5. Plans must be flexible and recognized as subject to change 6. Plans should be focused on probable future events

Notice the reminder that the resources we manage (e.g. labor, money, physical assets) are not ours, but the organization’s — and that we should be using (managing) them in pursuit of organization goals. Also, it’s helpful to remember the distinction between effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness is the degree to which an objective is accomplished (“doing the right things”). Efficiency is maximizing the amount of output for a given quantity of input (“doing things right”). The first priority is to be effective (get the work done), then strive for efficiency without unduly impacting effectiveness.

What Is the Purpose of Planning? Planning is a tool to help management achieve its primary ultimate purpose of achieving organizational goals. Planning is the “means” to set and reach organizational goals (“ends”). Planning is the determination of what is to be done — and of how, when, where and by whom it is to be done. A plan is a predetermined course of action involving the future and involving the action. Why plan? The basic purpose is to identify what we want to happen — and then to improve the probability that what we want to happen will happen (i.e. identify our desired future and increase the probability of it occurring). Here are ten additional benefits that a thoughtful planning process can provide to an organization: 1. Compels management to plan and think ahead; opportunity to look at the future 2. Bases action on thorough investigation, study and research (i.e. improved decision making) 3. Increases management and staff motivation (by establishing standards of performance) 4. Provides basis for resource allocation; makes more efficient use of resources (labor, money and physical assets) 5. Vehicle for senior management to communicate organizational values, goals, strategies and priorities to the entire organization 6. Enhances goal congruence (i.e. goals of individual managers harmonize with goals of organization as a whole) 7. Results in coordinated response to change; increases anticipation and awareness of future threats and opportunities


8. Reveals organization strengths and weaknesses 19. Provides standards for control 0. Allows for subsequent performance reporting and evaluation; provides basis for Performance Indicators


To organize your thinking and the planning process, I found my 3-step Planning Model to be helpful. I have used this simple model in planning for myself, teams at work and for non-profit organizations that I have been a leader in.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra, Yankee Hall-of-Famer and noted philosopher

Wes’s Planning Model Step One: Assess the current situation. Ask and answer the question “Where are we now?” This represents the Starting Place. (Note: I recommend completion of SWOT analysis prior to the completion of Step One — see below). Step Two: Determine your goals/objectives to be achieved by the end of the planning period. Ask and answer the question “Where do we want to go?” This represents our Destination. Step Three: Develop the strategies that will move you from your current situation (Starting Place) to where you want to go (Destination). These strategies (aka Action Plan) serve as your Road map.

SWOT Analysis Another helpful planning tool is SWOT analysis. Completing the SWOT analysis early in the planning process will help facilitate development of more realistic goals and strategies and a higher quality plan. SWOT analysis ideally includes input from all the people impacted by the plan, and involves carefully assessing an organization’s:

With Wes Friesen

Strengths. The intent here is to carefully and realistically identify the key strengths of the organization — including relevant strengths about People, Processes and Technology. Strengths are internal-based and will help in deciding what opportunities may be realistic to pursue.

Threats. The external analysis and analysis of weaknesses can identify threats that need to be addressed. Dealing well with Threats will help ensure that your goals and associated strategies are successful.

Weaknesses. The aim here is to identify the relevant weaknesses of the organization that may impair successful goal achievement or result in threats to be mitigated. A good starting place is to evaluate where you stand in the areas of people, processes and technology.

My final word of advice is to realize that much of the value of planning is in the process, not only in the final plan. President Dwight Eisenhower once stated that “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Good luck as you plan your way to a better future for you and your team!¾

Opportunities. Both opportunities and threats should factor in the results of external analysis. External analysis considerations can include economic, social, governmental, technological, competitive and other factors that combined with the strengths of the organization could results in opportunities to pursue. For example, if your team has the latest technology and extra capacity — and the external vendors in your area are relatively expensive — you may want to consider pursuing in-sourcing work and add to your organization’s bottom line. Publisher’s Note: The U.S. Postal Service requires the following statement be published for Mailing Systems Technology (Periodicals Class) mailings only. Mailing Systems Technology has had a (Periodicals Class) permit since January 1989. U.S. Postal Service STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION Required by 39 U.S.C. 3685 1. Publication Title ................................................................Mailing Systems Technology 2. Publication No. .................................................................1088-2677 3. Filing Date ........................................................................October 09, 2013 4. Issue Frequency .................................................................Jan-Feb, March Buyers Resource, Mar-Apr, May-June, Sept-Oct, Nov-Dec 5. No. Of Issues Published Annually .....................................6 6. Annual Subscription Price (if any) .....................................Free 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication (Street, City, County, State and ZIP + 4)(Not Printer) 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison, Dane County, WI 53704-3128 Contact Person ............................................................ Rachel Chapman, (608)442-5082 8. Complete Mailing Address of the Headquarters of General Business Offices of the Publisher (Not Printer) ....... 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53704-3128 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Address of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor (Do not leave blank) Publisher (Name and Complete Mailing Address) .............Marll Thiede, RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53704-3128 Editor (Name and Complete Mailing Address) ..................Amanda Armendariz, RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53704-3128 Managing Editor (Name and Complete Mailing Address).......... Amanda Armendariz, RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53704-3128 10. Owner (If the publication is owned by a corporation, give the name and address of the corporation immediately followed by the names and addresses of all stockholders owning or holding 1 percent or more of the total amount of stock. If not owned by a corporation, give the names and addresses of the individual owners. If owned by a partnership, or other unincorporated firm, give its name and address as well as those of each individual owner. If the publication is published by a nonprofit organization, give its name and address). (Do Not Leave Blank). Full Name .............................................................. Complete Mailing Address Ronald Brent .......................................................... RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Ste. 100, Madison WI 53704-3128 Marll Thiede ........................................................... RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Ste. 100, Madison WI 53704-3128 Gregory Rice .......................................................... Executive Management, Inc. 2901 International Lane, 2nd Floor Madison WI 53704-3128 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgages and other Security Holders Owning or Holding one Percent or more of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages or Other Securities .. None 12. (Must be completed if the publication title shown in item 1 is a publication published and

Wes Friesen, MBA, CMDSM, MDC, EMCM, MCOM, 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. Check out his personal website for free information ( He can be contacted at

owned by a non-profit organization). For completion by nonprofit organizations authorized to mail at special rates. The purpose, function and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during preceding 12 months. 13. Publication ........................................................................... Mailing Systems Technology 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data ............................................ September-October 2013 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation ......................................... Controlled Average No. Copies Each Issue During


No. Copies of Single Issue Published

Preceding 12 Months to Filing Date a. Total No. Copies (Net Press Run).........................31,728 .......................... 30,169 b. Legitimate Paid and/or Requested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail)

1. Paid Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541.

(Include advertiser’s proof and exchange copies) .....30,605 ........................... 28,448 2. Paid Requested In-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541. ..................... 0 .....................................0 3. Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and Other Non-USPS Paid Distribution .............. 0 .....................................0 4. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS ............. 7 .....................................0 c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation [Sum of 15b (1,2,3 and 4)] ..................................30,612 ........................... 28,448 d. Nonrequested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail) 1. Outside-County as Stated on Form 3541 ........... 514 .................................510 2. In-County as Stated on Form 3541 ...................... 0 .....................................0 3. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS ............ 21 ...................................21 4. Nonrequested Copies Distributed Outside the Mail ............................. 543 ............................... 1,150 e. Total Nonrequested Distribution ..........................1,078 ............................. 1,681 f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e) .............31,690 ........................... 30,129 g. Copies not Distributed (See instructions to Publishers #4 (page #3) ............................................................................ 38 ...................................40 h. Total (Sum of 15f and g) ......................................31,728 ........................... 30,169 i. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (15c/fx100) .......................................................... 96.6% ............................ 94.4% 16. Publication of Statement of Ownership for a Requester Publication is required and will be printed in the January/February 2014 issue of this publication. Rachel Spahr, Circulation Manager/October 9, 2013. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties).

PS Form 3526-R, September 2007 a JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2014


Software Byte

With Bill Jamieson

Getting Intelligent about Workshare Discounts The USPS is facing financial pressures that can be quite costly for mailers. On January 26, 2014, the USPS will implement the largest price increase in more than a decade. Exigency and the CPI rate case will represent a sizeable six percent average increase in postage. This increase could have been much greater if the USPS had not delayed its decision to require Full Service Intelligent Mail, as some mailers would have lost automation rates. Fortunately, software can be used to leverage both traditional and new forms of workshare discounts to help mailers stay profitable. Historically, mailers have substantially reduced postage costs by sharing the work in mail preparation and delivery. The traditional workshare discount takes three forms: } Presort - The mailer can sort the mail in an order that is easier for the USPS to process. The savings are given to mailers in the form of reduced rates based on the refinement of the sort (i.e. Carrier Route, 5-Digit, 3-Digit, ADC, AADC, MADC, and MAADC). } Drop Ship - The mailer can induct their mail closer to the final destination, and by doing so receive a destination entry discount (i.e. DDU, DSCF, and DNDC). On January 26, 2014, the DFSS discount (comparable to the DSCF discount) for dropping mail at an FSS location becomes available. } Address Quality - The mailer can indirectly increase the overall return on investment of their mail by ensuring the mailpiece address is complete, correct, and current by passing it through CASS and NCOALink processing prior to mailing. A new form of workshare discount is developing around the USPS strategy to improve operational efficiencies by increasing the visibility of mail throughout the supply chain. This fourth workshare discount is earned when the mailer uses Full-Service Intelligent Mail to help the USPS tie physical mail to the digital world. Most CASS and PAVE certified software can provide the basic level of features to achieve the Full-Service discount of $1 per thousand for Standard Mail and $3 per thousand for First-Class Mail. Your software should allow you to easily print barcodes that remain unique for 45 days on all pieces, trays, and pallets, and submit postage documentation electronically to the USPS using Mail.dat or Mail.xml. Compared to the traditional workshare discounts, the Full-Service discount appears at first glance to be insignificant. However, Full-Service Intelligent Mail opens the door to other savings that can be achieved by helping the USPS increase mail visibility. Mailers receive free Full-Service ACS. This savings could range from 11 to 55 cents per notification, for mailers switching from Manual



address correction, electronic ACS, or One Code ACS. Your software should be able to help by assigning the correct service type codes for each piece, providing a mechanism to bring the address changes back into your list, and filtering out the undeliverable records. When 90% of mail is Full-Service compliant, the mailer gets two more opportunities to save. First, you can waive the permit fee, a $200 savings per permit. Second, you can opt-in to the “Mail Anywhere’’ program that allows the use of a single nationwide permit, simplifying permit management. Software should help the mailer ensure that the mailing remains 90% compliant. Receiving free data is not a savings until you have software that can use that data to help decipher the mail flow. For example, reports can be created around the data, helping mailers to more effectively respond to customer inquiries on the status of where the mailpiece or package is located in the mail stream. This information can be used in improving mailing and call center operations, timeliness of communications, predicting cash flow, mail delivery, and bill collection. Software that can quickly provide the reports your company needs is essential for gaining the true value from this free data. Participation in future incentive programs seems to be the most promising opportunity for mailers to benefit from this new workshare. Even though the promotions are just a few months in duration, they contain significant savings for those First-Class and Standard Mail mailers who can meet the requirements. Incentive programs for 2014 include: } Two percent per piece discount for the Direct Mail Mobile Coupon & Click-to-Call, Emerging Technologies, and Mobile Buy-It-Now promotions } Two- to three cents per scanned piece for the Earned Value Reply Mail promotion } One- to two cents per piece savings for the Picture Permit Imprint Indicia } Five percent per piece discount for Product Samples promotion During this challenging period when the USPS and Congress are looking to make mail more efficient, less costly, and more attractive than other forms of message and package delivery, there is tremendous pressure on the mailer to stay profitable. Choosing the right software and software provider can make adoption of Full-Service Intelligent Mail and other Postal initiatives relatively painless. Software should help mailers take full advantage of all savings now and in the future, as we continue to help the Postal Service via workshare. ¾ Bill Jamieson is Director, Product Strategy, Bell and Howell.

Ship It

With Jim LeRose

E-commerce Alert: Get an Absolutely, Positively Competitive Advantage! Assume your e-business delivered packages to residential customers a day or two faster than your competitors. Now assume this speedier, reliable delivery service didn’t cost your company a penny more than what your competition pays for their slower, less reliable delivery. Would you consider this a key differentiator that will help your e-business grow? If you answered yes, you have a pulse. Read on while I reveal a significant and lesser-known shipping industry fact that just might help your e-company annihilate the competition. In the world of e-commerce, vast product selection, simple return policy and free shipping became the expected norm practically overnight, but in the rapidly evolving world of e-commerce, today’s paradigm got a bit more challenging; you must offer all three of these benefits and in addition, if you don’t get orders delivered in a day or two, consumers will quickly find another company that will. Merchants facing competitive pressures from demanding consumers and behemoths such as Wal-Mart and must now provide these three key benefits AND one or two day delivery, or face extinction. How can your company accomplish all of these goals simply and without absorbing the increased cost of premium shipping services? The answer may surprise you: get FedEx. It’s always been commonly thought that shippers should use UPS for Ground shipping and FedEx for overnight shipping, right? But what many people don’t realize is that FedEx Ground arrives faster than UPS Ground to over 26.8% of US destinations. During the past three years, FedEx has invested heavily in major operational improvements that resulted in accelerated delivery in tens of thousands of shipping lanes representing more than half of the city-tocity lanes they serve. This investment saves shippers money and helps make their customers more competitive. Squeezing out an extra day or two delivery time without increasing cost is tantamount to increased customer satisfaction, repeat orders, fewer dropouts, happier consumers and higher revenue.

There are other factors that make FedEx a great choice especially for e-commerce companies, including the big Kahuna, the Queen Mother of residential parcel delivery differentiators; the one that will have consumers (as Ralphie of A Christmas Story would say) “plunged into a cornucopia quivering with desire and the ecstasy of unbridled avarice”. . . that is, Saturday home delivery with no extra fees. Saturday is a standard delivery day for FedEx Home Delivery, while with UPS, Saturday Ground home delivery isn’t even an option. This is a fact that confounds even the most knowledgeable logistics industry professionals. Visit the UPS Saturday Delivery web site ( content/us/en/shipping/time/service/value_added/sat_delivery. html) and read: “Saturday Delivery from UPS allows you to stretch your business week even further. Like your busy schedules, our services don’t stop for the weekend.” While that may be true for Air services, UPS will NOT deliver Ground packages on Saturdays, arguably the single most convenient time to deliver to consumers. If your business is shipping with UPS and delivering to residential customers on Saturdays, you’re paying a premium that may be putting your company at a competitive disadvantage. FedEx Home Delivery also offers some great choices that allow consumers to customize their home deliveries. For example with FedEx Date Certain Home Delivery, consumers can specify the delivery day they want their shipments to arrive ranging from Tuesday through Saturday.

There is a one tradeoff that you should be aware of: FedEx Home Delivery does not deliver on Mondays. This is where UPS has an advantage. However, using the words of Elvis Costello: most people hate Mondays anyway. So when you absolutely positively need the fastest home delivery at the best price combined with Saturday home delivery with no extra fees, the choice seems clear. Get FedEx, and watch your e-commerce business grow! ¾ See it for yourself: visit the following links depicting the

differences between UPS & FedEx delivery objectives.



Jim LeRose has been a transportation industry consultant for three decades. Formerly with Pitney Bowes, he is Principal of Agile New York, a leading provider of multi-carrier shipping software / shipping cost reduction strategies and CEO/Founder of EcoReturn — a revolutionary ecommerce return solution. Visit: www. and Contact him at or 888.214.1763. a JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2014


Direct Marketing 101

With John Foley, Jr.

Impress Your Customers with Unique Direct Mail Pieces As a service provider, you have all the tools and technology available to help your customers execute successful direct mail efforts. However, in order to impress your customers and prospects, you need some new and creative ideas. This is where you have the opportunity to step in and create unique personalized direct mail pieces for your customers. Rather than being solely the backend production process, you need to show your customers you can do more. Your customers want to see what your technology can do for them, and how it will help them reach their overall marketing and sales goals. One of the best ways to make this happen when it comes to personalization and direct mail is to present ideas that demonstrate an understanding of data and a healthy dose of creativity. This includes sharing practical ideas of personalization that apply to their particular business. If you are looking to personalize direct mail pieces for your customers, here are three ideas worth considering. Perhaps they’ll help to inspire you to sell more personalized solutions to your clients!

Consider the location of the recipient and design the materials accordingly. By taking a look at the recipient’s location, you should be able to identify a data element that could be converted to personalized content. For example, if you are sending direct mail to promote a customer’s retail store, gym, or another physical location, you could personalize the piece to show just how close the person is to that spot. This could be represented graphically, via a map, or simply in text (i.e. “you are less than 2 miles away!”).

When targeting previous customers, appeal to that and possibly reference their past purchase(s). If you are sending direct mail pieces to your client’s existing customers, you truly have no excuse not to personalize the materials. Gather the data and take the time to look at their purchase history. With that data, you should be able to ensure that the promotions and offers on the direct mail piece are truly relevant to each one of their customers.

Based on demographics, select color(s) that may appeal to each group. This one may take a bit more research and creativity. But there certainly are studies out there regarding the effect that certain colors may have on different groups of people. If you can find a way to use the right ones for the segments inside of your customer’s target audience, you should be able to increase the overall response rates. 10


All in all, there are plenty of ways to uniquely personalize direct mail pieces for your customers. What’s important to both you and your customers is that the pieces you create stand out from the masses and truly appeal to the audience being targeted. To begin doing so, take a look at data and channel your inner creativity. You’ll be amazed at how well a little extra unique personalization pays off, and your customers will be thrilled with the results! ¾ John Foley, Jr. is the CEO of interlinkONE and Grow Socially. interlinkONE and Grow Socially work together to provide guidance and personalized online marketing solutions designed to help customers grow their business. John and his team help their customers maximize their direct marketing efforts through consulting services and software that allows for the execution of marketing campaigns, personalized URLs, public storefronts, inventory management, web to print services, and variable data publishing. Learn more about John at, and his companies at and

Everything IMb

With Harry Stephens

There Is Still Time to Get On Board for Full Service IMb Most likely, any business that produces frequent mailings has already heard about the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb). The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been developing and phasing in the use of Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMb) for almost a decade now. As part of this long-term phase-in program, for the last two years mailers have been able to use either Basic level IMb or the more advanced and functional Full-Service IMb in order to qualify for discounted automation postage rates. As of January 26, 2014, the plan was for mailers to have fully deployed Full-Service IMb or lose their automation rate discounts. However, that has changed with the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) recent ruling. According to the PRC, the implementation of Full-Service IMb requirements constitutes a rate increase. Due to this ruling, the USPS has delayed the January 26 implementation mandate. What this means is that mailers who are currently receiving automation price discounts today by complying with Basic IMB requirements will continue to receive the same price discounts after January 26, 2014.

Good News or Bad News? It Depends. Is this good news or bad news? Most likely, it depends on where you are in the process of implementing Full-Service IMb. If you are handling your mailings in-house, a Basic IMB system can be established without much difficulty using the information and tools most mailers already possess. Full-Service IMb, however, requires more attention. To implement, a mailer must register with the USPS, and submit their paperwork electronically using Mail.dat, Mail.xml or Postal Wizard. They must obtain and use Mailer IDs for their customers in order to complete the BY/FOR relationship for all mail. Tray tags and pallet labels must meet the IMb requirements, and their serial numbers must remain unique for 45 days. The USPS is promoting use of the Intelligent Mail barcode because it expands the ability to track individual mailpieces and provides greater visibility into the mail stream. While implementing IMb does require commitment, the benefits gained are worth the effort, including: } Providing mailers with more digits for their use, allowing for unique identification of up to one billion mailpieces per mailing } More accurate and detailed information about mailings, which can enable better decision-making. } Increases mailpiece “real estate” by eliminating the need for multiple barcodes } Allows for participation in multiple USPS service programs with a single barcode

So it would appear that the good news in this delay is that if you haven’t started the process of getting your Full-Service certification, you still have time. To find out more, talk to your software vendor or your mailing service provider or go to the USPS RIBBS website ( where you will find a plethora of information on Full-Service IMb and how to qualify. Implementing Full-Service IMb provides a savings of $3.00 for every 1,000 First Class letters, cards and flats that meet IMb standards, and a $1.00 discount per every 1,000 periodicals, bound printed matter and similar items. While this may not sound significant, if you send out First Class pieces every month, the savings — or losses — quickly add up. ¾ 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

Are you subscribed to our e-newsletter? If not, you are missing out on some great feature articles and Tuesday’s Tips, like: • New Postal Rates Approved—See How They Will Impact Your Budget! • Cost Containment Tips—Save Yourself $30,000! • 3 Steps to Finding the Right Mailing List

Not signed up? No problem! Just visit and click on the “newsletter” tab at the top of the page. Then you’ll be on your way to receiving the most up-to-date information, right in your inbox! a JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2014


The Trenches End Home Delivery in the US? You’ve probably heard about Canada Post’s announcement to phase out home delivery in urban areas. When I read the news it got me thinking about the implications of such a move. Would it drive more consumers to opt in to digital delivery? Would people visit their mailboxes less often? Would the change encourage companies to push their paperless delivery channels more aggressively? How would consumers view the change? The implementation in Canada is proposed to be rolled out over five years. Lots of things can change before a third of Canadian postal customers start feeling the effects of the decision to replace doorto-door delivery with community mailboxes. It will be interesting to see what happens. The conditions that prompted Canada Post to make this decision are nearly the same as those challenging the USPS. Mailers in the United States and the US Postal Service should keep an eye on Canadian developments as they unfold.

Community Mailboxes in the USA: I contributed to a LinkedIn discussion earlier in the year that covered the same sort of idea for USPS residential customers. There were some participants in that thread who thought cluster mailboxes were a really bad idea. I could see their points, but based on my personal experiences with the strategy I couldn’t really find a lot to criticize. I think most of the shortcomings identified by critics could be overcome with effective planning, adequate communication, and intelligent implementation. In the USA, individual mailboxes are not a choice for some newlydeveloped residential areas. Instead of requiring developers or individual homeowners to procure, erect, and maintain curbside mailboxes, communities where I have lived featured cluster mailboxes placed strategically throughout the neighborhood. Each cluster served a dozen or so homes. I’ve never lived in areas where delivery at the door was an option. Though I have some relatives that enjoy such service I will admit my perception is somewhat biased. One neighborhood where I owned a home converted to cluster mailboxes in the early nineties. Many of the wooden mailbox structures the original developer had built 30 years before were in bad shape. Some even fell down. All the residents paid a one-time fee to cover the expense of cluster mailbox installation which was much less than it would have cost to rebuild the rotting enclosures that each housed six individual mailboxes. For my family, cluster mailboxes were an improvement, not an inconvenience. Just like the USPS, Canada Post needs to lower their operating costs. Reduced mail volumes and revenues have put them in a position of having to make adjustments in order to maintain mail delivery for all Canadian businesses and households. Also like the USPS, Canada Post is supported by its own revenues, not taxes. Canadian postage rates are going up. If eliminating door-to-door 12


delivery will mitigate future postage increases, then maybe the idea isn’t so bad — so long as the policies are implemented fairly and don’t over-burden certain segments of the population.

Impact on Elderly and Disabled: One of those segments likely to endure hardship from the elimination of delivery to the doorstep is the elderly and disabled. Requiring people to walk from their homes to a community mailbox could be dangerous for some individuals in this group. The risk of a fall, of getting confused and lost, or becoming a crime victim is something that can’t be overlooked. It seems to me that anyone who can provide the postal organization with some verifiable proof that depositing or retrieving mail from their assigned community mailbox is unjustly difficult should be granted an exemption. People with a real need and no other options should still be able to get their mail. Daily personal contact between residents and postal carriers is sometimes mentioned as an important benefit of door-to-door delivery. There is certainly some truth to the notion that greeting the postal carrier can be the highlight of the day. I see that in my neighborhood sometimes. And noticing a change in the pattern could alert a postal carrier to a possible problem with an elderly resident. USPS employees have been known to contact neighbors or authorities when they suspect one of their customers has had an accident or become gravely ill. I’m not downplaying the positive effects of personal interaction. But this is not part of the carrier’s duty. No one should be counting on them to keep an eye on elderly friends and relatives.

Security: Mail thieves have been a concern for community mailbox skeptics. A bank of mailboxes that can be broken into all at once may be an attractive target. But placing the units within sight of residences or businesses, making sure they are well-lighted, installing security cameras, or arming the units with alarms could persuade the crooks to seek easier targets. With greater risk of being caught, mugging a postal patron on their way home from the cluster mailbox to steal their Amazon package of unknown value may not sound like such a great idea to the criminals. Residents who use curbside mailboxes today would actually see an increased level of security with cluster mailboxes. Their outbound and inbound mail would be in a locked compartment rather than an open box at the street. Fewer parcels delivered to unattended porches could make residents more comfortable about using the mail. The chance of their online purchases being stolen because they were delivered when no one was home would be lower.

Convenience: There’s no question that walking a block or more to retrieve your mail is less convenient than a curbside box or tiptoeing out to your porch while still in your bathrobe. Building turnouts or other facilities for stopping by the cluster boxes on the

With Mike Porter

way home from work or errands would be helpful in reducing the number of trips consumers have to make on foot. No one likes making the hike down the street to find an empty mailbox; especially when weather conditions make the trip uncomfortable or treacherous. What if you could find out in advance if any important mail was delivered? With tracking enabled by intelligent mail barcodes, mailers of critical documents like new credit cards, statements, insurance claims, bills, or checks could use the information captured from the IMb destination point scans to compute the delivery day for a piece of mail. A process to notify customers via email or text could be automated.

Recycling: Litter can be a problem in a public location where multiple households receive their mail. Just take a look at lobbies of Post Offices or apartment building mailbox units. Based on some comments I read from Canadians responding to the Canada Post announcement, carrying advertising mail back home from the community mailbox is perceived as a major pain point for some consumers. Thinking ahead, postal authorities should include secured recycling bins in cluster mailbox units, along with plans for emptying them on a regular schedule. I expect that Canada Post, and the USPS if they ever go this route, will find that residents who have used community mailboxes or curbside mailboxes in the past will see the elimination of door-todoor delivery as a non-issue. Those who are used to getting mail right at their doorstep will have a harder time. Skyrocketing postage costs affect everyone – even those who say they don’t have a use for the mail. Postage can be a major component of any business’ cost structure and those costs are passed along to customers in the price of electricity, banking fees, and products. Any postal system faced with shrinking revenues, competition from electronic channels, and inflexible workforce and retiree expenses must look somewhere for savings. Keeping postage prices affordable and making reasonable changes where they can is a good strategy. Eliminating the majority of door-to-door delivery addresses in favor of a more efficient and less expensive alternative could be part of a solution and less disruptive than other more drastic measures.¾ 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 and sign up for Practical Stuff — the free newsletter for document operations. Your questions on this topic are welcome. Send them to Follow PMCmike on Twitter.

My Two Cents Stronger Together This is the theme of this year’s National Postal Forum. A strong industry/postal partnership existed from the inception of bulk 3rd class mail until 2001, when John Potter was appointed Postmaster General. With his ascension to the top spot, those within the USPS that felt the Postal Service should control all aspects of direct mail (from inception to delivery) were turned loose on our industry and severely damaged the government/industry bond that had taken 25 years to build.


delusional fantasy. This delusional group-think is equal to some of the greats such as Jim Jones, or the group that committed suicide in order to catch a ride on a passing (alien) space ship. What the Postal Service needs is a reality check, not a top down self-deceptive ideology promoted as marketing salvation!

Take the challenge… it will change the way you do business.

As strange as it may seem, current postal management are oblivious to two basic facts. First, none of my customers over the last 30 years ever wanted to deal with the Postal Service, its rules, regulations, or employees. None, not one, not ever. This is why mail owners continue to hire mail service providers (MSPs)! Most mail owners do not want to be contacted by postal sales people or ex-mail carriers recently promoted to marketing genius. Most of my customers have encountered enough postal employees to know they needed a scarred (experienced) professional to be a buffer between them and the governmental monopoly tasked with delivering their mail. Postal bureaucrats need to face the startling truth that trying to convince existing mail owners to bring mail preparation services in house are futile, disruptive to the industry, and a waste of money. All this effort does is confuse customers, generate animosity from industry supporters, and drive volume out of the mail stream.

A true reality check would be for Postal Senior VPs to independently take their years of postal experience and attempt to produce two simple mailings the way a small business person would. Let them take 10,000 names stored in a database using a 1997 version of Excel and update the entire list to meet the move update standards using NCOA. After the total list has been updated, produce one mailing consisting of 5,000 pieces of a multipage personalized letter mailed in an envelope. The remaining addresses should be used in a second mailing consisting of a multi-panel self-mailer weighing more than one ounce. All work should be completed by them in their office or at home, by hand. This is where and how occasional mailers would prepare their mailings. The only human assistance should be postal help desks, their local BMEU, or MDA if they can find one. Of course, they can use online postal resources to endlessly search for elusive information about mail preparation and acceptance rules, regulations and policies.

A true reality check would be for Postal Senior VPs to independently take their years of postal experience and attempt to produce two simple mailings the way a small business person would. The second undeniable fact? Preparing mail to meet postal standards is very complex and difficult! It takes dedicated professionals to learn then track changes in rules and regulations so they can educate their employees (and occasionally postal employees) in proper mail preparation. As for the data and software expertise now required to produce Full Service mailings, you need a four year degree from MIT to keep up. Mail production is not ground that new mail owners can plow successfully!

To accomplish these two simple mailings the VPs will need to work with the Customer Gateway, the Postal One! Help desk (won’t that be interesting), RIBBS (to get the IMB font(?) and other helpful information) and (to get updated DMM rules). They will of course have to become Full Service approved, get the mailpiece design requirements correct (good luck with that), make sure their mailings meet content requirements, produce the mail in a manner that will pass Merlin (no more than five percent skew when hand applying address labels with barcodes), prepare the mailing with the proper tab configuration, take the mailing to the acceptance unit in their car, deal with acceptance personnel at the local BMEU, track their two mailings to delivery (IMB Tracing) and of course update their data file with the free ACS information returned post mailing (but only if they used the correct STID and endorsement). And one more thing, they need to do all this as they keep up with their current duties and responsibilities. After all… this is what they believe small business people should be able to do!

Management’s belief that occasional mailers can produce direct mail campaigns meeting DMM requirements is a group-think

There is no one at headquarters capable of producing direct mail start to finish. None!


With Todd Butler

The fact is postal management will not take my direct mail challenge because they do not have the time nor expertise. But neither do the small business owners they are trying to sell on the concept of DIY direct mail. The only DIY direct mail campaign occasional mailers might find time to complete is a simple letter or postcard with a first class stamp. By the way this kind of direct mail marketing has tremendous value for its simplicity and very low cost. This is the mail the USPS should be promoting to small businesses. For anything larger than a couple hundred pieces, the Postal Service should be recommending the use of their partners, print and mail service providers.

senses. Maybe they will ask what they can do to help MSPs sell more mail. Maybe they will tell us that their sales force will be retasked to support our sales efforts rather than attempting to divert our customers. Maybe postal management will be on stage telling us that they are moving development dollars from building competing software products into new advertising programs that emphasize the value of direct mail and the ease with which its partners (MSPs) can produce marketing campaigns cost effectively.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised at the Postal Forum this year. Maybe “Stronger Together” means the USPS will have come to its

Todd Butler, Butler Mailing Services, can be reached at 513.870.5060, or

I know I’m delusional. I’m just waiting… for that spaceship to swing back this way and beam me up! a a JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2014


Postal Affairs

With Kim Mauch

What’s Next for Full-Service? By now you may have heard that the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has ruled additional mailer requirements for Full-Service equivalent to a price increase, and that USPS has postponed the Full-Service mandate indefinitely. This is likely a relief for mailers who postponed their conversion, but what can we expect in the months and years to come?

USPS Still Wants Full-Service The USPS response to the PRC’s ruling makes it very clear that the Post Office is not happy about a delay in implementation.

sophisticated mailing preparation will make mail transportation and delivery more predictable for USPS. Currently, each acceptance clerk requires a strong understanding of Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) regulations. This knowledge can be difficult to gain and transfer, especially when rules change so frequently. By reducing manual labor, training and verification times, Full-Service will allow USPS to further downsize its workforce, especially at verification.

New benefits for Full-Service MSPs The timing of the PRC decision couldn’t have been worse for USPS. While the PRC had the Full-Service proposal in hand for several months, USPS was notifying customers, training employees and enhancing systems to be ready for the January 26 deadline. After the POSTNET retirement was postponed several times, the Postal Service had to battle doubt from mailers and employees alike. By postponing Full-Service at the eleventh hour, trust in USPS deadlines has eroded, and it will be harder to drive change the next time it sets a date. Full-Service still has untapped potential for USPS. In addition to the piece, tray and container tracking information it collects from FullService Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMbs), USPS gains many efficiencies by enforcing the electronic documentation requirement.

By reducing manual labor, training and verification times, Full-Service will allow USPS to further downsize its workforce, especially at verification. By submitting documentation electronically, USPS can eliminate many steps usually performed by an acceptance clerk, including entering the postage statement into PostalOne!, and verifying the sort rules and regulations were applied correctly to the mailing. Despite all its best efforts, USPS still processes many postage statements and other documentation entirely by hand, taking up valuable time at entry and verification. This hand-verification also allowed some mailers to have “handshake deals” with their entry personnel when errors were found, causing mail preparation and entry to be inconsistent from location to location. In some locations, mailers are (surprisingly) still hand-sorting and handwriting their postage documentation, which will not be allowed in a Full-Service world. While this will require some smaller mailers to purchase software or use a larger mail service provider, the more 16


USPS will now need to find new ways to entice mailers into using Full-Service. Most of the larger mailers and Mailing Service Providers (MSPs) converted long ago, and several more have made the jump in anticipation of the 2014 mandate. The first new “carrot” for mailers was released in mid-December, a Full-Service Certification (FSC) program for mailers and MSPs. This program replaces the Mail Preparation Total Quality Management (MPTQM) certification, which will be gradually phased out. Mailers who qualify will have the opportunity to get listed on the USPS website and increase their visibility to their potential customers. After sending Full-Service mailings for at least 90 days, you can apply for this program. There are two levels of certification, Standard and Platinum. For Standard certification, you’ll need to monitor your Mailer Scorecard for your Full-Service mailings. If you maintain quality over the specified thresholds, you can gain the certification simply by completing the form. This is a relatively pain-free way for MSPs to gain another advertising opportunity, as USPS will be encouraging smaller mailers to use certified mailers if they don’t want to prepare mailings on their own. If you have more in-depth processes, you could qualify for Platinum certification. In addition to the Standard criteria, you’ll need to perform and pass an internal audit, and also an external audit performed by a Certified Quality Auditor. After completing your audits, you’ll submit the results along with the signup form to USPS. Once certified, you’ll be added to the list of approved mailers on the USPS RIBBS website. You can also find more information about this program by visiting

Full-Service Will Be Required Eventually Either through a change in the pricing structure or a new mandate in the coming years, mailers will need to migrate to Full-Service in the future. If you’ve already made the switch, congratulations! If not, take advantage of the reprieve by making the changes you need to now, so that you’ll be ready when a new USPS deadline approaches. ¾ Kim Mauch is a subject matter expert in mailing preparation and submission at Satori Software. Contact her at


MAILERS+4… Take it to the Max: Direct Mail Savings & Response

Mailers nowadays have to be as efficient as possible to grow their business. The practice of relying on a fragmented and redundant mailing process is guaranteed to suppress response rates and increase production costs. The solution is to employ a bulk mailing program like MAILERS+4 that is easy-to-use, powerful, cost-effective, and provides an integrated platform for address verification, Move-Update processing, deduping, and presorting. MAILERS+4 also gives you the opportunity to enhance the power of your software with add-on components to: identify addresses as residential or business (ideal for parcel shipping); add lat/long at rooftop level; verify and standardize Canadian addresses; and real-time NCOALink processing. MAILERS+4 from Melissa Data is a leading postal automation and bulk mailing stand-alone program that helps mailers conduct an integrated mailing from start to finish, right out of the box, all the while ensuring the mailing qualifies for maximum postal discounts and direct-mail savings. MAILERS+4 is easyto-use with its intuitive user interface and Presort Wizard. And, it’s affordable for any budget with no long-term contracts and subscriptions starting as low as $80 a month. You can quickly and easily download your updates or receive them on a CD. MAILERS+4 doesn’t stop at postal processing. It’s loaded with direct marketing tools to help you maximize your efforts and minimize the costs for a successful, responsive direct-mail campaign. You can parse and genderize names; segment your list for proper salutations and gender-specific messaging; personalize stock forms with mail merge; localize a mailing by record count or radius; and select a group or subset of records for targeted mailings. If your file has phone numbers, you can correct and update the area codes. Get your 14-day free trial of MAILERS+4 now by visiting or calling 1-800-MELISSA.

Melissa Data 1.800.MELISSA

SPECIAL REPORT – Has the USPS Been Holding on to Millions of Dollars of Mailers’ Money? Could your mail center have lost money in dormant prefunded permit accounts, and not even know it?



By Adam Lewenberg a JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2014



here is no way to dance around the issue; I am just going to come out and say it. I believe the USPS has been holding millions of dollars from dormant prefunded permit accounts, and at a specific point has made it almost impossible to get the money back. The worst part is this has been most likely going on for years. I want to bring this to everyone’s attention so we can all start petitioning for changing this process for the future. One of the core focus areas of my business is to track down lost postage for our clients. We have identified over 13,000 lost postage accounts from the meter vendors that have been turned over to the states as unclaimed property and have not found one permit account

turned over from the USPS. This year alone we have also helped our clients recover over $700,000 that was sitting at the mailing vendors in dormant accounts not yet turned over to the states. We know that funds get lost and the main reason is because they are in prefunded accounts that are forgotten. To make matters worse, at any point in time the USPS is holding $1.2 billion in permit accounts (Customer Deposit Accounts) and when these accounts go dormant, it is unclear where the funds go. Here are the main reasons postal accounts go dormant: } Site closed/merged/changed names/ core contact left. } Postage account was for a location outside the headquarters where visibility was lacking. } Fragmented process inside the organization without one group responsible for managing the postage accounts. } Money sent to prefund the account is looked at as an expense vs. an asset and not tracked. } Multiple accounts set up at different post offices and for different classes of service to prefund mailings. The big issue comes with how the United States Postal Service handles these funds. With most organizations (corporate, nonprofit, state government), unclaimed funds



USPS Inactive Permit Accounts

Non USPS Lost Funds

Time that Funds Can Remain Dormant

2 Years

Varies by State (Typically 2-5 Years)

Where do funds go?

They stay at the USPS

They then need to be turned over to that state’s unclaimed funds office.

How are notifications sent?

At the two year mark, you are sent a letter stating you have 30 days to fill out a PS Form 3533 to request your funds.

States will have a website of all available funds and will do different forms of publicity to find the owners. This includes publishing a list in the newspapers.

Time to make the claim

30-60 days from the date of the letter. The system will automatically close the account at the end of 26 months of no activity.

Most states will give 15 years to an unlimited time frame to collect your funds.

Where can you go to research available funds?

You need to go to your local post office and speak to the post master where the funds are being held. After the 26 month period, they may not have visibility to the funds.

To the state’s unclaimed funds office or to

are turned over to the state’s unclaimed funds office, where it is easy to search for your money. These funds will typically remain visible on that state’s website or on until the money is claimed. With the USPS, at 24 months of inactivity, a notification is sent (USPS 16-7.3 Sample Add-Pos Non-Use Cancellation Notice). The entity has 30-60 days to collect their funds, renew the permit or the money gets transferred into general ledger account where we believe the visibility is

lost. The only way to get this reversed is to know what funds you had lost, then to go to that specific local post master for help. It is unclear after the 26 month period how long this Postmaster will have visibility to be able to help you get your funds back.

Here is how you can help: } Talk to your USPS Account Managers and local Postmasters. } Bring this issue up at your local Postal Customer Council meeting. } If you plan on attending the National Postal Forum, bring it up at the USPS booth. } Sign our petition at https://www.change. org/petitions/usps-create-a-public-listing-of-dormant-permit-accounts I do not believe that the USPS is trying to be deceptive, but its process is archaic and needs to be changed. When the USPS takes your prefunded postage, it is acting like a bank and it needs to be held to the same fiduciary standards as any other financial institution. This means it needs to take all means necessary to manage your funds and make sure they get returned properly.

I do not believe that the USPS is trying to be deceptive, but its process is archaic and needs to be changed. I have included the chart above so you can compare the lost funds process for the USPS to most other entities. The big difference is the long term visibility. With the USPS, this is lost at 26 months and a single notification or from the due diligence of a local postal employee who goes the extra mile to help clients (which I am sure happens). This is compared to being able to search for your money on websites that remain active for long periods of time. We have done multiple Freedom of Information Act Requests to the United States Postal Service and have had them


all denied. We have done these from our company, trying to look at the amount of funds available, as well as formatting these requests for our clients to send, requesting detail on their accounts. We have been surprised by the lack of support and information that the USPS has provided. The only way we are going to change this process is if we make the problem visible and force the USPS to make changes. We need the United States Postal Service to create a public listing of these closed accounts and make at least the name and address of the original permit owner visible in a database that can be searched.


Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit 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. So far in 2013, they have helped their clients save an average of 63% and over $2.5 million on equipment, fees and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or


Beyond the Basics with Data Enrichment Services USPS requirements have made both cleaning address lists with CASS Certified software and using an NCOALink service integral to the process of preparing a mailing. Today, these address cleansing processes contributed to meeting the requirements for earning the lowest rates. Why do more? It’s simple. Your clients are looking for more than an efficient mailing service. They’re looking for expertise that can help improve their bottom-line results. If your clients get poor response from mail, they have the incentive to turn to other communication channels. Since effective direct marketing results from quality rather than quantity, you have the opportunity to increase revenues by providing value-added services that make your clients more successful.

Data Enrichment Improves Results Satori Software offers both USPS standard address correction and 48-month NCOALink move update processing, plus additional data enrichment services that go beyond what USPS can offer, to provide the information you need to improve both mail deliverability and results. You can use these services to improve deliverability, lower postage costs, and improve the marketing return on investment (ROI) for your clients — all while bringing in additional revenue and achieving higher client satisfaction. Our on-demand Move Update service provides a secure Internet connection to process lists against 48-month NCOALink data. Records may be processed through web services and updated within your database, via FTP or through a custom application.

found during CASS processing. Having this data can also result in more valid moves found during move update processing. The NCOALink data set only includes moves that have been reported to USPS. Each year, thousands of people move without submitting move forms. Supplement your change-of-address processing with ECOA Move Update to reach more people who have moved. This service uses data from credit bureau, magazine subscriptions and other sources to find people who did not file their move with USPS. Depending on the demographics of the list, this process can result in up to 20% more identified and resolved moves. Finally, every client wants to focus their direct mail on prospects that are willing and able to respond. A simple step for achieving this goal, processing that flags records that match entries in donot-mail, deceased person and correctional facility lists.

How Good Is Your List Data Really? In the end, the only effective mail piece is one that reaches its intended recipient. Services outside CASS and NCOALink processing can give address lists the extra polish they need to reach the intended recipients. Send a list in for analysis. We’ll do a thorough check and let you know how you’re doing. Will your data make the grade? To learn more or to request an analysis, contact Satori sales at 800.553.6477 option 4 or As a nonexclusive NCOALink Full-Service Provider Licensee of USPS, Satori Software receives weekly NCOALink updates.

Using our cloud-based services takes the burden off your IT department to maintain a separate server, ensures the freshest data and provides additional enrichment options. The smooth integration and fast turnaround make it easy to incorporate these services into your workflow.

Go Beyond USPS Based Services Satori data enrichment services allow you to append contact details, amend addresses and suppress records on do-not-mail lists. Contact more of the people on your mailing list with Apartment Append. Look up the apartment number for incomplete addresses and reduce the number of addresses with DPV problems

Satori Software 800.553.6477 ยก JULY - AUGUST 2013


HELPING YOUR ORGANIZATION SUCCEED WITH THE RIGHT PURCHASES... And avoiding the pitfalls that are common when buying software solutions and mailing equipment


ith the start of a new year, many organizations are resolving to improve their success in 2014 and beyond by making the right purchases. Buying choices almost always pose a considerable investment in time, research, and, of course, money and can lay the foundation for an organization meeting its goals or dealing with the headaches and hassles of a bad decision for years to come. After all, in today’s service-oriented environment, whether it is software or mailing equipment, a new purchase is also often the beginning of a new vendor relationship. What’s more, organizations have to consider the consistency of change when making purchasing de-


cisions — the state of their business now might not be the same a year, or even six months, from now. All of these factors lead to two pressing questions for your mailing organization: how can you help your organization succeed with the right purchases, and how can you avoid the pitfalls that are common to buying software solutions and mailing equipment? Flexibility is perhaps the most important element to keep in mind when making your purchases. The mailing industry is constantly changing, and your organization might be growing and expanding your services in response to those changes. Buying software and hardware that is modular, extensible and scalable enables you to adapt your purchase to your company.


Being able to use the specific elements of the software you need now, while having the option to add other elements you might need later, is also very important. Vendor compatibility is also an important consideration for your purchasing decision. The inevitability of new products being released means that what is best on the market today might not be the best tomorrow. “Lock-in” and the associated costs of switching are well-known regrets that can be avoided by choosing a platform wisely. One timely — and instructive — example of how considering the larger industry and regulatory context of your purchasing decisions can determine your organization’s well-being is the recent transition to IMb. When the USPS changed its postal standards and moved to IMb, many organizations found themselves caught offguard with hardware and software that had been purchased with the status quo in mind. Having a system that automatically adapts to new changes with agility and efficiency is invaluable. Given its cur-

By Theresa Lang rent financial state, the USPS will likely be issuing even more regulations that stand to impact purchasing decisions. Fully composed files are increasingly becoming the way business is done in the mailing industry. Many clients trust mailing service providers, and want to provide fully-composed files to ensure integrity, especially in situations like elections that are subject to stringent compliance. Being forced to turn away work because you don’t have the technology to properly deal with it is a missed opportunity that quite a few printers confront due to investing in workflows that are fundamentally at odds with pre-composed files. For example, some mailers refuse to take in any work that is not raw data because their current workflow would force them to sacrifice the benefits of postal sortation in order to deal with those jobs. When purchasing workflow software, it’s important to think ahead and consider the creation of files, along with the manipulations you might have to make after a file has been composed. Cloud services, like those that do address hygiene, often provide that information in the form of lists contained in composed files. By investing in a software platform that can manipulate composed files to stream data within those files into your workflow, you’re effectively investing in the future of your organization. Being burdened with a workflow solution that doesn’t have the capability to deal with fully-composed files is not a wise decision if you want your organization to succeed in the new world where fully-composed files dominate. Another consideration would be looking to the cloud to determine what purchases are right for your company. Just as other industries are increasingly depending on hosted solutions to smartly and costeffectively do things that were formally done on-site, so is the postal industry. As commercial mailers face margins that are razor-thin, being able to quickly adapt to new and different technologies can save your organization money — but doing so is only possible if you have purchased the right software platform — one that is com-

patible with various cloud service providers. Many of the USPS’s vendor-provided services such as CASS, NCOA and PAVE are offered in cloud-based and on-premises versions. Your organization’s current set-up might mean that pay-per-use cloud-based services are optimal, and if your volumes grow, your organization might want to buy an on-premise version and make an upfront investment. Either way, making your purchase decision with these possibilities in mind is important for acting in the best interest of your organization.

ceived the intended mailpiece can be harmful to the marketer’s campaign). The trend of targeting also translates into a smaller number of targets, each of which has higher value. Simply put, the stakes are high — and this risk needs to be considered when making purchasing decisions for your organization. Similar to other industry shifts, your purchasing decisions around critical communications should be made from a proactive rather than reactive stance. As a partner to your customers, you should be ready to answer their questions about targeted mailing and integrity — and choosing the right vendor (who will also be your partner) will empower you to do so from an informed position. The good news is that more vendors are offering lower-entry cost solutions to add integrity to your system, so making the right choice for your organization’s needs no longer means stretching your budget. With purchases come partnerships. Evaluating vendors through this lens, rather than just as a company that is selling you something and walking away, will make your purchase worthwhile in the long run. While point solutions in the mailing industry do exist, you should seek out a partner who has their finger on the pulse of the industry and has established and relevant expertise — in other words, an advisor rather than just a seller. The common thread of making the right purchases? Flexibility. Choosing new solutions while considering the flexibility to deal with your organization’s changing needs, the shifting dynamics of the mailing industry, and the increasing demands of your customers will ultimately guide your organization to new opportunities, while intelligently avoiding many of the challenges that characterize news purchases.

Similar to other industry shifts, your purchasing decisions around critical communications should be made from a proactive rather than reactive stance. Integrity should also be top of mind when deciding on a new purchase for your organization. In today’s data-rich mail environment, the value of each mailpiece is increasing, even as overall volumes are declining. Targeted mailing is being embraced, and integrity is becoming more and more important to your organization’s customers. And it is not just a priority for healthcare, financial and insurance industry customers that are subject to strict privacy and communication regulation. It is also becoming important to all direct mailers that need their mailpieces to reach the right recipient with mailpieces that contain customized, relevant information. These mailpieces, along with those that are regulated, are known in the industry as critical communications. Why critical? Marketers are a good example — they need to be able to send direct mailpieces through mailers, and follow up with phone calls. As such, mailers need to know which items did not get sent, or were damaged, so that their marketer clients can know which targets shouldn’t be called (because a phone call to a target who has not re-

Theresa Lang is Vice President Solutions & Services, Ricoh. a JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2014


PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE Making sure your RFP process is a fruitful one

By Mark Fallon

The information you collect provides a clear picture of where you are. Knowing where you are allows you to create a bridge to a future state.


he technology used in the print and mail industry is changing rapidly. Every year, equipment speed and capability is improving. It’s challenging to buy for the present and keep an eye toward the future. So how do we solve today’s issues and prepare for tomorrow’s needs?

There are four key principles to follow when buying and planning:


Recognize uncertainty — Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen tomorrow. We certainly don’t know what changes will occur three to five years from now. It’s difficult for leaders to admit that they can’t predict the future, but they must recognize their limitations in order to prepare for an uncertain future. Your plans should include several options for when the future doesn’t cooperate and events turn out differently than projected.


Clearly state known issues – Enumerate and describe the challenges facing your organization today. Consider the business problems facing your internal and external customers and how you can help alleviate those issues. Make a list of the operational problems impacting your unit. Expand on the list with the reasons for each problem.




Describe possible future events — Using recent trends, think through what’s likely to take place in the next three to five years. Look at the changes in volumes of different types of documents your company is sending to its customers, and the methods for sending those documents. Examine the price points for buying or leasing new equipment and software. Review the innovations being introduced by industry leaders. While you can’t guarantee the future, these indicators can help you estimate what’s possible and probable.


Prioritize — Consider the likelihood of events and the impact on business requirements. For example, will email and e-delivery impact the future delivery of documents? Yes. But by what percentage for which types of documents? Past trends indicate a lower percentage than what many software and service vendors suggest. You also need to consider how your company will react to changes in technology. Do they aggressively adopt new methods or do they wait until the market has taken a certain direction? The term “future” can mean several different timeframes beyond “tomorrow.” For some businesses, planning more than five months out is considered long-term. But for other companies, long-term means five to 10 years. When buying technology, focus

on the expected life of the purchase. Most software and equipment in the mailing industry only has a lifespan of three to five years. Because of that short timeframe, services with outsourcing providers should be limited to three to five years as well. Of course, before you can move forward, you must understand the starting point. There’s an old saying that you can’t get to where you want to go unless you know where you are. What good is a map if you don’t know where you are on that map?

Getting Where You Need to Be Produce an accurate description of your operation today, including measurements and metrics for the work being produced in your operations. Create process maps that illustrate workflows, identify critical points, and demonstrate what technology is used at each step. That technology may be basic (e.g., mail carts and offline folders) or modern (e.g., scanners and inline booklet makers). The information you collect provides a clear picture of where you are. Knowing where you are allows you to create a bridge to a future state. A future that’s grounded in reality. Creating your vision isn’t something you would do on your own. The idea may be yours, but you won’t be alone in bringing that idea to life. You want to engage others — both internal and external — to help you. Internal resources include your employees, your management team, and

the departments that are your internal customers. Your employees deal with the issues every day. Uncover what ideas they have about improving the situation. Talk with your management team about their vision, and how your department can support their plans. Meet with the various departments you service, including billing, customer service, claims, etc. Understand their goals and their expectations. Externally, consider reaching out to the customers of your company, your peers, and industry experts. If possible, work with your marketing and sales departments to survey customers about the documents they receive. Through your network, discover how other companies have approached their problems. No matter how innovative you think you are, someone else has already implemented your ideas. Learn about their successes and failures before you buy. This information leads to even more research that’s key to preparing for success in the purchasing process. Search the Internet to find who offers which products and services. Check out vendor websites and have literature sent to you. Read through publications like Mailing Systems Technology, reviewing both advertisements and articles about the products and services you’re investigating. Use trade shows effectively. Visit vendor booths, especially vendors you don’t know. Take the time to meet and network with fellow professionals. Find out who’s using what

vendors and why. Collect business cards and ask permission to follow up with additional questions. And then follow up with those vendors and your expanded network.

Beginning the RFP Process With the information you’ve gathered, you’re ready to begin the Request for Proposals (RFP) process. First, put together an RFP project team. The size of your team will be dictated by the scope of the purchase. The more money being spent, and the more departments impacted by your decision, the larger the team should be. Select people who have demonstrated interest during your research. Keep the team size manageable, but try not to exclude any particular group. You’ll definitely want to have representatives from legal and procurement on your team. Depending on the policies of your company, procurement may take the lead role on the project. If equipment or computer hardware is involved, get people from facilities management and information technology on the team. You should also invite the key internal customers impacted by this project. And don’t forget the lead operators and programmers that will have to work with the equipment or software you purchase. You may want to consider adding an external consultant to the team. An outside voice can be helpful when dealing with internal politics. But don’t let the consultant a JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2014 29

tell you what to purchase. The selection of the software, hardware, or service is up to you and your team. The consultant’s role should be limited to guiding you through the decision process. You’re now ready to draft and publish the RFP. Clearly state what you want to purchase at the beginning of the RFP. Stipulate exactly what the product or service must do in order to be considered. Then state what additional capabilities or options are desired. Specify the format the vendor responses should take. If electronic, identify both the software (e.g., MSWord, PDF) and the version (e.g., Windows 2010). If you prefer hard copy, explain how you want it presented (e.g., stapled, bound) and how many copies you want. Most importantly, provide a clear deadline for receiving proposal responses with the date and time, including time zone. If you plan on conducting a lease/buy analysis, have the vendors help you out. Require that their bid have both purchase and lease options with a five-year cost-benefit analysis. Make sure the vendor includes any formulas used in their comparisons. You should consider holding a vendor conference after the RFP is published. All vendors are invited to submit questions in writing by a certain date. The team will draft written responses to the vendor questions, and invite all participating vendors to one meeting. At the meeting, review the answers one at a time, allowing follow-up questions and clarifications from the vendors. This meeting ensures that all vendors receive the same information at the same time, and keeps the process open and fair. When reviewing vendors, you need to consider more than just the bid. If possible, schedule a team visit to the factory or company headquarters. Think about how you would feel working in that environment. Also, visit customers who are using the equipment or service. During the site visit, talk directly to the operators and programmers without any vendor sales staff around. Vendors should be required to submit references from companies that are similar in size to your company, and are using the same or similar equipment or service. Call references and schedule a time to discuss the product and vendor. After the call, send a thank-you email to the reference.

Comparing Bids An effective way of comparing bids is to use a scoring chart. A scoring chart 30


provides a practical method of measuring how closely a vendor’s bid matches your goals. When the responses are received, distribute blank scoring sheets to the RFP team. Each member should fill out the responses individually to prevent influence (implied or otherwise) from the senior members of the team. Use an electronic spreadsheet to collect the information and calculate the average scores for each vendor. Your RFP team then meets to review the individual and average scores. Discuss any significant variances between scores. For example, one person may score the machine accuracy a “10” and someone else graded it at “4”. This variance needs to be discussed, opinions considered, and if appropriate, scores adjusted.

by legal and procurement. Make sure to include testing and delivery dates in the purchase contract, with financial penalties, if a vendor fails to meet those dates. For service contracts, include a detailed service level agreement (SLA). The SLA will define mutually-accepted measurements and standards. If appropriate, include a section on operator training. Specify the factory and site acceptance standards that must be met before payment is issued. Monitor the receiving and acceptance process very closely. Require the vendor to provide proper notification of delivery and installation. This step is critical for equipment and software to ensure that the space is prepared or access to systems is available. Don’t allow the vendor to leave your site until the installation is completed in accordance with the contract. Meet with the operators to ensure that they’re properly trained. Sign the acceptance letter after you’ve verified that the product is performing to the established standards. When the project is complete, conduct an after-action review. Have the team members formally evaluate the process and the final decision. Encourage an honest and frank discussion on how things could’ve been improved. Meet with the vendors and get their feedback as well. Share the final report with all members of your RFP team. At times, the RFP process may seem long and tedious. By creating an RFP team and following this process, you’ll increase your chances of success when purchasing equipment, software, and services. Take your time and confidently purchase for today, while being prepared for tomorrow.

But don’t let the consultant tell you what to purchase. The consultant’s role should be limited to guiding you through the decision process. Like price, the score shouldn’t be the sole factor in selecting a vendor. Ask legal and procurement to conduct a comparison of the financial status of the top bidders. Review any feedback you received from references, both positive and negative. Request follow-up presentations from the vendors, so that your RFP team can ask more detailed questions. After your team has made a decision, notify the selected vendor and all the competitors. Call each vendor to briefly explain the rationale for the team’s decision. Send an email or letter, thanking all vendors for participating in the RFP process. You don’t need to defend your decision to the other vendors, but remember you may be doing business with these vendors on another project. You’ve awarded the bid, but you’re not done. The contracts will need a final review


Mark M. Fallon is President & CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting firm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. The company develops customized solutions integrating proven management concepts with emerging technologies to achieve total process management. Contact him at www. or 508.485.9090.

Mailing Systems Technology Jan/Feb 2014  

Mailing Systems Technology Jan/Feb 2014

Mailing Systems Technology Jan/Feb 2014  

Mailing Systems Technology Jan/Feb 2014