BETTER ADDRESS QUALITY IS HERE PAGE 15 / HELP WITH VOTE BY MAIL PAGE 23
JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2022
WHEN SHOULD COMPANIES CONSIDER OUTSOURCING THEIR MAIL? PAGE 10 USPS SERVICE STANDARDS: IS WHAT YOU SEE WHAT YOU GET? PAGE 24 WHAT MSPS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MOVE UPDATE STANDARD. PAGE 8
DELIVERING FOR AMERICA, ONE YEAR IN PAGE 16
O T E E R E IB H R K C C I CL SUBS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | VOLUME 35 ISSUE 1
DEPARTMENTS 05 Editor's Note
Mail in the Time of COVID By Amanda Armendariz
06 Real-Life Management We Need Connection! By Wes Friesen
08 Software Byte
The Move Update Standard and Mail Service Providers
By Jeff Peoples
09 Strategy and Culture Connection Strategic Planning: The Picture for the Puzzle? By Bruce Gresham
10 The Trenches
Why Companies Outsource Their Mail
By Mike Porter
12 Inkjet Info
FEATURES 16 Delivering for America: A Look at the Progress of the USPS’s 10-Year Plan By Kathleen J. Siviter
19 Pritha Mehra Presented with First Megan J. Brennan Award for Excellence 20 The Present and Future of Print and Mail Management By Mark Fallon
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
22 2022 Postal Promotions Fact Sheet 24 USPS Service Standards: Your Mileage May Vary By Leo Raymond
28 Navigating the 2022 UPS, FedEx, and USPS Price Increases — and Minimizing the Impact By Adam Lewenberg
3, 2, 1… It’s Another New Year! Emerging Trends and Technologies for 2022 By Karen Kimerer
SPONSORED CONTENT 15 What Is the Quality of Your Addresses? These 5 Companies Have Answers 23 Vote By Mail — 4 Companies that Have Solutions to Help
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! EDITOR’S NOTE VOLUME 35, ISSUE 1 MAGAZINE STAFF President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda Armendariz email@example.com Contributing Writers Mark Fallon, Wes Friesen, Bruce Gresham, Karen Kimerer, Adam Lewenberg, Jeff Peoples, Mike Porter, Leo Raymond, Kathleen J. Siviter Audience Development Manager Rachel Chapman firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Ken Waddell 608.235.2212 email@example.com Design Kelli Cooke
MadMen3 PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098 Tel: 608.241.8777 Fax: 608.241.8666 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org SUBSCIRBE Subscribe online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com. 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 Call 608.241.8777 Fax 608.241.8666 E-mail email@example.com Online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com. REPRINT SALES ReprintPro 949.702.5390 www.ReprintPros.com All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2022 by MadMen3 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, MadMen3 or its staff becomes property of MadMen3. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of MadMen3 or Mailing Systems Technology. MadMen3 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 35 Issue 1] is published six times per year (January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December) by MadMen3, PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098, 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
MAIL IN THE TIME OF COVID BY AMANDA ARMENDARIZ
t’s hard to believe that we are now heading into year three of a world overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with more than 60% of the global population vaccinated, new variants have continued to emerge, causing much of the world to try to balance a sense of normalcy and economic recovery with illness mitigation measures. It’s certainly an interesting — and frustrating — time to be alive. And in the midst of it all, First-Class mail volumes continue to drop while package volumes — spurred by the ever-increasing amount of online ordering in the wake of the pandemic — soar. This shift in volumes has caused some challenges for the Postal Service, as it tries to accommodate this growth in packages while ensuring that the mail that is being sent is delivered in a timely manner. The USPS’s 10-year plan, Delivering for America, attempts to rectify some of these issues by implementing a number of cost-saving and performance-enhancing measures, as Kathleen Siviter lays out in her article on page 16. After just a year in, it’s clear the organization has already achieved much with respect to the plan, but there are obviously still nine years to
go. And mail volumes will likely continue to drop, which is something that affects not just the USPS, but the mailing industry as a whole. As mailers, it’s important to work together as an industry partner with the USPS. More pieces in the mailstream benefit everyone, so consider implementing some of the postage-saving promotions that the USPS is once again offering. Remember that physical mail pieces have far more impact on your customers’ behaviors than digital marketing efforts, so instead of thinking of postage costs as a negative, reframe them as an investment in your customer communication strategies. Consider joining your local PCC to network with other mailers, get new ideas, and make your voice heard. As mailers, we are certainly in the midst of challenging times — and the pandemic certainly isn’t helping — but together, we’ll emerge stronger. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
WE NEED CONNECTION! BY WES FRIESEN
s I write this, our country is in the midst of witnessing a record number of people leaving their jobs, a phenomenon dubbed “The Great Resignation.” To be employers of choice, we need to actively provide a culture that will help attract and retain quality team members. One thing that people universally crave is to feel connected to others with whom they work. Dr. Dean Ornish speaks to this by saying, “The need for connection and community is primal, as fundamental as the need for air, water, and food.” Michael Stallard has written a great book entitled Connection Culture. He and his team have identified three types of work cultures: Culture of Control: This culture is marked by people with power ruling over others. Culture of Indifference: People are so busy with tasks that they fail to invest time to develop healthy, supportive relationships. People are treated as mere means to an end rather than human beings who are valuable in and of themselves. Culture of Connection: This culture intentionally develops both task AND relationship excellence. People care about others and care about the work because it benefits other human beings. This is the culture I want to lead and be part of — what about you? The importance of being socially connected to others cannot be overstated. The sad news is that in recent surveys, over 60% of adults report being lonely, and depression and harmful addictions are at all-time highs. In contrast, research has shown numerous benefits from connection with others, including: 6
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
50% reduced rate of early death Improved physical, emotional, and mental health Higher productivity, higher quality work, better customer service, fewer accidents, lower absenteeism How can we build strong connections with people and reap the benefits for them and the teams and stakeholders (investors, customers, and employees) we serve? 10 Principles to Connect with People Well 1. Commit to connect. The starting place for developing stronger connections with people is to make a conscious choice to do so. Do you really want to connect better? If yes, commit to taking intentional steps to build deeper connections. The other principles will give you ideas to consider. 2. Develop a genuine care for people. We can only connect well with people when we value and care for them. We need to not take people for granted and let them know we care and appreciate them. Valerie Elster reminds us that, “Expressing gratitude is a natural state of being and reminds us that we are all connected.” Every person is important, as Bill McCartney emphasizes when he says, “Anytime you devalue people, you question God’s creation of them.” Part of caring for people is to be honest, genuine, and transparent. Let people see our hearts of caring and compassion — and they will respond and feel closer to us. One of my often-used quotes is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Caring includes intentionally working on helping meet the seven workplace needs that experts have identified: respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth, meaning, and progress. We also need to develop the ability to empathize — mutual empathy is a powerful connector that is made possible by mirror neurons in our brains. 3. Be proactive — initiate movement towards them. It’s tempting to sit back and let others try and connect with us. But, as leaders, we need to be proactive and take the initiative. Management experts Tom Peters and Nancy Austin concluded, “The number one managerial productivity problem in America is, quite simply, managers are out of touch with their people and out of touch with customers.” 4. Look for common ground. Probably my favorite leadership expert is John Maxwell. I agree with John when he says, “Anytime you want to connect with another person, start where both of you agree. And that means finding common ground.” There are lots of potential areas of common ground — ranging from personal interests to life experiences to values and beliefs. The key to finding common ground? Listening. 5. Be a good listener. Rachel Naomi Remen advises that, “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.” I like the practical advice from Dale Carnegie (author of the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People) who said, “You can make more friends in two weeks by becoming a good listener than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you.” Final tip: let’s be present in our conversations (engaged, interested, paying attention) keeping in mind the concept that “attention is the oxygen of relationships.” 6. Recognize and respect differences. While we should be looking to find common ground with others, we also need to acknowledge that we’re all different. Our differences and diversity make our lives more interesting and can strengthen our team performance as we blend our diverse backgrounds and abilities together to make us stronger.
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! 7. Share common experiences. To really connect well with others, we need to find a way to cement the relationship. 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. For remote workers, creatively seek video-based fun activities such as online parties, games, etc. Anything we experience together helps create a common history and build connection.
I’ve not always been as consistent with touching base with people as I would like — how are you doing?
8. Get out of our physical and/or virtual office. The reality is that there are increasing expectations on managers to produce more results with the same or fewer resources — and that can drive us into our offices to get our personal work done. But we need to intentionally carve out times to practice MBWA (Management by Walking Around) when working in physical work locations. And when working virtually, we need to intentionally have screen time with our team members. I have to admit that
10. Once connected, move forward. There is value in building deeper connections with people just for relationship’s sake. But there is even more value when we use our connections with people to add value to our team’s key stakeholders and drive towards a better future. Someone once said, “Leadership is cultivating in people today a future willingness on their part to follow you into something new for the sake of something great.” Connection helps create that willingness.
9. Be a giver — provide help and share knowledge and resources. 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 reminded us that, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”
One more tip: remember to stay positive and remember the magical five to one ratio (to maximize relationships, we need to average at least five positive interactions for every one that is negative/constructive). Here is a closing quote from Michael Stallard: “Connection transforms a dogeat-dog environment into a sled dog team that pulls together.” Wes Friesen (MBA, EMCM, CMDSM, MCOM, MDC, OSPC, CCE, CBF, CBA, ICP, CMA, CFM, CM, APP, PHR, CTP) is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams and has extensive experience in both the corporate and non-proﬁt worlds. He is also an award-winning university instructor and speaker, and is the President of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management and team building training. He serves as the Industry Co-Chair of the Greater Portland PCC. His book, Your Team Can Soar!, has 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you and give you practical pointers to help you — and your team — soar to new heights of performance. Your Team Can Soar! can be ordered from Xulonpress.com/bookstore or wesfriesen.com (under Book) or an online retailer. Wes can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 971.806.0812.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
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THE MOVE UPDATE STANDARD AND MAIL SERVICE PROVIDERS BY JEFF PEOPLES
he USPS Move Update Standard has been in place for over a decade. In order to obtain Full-Service discounts for their clients and receive the Seamless Acceptance incentive, mail service providers (MSPs) must follow this standard. The Seamless Acceptance incentive is a one percent refund on postage paid directly to MSPs, and Full-Service discounts are .003 cents per piece. So, naturally, the higher the volume, the more of a payback there is for the MSP and their customers if they use Seamless Acceptance to electronically induct their mail. There are various ways to be compliant with the Move Update standard, but basically it comes down to updating in a timely manner (95 days) the address lists in the databases that are mailed. This can be challenging for MSPs, because in most cases, they do not own the source name and address data. They can run just-in-time pre-mailing NCOA (National Change of Address) and apply the address changes in the workflow they use to ensure that the latest current address is used on the mail piece. This can be a challenge if the MSP was given a print ready file, though not impossible. If the MSP does update the address, they should offer the source address list company access to the changes. MSPs may
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
be able to work out a mutually agreeable price for this service of returning the address changes. The bottom line is if the address change does not get made back in the source list of that database, then addresses will continue to be old. Eventually, this can cause the MSPs threshold percentage for change of addresses not applied to increase and risk assessments as the eDoc submitter when their monthly percentage is above .5%. Another method for Move Update standard compliance is the USPS Address Correction Service (ACS) post-mailing process and electronic data delivery. ACS provides mailers with valuable information regarding addresses that lead to a reduction in Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) Mail. Additionally, ACS allows for maintaining higher quality addresses as related to Change-of-Address (COA) information, provides additional address quality metrics, and (compared to Ancillary Service Endorsement on each piece) provides notifications faster, at a lower cost, and in a format easier to process via automation. NCOA offers a few UAA reasons also, and suppression of these mail pieces could be an option if allowed. So how do MSPs track their customers' address lists and measure the address quality of them? MSPs should
always review their Business Customer Gateway Scorecards and any service that taps into Scorecard data. In many of these services, monthly Move Update compliance numbers are tracked by your CRID. However, MSPs often combine multiple clients’ data into their print and mail runs using their CRID. The MID (Mailer ID) tied back to a CRID in eDoc is what is tracked in the scorecard data. So, it is cumbersome to figure out whose address data is not current when assessments of eight cents apiece above the .5% threshold are charged to the MSP. It’s preferable to choose a solution that will tap eDoc mailing data and scorecard data and tell you exactly which clients are the biggest offenders with respect to being above the .5% threshold. Some offerings provide a dashboard showing monthly and trend data as well as the ability to drill into the jobs and the actual pieces that did not meet the 95-day update standard. MSPs can then negotiate with their customers (data providers), showing the metrics and sending the piece data that can be tied back to a customer list and their database. There are other important reasons for keeping name and address data current, such as meeting in-home dates for marketing pieces and meeting legal requirements for delivery of First-Class transactional mail. When a name and address is not current, the USPS will use its machines with electronic forwarding information, manual review of individual pieces with OCR equipment, and carrier force information to get the mail piece to the right address. In almost every case where a new address is found, the mail will be delayed, sometimes a week or longer. The worst case is that the piece is undeliverable, with the cost of producing it wasted. The customers of MSPs are sometimes aware of this, but MSPs can help their customers understand all of this and work with them to achieve better deliverability and cost savings. With over 30 years of innovative postal solutions that make using the Postal Service easier and more profitable for mailers and shippers, Jeff Peoples, founder and CEO of Window Book, has done presentations at industry events, GraphExpo, MAILCOM, the National Postal Forum, Postal Customer Council meetings, Harvard Business Expert Forum and other industry and direct marketing events.
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! STRATEGY & CULTURE CONNECTION
wanted a structure that would better accommodate his children coming into the business. His core team was made up of 15 people, and they were never in the same room together. The key people were great at their jobs and had great people working for them, but they were focused primarily on their department and not on any other parts of the business. The owner was the one that absorbed information from all parts of the business and coordinated and realigned people, departments, and resources (labor and equipment) when needed. He did not want to share any financial information regarding profits or business value with any of his people. They had some recent successes that had substantially grown the business; however, it was requiring cash flow to grow. To reduce the risk of new accounts they had taken on, they needed to add other customers to diversify. The overseas markets they sold to were becoming more demanding. Customers and suppliers wanted to know what the ultimate vision was for the business (i.e., where was the business going over the next 10 years?)
ers, employees, internal issues, owner perspective, and SWOT) with the entire team. This helped to get the team working together and ensured they all had the same basic knowledge of the business. It was a big surprise how little each of them knew about the business in total, and they very much enjoyed the back and forth from a meeting with all of them in the room. We helped them create a vision of where they wanted to be in 10 years. We identified the top five key goals that needed to be achieved to truly accomplish their “World Series” or “Super Bowl." At one extreme was a goal of “$60 million of gross revenue from 100 “A” customers.” At the other extreme was a goal of “Motivated and happy employees with 95% employee retention per year.” For each goal, we identified the obstacles to the goal, what needed to be controlled to overcome the obstacles, and then what strategies could accomplish controlling the obstacles. After evaluating the strategies, we identified the top two strategies for each key goal that would most powerfully impact the vision while being the most cost-effective. This resulted in 10 strategies that were each assigned to a member of the core team. Action plans were built by the entire team along with focus on communicating the strategy to the right audience with the right tools. We set up a monitoring process that would be a monthly check to make sure that the 10 strategies were online and hitting the metrics needed to get the results. The truly satisfying part of the strategic plan is the monthly monitoring meetings where the team gets together to talk and discuss what needs to happen. The owner talks very little and the team engages each other with strong opinions and ideas. The owner only needs to step in to break a tie vote or to share information he obtained from an industry meeting. It will be interesting to see how far the company goes in the future, now that they have these strategies for success in their pockets.
Actions Taken First, we clarified the core team of people. The owner originally felt that only five of the key people should be involved. Upon analyzing the true needs of the business, the owner decided that 15 key people should be involved. We reviewed the current situation of the business (competitors, custom-
Bruce Gresham and the team at Applied Vision Works (www.appliedvisionworks.com) use practical methods to help business owners, leaders, and teams reach their goals faster. Connect via 704.726.6728, bgresham@ appliedvisionworks.com or via LinkedIn by scanning the QR code at left with your smartphone camera.
STRATEGIC PLANNING: THE PICTURE FOR THE PUZZLE? BY BRUCE GRESHAM
ave you ever tried to put together a puzzle without a picture of the completed version? A reference image is necessary to get the right pieces in the right places. In most cases, people will give up trying to fit all the pieces together if they do not know the picture of the final product. A strategic plan is the picture your team uses to make sure the business has the right resources (pieces of the puzzle) and that they are coordinated and fit together properly. Without that picture, life at work can be discouraging and frustrating for a team to work together. It is easier to simply do one’s job and ignore how each part fits into all the other pieces. Having a clear strategic plan ensures everyone is pointed in the right direction, sees the big picture, and knows how the pieces come together! The Challenge The question you want to answer by completing the strategic planning process is: With all the obstacles we face, how can we get our team working together better, with common values so that we can achieve a common goal more effectively, with less risk and while having more fun? Identifying the Primary Issues One team we worked with had an owner in his early 40s. One of his goals was to have more time with his family. He typically worked five to six days a week and did so 10 to 12 hours a day. He also
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
WHY COMPANIES OUTSOURCE THEIR MAIL BY MIKE PORTER
utsourcing outbound mail operations has been a topic of discussion for decades at companies that produce their own mail. The popularity of outsourcing swings one way or the other, but never in recent times have there been more reasons for companies to consider shuttering their in-plant mail operations than right now. 1. Pandemic-influenced de-centralization of office employees — Work-fromhome or hybrid work models. 2. “Great Resignation” staffing issues — People leaving unsatisfying jobs in large numbers. 3. Aging of workforce — Many experienced mail professionals are nearing retirement. 4. Higher postage costs plus lower postal delivery standards. 5. Likelihood of more frequent and steeper postage rate increases over the next several years. 6. Continued migration towards paperless communications. If your company is a mail service provider, this confluence of conditions might be good news. Companies that have resisted your efforts to hand
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
their mailing operations over to outside vendors could be ready to make the change. If you work in the internal mailing operation department of one of those companies, though, things may not seem so rosy. Current trends and events may accelerate the outsource/insource decision, but the reasons a company may want to get themselves out of the mailing business haven’t really changed. Let’s look at some areas a company should evaluate as they consider such an adjustment. Understand the Process Before anyone makes a list of pros and cons about outsourcing mail, one must be familiar with how the company produces mail. Start with the workflows that generate the documents entering the mail center to be folded, inserted, and mailed, and be sure to understand the complete journey for customer messaging. Documentation may not always be current, so it is best to observe the processes as they happen. Where and when are the documents printed? How are the pages composed? What regulations govern the content, format, or timing of the mailed communications? How does the mail center coordinate with other internal depart-
ments? What about data security and privacy concerns? If your mailing operation is producing unsatisfactory results or seems too costly, the actual causes may exist outside the mail center. In this case, outsourcing the mailing operation won’t necessarily fix the problems. It could even make them worse. A thorough analysis of the document workflow is essential. Identify the Pain Points What is wrong with the corporate mail operation? Is mail going out late? Is mail piece quality a problem? Mail deliverability? Wasted time or money? High employee turnover? Clarity about the problems with the mail operation is essential when evaluating alternate solutions. Then you can ask specific questions of mail outsource service vendors and design a plan to address the current shortcomings.
If the hardware and software used to process your mail is nearing end-of-life or provides insufficient features relevant to today’s requirements, it may be a good time to consider outsourcing your mail processing operation. Volumes and Schedules Businesses that established their inhouse mail operations years ago probably sized them to handle the highest mail volumes that occurred at peak times throughout the year. As customer communication preferences changed, they may be left with equipment that far exceeds present demand.
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If your mailing operation’s capacity consistently exceeds your demands, you may be paying for processing power you no longer need. Sending the mail outside the organization may be preferable to paying for equipment leases and service contracts for under-used equipment. Need Upgrades If the hardware and software used to process your mail is nearing end-of-life or provides insufficient features relevant to today’s requirements, it may be a good time to consider outsourcing your mail processing operation. Mail service providers are experts in the field and invest in the latest resources to meet the demands of their clients and to compete in the marketplace. Outsourcing to gain access to new functionality is an attractive motivation for turning an internal operation over to mail professionals. Business Continuity As we learned in the early days of the
COVID-19 pandemic, disruptions in business operations are not limited to natural disasters like fires, floods, and wind damage. How would your business be affected if your mail center was unable to process the mail for an extended period? Mail service providers maintain disaster recovery plans that often feature geographically dispersed sites that can continue to process their customers’ mail in the case of unusually disruptive circumstances. Benefits of Disbanding the Mail Operation If your organization did not support inhouse mail production, would you reclaim valuable space needed for some other purpose? Could you terminate a lease on a building or free up warehouse space? Depending on the situation, such benefits can outweigh the primary objective for most outsourcing projects — saving money. Even if outsourcing mail costs about the same as in-house production, the ability to re-purpose mail center
employees or use space more efficiently can be a factor in favor of an outsourcing decision. Attitudes toward work, customer expectations, and rapidly evolving technologies are changing the way companies do business. All these trends have accelerated because of COVID-19. I am unsurprised that companies in many industries are renewing their interest in assessing how they handle customer communications through the mail. This is a good time for mail service providers and in-plant mail operations to re-evaluate their current operations and make the adjustments necessary to meet today’s business needs. Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps his clients meet the challenges they encounter in document operations and creates informational content for vendors and service providers in the document industry. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, send a connection request on LinkedIn, or contact Mike directly at email@example.com.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
3, 2, 1… IT’S ANOTHER NEW YEAR! EMERGING TRENDS AND TECHNOLOGIES FOR 2022 BY KAREN KIMERER
hanks in large part to the ongoing effects of the stubbornly persistent COVID-19 pandemic, modern businesses have changed more in the past 24 months than they had in the prior 18 years. Providers of print and mail solutions have been forced to consider a great deal of trial and error as they strive to keep their businesses running smoothly. J.R.R. Tolkien’s well-known phrase, “not all who wander are lost,” seems fitting in these unprecedented times — firms that are open to deviating away from the confines of a charted path will likely experience a better journey. Of course, few people would deliberately select the road we’ve endured over the past two years. Digital technology was already waging war against business as usual, and, of course, we’ve had the matter of a global health crisis to contend with. On the bright side, providers of print and mail solutions now have an opportunity to take what they learned from a disoriented business climate and move forward with increased clarity and purpose. Purpose is an important and common thread as businesses strive toward future growth; it must now be at the center of every decision and customer interaction. As our industry evolves, it has never been more critical for brands to have 12
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
a purpose. According to a Harvard Business Review study, companies that focus on their purpose typically achieve higher growth rates and more success during transformative times. Nearly 90% of surveyed executives believed that a strong sense of collective purpose drives employee satisfaction. In addition, 84% asserted that a strong purpose could affect an organization’s ability to transform, and 80% believed that it helped increase customer loyalty. This article explores the trends specific to marketing and direct mail that are expected to shape our industry as we move toward the future. An Increased Focus on Applications Applications drive print volume. If this seems like an obvious statement, that’s because it is… but it is still important! For print service providers (PSPs), the fastest path to new revenues will typically come from identifying printprominent applications that are due an upgrade. Rather than focusing on print jobs, successful printing firms should seek applications that align with the digital print value proposition. Versioned, personalized, short run-lengths and interactive print that complements digital communication efforts can have a positive impact on the organization that owns them.
Each industry will have different names for various types of documents, so it’s nearly impossible to name every application in existence. For example, the same item that a software company would call a brochure might be called a look-book by a real estate broker. As a result, print sales professionals can better identify new opportunities by understanding who owns the application and the business purpose it serves. Keypoint Intelligence’s application forecast data provides a broad view of the applications that are expected to experience growth. As shown in Figure 1, every one of the top 15 digital print color applications has areas of additional opportunity. The great news is that direct mail remains one of the largest print volume applications and is expected to continue seeing positive gains. In line with the need to maintain a strong brand, businesses must deliver high-impact print campaigns in versions that align their purpose with the interests of their intended audience. When it comes to providing an optimal customer experience, the way in which a brand delivers its message matters. Research confirms that direct mail requires less cognitive effort to process than digital media, making it easier to understand and more memorable. Direct mail also offers significant advantages in terms of brand recall. Our brains process visual images 60,000 times faster than words, so powerful visuals can help drive engagement and improve response rates in direct mail. As shown in Figure 1, catalogs and magazines are expected to experience some of the highest growth rates in terms of impressions between 2020 and 2025. Their strength in digital print can primarily be attributed to shifts away from traditional offset manufacturing. We already know that digital presses enable shorter run lengths, geo-marketing, and personalized messaging. Building on this knowledge, PSPs must translate these benefits into a language that marketers can relate to. Sustainable and Viable Direct Mail Enterprises of all sizes know that marketing is an essential business development activity. The onset of COVID-19 made all of us hyper-aware of changes in budgets and business operations. This means that brand owners must spend wisely and seek
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for new ways to connect with their best prospects in a meaningful way. Today’s marketers are expected to use tools and technologies that engage their audience members. Universal to all communication channels is the need to generate interest with prospective and current customers. As we navigate through 2022, brands must be more transparent about their position on sustainability, environmental concerns, social justice, and corporate governance. Because today’s marketers are often older than their intended audience, it’s critical to understand what is important to the younger generations apart from obvious factors like price and quality. Let’s look at a few purpose-driven initiatives that are important to today’s younger buyers. Sustainability According to The Deloitte Development study on 2022 Global Marketing Trends, certain age groups are more specific about purpose-driven purchasing criteria than others. One example suggests that 33% of consumers under the age of 26 view sustainability as a top buying decision. Gen Z consumers (those born between 1997 and 2012) and Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) are especially concerned with global challenges. It has been argued that print is not a sustainable industry, but there are in fact many ways to align printed products with environmental improvements. PSPs are perfectly positioned to educate their
audience and raise awareness of digital print’s value. Printing firms have much to gain from establishing sustainable practices. Legitimate efforts start within the print shop itself. If you don’t already have an eco-friendly strategy, consider establishing an environmental committee that oversees how energy is consumed, how deliveries are made, and how recyclable products are integrated into print production. Plenty of PSPs took to renewable energy when the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) became important in the early 2000s, so many PSPs are in fact FSC-certified. When this first became a practice, the conversation was on the print provider and the efforts made to earn that important stamp of approval. In many cases, the messaging of those efforts wasn’t translated to why a buyer should care. Sustainable standards extend beyond FSC certifications. So, consider today’s buyers, and establish your messaging to help them understand how digital print and direct mail can address environmental concerns. Sustainability isn’t a phase; it is surfacing as a prominent influence when selecting a product or service. Tell your story so it educates your best audience, and you can then help marketers tell their own stories. Social Inequities Younger print buyers expect brands to work toward positive change. Shared in the same Deloitte Development study
mentioned earlier, younger consumers are generally more willing to patronize brands that commit to addressing social inequities. The concept of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) must play a key role in a brand’s purpose. Inclusive marketing means that PSPs and marketers alike must reflect on the impact of their marketing messages — not just the intent. In the future, images and messages that represent a variety of identities and backgrounds will become even more important. Digital print technology is the perfect solution for addressing this important need. The ability to change images and messaging in run lengths means that marketers can properly address the individuals they hope to include. Not taking the time to map marketing messages to the buyers’ social interests can mean the difference between onboarding new customers and watching once-loyal customers defect to brands that better speak their language. PSPs must address the social needs of today’s consumers. When done well, the solution will gracefully lead to digital print. Corporate Governance By design, the way in which a company conducts business establishes its reputation. Some corporations have historically focused on maximizing shareholder value, but today’s corporate governance involves balancing the interests of a company’s many MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
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stakeholders in addition to focusing on customers, suppliers, and the community’s best interests. Guiding principles that direct a brand’s behavior are more important now than ever before. After all, who wants to do business with a company that is only focused on its own profits? Marketers can establish a more loyal customer base by sharing information about how they conduct business. One of the best examples of corporate governance, transparency, and messaging is delivered by LEGO. The following is a quote from its website: “Our aim is to ensure the rights and well-being of everyone involved in making LEGO products and to protect the environment. We work in a transparent way with suppliers who share this ambition and commitment.” LEGO’s leading business principles include: Ethics: Transparency and integrity People: Employee rights and well-being Children: Child safeguarding and familyfriendly workplaces Environment: Caring for the planet So, what does this have to do with direct mail? Well, the primary purpose of direct mail is to create brand awareness and loyalty while encouraging current and potential customers to build a relationship with the brand. Going back to an earlier statement about purpose being at the center of every customer interaction, it’s important to recognize that today’s consumers have a keen interest in the company behind their purchase. PSPs 14
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
are well-positioned to have insightful discussions with prospects and clients on how to consider the interest of today’s buyers. Today’s digital presses have been designed as an alternative to the long runs that were unable to customize marketing messages. It’s not about the features of digital printing; it’s about how you can help your clients address the interests of today’s buyers. Transactional Printing in Customer Communications In late 2021, Keypoint Intelligence conducted a survey of over 350 enterprises in North America. Half of enterprises cite security and regulatory compliance — which conveniently can be categorized under corporate governance — as a most important priority. As reflected in Figure 2 above, other important business objectives include reducing costs and improving the customer experience. The data above provides a handful of solid talking points for PSPs as they work to help customers examine their current practices. The insight gained from those conversations can help determine which improvements will achieve these important goals. The Bottom Line The past two years have introduced a great many changes to the way we live, work, and do business. As we move through 2022, we will undoubtedly face additional challenges and critical considerations. Supply chain challenges,
labor concerns, and rising costs are on the minds of many, but these challenges can also mean exciting new opportunities! Capital investments are still occurring within our industry, and many firms are making investments to better address today’s ever-changing market needs. As a result, listening to the voice of the customer is more important than ever. Use the lessons that you’ve learned over the past two years to determine your focus and identify any changes that must be made to better serve your audience. With the continued focus on the digital transformation, providers of print and mail solutions must shift the manner with which they describe their businesses, products, and services. Take the time to unapologetically define your company’s purpose. Articulate how your offerings complement today’s digital world and seek opportunities to build systems that will keep pace with the growth you want to achieve. Doing so can help guide the decisions that you’ll need to make as we navigate our businesses through another new year. Karen Kimerer of Keypoint Intelligence has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is wellversed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products.
WHAT IS THE QUALITY OF YOUR ADDRESSES?
You may have worked many hours developing and producing your latest direct mail or customer communication piece; however, your customers and prospects will only receive your mailing if you have the correct address information. It seems like a simple concept, but every day, businesses across the country are wasting money and time due to a database filled with bad address information. There are several companies that can help you with this problem. To save you some time, please take a moment to look over the 5 companies we have featured and contact them today.
As mailing costs continue to rise in conjunction with shifting USPS® regulations, it is imperative for mailers to make every communication count by ensuring complete, correct, and current addresses. With over forty years of leadership in the postal software industry, BCC Software provides its customers with cutting edge data quality services to help ensure that each mailpiece reaches its intended target — improving response rates and reducing costs and waste. https://bccsoftware.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | 800.337.0442
Firstlogic’s DQ10 software includes file preparation, address quality, change-of-address, geocoding, data enhancement, and matching/consolidation in a set of comprehensive data quality products available as a bundle or individually. Driven by the industry’s most sophisticated parsing engine, this powerful system analyzes and cleanses data in both real-time API and batch processing modes. With DQ10, marketing departments, data analysts, and fulfillment operations can target digital and printed content delivering increased sales and superior customer service. https://firstlogic.com | https://firstlogic.com/contact-us | 678.256.2900
For 37 years, Melissa has been delivering the best address verification and national change of address processing services available. Our LeadGen APIs can be integrated into your applications for 24/7 access to accurate mailing lists and sales leads for more efficient marketing and greater ROI. To ensure last-mile success, our Global Address Database (GAD) is ideal for route planning, giving accurate details on every address in the U.S., Canada and many other countries. Melissa.com | email@example.com | 800.MELISSA
Peachtree Data is the best solution for your address quality needs. You can use our automated system for quick return of your cleansed data 24/7, or you can work with our data quality experts for a more custom solution. Contact us today to discuss how we can work together and improve your data quality.
www.peachtreedata.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | 678.987.4600
Secure the benefits of address validation across all your business-critical data. Available as REST, SOAP or .NET APIs, or desktop applications, SmartSoftDQ’s industry-leading AccuMail tools clean your data at both point-of-entry and across your entire database. Ensure each address is analyzed, verified and standardized according to CASSTM standards. NCOALink® tools ensure you are using the most current available address and Geocode data can also be appended. Discover more at www.SmartSoftDQ.com and request a free trial. | www.SmartSoftDQ.com | email@example.com | 888.227.7221 | JANUARY-FEBRUARY MailingSystemsTechnology.com 202215 15 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 PARCELindustry.com
DELIVERING FOR AMERICA
A look at the progress of the USPS’s 10-year plan By Kathleen J. Siviter
t’s been some time since the USPS on March 23, 2021 first published its 10-year strategic plan, “Delivering for America,” which has become known by its acronym “DFA.” While there has been no shortage of controversy about the USPS's DFA plan, it is — unlike its predecessors — a strategic plan that contains a good level of detail on the USPS’s vision, and one that the USPS is wholeheartedly sticking to. From the Postmaster General on down within the USPS organization, the DFA is frequently referenced and its goals articulated as the USPS moves forward with many of the initiatives in the plan. So where is the USPS on its DFA plan at the end of 2021/beginning of 2022, and what is coming in the new year and beyond? The DFA identified four major categories of monetary “benefits” its initiatives would achieve, including Legislative and Administrative Action (estimated at $58 16
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
billion over 10 years); Regulatory Changes (estimated at $44 billion over 10 years); Self-Help Management Initiatives — Cost Improvements (estimated at $34 billion over 10 years); and Self Help Management Initiatives — Revenue Improvement (estimated at $24 billion over 10 years). Below are highlights of what the USPS included in each of these categories in the DFA, what it has accomplished in 2021, and what is still to come. Legislative and Administrative Action ($58 Billion). The DFA outlines key elements of this category, including integrating the USPS’s health benefit plans with Medicare, eliminating the pre-funding requirement for retiree health benefits, and changes to the allocation of CSRS benefits for legacy Post Office Department employees. The initiatives in this category require legislative change, and most are currently included in the Postal Reform Act (PRA), which has bipartisan support
in the House and Senate committees that oversee postal, but has not yet moved forward. There are other changes included in the PRA, which has somewhat tenuous support from the broad postal stakeholder community. It is unknown whether the legislation will move forward in Congress in 2022, though it remains a priority agenda item for the committees involved. Regulatory Changes ($44 Billion). The DFA for this category focuses on the USPS’s implementation of the new pricing authorities granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in its 10-year rate system review, which allow the USPS to increase Market Dominant prices above CPI based on certain factors related to mail volumes and delivery points and the USPS’s retirement liabilities. The USPS in August 2021 implemented its first price change under the new PRC rules, raising Market Dominant mail prices an average six to eight percent depending on the mail class. The USPS, later in 2021, announced that starting in January of 2023, it plans to change prices twice per year — once in January based on CPI, and a second price change in July based on the additional rate authority granted by the PRC plus CPI for the period between price changes. The USPS Board of Governors decided not to increase Market Dominant prices in January of 2022, a move welcomed by the mailing community. The USPS recently told mailers it anticipates the next Market Dominant price increase in July 2022 and based on preliminary data (which could change), prices would increase about 5.91% (CPI is projected to be about 4.26%), with an additional two percent added for Periodicals and Package Services categories if the
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! PRC concludes they are still not covering their costs. The USPS in the DFA also states in this category that it will conduct a review across all its products and services to determine opportunities to “drive higher revenues based on organizational and market needs,” and will “holistically review [its] pricing strategy with regard to [its] package products, and more appropriately optimize [its] prices.” The USPS in 2021 seemed to have started such a review, and has proposed several changes to its package products offerings — a change to zone-based structure was initially discussed with shippers and later withdrawn/postponed by USPS; new fees based on package size and non-compliance with electronic data requirements were announced for January 2022 but later deferred until April; the USPS has requested approval from the PRC to move Bound Printed Matter Parcels and some PO Boxes to the Competitive Services category; and the USPS has moved forward with its USPS Connect Local same/next-day delivery service offering for packages entered at the destination delivery unit. Self-Help Management Initiatives – Cost Improvements ($34 Billion). The
DFA lays out a variety of cost improvement initiatives and estimated cost savings for each category, including delivery initiatives (such as replacing the USPS’s aging vehicle fleet and optimizing office/street efficiency); transportation initiatives (such as aligning service standards and optimizing the USPS’s surface transportation network, minimizing redundant lanes and late/extra trips within that network, and modernizing its logistics management systems); mail processing initiatives (such as consolidating some mail processing operations, modernizing package processing equipment and plant automation, and changes in the 24-hour operating clock to improve service performance); administrative functions initiatives (reorganization of USPS management structure and reducing non-transportation contractor spend); and retail initiatives (aligning hours in low-traffic post offices, rationalizing stations/branches, modernizing retail lobbies to enable expanded digital, small/medium business and government services). There are several key initiatives in the DFA that are not only designed to reduce costs but also to enable future initiatives that improve service consistency or grow revenue. One of the key initiatives supporting this DFA category were changes
to service standards to align with an expanded surface transportation network vs. air transportation. The USPS in 2021 moved aggressively on this front, changing its First-Class Mail and Periodicals service standards effective October 1, 2021, after a proceeding before the PRC to obtain an advisory opinion. While the USPS temporarily halted implementing changes to its First-Class Package Service standards until after the peak season, it plans to move ahead on those changes once peak is over. The USPS’s service standard changes are designed to bring more consistency and reliability to its service performance as well as reduce costs by moving volume to surface transportation instead of air (some volume will still be transported by air). The USPS also in 2021 changed its plant operating plans to be more site-specific rather than one-size-fits-all, with the new plans designed to minimize late/extra transportation trips caused by misaligned processing plans. The USPS's reorganization, which it largely accomplished in 2021, put in place more direct reporting relationships and clear lines of accountability between USPS HQ and plants. Also in 2021, the USPS re-started 21 Area Mail Processing (AMP) reviews (now
referred to as “Mail Moves”) to identify opportunities to consolidate mail processing operations and close some plants. It has invested heavily in new or expanded facility space, equipment, and employee complement for handling parcels during the peak 2021 period — much of which will remain in place after peak and is designed to support packages growth for USPS. And there is more still to come in 2022 and beyond in this DFA category. The USPS is in the process of designing a new facility and transportation network that will bring changes to mail preparation and entry rules and ultimately to associated price discounts and potentially to service standards for Marketing Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services. For letters/flats, the USPS will no longer process or transport these pieces through its existing 21 network distribution centers (NDCs), instead moving to a model that utilizes its 13 surface transfer centers (STCs) to cross-dock containers directly to the destination PDC in addition to existing plants located near the STCs to handle “working mail.” The existing NDC facilities will become “regional distribution centers” that process packages. This may bring changes in the way both letters/flats and parcels are
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
prepared and entered, and these changes are likely to be incremental over the next few years as the USPS transitions to the new network design by geographic region. With a new network design will come change for the mailing industry, but change often brings opportunity. In addition, there are many more initiatives outlined in this DFA category, such as the retail initiatives, where activity is still to come. Self Help Management Initiatives – Revenue Improvement ($24 Billion). In this category, the DFA focuses on new revenue sources, including growth of packages volume, “new competitive products,” and “pricing changes.” The latter includes the new packages fees and price changes discussed above. For new revenue sources, the USPS in 2021 focused on pilot testing its USPS Connect Local offering for packages, which it will offer nationwide starting in January 2022, as well as a USPS Connect Local Mail offering, which it will begin to market test. The USPS currently is allowed to offer “postal” services and some other services such as passports, etc. to government agencies, and the USPS is exploring opportunities in those areas. There are also legislative changes that would allow the
USPS to offer certain non-postal services to government agencies (local, state, federal) included in the Postal Reform Act. As you can see, the USPS has already made great strides in moving forward with the initiatives it laid out in its Delivering for America plan — in less than a year! But with nine more years to go in the plan, and many additional initiatives outlined in DFA that are not discussed in this article, there is still much more to come. The USPS likely is still considering many of the details in its future initiatives as well as fine-tuning initiatives it has already started, which means there are plenty more opportunities to come for the USPS and its partners in the mailing industry to work collaboratively on the initiatives! Kathleen J. Siviter is Asst. Executive Director of the National Association of Presort Mailers (NAPM) as well President of Postal Consulting Services Inc. (PCSi), and she has over 30 years’ experience in the postal industry. She has worked for the U.S. Postal Service, Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom), and others, as well as providing consulting services to a diverse set of clients with interest in the postal industry. She has also worked with PostalVision 2020, an initiative designed to engage stakeholders in discussions about the future of the American postal system.
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PRITHA MEHRA PRESENTED WITH FIRST MEGAN J. BRENNAN AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE Editor’s Note: We originally ran this piece in the January/February issue of our sister publication, PARCEL, but given that Ms. Mehra is such an influential member of the USPS leadership team, we wanted to share with our Mailing Systems Technology readers as well.
n December 16, 2021, during the Women in Logistics and Delivery Services (WILDS) annual meeting, Pritha Mehra, the Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President of the United States Postal Service, was presented with the organization’s first Megan J. Brennan Award for Excellence. “Pritha Mehra is a dedicated problem-solver who works tirelessly to advance solutions that mutually benefit the interest of the industry and the Postal Service whenever possible. She’s always mindful of the potential pinch points and routinely collaborates with the industry to try to design and implement cooperative approaches that achieve the common needs of the Postal Service and the mailing and industry shipping industry alike,” commented former Postmaster General Brennan in remarks read by Shoshana Grove, CEO of International Bridge and Co-Chair of WILDS, during the awards presentation. “I am so overwhelmed and honored to receive this first Megan Brennan award.
This is wild,” Mehra quipped, drawing laughter from the crowd, before going on to say, “I’m talking about WILDS. WILDS is a great group. I’m really impressed with the networking and learning venues that you host, and the culture of growth that you foster. I really want to thank you for this award, and I want to also thank you for the continued and enduring partnership between the industry and the Postal Service.” Before she retired in June of 2020, former PMG Brennan (who is currently the only woman to have held the position of PMG) was approached by WILDS regarding creating an award for someone who embodies the leadership traits that Brennan was known for during her tenure. The three main award criteria are: Appreciation for the employees of an organization — people on the front lines. Ability to work collaboratively. Ability to look at problems and opportunities holistically. Mehra has exhibited many of these qualities during her 31-year tenure with
Pritha Mehra (center) holds the Megan J. Brennan Award for Excellence, accompanied by Shoshana Grove (left) and Anita Pursley (right), co-chairs of WILDS.
the Postal Service, the last two and a half years as the CIO and EVP. In her role, she is focused on re-envisioning and leading the transformation of the USPS as the organization strives to drive increased security, performance, and customer loyalty. During the Q&A following the award ceremony, Mehra’s commitment to collaborative and holistic problem-solving was clear. When asked what some of her key principles are as she is going through the transformational process as the head of technology for the Postal Service, Mehra responded, “The industry is undergoing unprecedented change, and technology is at the root of this change. This is a really exciting time for CIOs. We’re all required to stay on top of it, to drive innovation and excellence… First and foremost, understand the marketplace and listen to the customers. Customers have choices, and we must keep in touch with their evolving expectations. So, I focus on the customer and develop customer-centric solutions. I like to use design thinking to generate solutions rooted in customer empathy. And by that, I mean understand customer touchpoints and pain points, and the goals they are trying to achieve at every step of their journey. Bring the customer along with you as you test new ways of meeting their needs.” She went on to say that it’s important to have a seat at the table when decisions are being made. “Look for opportunities to participate in strategic planning and execution decisions across the board, whether it’s marketing, supply chain, sales, or most of all, customer engagement.” She wrapped up the Q&A by reminding attendees to always take stock of where they are in their fields and where they’d like to go. She advocated embracing new challenges so as to not get stuck in a rut in one’s comfort zone. “Never stop learning… Be mindful of adding dimensions and value to the contributions you make. Contemplate how you can drive quantifiable results in your organization.” WILDS is a nonprofit organization created to promote women’s leadership in the postal, delivery, and logistics industries and to address the challenges women and minorities regularly face in these industries. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF PRINT AND MAIL MANAGEMENT By Mark Fallon
“The only constant in life is change”- Heraclitus
he constancy of change in the print industry has been true since Guttenberg, and Ben Franklin would be amazed at how mail is prepared, processed, and delivered today. The most successful organizations have embraced the changes in technology, media, and management. Even forward-thinking, progressive managers have been challenged by the impact of the pandemic. Yet there are still consistent threads among those in-plant organizations that not only survived, but are positioned for a successful future. To learn more, we gathered managers of four successful in-plant print and mail operations. We discussed new strategies, new services, and new staffing models. The group included: Danelle Clark, American Family Insurance Lauren Tarbet, Pflugerville Independent School District, Texas Mike Lincoln, State of Colorado Printer Tammy Golden, Document Solutions at State of Tennessee Adapting to Volume Changes The initial shift to remote workers and remote students had an immediate impact on volumes — positive and negative. The Pflugerville school system needed physi-
cal material to support distance learning, and Ms. Tarbet’s shop saw a dramatic increase in the size and number of jobs. The team was able to meet the demands while maintaining social distancing in the copy center. The shift to work from home means fewer in-person meetings and fewer on-demand jobs. Buildings were vacated and departments consolidated. Both Ms. Golden’s and Mr. Lincoln’s teams absorbed the work from other departments, meaning an overall increase in volumes. American Family continued to acquire new companies, meaning more print and mail for Ms. Clark’s department. Each of the managers adapted to the changes through innovative staffing decisions, adjusting shifts and using automation wherever possible. Key technology purchases made in 2019 and early 2020 had a direct impact. Prior Technology Investments Reaped Benefits Planned changes in software and hardware became keystones in building success. Ms. Clark had launched a program to move all work to the same enterprise platform. The white-paper factory solution optimized workflows, eliminated forms, and grouped
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! Software vendors came to the table to help Mr. Lincoln migrate through needed changes to onboard the new work. Paper and envelope suppliers were resourceful in finding ways to deliver the needed material. Special permission was obtained to go outside the standard procurement process. In the new environment, “business as usual” is no longer the way to do business. Managers and vendors need creativity and innovation to find ways to deliver success.
jobs by envelope type. The operation went from 12 inserters to five, and nine printers to five. Meanwhile, the volumes increased by four million pieces during the pandemic. Clark’s team hasn’t missed a single service-level agreement (SLA). Using automated processes and inkjet technology, Mr. Lincoln reduced the processing time on certain work from eight hours to four hours on the third shift. Volumes are up by 40%, with no additional staff or equipment. Directly before the pandemic, Ms. Tarbet had invested in a 60-inch, wide-format latex printer. She was fully prepared for the spike in requests for floor decals and signage. Next, her team is bringing an automated cutter onboard to further increase efficiency. Partnerships Are Key Among the challenges created by the pandemic, supply chain issues have had a significant impact on the print-mail industry. Strong partnerships with vendors have been key in creating solutions. MICR toner shortages threatened the ability of Ms. Golden’s unit to meet the needs of the state. She contacted her disaster recovery (DR) vendor with the intent of activating the DR plan. The vendor responded with a surprise solution — they shipped the needed toner to Tennessee — with no markup costs.
Staffing Will Remain a Challenge “Work from home” was never going to be a solution for producing print and mail. Not every employee wanted to take the risks in working alongside other people, especially during the different waves of infection surges. And no industry is immune from the “great resignation.” Fewer people are applying for open positions. American Family had already increased the minimum wage of employees from $15 per hour to $20 per hour before the pandemic. There was minimal attrition of Ms. Clark’s staff over the past two years. However, some people have been at the company for 40 years, and are “retirement-ready,” so 2022 may be a challenge. Incentives are having a positive impact. While harder to implement in the government sector, Mr. Lincoln took advantage of a “spot awards” program to function as bonuses. More importantly, he led team conversations about the challenges and individual life needs. This approach engaged the team to work together in creating solutions to meet the staffing needs of a 24x6 operation. In addition to changing hours, Ms. Golden is also looking at different ways to hire. They are looking at the potential of collaborating with vocational high school programs, the state rehabilitation center, and prison programs. On top of that, she has a robust cross-training program to provide coverage for vacancies. Looking Ahead Even faced with multiple challenges, these leaders are optimistic about the future. Mail is still a primary source for information for much of the population. Printed material has a key role to play in the hybrid scenario of in-person and remote work. For Ms. Tarbet and her team, it’s all about new services. What can they provide their internal customers that they haven’t done before? Plus, she’s adjusting schedules and staffing to meet new requirements and new volumes.
State of Colorado Printer
Document Solutions at State of Tennessee
American Family Insurance
Tarbet Pflugerville Independent School District, Texas
Mr. Lincoln is looking towards technologies to add value to everything that they print. That means looking at “all the tools in the toolbox” like augmented reality and targeted communications. To counter rising postage and shipping costs, Ms. Clark is making sure that critical documents are sent using the right method, including electronically. This may include getting customers to opt-in for digital solutions. Of course, that means changing customer behavior, which is never an easy task. With all of these changes, Ms. Golden stressed that communication is key. Managers need to make sure that customers — internal and external — understand what is happening. Then everyone can plan accordingly. Successful leaders don’t just react to change, they become agents of change. These four in-plant managers are examples of the type of leaders we should strive to become. Mark M. Fallon is President & CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting ﬁrm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To watch a recording of the interviews, please visit: http://www. berkshire-company.com/webinar-recordings. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
2022 POSTAL PROMOTIONS FACT SHEET Once again, the United States Postal Service is offering its postage-saving promotions for mailers, but there have been a few changes this year. Most notably, the discounts increased for four of the promotions. The discount for Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement increased to four percent; Emerging and Advanced Technology went up to between two and three percent; Personalized Color Transpromo increased to three percent; and the discount for Informed Delivery is now four percent. Below, we’ve gathered the relevant information regarding dates, eligibility, and more from PostalPro. For most of these offerings, you can register right up until the end of the promotion itself. There’s never been a better time to incorporate (or continue incorporating) these promotions into your operation; after all, the more pieces that are in the mail stream, the more we as an industry all benefit. And if you can save some money in the process, well, why wouldn’t a mailer take advantage of these offerings?
Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement “Encourages mailers to enhance customer engagement through innovations in paper and stock, substrates, inks, interactive elements, and finishing techniques.” What is eligible? Marketing Mail letters and flats; First-Class Mail letters, cards, and flats Discount: 4%
“Encourages mailers to incorporate emerging technologies such as Enhanced Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, Virtual Reality, NFC, Video in Print, and mail integration with voice assistants (basic and advanced).” What is eligible? Marketing Mail letters and flats; First-Class Mail letters, cards, and flats; Non-Profit Marketing Mail letters and flats
Earned Value Reply Mail “Encourages mailers to distribute Business Reply Mail (BRM), Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM), and Share Mail envelopes and cards by providing a financial benefit when customers put those pieces back into the mailstream.” What is eligible? Credits may be applied to postage for qualifying First-Class and Marketing Mail letters & flats, and must be used by December 31, 2022.
Dates: Registration began December 15 of last year, and the promotion itself begins on February 1, ending July 31.
Discount: $0.02 credit per counted reply and/or share mailpiece
Dates: Registration began January 15, and the promotion itself runs from March 1-August 31.
Dates: Registration runs from February 15-March 31, and the promotion itself starts on April 1 and runs until June 30.
Personalized Color Transpromo
“Encourages mailers to use USPS’ Informed Delivery omni-channel feature. Participants must create Informed Delivery campaigns through the Portal or submit elements through eDoc submission and develop campaigns that meet best-practice requirements.”
“Encourages mailers to integrate mobile technologies that facilitate convenient, seamless online shopping experiences. Many new mobile technologies can be leveraged to qualify for this promotion.”
“Enhances the value of First-Class Mail by encouraging mailers of bills and statements to incorporate color marketing messaging to improve connection to and response from customers.” What is eligible? First-Class Mail presort and automation letters (bills and statements) Discount: 3% Dates: Registration begins May 15, and the promotion itself runs from July 1-December 31.
Emerging and Advanced Technology
What is eligible? Qualifying automation Marketing Mail letters and flats; qualifying automation First-Class Mail letters, cards, and flats Discount: 4%
What is eligible? Marketing Mail letters and flats Discount: 2% Dates: Registration begins July 15, and the promotion runs from September 1 through December 31.
Dates: Registration starts June 15, and the promotion itself starts August 1 and runs through the end of the year.
Source: United States Postal Service PostalPro. Visit https://postalpro.usps.com/promotions for more information. SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
VOTE BY MAIL — 4 COMPANIES THAT HAVE SOLUTIONS TO HELP Vote By Mail has become a topic that is at the forefront of many election discussions. As the media for improving every aspect of the workflow and production of your mail, we want to provide help for those decision-makers, industry professionals, and other city, county, and state employees who have been tasked with finding the options to help optimize their information and processes. Here are 4 companies that will help you, so please reach out to them with your questions.
Track N Trace™ from BCC Software empowers mailers with insight into potential interruptions in the mailstream, providing the opportunity for proactive intervention before a ballot is delayed. TNT also provides robust reporting capabilities, giving election officials the confidence they need to deliver accurately timed ballots. BCC Software has been the leader in the postal software industry for over forty years, providing data quality services and software solutions backed by industry expertise and unmatched customer support. We are committed to the industry, and our solutions remain ahead of the curve and compliant with the latest USPS® regulations. https://bccsoftware.com | email@example.com | 800.337.0442
With the recent health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, “vote by mail” has gained popularity. Election officials must identify voters that have moved to reduce waste, costs of UAA mail, and avoid potential voter disenfranchisement. As a USPS® NCOALink® Full-Service Provider Licensee, Melissa matches existing voter lists against the last 48 months of permanent change-of-address records filed with the USPS, and offers proprietary change of address processing using reliable, multisourced data to identify those who don’t file a notice. Be sure to take advantage of our limited time offer — free list processing for States and Counties — call for details! | Melissa.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | 800.MELISSA
Tritek has engineered and provided custom ballot processing systems since 2005. The ‘Correct Elect’ patented system processes all styles and sizes of machine-printed or hand-addressed ballots. Our software seamlessly integrates with any voter registration software. Additional features include: signature verification, doubles detector, thickness detector, inline opener, time/date stamp printing, duplex reading and tray tag printing. ‘Correct Elect’ sorts by precincts, zip codes, alphabetically and more. With over 38 years experience in mail processing, Tritek is a leading provider of mail processing solutions worldwide. Please visit our website: www.tritektech.com or call (707) 237-1349. | www.tritektech.com | 707.237.1349
For 109 years W+D has been serving the envelope and mailing markets as the world leader in envelope converting machines. In more recent years, W+D BB intelligent direct mail and ballot inserters now dominate in the high-performance complex mailing segments where accuracy and the highest nets on the belt are demanded. The W+D BB intelligent inserters produced 63 million mail-in ballots or about 68% of all mail-in ballots requested in the last US general election. This means W+D inserters produced more than 85% of mail-in ballots sold by for profit printer/mailers. W+D – your mailing solutions partner. | www.wdnorthamerica.com | email@example.com | 913.492.9880
| JANUARY-FEBRUARY MailingSystemsTechnology.com 202223 23 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 PARCELindustry.com
USPS SERVICE STANDARDS: YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY By Leo Raymond
he next time you encounter a car ad, or one for an investment or dietary supplement, somewhere in the fine print will be a clarification that what’s shown may not be representative of a typical user’s experience. Any moderately aware consumer knows that advertisers want to show you their best while minimizing any acknowledgment that your actual experience — your mileage, financial gain, or weight loss — likely won’t be quite as impressive. Taking a page from Madison Avenue, the Postal Service has engaged in its own form of such messages, hyping and spinning its service performance unrelentingly in a bid to persuade customers (and commercial mailers) that it’s doing a great job. However, unlike the TV ads, there’s no disclaimer that actual customers’ mailing experiences may vary from what’s being claimed. The PR Every week for the past several months, the USPS has issued a press release touting continuous service improvement, strong performance, or something similar, and offering numbers meant to back up the claims. However, the numbers that have been published in the weekly releases since June show the trend actually isn’t as impressive as the USPS wants readers to believe.
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
First, the USPS was hit hard by the pandemic; absenteeism levels soared, the mail mix swung from letters and flats to packages, and air transportation capacity, vital for First-Class Mail, was cut sharply by carriers. As those pressures eased, service naturally improved, so better scores later in the year should be viewed accordingly. Second, what’s not explained is the source of the numbers, or how they’re calculated. In each case, the reported scores are aggregated across the whole nation and an entire class of mail, effectively concealing any poor service situations by homogenizing them with better service scores. Comparing them to the prior quarterly scores further blurs how the weekly numbers don’t always show improvement. Finally, as commercial mailers know, the Postal Service moved the goalposts as of October 1, lowering its service standards for First-Class Mail and some Periodicals. As a result, the apparent jump in performance as of October 15 (the dashed line in Figure 1, the first week of reporting under the new standards), likely was more due to a lower goal than true improvement. What also wasn’t well publicized was the decision by the USPS Board of Governors on May 6 (over halfway through the fiscal year) to adjust the FY 21 service targets for First-Class Mail to 84.88%
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! and to 86.62% for Marketing Mail and Periodicals. (The service standard is different from the service target, the latter being the level of achievement of the service standard). Consequently, by moving the target closer to actual performance, the USPS can claim that it’s hitting its service goals — or getting close to them — when, in fact, such a claim was enabled only by some helpful easing of what’s expected. Of course, more easily achieved targets don’t equate to improved service. Digging Looking at the national figures that are reported quarterly to the Postal Regulatory Commission suggests that USPS service has declined generally in recent years (the acme of each is in red), aside from the marked drop during the worst of the pandemic, as shown in Figure 2. Discerning the sources of the weekly numbers requires digging into that more granular quarterly data. For example, in its October 8 press release, the national “preliminary” figures declared by the Postal Service for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year (July 1 through September 30) were 88.0% for First-Class Mail, 92.6% for Marketing Mail, and 82.1% for Periodicals, all “against the [corresponding] USPS service standard.” However, according to the data for First-Class Mail filed with the PRC, the three-to-five day standard was met only 87.2% of the time for Presorted First-Class Mail, and only 76.1% of the time for single-piece (retail) First-Class Mail. The Postal Service’s claim of “88.0% ... on time” clearly resulted from blending in better numbers from its achievement of the overnight and twoday delivery standards. Figure 1
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
Figure 3 Similarly, though the USPS touted delivering “92.6% of Marketing Mail on time against the USPS service standard,” looking at the more detailed information shows that on-time delivery of origin-entered Marketing Mail was only 80.1% for letters and 62.4% for flats. Here again, the USPS used better figures, such as for mail SCF-entered by the mailer (96.4% for letters and 90.6% for flats) to lift the aggregated figure it reported. The agency did the same for Periodicals; though its October 8 release asserted “82.1% of Periodicals [were delivered] on time against the USPS service standard,” the data filed with the PRC revealed that national service achievement for origin-entered inside-county and outside-county Periodicals was only 71.0% and 68.4%, respectively. Similar cherry-picking may be practiced to select the numbers for the weekly press releases but, as noted, the origin and calculation of those figures isn’t disclosed by the Postal Service. The final huge asterisk that should be attached to USPS service claims relates to the exclusion of significant portions of the mailstream from the universe of mail whose service experience is allegedly reported. The current “census” method being used by the Postal Service to measure service is reliant on a unique intelligent mail barcode on each piece so, by definition, the universe of mail eligible to be measured (and reported) consists of automation-compatible mail bearing an IMB — the easiest and fastest mail to process. What’s often overlooked by commercial mailers — and the media and public — is the business rules governing what mail is “in measurement,” i.e., included in or excluded from the service performance scores. In the Postal Quarter IV (July-September 2021) service performance data filed with the 26
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
PRC, the USPS reported on the volumes of mail that were or weren’t “in measurement.” Generally, as noted, pieces eligible to be “in measurement” are those bearing a Full Service intelligent mail barcode, otherwise physically compatible with automated processing, and reported in documentation submitted by the mailer. Some of those pieces can be excluded for one of many reasons, as can pieces that either lack an IMB, aren’t automation compatible, or that bypass automated processing. Logically, excluded mail can be more difficult to process, take longer to move from origin to delivery and, accordingly, can drag down service scores. As Figure 3 shows, a substantial volume of mail was not “in measurement” and, as a result, the service that mail received was neither measured nor reflected by the scores reported by the Postal Service. This circumstance is analogous to a school district report on its students’ achievement in standardized testing if the uni-
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! verse of students on which the claim is based excludes those who weren’t on the honor roll or otherwise were ineligible to be included. Accordingly, when the USPS claims any given performance against its service targets, such claims should be (but are not) qualified to note (1) that they refer to only a subset of the total volume of mail and (2) that because that subset is only the “best” mail to process, actual net performance for the class or category of mail is lower, i.e., the mailer’s actual experience may vary.
What’s not explained is the source of the numbers, or how they’re calculated. In each case, the reported scores are aggregated across the whole nation and an entire class of mail, effectively concealing any poor service situations by homogenizing them with better service scores. The Spin In reporting on service, the agency’s strategy seems to be to (1) supply high-level, aggregated numbers that homogenize the volumes of underlying performance data; (2) make a favorable comparison, such as to a time when service was clearly worse; and (3) consistently refer back to the base same time period (e.g., the end of a previous quarter) rather than to the previous week, thus enabling the claim for “continuous” improvement and obscuring the underlying variability. Again, this creates the desired appearance without disclosing any of the inconvenient details — such as that flats are still a problem, that some parts of the country are still experiencing bad service, or that threeto-five-day scores for First-Class Mail are well below the class average. In a recent speech, a former president stated that “if you say it enough and keep saying it, they’ll start to believe you.” The gist of the remark is that people, typically disinterested in determining the veracity or accuracy of a statement, will, if they hear it repeated often enough, come to accept it as fact — and then themselves repeat it as fact. This flaw in human nature lets clever marketers, politicians, and others with a position to promote broadcast a message that, even if not outright false, still provides a set of carefully selected facts that have been assembled to support the speaker’s contention. As noted, while the popular media and the general public accept as fully accurate the numbers in USPS press releases, many senders of commercial mail, especially of flats and Periodicals, find the agency’s claims particularly disingenuous. Of course, the USPS hopes that if it keeps telling people service is improving, no one will look behind the claims and, in turn, will both believe and repeat what’s not entirely true. Leo Raymond is Owner and Managing Director at Mailers Hub LLC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
BY ADAM LEWENBERG
NAVIGATING THE 2022 UPS, FEDEX, AND USPS PRICE INCREASES — AND MINIMIZING THE IMPACT
ith inflation, not to mention our reliance on document and parcel delivery, at its peak, this January, the carriers all raised rates to their highest levels. While we expect increases, this year is one of the largest, and it is important to understand the impact so
you can properly budget or look for other savings alternatives. Both UPS and FedEx announced that they were having a 5.9% increase, but it is important to remember that this is overall. Based on multiple factors affecting your organization, the actual increase could be significantly higher, as you can see in Figure 1. Also, the USPS
stated that its Priority Mail rates were going up 2.7%, but, again, this is overall. Most clients should expect to see higher increases. In this article, we will go over these changes, educate you on how rates are calculated, and provide savings strategies that can help minimize the financial impact. Figure 1
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! Figure 2
There are three main factors that determine the rate of the item. The service level (based on delivery objectives), the zone to which it is going (distance away from where it is being sent), and the weight. In Figure 1, we break out zones 2-4 (fewer than 600 miles) vs. zones 5-8 (over 600 miles) because many organizations send most of their items to local clients vs. across the country. We also break out the weights because we find that many shipments are less than 10 pounds, which would include documents and small parcel. We highlighted the areas in yellow that are higher than the carriers’ listed increases. As you can see, based on what and where you are sending, the increases could be much larger. Overall, we are seeing higher increases for the lighter weight items going to local zones. When we analyze our clients’ carrier invoices, we typically find that 20-30% of their bill is made up of accessorial charges, also called value added services. The rates of these fees have also gone up considerably and need to be factored into any budget. Figure 2 shows a subset of some of the most common fees. We highlight
these because they are some of the most frequent, and the USPS does not charge for these services (unlike UPS and FedEx). It is important to focus on Delivery Area Surcharges (DAS) because 61% of all ZIP Codes in the US are assessed these fees. These ZIP Codes are viewed as less densely populated areas where the carriers charge an additional $3.40 to $6.50 added to the cost of the parcel. Figure 3 shows the rate comparison for the different service options for all three carriers. The base rate tables for UPS and FedEx are very similar, and the biggest difference is often your negotiated contract. Regular shippers will have 25-85% discounts off listed pricing tables and will pay much lower amounts than what is shown in the chart. The item to be careful with is the minimum service fees. This states that no matter what your discount percent is, you can never go below a specific price floor. This is important for lighter weight items because you will typically not get the full discount percentage, as you can see from the following examples. Also, while you may be getting the best rate with UPS and FedEx for heavier items
(where you can take the full discount) and items going to densely populated businesses, this may not be the case for lighter items heading to residential customers or rural areas. In Figure 4, the first example has you sending a lightweight item to a residential address. The list price of the Ground shipment is $11.13, and even though the client has a 60% Ground discount, they have a minimum service charge of $7, negating $2.25 ($7-4.45) of their discount. When you add the fuel surcharge of 12%, the $5.20 residential fee and the $4.80 delivery area surcharge, the item is $9.72 more than sending via Priority Mail from the USPS, which would have the same delivery objective. In the second example in Figure 4, an additional savings strategy is to consider your carriers’ guaranteed Ground service for items in specific zones as an alternative to their air options because it can offer a significant savings and the same or faster delivery: Overnight items in Zone 2 (Local) Two-day items in Zone 2 and 3 Three-Day items in Zone 2, 3, and 4 MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! Figure 4
As you can see, both items will get there at the same time, but the Ground option saves you $4.48. Many clients are using free, carrier-provided shipping tools (such as UPS CampusShip, for example) that make it difficult to make these comparisons. They will not have USPS rates, and the Ground comparisons are typically not displayed next to their air counterparts, making it difficult to see these as an option. We recommend having multi-carrier shipping tools that can display the rates for all options on one screen to make it easy for your users to make the best shipping decisions. We find this type of rate shopping can reduce costs in the four to 12% range and can help offset the annual increases in carrier rates. Dimensional Rates Dimensional weight is a major area that clients need to understand, since it can drastically increase their bills. Oftentimes, 30
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clients either are not entering the dimensions of their piece or are not considering the impact to the size of the box when they are making shipping decisions. UPS and FedEx will dimensionally rate items starting at about a six inch cube. The formula is length x width x height (in inches)/139. Example: A box that is 12” x 10” x 6” and is three pounds would need to be rated at six pounds. The USPS does not dimensionally rate items until the L x W x H is greater than 1728 or one cubic foot, and it divides the number by 166 (instead of 139), making them lower calculated weights. In this example, the item would be at the actual weight of three pounds. The chart in Figure 5 gives several comparisons of the difference in weight between the private carriers and the USPS. The carriers are going to continue to raise rates at higher levels than we have seen in the past. Our reliance on delivery is increasing, and there are very few major
suppliers who have increased leverage. Clients have less bargaining power in carrier rate negotiations, and fewer shipping costs are being passed back to the end recipient. The best way to reduce expenses is to have ways to compare the rates across multiple carriers and service levels at the point of shipment. You need to have the right tools in place that help your end users make the best decisions on a package-by-package basis. The free carrier tools will not provide this level of detail, and it is not practical to expect users to shift between multiple systems to make these decisions. The good news is that with the right tools, there are ways to save money and offset these increases. Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President/CEO of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit and Recovery ﬁrm in the United States and Canada. They manage the biggest shipping & mail equipment ﬂeet in the world and their mission is to help organizations with multi-locations reduce mail and parcel related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. Since 2011, they have helped their clients save an average of 58% and over $68 million on equipment, presort, avoidable fees, and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or email@example.com