PCI, TO HAVE LIVE MAIL SORTING IN ITS NEW BOOTH
PCI launches new booth and brings its suite of solutions in print, mail, fulfillment, signs and creative marketing to Printing United VISIT PCI AT BOOTH #B943
Scan here to learn more about PCI.
Stop by PCI’s hydration station for your free reusable water bottle and free refills
MailingSystemsTechnology.com MARCH-APRIL 2023 2 OCTOBER 18-20 IN ATLANTA! SEE YOU AT SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2023 MailingSystemsTechnology.com BEST PRACTICES IN MAIL PIECE DESIGN. PAGE 18 5 ELEMENTS OF AN OPTIMAL RFP. PAGE 16 COULD CUSTOMIZED MAILING LISTS BE A NEW REVENUE SOURCE? PAGE 30 STOP AND SEE THESE BOOTHS AT PRINTING UNITED PAGE 26 SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2023 MailingSystemsTechnology.com
TABLE OF CONTENTS DEPARTMENTS
Editor's Note Networking Is Critical By Amanda Armendariz
Real-Life Management The Power of Collaboration! By Wes Friesen
Postal Insights Mixed Messages from the USPS About Cost Reductions By Leo Raymond 10 Inkjet Info Standing Out with Physical Mail By Karen Kimerer
The Trenches Inbound Mail and Remote Workers By Mike Porter
Intro to International Mail International Packages, Customs, EU, and the US By Merry Law
Guest Column Make Your Voice Heard By Lewis Johnson
Wrap Up Customized Mailing Lists Power New Revenue for Mailers and Printers By Greg Brown SPONSORED CONTENT
STOP & SEE THESE BOOTHS AT PRINTING UNITED EXPO SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | VOLUME 36 ISSUE 5 FEATURES 16 5 Elements of an Optimal RFP By Mark Fallon 18 Best Practices in Mail Piece Design By Jill Corcoran 20 Streamlining Your USPS Certified Mail Processes By Adam Lewenberg 22 Our Annual Wage & Operations Survey: Part One By Amanda Armendariz 28 Highlighting the Importance of Face-toFace Learning at In-Person Events By Chris Lien 16 20 28 SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE 4 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
VOLUME 36, ISSUE 5
Publisher Ken Waddell
Editor Amanda Armendariz firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Brown, Jill Corcoran, Mark Fallon, Wes Friesen, Lewis Johnson, Karen Kimerer, Merry Law, Adam Lewenberg, Chris Lien, Mike Porter, Leo Raymond
Audience Development Manager
Rachel Chapman email@example.com
Advertising Ken Waddell 608.235.2212 firstname.lastname@example.org
Design Kelli Cooke
MadMen3 PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098
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
Online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com.
All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2023 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 36 Issue 5]
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.
Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098
NETWORKING IS CRITICAL
BY AMANDA ARMENDARIZ
By now, we’ve all heard the adage that networking is the key to success. And, as is often the case with phrases we hear repeatedly, we sometimes allow it to fall into the category of a cliché: something often said, but a saying that no one really thinks about too closely. However, it really is so true; in any industry, networking is often the key to a professional’s success, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the print and mail industry. Our industry is one that is built, to some extent, on creativity and innovation in the face of stagnation. We are challenged with taking our mainstay product (the physical mail piece), which has been around, in some form, for hundreds of years, and keeping it relevant and utilized in this age of constantly changing digital innovations. It’s an interesting task, without a doubt, but it’s also an incredibly difficult one.
That’s where networking can ease the burden, so if you haven’t yet registered for PRINTING United, there’s still time to
do so. We at Mailing Systems Technology will be there, along with many other prominent solution providers from the mailing industry. I know all of us would love to chat with you about your thoughts on the industry and where you see the print and mail sector heading. Plus, I’m excited to announce I’ll be moderating a panel at 1 pm on Wednesday, October 18. The panel discussion will be focusing on the importance of hard copy mail in marketing strategies, so I’d love it if some of our readers were able to attend! But either way, this show is a can’t-miss for printers and mailers, so I look forward with connecting with you there.
As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 5
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
THE POWER OF COLLABORATION!
BY WES FRIESEN
Collaboration in business refers to the process of working together with others to achieve a common goal or objective. It is a key component of teamwork and involves sharing knowledge, skills, and resources to achieve success. As we know, collaboration within and among work teams is crucial in today’s workplace environment. As work becomes more challenging, complex, and competitive, we must find even better ways to work together to achieve common goals. There is real power when we collaborate well. As soccer great Pelé said, “No individual can win a game by himself.” Some of the benefits of collaboration include:
Improved performance. A Stanford study found that people who acted collaboratively stuck at their tasks 64% longer than their solitary peers, while also reporting higher engagement levels, lower fatigue levels, and a higher success rate. Another study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Babson College found that companies that promote collaborative working were five times as likely to be high-performing!
Helps build resilience. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Collaboration helps our teams be more dynamic and comfortable with change and challenges that come our way. Team members gain experience working with different personality types/styles and learn how to tackle problems together as they arise. We end up with more adaptable and resilient teams, which is key to serving our stakeholders well.
It supports transparency. Building a culture of teamwork and collaboration reduces the number of blind spots in our
organization. If everyone works toward similar goals and shares deadlines and milestones to hit, transparency is required to ensure everyone is in the loop and set up for success. This transparency can make people feel plugged into what’s going on in the business and why their roles are essential. In turn, they’ll feel more committed to accomplishing the team’s objectives.
It encourages accountability. When we work as a team, we share the wins — and the losses. Our team members recognize that others depend on them and don’t want to be the reason the team fails to reach a certain goal. People are accountable not just to themselves but to the team and the organization as a whole. As a result, team members take more pride in their work and embrace their share of the responsibilities.
Increased productivity and creativity. I appreciate this quote from President Franklin Roosevelt: “I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.” Collaboration can lead to increased productivity by bringing together individuals with different skill sets and expertise to work on challenging problems. By working together, individuals can share knowledge and expertise, identify solutions, and develop innovative approaches to problem-solving, leading to more efficient and effective business processes.
Improved employee retention. Collaboration can lead to improved employee retention by fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration within our teams. When individuals feel like they are part of a team working towards a common goal, they are more likely to be engaged and satisfied in their work, leading to improved retention rates.
Teamwork makes the dream work. I appreciate this quote from leadership expert John Maxwell: “Teams are incredible things. No task is too great, no accomplishment too grand, no dream too far-fetched for a team. It takes teamwork to make the dream work.”
How Can We Develop Greater Collaboration?
Here are 10 practical ideas to help develop greater collaboration within our teams:
1. Be Intentional. A good starting place is to intentionally make a decision to pursue greater collaboration, and then adopt some of the ideas presented below.
2. Set Clear Expectations, Rules, and Roles. One recent study examined the conditions that enabled the most collaborative teams. A key finding was collaboration improved when individual roles were clearly defined (which leads to less envy and protection of turf, and more focus on the tasks). Clarifying expectations and rules also helps our team members know that collaboration is valued and that there are no rules that get in the way of collaborating well.
3. Collaboratively Set Shared Team Goals. Author Idowu Koyenikan wrote, “There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests gets together to work towards the same goals.” One of the most effective ways to promote collaboration among work teams is to establish clear and shared goals. By defining common objectives, people can work together more effectively and stay focused on achieving the desired outcomes. We should also provide our team members with the necessary resources and support to achieve their goals, including access to training, technology, and information.
4. Measure and Reward Employee Behavior. There is the management principle that what gets measured and rewarded tends to get repeated. So as leaders we can ensure that collaboration is built into our measurement systems (e.g., survey questions), and recognized and rewarded both formally and informally.
5. Build Trust and Respect Within the Team. As leaders, we can model showing trust and respect to our team members and set an example (concept of “shadow of the leader”). We can also implement team building activities, such as social events and team building exercises to help foster a stronger sense of camaraderie and teamwork. And let’s not forget
6 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com REAL-LIFE MANAGEMENT
the value of having some fun together as this quote from author Robert Orben suggests, “If you can laugh together, you can work together!” Need ideas for potential team building activities? Ask for ideas from our team members.
6. Ensure a Psychologically Safe Environment. Amy Edmondson from Harvard University is considered the world’s leading expert on psychological safety. She explains that team psychological safety is a shared belief held by members of a team that it’s OK to take risks, to express their ideas and concerns, to speak up with questions, and to admit mistakes — all without fear of negative consequences. As Edmondson puts it, “it’s felt permission for candor.”
7. Have Open and Transparent Information Flows. Freely sharing information within our teams (and with key business partners) helps build collaboration and makes people feel valued and appreciated. We can share information via team meetings, brainstorming sessions, online collaboration tools, and sharing of reports/documents.
8. Make Decisions Collaboratively as Possible. Whenever possible we
should make decisions with input from our team members. Why? The old saying that two (or more) heads is better than one means that the quality of decisions will normally be better when we get perspectives and input from multiple people. Also, when it comes time to implement decisions on the back end, our team members are more likely to have buy-in and support if they had input on the front end.
9. Use Technology Wisely. Technology can also play a crucial role in promoting collaboration among work teams. Online collaboration tools, such as shared workspaces, shared data files/directories, and video conferencing, can help to break down barriers and make it easier for employees to work together, regardless of their location. These tools can also help to increase productivity, reduce errors, and improve efficiency.
10. Celebrate Success! When things go well for the team, it is important for us to take the time to celebrate. Remember: success breeds success! There are many ways to celebrate when seeing collaboration working well and experiencing the positive results we seek. We can take pic-
tures, make videos, bring in food, have a fun team event… in addition to the basic yet important verbal and written thank you we express to our teams.
Closing thoughts: I agree with what author Mattie Stepanek once said, “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” Let’s fully tap into the power of collaboration and enjoy the positive results that follow!
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. Wes can be contacted at wesmfriesen@gmail. com or at 971.806.0812.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 7
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
MIXED MESSAGES FROM THE USPS ABOUT COST REDUCTIONS
BY LEO RAYMOND
Anyone familiar with the Postmaster General’s 10-Year Plan knows that part of the strategy to balance the agency’s books includes not only price increases but cost reductions from improved efficiency in USPS operations. Many readers, particularly noting the changes now underway in the Postal Service’s processing, transportation, and delivery networks, might rightly conclude that some of the forecasted efficiency and savings will be derived from fewer facilities and a smaller workforce.
Yet observation of events provides a confusing, and somewhat contradictory, picture of whether such an outcome is really to be expected.
One example of where there apparently won’t be any cuts was offered in an article in New York’s Altamont Enterprise
The report was following up on “an unverified rumor that a regional post office executive was visiting [local] post offices to gather information to help with consolidation.” Responding to the newspaper, a postal spokesperson stated that:
“... sites are being evaluated for the creation of the centers [the new sort-and-delivery centers (S&DCs)], but that these centers will not result in the clo-
sure of any offices. As we move forward with this initiative, customers will see no changes to their local post office retail operations. No post offices will be closed and PO Box service will not be changed... There will be no employee lay-offs as part of this effort.” [Emphasis ours.]
In other words, as the USPS establishes thousands of new S&DCs to consolidate and, allegedly, make more efficient its delivery operations, and as there’s the likelihood that the centers will increase drive-time and related costs, in turn requiring more carriers, the USPS is offering no indication that facility costs will be reduced or, for that matter, that vacated space will enable relocation to smaller facilities or use for revenue generation.
Making more carriers, with more trucks, drive more miles obviously adds costs. If there are neither offsetting reductions in real estate or personnel costs from the delivery units no longer housing carriers, nor new income from revenue-producing activity in the vacated space, the economic benefit of the S&DC initiative is difficult to discern.
Congress Meanwhile, Government Executive reported that Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI 4th) “recently questioned the consolidation
plan’s impact on his district, saying it lacked transparency and would have negative impacts on mailers.” His letter stated that:
“This one-size-fits-all proposal originating from your ‘Delivering for America’ plan is likely to negatively impact the constituents I represent with a decline in the quality of service.”
Earlier, the article noted, Rep. Pat Ryan (NY 8th) “said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was ‘sadly mistaken’ if he thought he could ‘mess with post offices’” in his district.
“Mail carriers from my district are also particularly concerned about the delays to service, added hours in commute time, and the destabilizing effects this plan will have. Our community knows that the journey can be long and there are additional risks posed by driving mail trucks on the highway or long distances in the snow.”
A Postal Service spokesperson previously had told Government Executive that “The goal of this [S&DC] initiative is to make significant improvements to the delivery network to better serve the American public and our business customers more efficiently and effectively.”
The potential for cost reductions or other savings was not mentioned.
Setting aside the political role-playing, the legislators’ comments not only reflect the questions of other observers about the S&DC plan but the same absence of transparency about the initiative that is being noticed more broadly. Though Louis DeJoy doesn’t feel the need to explain what he’s doing, such a deliberate lack of communication only fosters questions and, in turn, resistance to a plan no one understands.
Another article in Government Executive reported that the PMG “vowed to double down on and accelerate his proposed reforms.” Among those would be “significantly reducing work hours by closing some facilities and removing other inefficiencies.”
Already, the article noted, the USPS is shuttering “annexes and contract facilities around the country that management has labeled as ‘inefficient.’”
According to a report by Save the Post Office, the USPS has informed labor groups that planned consolidations
8 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
of operations at the Eugene (OR) and Medford (OR) facilities into the planned Portland (OR) Regional Processing and Distribution Center would enable the elimination of one management position and 53 craft positions, contributing to projected savings of $7.1-to-$12 million.
Similar consolidations of some operations from the Macon (GA) and Augusta (GA) facilities into the new Atlanta RPDC were projected to enable the elimination of nine management positions and 37 craft positions, helping generate cost savings of $4.7-to-$7.8 million.
In trying to reconcile these data with other projections, the article observed that:
“Another possibility is simply that the Postal Service has overestimated the cost savings. That’s been an issue with previous cost-reduction initiatives, including the Network Rationalization plan on plant consolidations in 2012...”
On the other side of the ledger, Multichannel Merchant reported that the Postal Service is planning to insource transportation now handled by contrac-
tors, noting that some contractors that move mail from plants to delivery units have already been told their contracts are terminated.
“A US Postal Service plan to insource all line hauling of mail and parcels between hubs and local delivery units, which had been handled by contractors, will be completely phased in by 2025, ac-cording to a source with knowledge of meetings with USPS officials... The services included transport of mail and parcels from area hubs to local post offices for morning delivery, then picking up outbound mail in the afternoon for injection into the system.”
A postal spokesperson was quoted as stating that as part of the PMG’s Plan, “The Postal Service continues to move forward with its... plan, which includes optimizing the postal network. One aspect of optimization includes finding the best way to transport products from site to site. Some contract carrier companies we have contracted with will be affected.”
That the PMG has been clever with the postal labor unions has been apparent. The carriers’ unions were pleased when he codified six-day delivery in the Postal Reform Act of 2022, and he’s kept the clerks union happy by assuring them that they won’t lose members because of facility closures, converting temporary workers to career (and dues-paying) status, and — now — replacing cost-efficient contracted transportation with fixed-cost career postal drivers. Such a policy may avoid labor unrest (and perhaps he even expects it to), but the costs of his decisions fall on ratepayers.
In the end, the inconsistency and lack of transparency into the activities associated with the PMG’s Plan continues to stimulate questions about how costs are supposed to be reduced, but perhaps the PMG prefers we just don’t ask.
Leo Raymond is Owner and Managing Director at Mailers Hub LLC. This content is based on information from the Mailers Hub enewsletter. He can be reached at email@example.com.
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
STANDING OUT WITH PHYSICAL MAIL
BY KAREN KIMERER
The art of using analog media for communication has become increasingly scarce in an era where digital technology predominates. Technologies like email, instant messaging, and social media have revolutionized the way we communicate, making interactions more convenient and instantaneous. In our relentless pursuit of efficiency, however, we may be unwittingly sacrificing the emotional impact and lasting impression that physical mail can create. Physical mail is often more memorable than its digital counterparts, and combining digital and traditional communications will frequently yield the best effect.
The Power of Tangibility
People are drawn to physical products for various reasons. It all comes down to how our brains work, how we perceive things with our senses, and the practical benefits that these products can offer. For example, some people claim that traditional vinyl records sound better than CDs or digital streaming services. At the same time, however, the appeal lies beyond the arguable logistics of sound waves. While the instant gratification of clicking a hyperlink on Spotify may be undeniably
efficient, it's within the deliberate ritual of engaging with an LP that the true magic unfolds. The act of methodically navigating through the steps — the careful selection of a record, the gentle lowering of the needle, and the gradual emergence of music — becomes an experience that is steeped in profound satisfaction.
Likewise, physical mail has a unique, tangible quality that differentiates it from digital messages. Holding a letter or a postcard in one's hands creates a multisensory experience that engages more parts of the brain. Humans are sensory creatures, and our sense of touch plays a crucial role in how we interact with the world. When we touch products instead of simply viewing them, it’s a palpable experience that engages multiple senses simultaneously. The tactile feel of the paper, the sound of tearing an envelope, and even the act of unfolding a letter all contribute to a stronger brand or product association.
According to recent research from Keypoint Intelligence, consumer respondents across all age generations were more likely to engage with a printed direct mail piece as opposed to a digital marketing message. Engagement
prompts consumers to take action and can thereby improve response rates.
The notion of standing out in a world washed with digital noise is very much alive today. The 70 mm (analog) screenings of Oppenheimer delivered the ultimate experience due to the amount of content the film format can hold — twice as much information, in fact, as the standard 35 mm digital counterpart. With only 30 cinemas equipped worldwide to show 70 mm films, the movie’s producers created scarcity for the best viewing options. Moreover, the film's story is so important to its creators that instead of saving money and going only with the cheaper and easier digital format, they decided to offer it in an additional noteworthy format. Seventy mm delivers richer colors, better details, and more life-like imagery to bring viewers a unique cinematographic experience. Although it could be argued that these benefits might be indiscernible to the average movie-goer, there's a conscious appreciation for the labor and technology behind the story.
The same can be said for direct mail. When we receive an email or text, it is easy to overlook or even delete it in a flood of other digital messages. In contrast, physical mail tends to stand out more due to its greater scarcity in today's fastpaced digital world. Mailed items must go through a process before they can be delivered, and the extra steps involved in producing a printed message elevate its value beyond any digital equivalent.
Physical products have the potential to evoke strong emotional responses. Think about how you feel when you see a card from someone you know in your mailbox. The fact that someone took the time to send a letter or select a thoughtful card leaves a lasting impression. When direct mail communications are done well, the effort of crafting a physical mail piece conveys a level of sincerity and care that is often lacking in digital communications.
Bridging the Gap: Combining Digital and Physical Mail
While digital products offer convenience, direct mail can be accessed without the need for specialized technologies. People of all ages and technological backgrounds can interact with physical
10 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com INKJET INFO
communications, making them more inclusive and easier to engage with. Additionally, direct mail can deliver authenticity and trustworthiness. In an era of online scams and counterfeit products, something that can be held in your hand provides reassurance about its legitimacy and quality.
Physical mail has its undeniable charm, but we must recognize the convenience and efficiency of digital communications. After all, the producers of Oppenheimer innately recognized the need to make the movie available in a format that all theaters could show. The key to maximizing the impact of both analog and digital lies in their strategic integration. The same can be true of direct mail. Marketers using both mediums are finding greater success than those using just one. Here are just a few examples:
An email can be sent to remind the recipient about an upcoming event that was first mentioned in a direct mail piece. This additional touchpoint can enhance engagement and improve response rates.
A physical piece can be embedded with an interactive digital QR code or augmented reality feature. This adds a modern twist to traditional printed communications and also enables the collection of valuable information.
Social media can also be integrated with physical mail. Direct mail recipients can be encouraged to share their physical experiences on social media, opening the door to better conversations about print.
If you're looking for a way to encourage your audience to engage with your brand via both online and offline platforms, consider organizing contests or giveaways related to your mailed content. There are several creative ways to blend analog and digital messaging.
Our brains process and retain information more effectively when multiple senses are engaged. Studies continue to show that physical print has a higher recall value than digital messages. Virginia Clinton’s publication in the Journal of Research in Reading compared the process of reading on paper versus reading on screens. The results found that reading from screens had a negative effect on reading performance relative to paper. Numerous studies and reputable research paint a similar picture of reading comprehension in the digital age — paper is better for recognition and retention.
The Bottom Line
There's something special about receiving a tangible item. Whether it's the joy of
unwrapping a gift, the nostalgia of flipping through old photos, or the excitement of unboxing a new gadget, tangible items create a stronger emotional bond with the recipient. It's more than just a physical item — it’s an experience.
In a world where digital messages disappear in an instant, physical mail stands out as a memorable and unique way to communicate. It has a tactile appeal that digital messages can't replicate. In today’s world, though, it’s not about using one form of communication over another. Marketers must learn to master the dynamic combination of traditional and electronic mail to ensure that their messaging is etched into recipients’ memories. By adding another medium to direct mail, businesses can make a bigger impact on their audience.
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.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 11
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
INBOUND MAIL AND REMOTE WORKERS
BY MIKE PORTER
As you walk around your company’s offices and worksites today, do you see lots of empty desks? Notice that people you used to greet every day aren’t around so much anymore? Hear an echo?
If so, your experience matches what managers have seen across many industries. Though some companies are now trying to entice (or force) workers back to the office, the way work is done and where people do it has permanently changed for many organizations.
In 2020, 42% of the US labor force was working from home full-time — Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR)
Remote work is expected to increase by 81% in 2024 — Forbes
In 2020, 98% of remote workers wanted to continue working remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers — Buffer
Going remote has been a game-changer for many businesses, but it has also presented a unique set of challenges, especially for mail center managers. They need to deliver mail to workers who are no longer physically present in the office. The nature of remote work means that companies might spread employees over different cities, states, or even countries, making traditional mail delivery impractical.
If your company’s workers are no longer in the office every day, and it looks like that might be a permanent arrangement, it is time to develop a permanent solution. What was once a straightforward system of sorting and delivering mail now requires a fresh approach.
Mail center managers are asking questions such as:
What are the options?
How can the mail center ensure important documents reach the right person on time?
What about privacy and confidentiality?
These are all challenges that face corporate mail centers today.
One option could be to digitize all incoming mail. This would involve scanning and emailing the documents to the respective recipients. Although this method could be time-consuming and labor-intensive, it would effectively end the need for physical delivery. Plus, digitized mail is easy to store, search, and retrieve, which offers an added benefit. The drawback to this method is the time the mail center staff spends opening, scanning, and digitally distributing documents the recipients have no interest in viewing. Yes, companies can automate some of those tasks. But there’s no doubt that a good portion of the material arriving in the mail center is of little value to the addressees. They will waste labor hours on tasks that provide no benefit.
Another choice would be to outsource mail delivery to a professional courier service or forward the mail in bulk according to pre-arranged business rules. This could be a workable option for businesses with employees in the same city or state. However, for those with a widely dispersed workforce, this solution might be less practical because of high shipping costs and longer delivery times.
A third possibility is to use a virtual mailbox service. These services offer a physical mailing address where the company receives all its mail. The mailbox service staff opens, scans, and sends the mail to the intended recipients electronically. This could be an ideal solution for businesses that want to maintain a single, centralized mailing address while still catering to the needs of remote workers. However, this may not be a comfortable solution for organizations that receive confidential documents or checks through the mail. The responsibility for security and safekeeping would fall upon the mailbox service and the chain of custody is broken.
I used such a service when I was working out of town for extended periods years ago, and it worked fairly well. However, the lag time between when the mail was received and when I actually had it in my hand was sometimes frustrating. This may not be an issue in every case, but should be considered. Another downside to virtual mailbox services is they require organizations to notify all the entities who send them mail of a new address. This notification project can be tedious and time-consuming.
Finally, companies can adopt a hybrid approach for handling mail, where some mail is kept in the mail center for employees to collect. Other mail is scanned and sent to employees digitally. You may even offer courier services for employees that need physical documents but won’t be visiting the office at all. This method offers the most flexibility.
When mail is received, the mail center scans the front of the mail piece and sends a notification to the addressee. The employee may be in the office, at a satellite location, in the field, or at home when they decide about the disposition of their mail pieces. Their options may include:
1. Open the mail, scan the contents, and email them the images.
2. Forward the physical mail piece, unopened, to them or to someone they designate within the organization.
3. Store the mail piece in the mail center until they arrive to retrieve it.
4. Destroy the mail piece.
Ensuring Accurate Delivery
In most companies, mail distribution and delivery traditionally relied on the knowledge and experience of mail center clerks and internal couriers. These individuals kept track of corporate employees. Working from memory and notes, they could route mail addressed
12 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
to an employee to their current replacement after a resignation or promotion, even if the addressee hadn’t worked for the company for some time.
Companies need advanced software to automate this function, which sorts mail and informs individuals using business rules based on information obtained from the front of the mail piece. The software and the business rules take the place of the mail clerk’s knowledge and supporting notes.
Companies can build delivery preferences into the software. Payments, for instance, may always be routed to the Accounts Receivable department, or vendor invoices to Accounts Payable. Offsite employees can choose to have their mail opened and scanned or receive notifications for them to decide about delivery.
Factoring in Privacy and Confidentiality
Regardless of the solution an organization chooses to handle their incoming mail, privacy and confidentiality must remain paramount. Whoever handles the mail must be trustworthy and reliable, especially when dealing with sensitive business documents. Any digitized mail
should be securely stored and encrypted to prevent unauthorized access. Mail waiting for pickup must be stored in a secured area until retrieved by an employee with proper ID.
One benefit of an in-house hybrid digital mail approach is the ability to log the events associated with the mail. This provides analytics to examine the inbound mail characteristics of the organization. It also establishes a chain of custody and tracks individual mail pieces from the time the mail center received them until they are delivered to the recipient.
To ensure that mail reaches the right person at the right time, a robust tracking system is crucial. A digital tracking system can handle detailed tracking information, including the sender, the intended recipient, and the delivery status, efficiently. This system helps avoid any misplacement or loss of mail, providing peace of mind for both mail center managers and employees.
Automation for the Mail Center Companies are spending lots of money to automate in many areas. The mail center may not be on the top of the priority list for investing in automated solutions,
but it can’t be ignored. For many companies, incoming physical mail is still a critical component of how business is done. Automated solutions differ, so how a company is organized, what kind of mail they receive, and the urgency of those mail pieces will all play a role in deciding which inbound mail handling strategy is best for them.
The shift to remote work has upended many of the traditional ways companies conduct business and demands innovative solutions to ensure efficient inbound mail processing. By embracing digital transformation, implementing notification systems, and providing flexible delivery options, mail center managers can ensure timely and efficient mail delivery to remote employees.
Mike Porter works with companies in the printing and mailing industries to help them raise awareness for their companies, improve their rankings on search results, inform potential customers about the value of their products and services, and keep prospects interested as they proceed through the buying process. Learn more about his services at www.pmccontentservices.com. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, or send him a connection request on LinkedIn.
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
INTERNATIONAL PACKAGES, CUSTOMS, THE EU, AND THE US
BY MERRY LAW
The next — and final — deadline for the EU’s Advance Electronic Data (AED) requirements in ICS2 Release 2 is October, when postal operators sending packages to the EU will need to provide additional information. The USPS has been preparing and added new functionality to its online customs form in late June. For information submitted using the Shipping Services File (SSF), specifications have been updated to include the new EU requirements. Every package to a foreign destination also requires a physical customs form attached to it.
The USPS’s export compliance checks, i.e., verifying the appropriate fields are completed for AED and on customs forms, returns mail items without transport to the destination country if the checks fail, although some packages have been returned without a clear problem with the customs information provided. The official postal operators in the 27 EU countries must also make some preparations. Whether they are prepared by the October deadline is an open question.
The ICS2 Release 2 took effect for air carriers at the beginning of July. Those importing small packages to the EU were concerned, but all has gone well. The carriers and mail service providers have been preparing their clients to provide
the required information. So, it looks like the US is as prepared as possible. There will be some glitches with a major change in processing all packages into the EU countries. Slower customs clearance may occur as it did with the introduction of ICS2. If some countries are unable, or refuse, to follow the procedures, logjams could occur, affecting inbound packages from all countries. Mailers should monitor orders sent to the 27 EU countries and keep customers informed of any delays.
With six bills in the US Congress that would change how any package inbound to the US is treated, packages would be subject to more requirements if any become law. The six bills have been introduced and assigned to committees, so there are many steps before they are laws, but all bear watching by any service providers in this arena. The specific impact would vary depending on what bill, if any, became law.
Uniform Postal Data Acquisition for Transparency and Early Detection within the United States Postal Service Act (or the UPDATED USPS Act) is meant “To strengthen the requirements relating to advance electronic information for cargo…”
Introduced in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate, it
requires more data in advance of the packages or shipments arriving in the US and eliminates exceptions for any countries.
STOP Act 2.0 aims “To increase the criminal penalty for mail fraud involving misrepresentation of the country of origin, to terminate the authority to exclude countries from the requirement to transmit advance electronic information for 100 percent of mail shipments under the STOP Act of 2018…” It has been introduced in the Senate.
De Minimis Reciprocity Act of 2023 would “amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to require reciprocity with respect to de minimis entries of articles…”
Introduced in the Senate, it changes the customs de minimis from an absolute exemption of any package under $800 to a variable rate based on the importing country’s de minimis for goods from the US. This rate would be established annually by the Secretary of the Treasury, taking into account the customs duty in each country and “any related thresholds of that country, such as a threshold relating to a value-added tax on imports.” More restrictions apply to China and Russia.
Import Security and Fairness Act intends “To exclude products from non-market economy countries and products that are subject to certain enforcement actions from the privilege of de minimis treatment under the Tariff Act of 1930…” Introduced in the House and Senate, packages from non-market economy countries and countries on the security watch list would not be eligible for the US de minimis. China, Russia, and Vietnam have been mentioned as countries that would be covered.
Let’s hope all the additional effort and expense in the EU and the US improve safety and stop illicit goods in the mail.
Merry Law is President of WorldVu LLC and the editor of Guide to Worldwide Postal-Code and Address Formats. She is a member of the UPU’s Addressing Work Group and of the U.S. International Postal and Delivery Services Federal Advisory Committee.
14 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com INTRO TO INTERNATIONAL MAIL
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
BY LEWIS JOHNSON
Are you looking for a valuable touchpoint for your business to make its mailing and shipping concerns known? We have just the group for you. Postal Customer Councils (PCC) are Postal Service-sponsored organizations where postal business customers meet on a regular basis to network, learn about the latest postal products and services, and interact with the local postal leadership team.
The PCC program’s mission is to foster a close working relationship between the United States Postal Service and commercial mailers. Our goal is to share information about new and existing Postal Service business products, programs, services, and procedures. Through focused educational programs and regular interactions, the PCC strives to help mail and shipping industry members and their organizations grow and develop. Joining your local PCC is easy and provides great benefits for your business.
Education is a core benefit of PCC membership. With access to our executives, you learn about USPS products, services, and tools being offered to improve mail quality. This includes how-tos for employing direct mail’s power in an omnichannel marketing campaign. Additionally, you will learn how to leverage best practices that should improve mailing effectiveness, efficiency, and profitability.
Networking is another benefit for business mailers joining a local PCC. These organizations provide the space and opportunity for professionals in the mailing and shipping industry to meet with USPS executives. Another
important value is hearing from other businesses about how they use mail to grow their business while facing many of the same challenges you do.
Communication keeps PCC members up to date about USPS changes. For example, you will learn about upcoming promotions and incentives that provide discounts for mail use. This communication goes both ways as PCC’s provide businesses like yours with a forum to discuss and resolve local mailing issues with your local Postal Service personnel.
Scan the QR code to learn more about why other businesses have joined their local PCC. There is also a membership form if you want to join a local PCC.
For more information about the PCC program, send an email to PCC@usps.gov.
National PCC Program Manager, Customer Outreach, Corporate Affairs, United States Postal Service.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 15 PICTURE PERFECT The low cost matching solution • Visual Matching • OCR / Barcode • Read and Print Picture Perfect is designed as a low cost alternative to many automatic document vision systems. It is well suited for the customer that demands the most personalized look. CALL US TODAY! clearimagetechnologies.com 314-853-5867 GUEST COLUMN
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
By Mark Fallon
5 ELEMENTS OF AN OPTIMAL RFP
n past articles on requests for proposals (RFPs), we’ve discussed the team, the process, and the reasons why RFPs work. It’s just as important to consider what is included in the actual RFP document. With that in mind, here are the five elements of an optimal RFP:
1. Clear directions, with a single point of contact
2. Distinct sections for each subject
3. Provide answers to all vendor questions, to all vendors
4. Standard format for all responses
5. Alternative vendor solutions as attachments
Clear Directions, with a Single Point of Contact
As consultants, we receive RFPs from companies looking for assistance. Sometimes, the instructions are difficult to decipher, and I’m not sure whether or not to respond. To add to the confusion, the RFP contains different names in different sections, making it
unclear who to contact with
The RFP should provide clear instructions on how to complete the paperwork — or the online platform being used. Explain what formats are acceptable for submitting answers, including document type (e.g., Word, Excel, etc.). If using an online platform, like Ariba, provide instructions on how to complete the sign-up and logon processes.
Most importantly, provide a single point of contact for all questions, with both email and phone number. Whenever possible, the contact should be someone from purchasing or procurement. This ensures consistency of answers to any vendor questions. If a vendor raises an important point that needs clarification, the contact will make sure that every vendor receives the information.
More importantly, it stops unwelcome interruptions for the operations manager, allowing them to focus on production.
Distinct Sections for Each Subject
For most companies, there are several departments that have input on any purchase. That includes purchasing/procurement, information technology (IT), facilities, and operations. And if the solution involves sharing data externally — whether through a cloud-based application or remote access — then IT security will definitely have concerns.
There should be separate sections for each of these subjects. If using a Word document, then insert a page break between sections, with the heading of the section in a bold font. If using an Excel workbook, create a separate sheet for each section, with the name of the section on the tab and the first line of the spreadsheet. Most online systems will also allow you to create distinct breaks as well.
This will make it easier for the vendors to respond, and for the buyers to grade. Most vendors have teams that respond to RFPs. They are experts in finance, systems, and functionality. The RFP can be easily broken out, distributed, and then reassembled for submission.
Similarly, the company soliciting bids can share the specific responses to the appropriate team members to grade. People in the business unit are not qualified to determine what standards are acceptable for the IT systems and security. Likewise, procurement may not understand which functions and capabilities are most important to the production unit.
Provide Answers to All Vendor Questions, to All Vendors
As an operations manager and a consultant, I’ve worked with some of the best procurement teams in the industry. They’re diligent in drafting RFPs that accurately describe the products, software, or services that the customer is trying to buy. The RFP is reviewed by multiple teams multiple times before being published.
16 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
I1 2 3
Vendors will still have questions. That’s a good thing, as questions demonstrate that the vendors are attempting to create the best response possible. With further clarification, they will be able to offer the appropriate solution to meet the customer’s needs. Precision is important.
After answers are drafted, share the responses with all the vendors. This is important for two reasons — opportunity and transparency. The answer to one vendor may spark ideas for the other vendors. That means greater opportunity to receive multiple solutions to the challenge.
Every vendor receiving the same information is essential to ensure a fair and equitable administration of the purchase. Transparency in the RFP process is a hallmark of honesty and objectivity. An open process is even more important for public companies and organizations in the public eye.
Standard Format for All Responses
An important aspect of good RFPs is that they allow the team to fairly compare the responses. Not only on price, but on the characteristics of the proposed solutions. That means the responses have to be in the same format.
Many companies use online tools, like Ariba or Coupa, to manage their RFPs. In most cases, these systems require vendors to complete certain fields when responding. However, some vendors will attempt to circumvent the process by attaching complex PDFs. The same problem can occur with companies using spreadsheets to collect responses.
Vendors should be allowed to attach documents for clarification. But they must be required to complete the RFP documents in the
manner proscribed. This is especially true for the pricing section. Otherwise, the RFP team may not be able to make logical comparisons and decisions.
The instructions for the RFP should make it clear that the answers must be in the proper format, or that they will not be accepted. Structure is most important in the pricing section — per piece costs, leasing costs, and service fees should be submitted in the same format by every vendor.
Alternative Vendor Solutions as Attachments
After reading the RFP, vendors may see an alternative that the company hasn’t requested. For example, a company may request bids for a software with certain functionality. One of the vendors may also have software that approaches the challenge differently, but with similar end results.
The vendor should be given the opportunity to propose an alternative solution — as an appendix or other type of attachment. That is, the vendor still responds to the RFP per the instructions, and then adds the new solution in a separate document. This allows the company to compare the requested bids and consider new ways of achieving their goals.
RFPs take teamwork, time, and commitment to ensure that companies select the best solutions — whether it is software, hardware, or services. Taking the steps to draft an optimal RFP is a key element of a successful RFP process.
Mark Fallon is President of The Berkshire Company. Visit www.berkshire-company.com for more information.
4 5 SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
BEST PRACTICES IN MAIL PIECE DESIGN
Grab your customers’ attention immediately with these top tips.
By Jill Corcoran
Direct mail has certain advantages over digital channels because it is a physical medium. For example, studies have shown that the human brain processes and remembers marketing messages better when displayed with ink on paper.
To increase the likelihood of success, your marketing message has to resonate with your intended audience. It’s imperative that you use an effective design to lead the recipient through your direct mail package so that the writer’s words have maximum impact and thus lead to a sale and, hopefully, much more.
Every section or component of the direct mail piece you use for your campaign should be dedicated to at least one part of the classic AIDA (Attention - Interest - Desire - Action) formula. When these all work in harmony, they keep your prospect engaged.
Much of what you need to know about direct mail design basics depends on what format you’re using for your campaign.
Postcard design, for example, is maximized for making it as simple as possible for consumers to understand your offer and everything that draws them to it. There’s only a limited amount of real estate to work with using that design, so your copy, graphics, and images have to be deployed carefully on both sides.
On the other hand, envelope design gives you additional flexibility because there’s more room. An envelope means more opportunities to use papers, inks, finishes, and other tactics, in order to stand out in the customer’s mailbox and avoid being tossed into the recycling bin.
And folded self-mailers? They have unique advantages that in some ways take from the best of both postcards and envelopes.
To increase your chances of success and good ROI, here are some basic direct mail design best practices to consider when planning your campaigns, regardless of the format you choose.
1. Create a Visual Hierarchy
Your message (or offer) has to stand out in order to get the customer’s attention — and keep it. Your copy’s font, type size, and even color are just part of how you need to set up a system to organize your ideas.
To guide their eye flow — how you want them to read or scan copy and understand visual elements — use headings, subheadings, small blocks of text, and white space.
That last point is really important, especially in a world where word count has been dropping steadily for years. Instead of a crowded busy design, negative space helps you emphasize your message.
In the example above, the eye is drawn first to the big type and color of the response card, then the smaller type testimonial, then downward to the cute dog picture.
2. Personalization Is Powerful
Accurate list data is the single most important factor in the success of your direct mail campaign. With it, you can segment your prospects based on geography, gender, age, behavior and spending, income range, and other factors.
With Variable Data Printing (VDP), take that information you know a step further on your mail pieces. Instead of generic and bland spray-and-pray strategy, the images, offers, and calls-toaction are likely to be much more attention-getting and relevant to them personally when they are customized, as on the front of this outer envelope.
18 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
3. Show the Best Possible Images
Your pictures should be interesting, perhaps even captivating, to stand out to the prospect. The right artwork — whether it’s a clear, high-resolution photograph or an illustration — should support or boost your message. When printed on high-quality paper stock, it increases your brand’s selling power. In this example, the fourcolor image of food tantalizes the consumer.
How? With big type, a bold font, an arrow, or a highlighted box, that makes that final step unmissable.
Whether it’s a phone number, a website, a QR code, or a physical address, your customer should never guess what they need to do next. And personalization, with a PURL, QR code, or customized map, really says that you have their specific interests, and a solution, to offer.
In this example, the headlines and food images point the reader’s eye towards the offer and the website CTA.
4. Integrate Familiar Digital Icons
As I’ve already noted, people today communicate using fewer words. Thanks to all of the digital devices in our lives, icons, emojis, and other symbols save time when viewed because they are universally understood. Your direct mail should reflect this reality by including social brand logos, Google Maps-type location pins, word bubbles, and other modern touchpoints and symbols for today’s audiences.
Additional Direct Mail Design Tips
Direct marketing design should always work to keep the prospect involved and off-balance, forcing the eye to shift and move around the offer or message until finally, the package is so compelling that action will be taken — right now. Here are some additional ideas for helping your direct mail design:
Because tens of millions of Americans subscribe to daily Informed Delivery notifications, they see your direct mail piece before it arrives in their home. Make sure the address side headlines and CTA are readable in case they decide to take action early.
Handwritten messages get noticed. When used in moderation, they highlight important parts of your sales offer.
Postal size, weight, and thickness requirements exist for a reason — to allow for the efficient processing of mail. While an interesting or unique mail design may stand out to a customer, if it isn’t machinable, the additional costs involved may not be worthwhile.
Regardless of what format you settle on, you can achieve excellent design. Your campaign’s goals and budget will guide many of your creative processes while also saving you time and money, and creating great response and ROI.
5. Use a Strong Call to Action
After using your organizational system to lead your prospect through the reasons to buy your product or service, join their organization, or donate to their cause, there’s just one task left: making it easy for them to take the action you desire.
Jill Corcoran has been building teams to serve marketers for the past 20 years. Employee and client happiness have always been her “North Star.” She runs the world’s most complete resource of direct mail campaigns — Who’s Mailing What! Visit https://www.whosmailingwhat.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 19
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
STREAMLINING YOUR USPS CERTIFIED MAIL PROCESSES
By Adam Lewenberg
Certified Mail from the USPS is used when you need to prove that something was mailed and then received by the end user. It is for items like insurance policy cancellations or important medical claims, where the sender wants to protect themselves legally by proving they did everything possible to inform the individual about their issue.
There are two ways to process Certified Mail:
1. Certified Mail with a hard copy PS form 3811 “Green Card” Return Receipt: $7.90 + Regular Postage
2. Certified Mail with an Electronic Return Receipt: $6.55 + Regular Postage
The issues with the Green Card method are the following:
1. It is labor-intensive to fill out the green cards.
2. You must manually validate that you got all the signed green cards back and then file them with your records.
3. They cost $1.35 more per piece than the electronic method.
The focus of the rest of this article is regarding streamlining the electronic process and to show you what is available to further automate this process. The electronic version means you are submitting the transaction electronically to the USPS (instead of filling out the green card), and tracking your item online to then pull a single page PDF of the signature as your proof of mailing and delivery.
Postage Meter: One of the first methods used by organizations to qualify for the electronic method is by submitting them through a special subscription in your postage meter. You would type or scan the certified number into your meter along with the ZIP Code and transmit to the USPS. This method has some flaws because you do not have a full record of who it is sent to because very little information is being submitted in the file. It is much more difficult to maintain records (which are usually done manually) to match the full address of the item to the certified mail number. If you are using this process, you will be pleased to see higher levels of automation available that match the address and certified information in one defined process.
Integrated Certified Mail Solutions: This is a wide category based on the feature sets that could be imbedded. It could be a fully online solution or part of an installed shipping, mailing, and accounting solution. The most important factor is that all systems in this category can do full electronic submission to the USPS (being able to type or import an address into a system to process a single or batch of Certified Mail items directly to the USPS).
Generating the Certified Mail – Forms Submission
Custom Forms – Some vendors require that you print on their expensive forms that include the Green Certified barcode. Even some electronic submissions will still use custom forms.
USPS Certified Barcodes Only – Some platforms will let you scan these barcodes into your system and apply them directly onto your piece. This is a great low-cost option, but still requires the user to match the address to the barcode through the submission. These labels can also be printed with a connected thermal label printer.
Cover Sheet – The fastest growing trend is to print cover sheets into an oversized window envelope with a green border on top. This will have the address, barcode, and sometimes postage printed directly onto the letter that shows through the window.
Directly Onto Your Letter – Fully automated systems can communicate to a document creation tool to have the barcodes printed directly onto your main document. They use similar envelopes to the Cover Sheet model above.
Submitting at the USPS – All of the methods will submit an electronic file directly to the USPS. The question is if you need more proof that the item was dropped off at the Post Office. These are your options:
Single Piece Rubber Stamp – The item is brought to the USPS and rubber stamped by the clerk with that day’s date. This is typically done for items with the Green Card return receipt.
Scan Form – This is a form that can be brought to the USPS and they can scan the form and rubber stamp that the items were sent.
Firm Mail Book – This is a manifest of all items that are being dropped off and is considered the highest level of proof of mailing.
Proving items were delivered — There are many ways this can be done based on your level of automation. The biggest differ-
20 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
ence is the amount of effort to get the certified proof back to your own records system. The nice thing about the electronic methods is they can show you in some list format which items have been delivered and which are still pending. Items that are pending after long periods of time may need to be resent or contacted by a different means to ensure the recipient is receiving the required information.
One at a time – Most basic systems will provide a listing of all your items that were delivered, but you need to click on each one manually to generate your PDF Return Receipt. This can be labor- intensive when doing larger quantities.
Weekly in batch – The USPS has a file that can be sent weekly to some higher end platforms that receives all the certified items in one consolidated PDF. Platforms that accept this format will be able to pull the signatures from this document right into the client record.
Weekly in batch with splitter tools – This is the same as the item above, but it can take the large PDF file from the USPS and split it into individual PDF documents. Each file is typically named as the reference number that was submitted with the record to make retrieval easy. These files can be stored in a specific directory to be automatically attached to the client record through an image and workflow system. This makes it an automatic process to have the proof of receipt included directly in the client’s file, making future research easy.
Items to consider when deciding on the system that is right for you.
How critical are these documents and what risks are there when proof is needed?
Is everything coming out of one location and department, or do you need this capability available throughout your enterprise?
Do you need these generated in-house or could files be sent to a separate production facility or to third parties to process?
How many of these documents are generated at once and should the certified process be built into the document creation process?
Are there other services that could be done on the same mail automation platforms such as:
USPS stamp creation to provide mail access to all locations.
Automate other USPS mail classes like Priority Mail and Ground Advantage
USPS, UPS, and FedEx rate shopping processed in a single solution
Single Sign On for optimized user management
While this is far from the most exciting topic, if you must generate Certified Mail, you know the pains that are involved, and having the right level of automation can make a big difference. It can simplify how the documents are created, submitted, deposited, and tracked. The best part is with the savings now being $1.35 per electronic return receipt, it can pay to automate your processes.
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 55% and over $85 million on equipment, presort, avoidable fees, and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or email@example.com.
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
How did this last year treat mailers and their organizations? Part one of our annual survey takes a look at wages, certifications, and more.
By Amanda Armendariz
Iwant to start out by extending a huge “thank you” to everyone who completed this survey. We know it’s a lot of data that you may need to look up and cross-check, and we sincerely appreciate you taking the time to do so. We would not be able to do this survey year after year without you.
Overall, this year’s results were fairly encouraging. Salaries in many categories increased compared to last year, and the number of managers and supervisors who held certain certifications also went up. The economy is negatively affecting fewer people than last year, which is always a plus. It will be interesting to see if this trend holds when we do the survey next fall. Of course, there were some downsides, too, namely with respect to managers and supervisors who experienced a salary concession, and layoffs in the non-managerial sphere.
As always, feel free to peruse these results and see how your mail center stacks up. And if you weren’t able to participate in this year’s survey, we hope you are able to in 2024.
Mail Center Managers
Male vs. Female
The gender gap this year is narrower compared to 2022’s 66/34 split.
Number of Full-Time Employees Supervised
As is usual in our surveys, the vast majority of mail center managers manage zero to five full-time employees. This year, however, the amount that managed between six and 10 jumped six percentage points.
8% EMCM CMM Certification
The percentage of mail center managers who held these certifications all increased slightly this year, which is a positive trend that we hope continues!
22 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
11-15 6-10 0-5 16-20 20+ 62% 5% 2% 9% 19% 3%
Average Salary and Time in the Industry
The average salary of a mail center manager in this year’s survey was $62,500, an increase from last year’s $58,000. Like last year, however, the average time in the industry was a solid 20 years.
Managers and the Economy
National Postal Forum
National mailing “schools”
National industry or associationspecific mailing conference (MSFA, NACUMS, Non-profit, DMA)
Local PCC conferences/meetings
Vendor’s user conference
Other non-mailing national conferences (i.e., management training courses)
Other non-mailing local conferences
Online continuing education classes On-site continuing education classes
None, due to budget cutbacks
None, didn’t find the time to attend
None, training is not allowed for mail center managers
None, no training needed this year
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 23
10% 5% 7% 26% 43% 2% 7% 90 100 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Has had no effect Took on additional responsibilities Salary concession Salary freeze Other Number of mail managers decreased Working additional hours
44% 9% 18% 4% 5% 19% 19%
90 100 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 30% 0
Things appear to be looking up for mail center managers compared to last year’s survey. The number of respondents who reported the economy having no effect went up from 24% to 42%, and the number of managers who had to take on additional responsibilities decreased from 39% to 26%. However, the number of managers who took a salary concession went up by one point. 14%
of managers will likely attend a national conference within the next 12 months.
12% 5% 7% 9% 9% SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
What type of training did managers have access to/plan to attend in the past 12 months?
Impact of the Economy
Fifty percent of supervisors report being unaffected by the economy, an increase from last year’s 38%. At the same time, the number who experienced a salary concession greatly increased.
} Forty-seven percent of our respondents report that their mail centers have supervisors, an increase from last year’s 39%.
} Of these supervisors, 63% are male, 37% are female, which is a definite change from last year’s results, where the majority were female. Of course, it’s important to note that while we send out the survey to our subscriber database, it’s not always the same companies completing the survey every year, which could explain some of the discrepancy.
} The vast majority (60%) supervise between zero and five employees. Only nine percent supervise between 16 and 20 employees.
} The average salary of a mail center supervisor is $55,955, an increase from last year’s $51,600.
} The average time spent in the industry is just a little over 16 years, a slight decrease from last year’s 17.
} Eighteen percent hold the EMCM certification, seven percent hold the CMDSM, and 18% hold the CMM certification. Fewer supervisors held the EMCM and CMDSM than last year, but the percentage holding the CMM certification was up from 10% last year.
} The gender breakdown is 58% male, 42% female, which is fairly close to last year’s 60/40 split.
} The average time in the industry is just a little under nine years, a definite decrease from 2022’s 11 years.
} Almost 17% are represented by a union, which is more than four times last year’s amount.
} Sixteen percent have an employee incentive program, a decrease from last year’s 25%.
Average Wages of Mail Center Staff
24 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
Addressing machine operators Inserter operators Highest hourly wage Mail handlers Entry-level 10 0 20 15 5 25 2023$ 18.50 2022$ 14.00 2021$21.91 2021$21.91 2023$24.74 $22.60 2023$ 17.58 2022$ 15.95 2023$18.87 2022$17 .08 2021$ 16.75 2023$ 18.88 2022$ 17.80 2021$17.17 2021$15.26 9% 0% 9% 9% 14% 50% Took on additional responsibilities Has had no effect Salary concession Salary freeze Other Working additional hours Number of supervisors decreased 90 100 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 9%
Staff and the Economy
Staff and Training Opportunities
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 25 Salary concession Has had no effect Salary freeze Layoffs Existing staff work additional hours Other Existing staff do additional tasks
Attend national mailing conferences Attend local PCC meetings/conferences On-site equipment training provided by vendors Off-site equipment training provided by vendors None; non-managerial staff do not get training beyond on-the-job training Other 10 0 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 7% 22% 34%
5% 10% 49% 10 0 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 5% 5% 11% 61% 9% 5% 5% Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Keeping your critical communications running so nothing comes between you and your customers www.mailgard.com • Paul J. DePaoli 203.572.3887 • firstname.lastname@example.org
STOP & SEE at
Visit Anchor Software at Booth B1351 for information on our industry-leading mail preparation, address quality, and variable data printing software solutions. Anchor Software is known for its best-in-class solutions offering blazing speed, cutting edge technology, and world-class technical support. So, take a few minutes and stop by Booth B1351 to connect with us to see how we can help with your current or future mail marketing or printing needs. While you’re there, try your luck at our in-booth game, and win prizes!
Automate your postal workflow with BCC’s latest releases of mailing preparation software and data quality services. Watch live product demos. See our newest offering and request your free trial of Mail Manager CI, our end-to-end mail processing software with a new dual interface called Companion Interface (CI), offering user-friendliness with power and control for advanced users. Reduce postage and increase efficiency with Mail Manager Full Service, our premium all-in-one solution, BCC Ignite for advanced enterprise workflow automation, and Bulk Mailer SMB, our mass mailing software. Test your postal knowledge daily for a chance to win a prize.
The Picture Perfect Match System is your solution for retrofitting your existing inserter for mail matching, barcode verification, end of machine verification, and Read and Print using one to four cameras. See our demo inserter with the Picture Perfect Match System reading numbers and barcodes. Bring samples of your material and we can test it on site.
Kirk-Rudy will again be showcasing their FireJet 4C full color inkjet printing system, which can print up to 18,000 #10 envelopes per hour. With its powerful PDF RIP software, addressing and variable data images can be produced simultaneously. They will also be showing their complete line up of inkjet addressing systems as well as their remarkable KR545D dual roll tabber, capable of placing all the required tabs on a booklet in one pass.
At Mail-Gard®, critical communications business continuity, disaster recovery, and print-to-mail outsourcing services for overflow work have protected Fortune 1000 companies, local industries, and state and federal customers from serious business interruptions since 1996. We offer a broad range of technical solutions and seasoned, experienced employees with the knowledge to replicate your print-to-mail requirements. Mail-Gard® never sets a limitation on when or why you can declare a disaster. Whether it’s a natural disaster, an operational recovery due to downed equipment, employee work stoppage, utility failure, or even a scheduled equipment update, you can call our hotline whenever you need us and count on our immediate support.
| email@example.com | 770.427.4203
mailgard.com | Paul.DePaoli@iwco.com | 203.572.3887
bccsoftware.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | 800.337.0442
AnchorComputerSoftware.com | Sales@ AnchorComputerSoftware.com | 800.237.1921 SPONSORED CONTENT BOOTH # B1351 BOOTH # B14051 BOOTH # B1354 BOOTH # B1543 BOOTH # B1050
SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
GMS-VanSco has been helping the print finishing, folding carton, and converting industries find simple, yet effective adhesive dispensing solutions since 1961. Our products are backed by Valco Melton’s global support and technical service, so you can be confident that you’re getting the best possible products and services. Our microglue line is an effective choice for your dispensing needs, offering high-quality results at a great price. We will be in booth B2945; stop by to meet our team and see how our solutions help elevate your manufacturing process.
Postal Center International (PCI) is a certified minority-owned company, founded in 1984, and is a leading print, mail, fulfillment, signs, and marketing solutions partner nationwide. Led by President & CEO Ismael Diaz, PCI, the company’s family of brands employs more than 470 associates, with annual sales in excess of $400 million. PCI’s booth will have a mail-sorting demonstration with BlueCrest’s Elevate Mail Sorter. Attendees will enjoy PCI’s hydration station, part of the company’s sustainability efforts, and receive a complimentary reusable water bottle. We will be distributing collateral, swags, and registering attendees to win an iPad Pro, Apple Watch, and AirPods.
Quadient will be showing 2 exciting new color printing products in booth B721 at Printing United in Atlanta, GA. The MACH 7 is a full color tabletop inkjet printing system designed to run envelopes, mailers, flats, and more with vibrant 1200 DPI print quality and pigmented HP inks that provide over 11 inches of print width, bleed capability, extra contrast, and durability for greater impact, deliverability, and lower operating costs. Our new in-line MACH 9DS solution will be shown running with our popular DS-700iQ inserter to produce dynamically matched and vibrant full color envelopes in a single intelligent process.
Racami is not just attending this year’s PRINTING United Trade Show in Atlanta — we’re transforming it into a MUST-VISIT experience you can’t afford to ignore! Swing by booth #B814 to get a first-hand sneak peek at innovations that are shaping the industry’s future. We’re talking about next-level products and services that can revamp your operations and skyrocket your customer engagement. Whether it’s groundbreaking multi-channel communication platforms, unparalleled document composition capabilities, or cutting-edge payment and proofing solutions you’re after — we’ve got it all! The future is unfolding, and it’s at our booth. Harness the power of Racami to propel your business ahead of the curve. See you there!
Headquartered in Wilmington, DE, Tritek Systems has been a trusted provider of custom-built mail equipment for US Government agencies, Fortune 100 and 500 companies, and private sector corporations worldwide. At Tritek, we’re committed to providing the best equipment to make your mail and parcel operations more efficient. We take pride in our ability to deliver state-of-the-art solutions that meet the most demanding requirements of our customers. Our focus on quality and customer satisfaction has enabled us to build a reputation as a trusted partner in the mailing technology industry.
W+D will be showing the world premiere of the new W+D i-jet 3 overprint press now with a new wider 12.77, brand new memjet Durabolt print engine and new lower ink pricing and lower total cost of operation. W+D will also have the North American premiere of its new W+D BB820+ 20K multiformat direct mail inserter running 1:1 digitally preprinted direct mail. Both machines will be running live. Samples from the new W+D 449 e-commerce mailer bag machine as well as the latest in the W+D BB1000 all-in-one converter and inserter which now has window patching capabilities will be shown.
email@example.com | 302.223.4065
wdnorthamerica.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | 913.227.4980
www.racami.com | email@example.com | 678.730.7700
mail.quadient.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | 888.444.7362
https://pcibrands.com | 800.430.7241
www.microglue.com | email@example.com | 707.285.3392 BOOTH # B943 BOOTH # B721 BOOTH # B814 BOOTH # B1043 BOOTH # B2219 BOOTH # B2945 MailingSystemsTechnology.com | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023
HIGHLIGHTING THE IMPORTANCE OF FACE-TO-FACE LEARNING AT IN-PERSON EVENTS
By Chris Lien
As we continue to return to a sense of normalcy in a post-pandemic environment, many organizations and conference attendees are realizing the value of face-toface communication and learning. Annual conferences such as the National Postal Forum (NPF), and even company user conferences, are beginning to see record (or near-record) attendance with attendees eager to reconnect with their peers and to share the latest in mail innovation and postal technologies.
National Postal Forum Leads the Way
The National Postal Forum, which was held in Charlotte (NC) in May of 2023, had nearly its highest attendance in over a decade. Almost one-third of the attendees were attending NPF for the first
time. That’s a great sign for an industry that had been challenged with attracting new talent!
NPF also saw new exhibitors, including logistics and parcel solution providers. This, too, is a positive sign reflecting a response to the USPS Delivering For America (DFA) plan with its focus not only on an optimized and redesigned delivery network for mail, but one that will be fully prepared to support expanded and expedited parcel delivery.
NPF attendees were eager to hear the latest in mailing technology with innovative postal solutions, emerging API toolkits for parcels, and enhanced address quality tools to reduce undeliverable as addressed (UAA) mail. As an industry, it was encouraging to see the NPF return even stronger than it was before COVID.
Two months later, this same sense of excitement carried over to the return of BCC Software’s user conference. BCC Software hosted its annual Information Exchange, rebranded as InfoXchange 2023, in August. Since its inception in 2016, it had been held near BCC Software’s headquarters in Rochester (NY) where it typically drew 40-50 users of the company's software and data services. This year, the company chose to take it on the road to Chicago, with the aim of drawing a larger crowd as well as a broader attendee base. In addition to the new location, keynote speakers from both the USPS (Earl Johnson) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG, Josh Bartzen) were added to the schedule to offer conference attendees the unique opportunity to hear from and speak directly to these invaluable resources. This strategy paid off, with over 100 customers and partners attending BCC Software’s largest user conference ever.
Candid and Open Dialogue
While InfoXchange can be viewed as a user conference, it is truly a venue for candid and open dialogue about software and data inclusive of strategies for attendees to grow their businesses as they respond to ever increasing changes in the USPS. With two rate increases per year (January and July), the biannual cadence has made it challenging for software companies and mailers alike to devote as much time as they’d like to for research, development, and growth initiatives outside of regulatory compliance updates. This is why having an in-person opportunity where customers and product managers can collaborate face-to-face on what is most important is especially critical.
Fifteen Minutes Might Be All You Need
Sitting together at the table having a meaningful conversation with other mailers for 15 minutes can often get more accomplished than a one-hour online meeting. This seemingly logical and straightforward approach was substantiated time and time again over the three-day event by the attendees as they candidly shared their solutions, their frustrations, their challenges, and their needs with each other. In many cases, the relationships that were forged in this environment went beyond basic networking, although there was plenty of that to go around, too.
Table Talks Were a Collaborative Highlight
The always popular table talks format at InfoXchange again affirmed the value of face-to-face communication and learning at this year’s event. Attendees had eight different tables to choose from with various topics — including data security, mailer scorecards, boosting productivity, and responding to the USPS DFA plan. For 15 minutes, the roughly dozen attendees at each table discussed the topic, learning from both the discussion leader and each other. In the case
28 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
of the DFA table, Josh Bartzen and Karen McCormick (USPS OIG) were able to hear first-hand from a key segment of the industry with which they do not often directly engage. Participants took full advantage of this intimate opportunity to convey how the DFA is helping — or, in some cases, possibly hindering their business.
CASS Cycles Will Increase in Frequency
Another highly active table included Earl Johnson (USPS) who helped lead a bevy of rousing conversations centered on the frequency of USPS data updates for CASS certified software. Having just completed CASS Cycle O, the USPS is now considering increasing the frequency of underlying ZIP+4 data from a maximum of 60 days to perhaps as frequently as bi-weekly. He noted that, “roughly 500 hundred thousand address edits and route modifications can take place each week.” Updating the underlying data for this staggering number can go a long way towards reducing UAA mail; however, it can also be a challenge for data distribution while maintaining the increased cadence of regulatory price changes.
The Value of Partners
Another high value offering to attendees were the presentations by BCC Software’s five event partners. BlueCrest, Arctic Wolf, Crawford Technologies, Ricoh (with Sepire), and Solimar Systems (with the State of Colorado) all shared exceptional and intimate offerings with the attendees in a give-and-take classroom setting. With a nod to the current buzz of AI, it was not a surprise that when Arctic Wolf showed examples of AI generated malware, it captivated the audience.
Keynote Speakers Were Indeed Key
Having Earl Johnson of the USPS and John Bartzen (USPS OIG) deliver captivating keynote presentations on two consecutive days provided all attendees with a rare opportunity to hear from these speakers firsthand — and then be able to engage with them in meaningful dialogue that they would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
Save the date for InfoXchange 2024!
BCC Software plans to be back in the Windy City again next August for an even bigger offering. More information will be available on the BCC website (bcc.com/conference) in October.
Continue Face-To-Face Learning at PRINTING United 2023
The PRINTING United Expo in Atlanta from October 18-20 offers another great opportunity to further experience the power of in-person learning and knowledge gathering. Companies like BCC Software (booth #B14051) exhibit at the Expo to educate attendees about how to best address the latest trends and share the latest information. In fact, BCC will offer a fun daily in-booth test of your postal knowledge. There will be several experts on hand to answer your toughest postal questions, so we hope to see you there!
Chris Lien is EVP Postal Affairs for BCC Software, A BlueCrest Company. He is a frequent speaker at the National Postal Forum, NACUMS, and many Postal Customer Councils. Chris has been honored with a number of industry recognitions, including the Donald A. Mumma Award in 2016, and was inducted into the Soderstrom Society Class of 2017. He regularly participates in numerous industry associations such as Association for Postal Commerce, Delivery Technology Advocacy Council (DTAC), and the Postmaster General’s Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) where he actively participates as a former MTAC Industry Chair.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 29
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE!
CUSTOMIZED MAILING LISTS POWER NEW REVENUE FOR MAILERS AND PRINTERS
BY GREG BROWN
One-stop-shop services are a powerful way mailers and printers can capture more business — a strategic opportunity to adapt and thrive by becoming a comprehensive solution provider. Offering customized mailing lists is one way to add value to direct mail client relationships, yet list development has historically required third-party providers and additional management on a client’s behalf. Today, simple APIs are addressing this need. With seamless API integration, mailers and printers can bypass mailing list providers to reduce complexity, keep more revenue in-house, and supply more of the services their clients want.
Creating New Revenue Streams with Mailing List APIs
Integrated APIs enable mailing houses and printers with private-label branding for list services, with end customers seeing only their brand and logo when lists are provided. Mailers can also easily create a dedicated online portal for list building, offering clients the option to create and customize lists without a thirdparty resource. Ideal for high-volume mailers, APIs can be easily integrated into in-house data systems to optimize efficiency in list management, retrieval, updating, and storage.
APIs Offer Leads Featuring Consumers, Businesses, Occupants, and Property Owners
In contrast to handing customers off to third-party mailing list providers, mailing providers and printers can take charge of list development in-house to maximize profits and tailor their offerings to meet customer demands more competitively. Optimized list options span consumer, business, occupant, and property data.
Specific criteria can be customized to optimize marketing campaigns, including factors like household income, age groups, homeownership, or marital status. Consumer data can be appended with phone numbers, birth dates, family relationships, and more, further enriching mailers’ understanding of their potential customers, including over 200 million US individuals and 140 million households.
APIs focused on occupant lists are known as "Occ/Res" or "Walk Sequence" lists and offer the capability to saturate specific carrier routes, ZIP Codes, or addresses within a specific radius. Resulting campaigns are meticulously organized in walk-sequence order to boost postal discounts and can include head of household names to encourage higher response rates.
Business list APIs tap into an expansive, multi-sourced business database with millions of entries spanning homebased enterprises to Fortune 500 leaders. Flexible list enhancements contain sales volume, contact names and titles, and company sizes, as well as data such as branch/headquarters indicators, and fax and phone numbers — providing an ideal foundation to direct mail, email, and telemarketing campaigns.
Property data APIs enable mailers to customize lists according to geography (ZIP Codes, radius, county, etc.), property type and value, mortgage amount or rate, and owner type (including absentee owners). Other enhancements could offer region, square footage, number of rooms, sales price, mortgage loan type, year built, indications of corporate ownership, and even multiple buildings.
Seamless Tech Powers a Competitive Approach to the Art of List Building
Handling mailing lists in-house has never been easier, thanks to streamlined processes and advanced technologies. With the ability to upload postcard and other mailer designs and then select target lists, mailing houses and printers can efficiently cater to their customers' unique needs. API integration ensures a seamless, user-friendly process to listbuilding — one that keeps customers from purchasing additional list services elsewhere.
At the same time, mailers have a new capacity for competitive value. Determining their own pricing margins, they can draw their own delivery area maps, discover new markets via user-friendly online list searches, and even create their own private labels for a personalized brand experience. By tapping into simple APIs, mailing houses and printers enhance their efficiency and competitive offerings, reduce costs and increase revenue, and foster a more productive relationship with their direct mail customers.
Greg Brown is vice president of marketing for Melissa, a leading provider of global data quality, identity verification, and address management solutions. Melissa solutions empower more than 10,0000 organizations worldwide to effectively connect with their audience, proactively managing the quality of their data through advanced validation, matching, enrichment, and profiling capabilities. Contact Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org or via LinkedIn.
30 SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2023 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
JUST ANNOUNCED! THE 2023-2024
HOT MAILING SOLUTION COMPANIES!