Mailing Systems Technology September/October 2022

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Us All

Our 2022 wage & operations survey results: How does your mail center stack up?


Are high-volume production printers an open door to hackers?


Mitigating the Great Resignation through automation.





18 The State of the Industry: A Look at Our Annual Wage & Operations Survey Results

By Amanda Armendariz

22 Are High-Volume Production Printers an Open Door to Hackers?

By Steve Berman

24 Mitigating the Great Resignation with Automated Workflows

By Chris Lien

26 Advantages of PDF: Does It Create Competitive Lift for Print & Mail?

By Jonathan Malone-McGrew

28 Digital Advertisements + Direct Mail = A Winning Combination

By Rob Hanks


05 Editor's Note An Uphill Battle?

By Amanda Armendariz

06 Real-Life Management A Roadmap to High-Quality Operations

By Wes Friesen

08 Postal Insights Lifting the Veil on Network Redesign

By Leo Raymond

10 Software Byte How to Protect Your Most Valuable Resource

By Lisa Leslie

12 Inkjet Info Agents for Positive Change

By Karen Kimerer

14 Strategy & Culture Connection Four Focus Areas to Ensure Success in 2023

By Bruce Gresham

16 The Trenches Predicting In-Home Dates

By Mike Porter

30 To Sum Up

17 Stop & See at PRINTING United





Steve Berman, Wes Friesen, Bruce Gresham, Rob Hanks, Karen Kimerer, Lisa Leslie, Chris Lien, Jonathan Malone-McGrew, Mike Porter, Leo Raymond

Rachel Chapman

Advertising Ken Waddell 608.235.2212

Design Kelli Cooke

MadMen3 PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098

Tel: 608.241.8777

Fax: 608.241.8666



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MAILING SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 35 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

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no secret that traditional mail as we know it is facing some significant challenges. In August, the United States Postal Service released its third-quarter results for FY2022, and as is often the case, the results were mixed. On the bright side, Marketing Mail revenue increased $324 million compared to this same quarter last year, and the volume also grew by 3.5%. Despite a downturn in volume at the beginning of the pandemic, this mail medium is back on the upswing as companies continue to realize benefits from incorporating mail into their marketing mix.

First-Class Mail revenue, however, basically remained unchanged compared to this same quarter last year, despite a volume decline of over five percent. Unfortunately, the volume of this segment continues to decline due to shifts to digital communication methods, and it remains lower than pre-COVID levels. Shipping and Packages revenue decreased by $85 million compared to the same quarter last year, with 92 million fewer pieces entering the mail stream. Since many believe that the packages side of the Postal Service is what PMG DeJoy hopes will ultimately solve the financial woes of the organization, this decline is far from ideal. Thankfully, volume in this segment is still higher than

pre-COVID levels, so there is reason to be optimistic.

But even in the face of these downturns, I still feel hopeful. Mail continues to be the most trusted communication method, even among the digital savvy Millennial generation, and organizations utilize it because they know it works. Yes, we in the industry should be advocating for actions that encourage a healthy mail stream, and we should not get complacent in the face of volume declines. However, through publications like Mailing Systems Technology and educational conferences like National Postal Forum and PRINTING United, the professionals in our industry can continue to educate others on the value and importance of mail. As an industry, we really are stronger together, which is why I’m so pleased to meet some of you at PRINTING United. I’d love to connect with you and hear some of the most pressing issues you feel are facing our industry.

As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology. | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2022 5
President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda
Contributing Writers
Audience Development Manager


No matter what operations we are involved with, pursuing high quality is essential.

What is quality? A simple definition is, “Quality is providing prod ucts or services that customers need, and that are free from deficiencies and errors.” Studies have shown — and experts agree — that high quality has many benefits, including increased cus tomer value, satisfaction, and loyalty; repeat business and new business; and employee pride.

One proven approach to developing and sustaining high-quality practices is to embrace Dr. W. Edward Deming’s 14 Principles of Quality Management. Who was Dr. Deming? Simply put, he has been called the Father of the Quality Manage ment movement. He first rose to fame by helping the Japanese achieve strong manufacturing and business success after World War II. Later, his philosophies were embraced by a number of US com panies such as Ford, Xerox, Ricoh, Sony, Proctor & Gamble, and many others. Deming has the unique distinction of receiving prestigious awards from both Emperor Hirohito of Japan and President Reagan of the US (impressive!).

Deming’s 14 Principles of Quality Management

These are a set of management prac tices to help companies increase their quality and productivity. Deming taught that by adopting appropriate principles of management, organizations can increase quality and simultaneously reduce costs (by reducing waste, rework, employee turnover, and litigation while increasing customer loyalty). Following are my paraphrased versions of the principles:

1. Create a constant purpose toward improvement. We should plan for qual ity in the long term, and resist reacting with short-term solutions (such as sac rificing quality to achieve cost cutting pressures). Predict and prepare for future challenges, and always have the goal of getting better. I like this quote from Steve Jobs, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

2. Adopt the new philosophy. Embrace quality throughout our teams and the organization. Put our customers’ needs first, and design our products and services to meet those needs. Be prepared for a changed mindset in the way business is done. It’s about leading, not simply managing. Create our quality vision, and implement it.

3. Stop depending only on physical inspections. Inspections can be costly and unreliable — and they don’t improve quality, they merely find a lack of quality. The idea is to build quality into the pro cess from start to finish. We don’t just find what we did wrong — we should eliminate the “wrongs” altogether. Consider using statistical controls, check lists, or other methods — not physical inspections alone — to prove that the process is working. One wise approach is to emphasize front-end testing prior to releasing our outputs. Author Brian Lawley counseled, “Doing testing with real users (in addition to internal quality testing) can help you avoid the serious embarrassment of a failed product.”

4. Build a positive partnership with our suppliers. Look at suppliers as our partners in quality. Encourage them to spend time improving their own quality — they shouldn’t compete for our business

based on price alone. When relevant, we can use quality statistics to ensure that suppliers meet our quality standards. Look for “win-win” long-term relationships with our suppliers, in which they get our busi ness and we get excellent, quality service.

5. Improve constantly and forever. Continuously improve our systems and processes. Deming promoted the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach to process analysis and improvement. Emphasize training and education so everyone can do their jobs better.

6. Use training on the job. Train for consistency to help reduce variation and mistakes. Build a foundation of common knowledge. Help workers to understand their roles in the “big picture,” which supports the insight from respected CEO Frances Hesselbein, “People want to feel that what they do makes a differ ence.” Encourage staff to learn from one another, and provide a culture and envi ronment for effective teamwork (“all for one, one for all”).

7. Implement leadership. Encour age our supervisors and managers to understand their team members and the processes they use. Don’t simply super vise — provide support and resources so that each team member can do his or her best following the servant leader philosophy. Be an affirming coach instead of an aggressive police. Figure out what each person actually needs to do his or her best. Emphasize the importance of participative management and transfor mational leadership. Find ways to reach full potential, and don’t just focus on meeting targets and quotas.

8. Eliminate fear. Allow people to perform at their best by ensuring that they’re not afraid to express ideas or con cerns. Let everyone know that the goal is to achieve high quality by doing more things right — and that we’re not inter ested in blaming people when mistakes happen. Make workers feel valued, and encourage them to look for better ways to do things. Ensure that our leaders are approachable and that they work with teams to act in the organization’s best interests. Use open and honest commu nication to remove fear from our teams.

9. Break down barriers between departments. Build the “internal cus tomer” concept — recognize that each department or function serves other departments that use their output. Build a shared vision that we are all on the same team with a common purpose to add value to our organization’s stakeholders. Use cross-functional teamwork to build


understanding and reduce adversarial relationships. Focus on collaboration and partnership and mutual problem solving.

10. Clarify expectations. We should eliminate unclear slogans and ambigu ous goals. Let people know exactly what we want — don’t make them guess. “Excellence in service” is short and mem orable, but what does it mean? How is it achieved? The message is clearer if we are more specific, such as “our goal is 99.5+ % same day delivery” or “we are aiming for a customer satisfaction rating of 8.7+ on a scale of 10.” We can outline our expectations, and then praise people face-to-face and in other ways for doing good work.

11. Eliminate unnecessary or unreal istic numerical targets. Look at how the process is carried out, not just numerical targets. Deming said that production targets encourage high output and low quality. Provide support and resources so that production levels and quality are high and achievable. Measure the process rather than the people behind the process. One of Deming’s quotes was, “Eightyfive percent of the reason for failure are deficiencies in the systems and process rather than the employee. The role of man

agement is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.”

12. Remove barriers to pride of workmanship. Allow everyone to take pride in their work without being compared. Treat all workers positively, and don’t make them compete with other workers for monetary or other rewards. I resonate with the philosophy of esteemed management expert Dr. Ken Blanchard. Blanchard is a proponent that there should be no quotas on high performance ratings. For example, if the organization uses a 1 – 5 scale (5 being highest), every employee should have the opportunity to earn a 5 rating. That doesn’t mean that everybody will earn a 5, but knowing a 5 rating achievable is motivating to most folks.

13. Implement education and self-im provement. Improve the current skills of workers. Encourage people to learn new skills to prepare for future changes and challenges. Build skills to make our work force more adaptable to change, and better able to find and achieve improvements. And we should recognize increased skills and performance improvements, includ ing the “small” changes we see. Author Robert Collier suggested, “Success is the

sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.”

14. Make “transformation” everyone’s job. We can improve our overall organi zation by having each person take a step toward quality. Author Lloyd Dobbs once wrote, “If there is no worker involvement, there is no quality system.” We can person alize and pull from Deming’s 14 principles and have open discussions with our teams and gain their buy-in into pursuing ever improving quality management. 

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 Develop ment, 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 valu able 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 or at 971.806.0812.


Ever since the issuance of Post master General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year plan, the commercial mailing community has been hoping to learn of his blueprint for making the Postal Service’s infrastructure more efficient and less costly. When some was provided, however, it was in a five-minute video for employees released in July. In the video, DeJoy offered some relative specifics, saying the USPS will:

“... build or designate facil ities of significant size to support a network of at least 60 new regional processing and distribution centers to accommodate the national movement of mail and pack ages. ...

“... invest in most existing mail and processing facilities across the nation to improve the working environment and to enable them to conform to our new operating standards.

“... eliminate ad hoc facilities across the nation, put in place over the years to provide capacity without any clear

strategy for long term efficiency and cost effectiveness.

“... repurpose and equip previously vacated facilities across the country to accommodate large and modernized delivery units ...

imately 19,000 delivery units would be reduced to about 11,000 as a result of the initiative.]

With about 250 mail processing facili ties of varying sizes already in operation — not counting purpose-built airport mail facilities, it’s unclear how many new buildings will be constructed and how many existing (or closed) facilities will be repurposed or eliminated. Likewise unclear is how many current processing facilities will become or house a “large delivery unit.” So far, the only clarity seems to be about the nomenclature for the new facilities:

The NDCs (formerly BMCs) would become Regional Processing Distribu tion Centers (RPDCs);

Current Processing and Distribution Centers (P&DCs), once Sectional Cen ter Facilities (SCFs) will become Local Processing Centers (LPCs);

Some current Delivery Units (DUs) would be merged into the planned Sorting and Distribution Centers (SDCs) that would perform final sortation of mail for the co-located delivery routes.

To long-term industry veterans, DeJoy’s plans are only the latest changes to a postal infrastructure that’s been evolv ing more quickly since the early 1960s.

A 2011 study of the network by the USPS Office of Inspec tor General’s Risk Analysis Research Center counted 528 processing facilities then in operation, but modeled how the same work could be done with a matrix of only 135 facilities. The round of consoli dations that was conducted in the early 2010s pared the total number of facilities by about half, though that process was never completed because of resistance by the postal unions and their friends in Congress. (The remaining unfinished facility consolidation studies were canceled in August.)

“... create large delivery units in our mail processing facilities, again, reducing time and the cost of transportation ...” [In a subsequent speech to PCC officials, the PMG stated that the current approx

The next insight into the redesign process came from briefings to labor groups that found their way to the postal media. The focus of the documents is the consolidation of delivery operations

An obvious consequence of the consolidations is greater travel time from the SDC to a carrier’s delivery route and less delivery time — meaning fewer stops can be served.

in specific areas from post offices to newly established SDCs that would be located in existing facilities where space had been vacated after mail processing functions were relocated.

To begin, the USPS had identified facilities with excess empty space into which at least two existing delivery units and 20 routes could be consolidated, as well as post offices with city and rural routes within 30 minutes’ travel time (one way). Candidate facilities were evaluated for their ability to be expanded as needed, and for the availability of parking space for both employees and delivery vehicles. After completing its analyses, the facilities are ranked in order of opportunity if activated as SDCs.

Based on the documents sent to the labor groups, the top 10 facilities identified to become SDCs were Athens (GA)

P&DC, Bryan (TX) P&DC, Columbus (GA) PO, Gainesville (FL) P&DF, Kalamazoo (MI) P&DC, Mid-Hudson (NY) P&DC, New Castle (PA) P&DF, Southeastern (PA) P&DC, Topeka/Northpark (KS) P&DC, and Utica (NY) P&DF; 13 other facilities were also listed. All would have the SDCs established between September 2022 and February 2023.

According to the USPS information, 928 facilities with available space have been identified overall, and site surveys and project plans have begun. In addition, as the agency organizes its network of regional processing and distribution centers, it will evaluate opportunities in metropolitan areas to co-locate an SDC or to buy or build a suitable new SDC facility.

An obvious consequence of the consolidations is greater travel time from the SDC to a carrier’s delivery route and less

delivery time — meaning fewer stops can be served. In turn, this will require the establishment of five to 10% more delivery routes to serve the same deliveries. This has led to concerns among observers that the concurrent increase in vehicle mileage and fuel costs, as well as the cost of additional carriers and vehicles for the new routes that will be required, will offset any anticipated savings. Although the PMG dismisses doubts and questions as “noise,” it would still be appropriate to explain to ratepayers how the overall SDC concept really will reduce costs. 

Leo Raymond is Owner and Managing Director at Mailers Hub LLC. He can be reached at This information is based on articles in Mailers Hub News, which is included in Mailers Hub subscriptions. | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2022 9


There is no doubt that COVID-19 has changed how people work as well as how businesses operate, maybe forever. While mailers were considered “essential workers” and continued to have necessary staff on premise throughout the pandemic, our industry was still hit hard, with reduced demand, running facilities with fewer staff and, at times, whole companies had to shut down due to illness and, sometimes, the tragic loss of life.

Working from home, Zoom, masks, PPP money, stimulus payments, kids telecommuting to school, etc. all became the norm and helped to change the fabric of how Americans (and the world) live in several ways. I’ve worked remotely for the better part of the last 25 years, and while I wasn’t as dramatically affected, it still impacted me. The pandemic became a large part of daily conversation. Everyone had issues with postponed or canceled vacations, concerts, trade shows, and customer visits. Heart-wrenching stories of not having any way to reach or be with loved ones in hospitals or nursing homes tested nerves and made it hard for many to fully focus on work.

What’s next? Change is often tough even in the best of times. It’s no wonder that after the struggles, downtime, and upheaval since March of 2020, what has emerged is a dynamic shift in how we do business. Working remotely allowed many to become more productive: less driving time, reduced expenses with respect to gas and vehicle wear and tear, and the time getting to and from work,

just to name a few. While telecommuting isn’t for everyone (space can be an issue, kids were often also home, and some like the routine and social aspects of going to work), many found that working from home was preferred, if not all the time, then at least two or three days per week. Or, simply having more flexible hours was hugely helpful. Many sought jobs elsewhere if theirs reverted to prepandemic ways.

The following charts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://data. support the facts that wages and benefits are on the increase while job openings have risen sharply (even with the downward trend as of January). See Figure 1.

Successful businesses have always been those that embrace innovation,

discover ways to improve efficiencies (through automation, for example), simplify tasks, and do more with less to stay competitive, meet demand, and support future growth. The recent reduction in the available workforce combined with an increase in demand for employees — as businesses ramp back up in a post-pandemic world — means that however lean they may be today, companies are fighting to attract and retain the more limited pool of human resources by offering remote and/or flexible hours, as well as better pay, better benefits, and safer and more satisfying work.

In the mailing industry, we’ve witnessed an acceleration of mergers and acquisitions as well as companies shuttering their doors and new partnerships developing as those left find new ways to help each other succeed.

Reviewing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs along with Employee Engagement allows us to visualize more easily, from the employee’s perspective, where they fall in the hierarchy. We can now find ways to create the best environment and promote a sense of security, respect, and productivity. With a large section of the labor pool having experienced more fear, anger, uncertainty, and disruption during and since the virus spread around the globe, both in the workplace and at home, companies that focus on attracting, developing, and retaining employees are those which will be the most successful.

Finally, on the following page, we'll look at why it’s important to move employees up the hierarchy along with important ways to promote growth, self-esteem, and higher-level employee contribution and satisfaction in the workplace.

Figure 1

Why creating a positive and productive environment matters:

1. Productive employees feel more empowered.

2. Empowered employees approve of the culture and company, and want all to succeed.

3. Those who see a bright future are proud to be there, and that spreads to others.

6 ways to help your workforce move up the hierarchy:

1. Offer the chance to work remotely (full-time or as many days as possible, depending on position) and/or flextime options.

2. Provide better benefits, such as:

• Paid Time Off (PTO)

• Matching 401(k)

• Better insurance options.

3. Educate. Offer training to allow each employee to have a path to grow and develop talents.

4. Listen. Actively seek ideas and feedback so employees feel heard and respected.

5. Host regular meetings so employees feel connected and part of the team. They should be among the first to learn about:

• Enhancements in technology and processes

• Integration efforts (with any acquisitions and partners)

• Industry or customer-specific news

6. Offer time off to volunteer, which helps people make a real and lasting difference in their communities.

I recommend working with your trusted software providers to develop processes that maximize workforce talent, minimize tedium, and empower employees. 

Lisa Leslie is Strategic Account Manager for Window Book, Inc. - a BlueCrest Company. SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER
2022 Figure 2


Sustainability is a big topic, but the central idea is often misunderstood and is surrounded by a myriad of myths. As a result, many business owners aren’t sure what they can do to make their company more environmentally friendly. Even if they do know what to do, some consider the requirements too expensive or unattainable. Still others don’t believe that their small business can make a significant difference, so they might ultimately decide that the efforts required for change outweigh the rewards.

Despite any hesitation on the part of businesses, today’s consumers are more educated on the topic of sustainability than ever before. The implications of doing nothing, therefore, are huge — companies that don’t put the right foot forward in terms of sustainability can tarnish customer loyalty and thwart their own expansion plans. In addition to being the right thing to do, giving sustainability the attention it deserves can be a key differentiator in the value you offer to your clients and their brands.

It’s not uncommon to feel a bit overwhelmed if you’re considering eco-friendly improvements for your business. Fortunately, even small steps

can have a big impact and may pave the way for additional efforts in the future. Sustainability is a system of change that is designed to protect our environment, and businesses of all sizes can play a role. This article explores some simple sustainability efforts that you can take today.

What Does Sustainable Mean?

The topic of environmental sustainability encompasses several definitions, and each of these definitions can cause additional uncertainty. For print and mail providers, environmental sustainability involves acting in a way that considers future generations and preserving the valuable resources that are required to ensure a high quality of life.

Topics covered under the umbrella of sustainability often include air, water, or soil quality. It is also not uncommon for eco-friendly efforts to consider animal welfare, the preservation of wildlife habitats, and the effects of hazardous waste or greenhouse emissions. Sustainable decisions then involve offsetting pollution, protecting raw materials, minimizing waste, and offering the opportunity to recycle or reuse products.

Sustainability by Generation

As is the case with many important topics, each generational group will sometimes respond differently than others. A good illustration of this can be found in The Global Sustainability Study published by Simon-Kucher & Partners in 2021, which surveyed over 10,000 consumers across all generations about their interest in sustainability. According to the results, 85% of consumers across the board are seeking greener options when they make purchasing decisions. What’s more, 63% of consumers have made changes to become more sustainable over the past five years.

Interestingly, the results of this survey varied by generation. For example, older respondents were somewhat less active in the sustainability movement. Although only 24% of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers reported that they have “significantly” changed their behaviors to become more sustainable, the same was true for 32% of Millennials.

Members of Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) continue to emerge as an especially “green” generation as they tend to be more concerned about climate change than previous generations.

On average, 34% of total respondents to this survey reported a willingness to pay more for sustainable products and services. Once again, though, the results varied by age — whereas 39% of Generation Z consumers and 42% of Millennials were open to paying more for eco-friendly options, the same was true for only 31% of Gen Xers and just 26% of Boomers. Among those respondents that were willing to pay for sustainability, younger consumers were also open to paying a higher average premium than their older counterparts.

This data is significant because it’s important to understand how the various generational market segments view their options when they are selecting a print and mailing services provider. Moreover, this data offers insight about the audience members that your prospects and customers serve. In


many cases, environmental friendliness will play a key role in their response. This, in turn, can become a meaningful conversation when considering options for their campaigns.

and future well-being. If you don’t have a sustainability strategy in place but are hoping to take steps that will improve your firm’s footprint on the planet we share, know that small changes can add up. Getting started means challenging the status quo. Take a critical look at your current practices and then commit to a simple audit. Determine the things that are important to your goal and put a plan in place to take action. Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself:

• What are we doing to minimize waste?

o In the production of our products?

o When acquiring supplies?

• Are there supplies that can be sourced locally?

o Do we offer incentives for recycling?

o Do we give our customers the option to use recycled products/paper?

• What steps can we take to improve our facility?

o Is the HVAC system smart and efficient?

o Do we have procedures in place to reduce electrical use?

o How do we educate our employees as well as our customers to become more eco-friendly?

o What measures can we take to reduce commuting emissions?

• Do we work with distributors that reduce emissions caused by transportation and shipping requirements?

• Do any of our partners or suppliers breach their eco-friendly obligations?

o How can we help so that their actions better align with our own efforts?

The Bottom Line

A Shift in Behavior

Industry leaders continue to spotlight the need to become more eco-friendly. For the most part, we’ve all come a long way from prior days of manufacturing at all costs. Few would argue that a traditional print and mailing operation might be viewed as a roadblock on the path to sustainability. After all, the printing processes of former days were rich in waste, often emitting higher-thanaverage VOCs and consuming a large amount of energy. Fortunately, many of today’s businesses have learned how to mitigate the biggest offenders of unsustainable practices. Proper waste disposal is easier than ever. Thanks to digital production presses, there are fewer chemicals needed in the print shop. The use of recycled paper is on the rise and the practice of printing for purpose rather than perfection is widely accepted. Some organizations have even found practical ways to produce or use renewable energy.

There are many opportunities to protect our environment, resources,

o Are there any cleaning products that should be replaced with non-toxic alternatives?

o Do we use certified electronic recycling centers when it’s time to replace technology?

o What actions can we take to use clean energy?

o Have we optimized our manufacturing process?

• Can we benefit from artificial intelligence?

• Are we using the right, most efficient technologies?

• Do we have a prescribed maintenance plan to increase the life of our equipment?

• Does the landscaping around our facility consider sustainable practices?

o Do we properly manage runoff and storm water?

• What can we do differently to encourage our entire team to join our sustainability efforts?

o Do we actively seek feedback from our employees, partners, and vendors?

Even if your business is very small, there are many steps you can take to move toward a more sustainable future. There is no need to commit to big audacious projects or huge capital expenditures. Take a close look at your company and understand that your sustainability goals might be completely different from your neighboring business. Some firms have already put a stake in the ground by pledging to become carbon-neutral by 2035, but a simple commitment to save on energy consumption is also a step in the right direction.

The path toward becoming more ecofriendly can be smoother than ever if you focus on the benefits of change. Turn to the younger members of your workforce and give them the opportunity to become sustainability ambassadors. They understand the importance of protecting our natural resources and might have some creative ideas that you haven’t yet considered. Whether you go big or start small, make a commitment to our environment and see your efforts through — they’re important! 

Karen Kimerer of Keypoint Intelligence has experienced the many challenges of expand ing 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 well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book pub lishing, supply chain management, data segmen tation, channel integration, and photo products.

If you don’t have a sustainability strategy in place but are hoping to take steps that will improve your firm’s footprint on the planet we share, know that small changes can add up. | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2022 13



For many in our industry, October through the end of January is our make-or-break peak season.

Marketing mailers are jammed October through early December, while First-Class transactional mailers have shop floors that look like a paper mill exploded in January.

Success during this busy time sets the tone for the rest of our year. By hyper-focusing on four key initiatives and quickly bringing them to fruition, you can set yourself up for success in peak season — and for all of 2023.

The four key initiatives during the 30-60 days sprint should be categorized as either:

 Cleaning Up Messes & Installing Fixes

 Operationally Build, Adjust, and/or Make Happen

 Big Leaps/Game Changers

 Stop Doing/Not Fix

Make sure that for each initiative, there are clear action steps that need to be completed at the 30- and 60-day marks as well as the one person who is accountable for making those action steps happen.

Cleaning Up Messes & Installing Fixes

There are typically at least two items in any shop that need to be cleaned up, with a solution installed before peak season.

These are items that slow or kill productivity, and oftentimes, owners and managers are unaware they exist. The best way to get these to the forefront is to poll your people. Ask them: “If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing about how we do our jobs every day, what would it be?”

For one customer, it was setting up a “small job” station so the inserting area did not have to do as many setups each day. For another, it was reorganizing their supply area and placing it close to their imaging department. In both cases, it increased productivity in those areas by about three to five percent.

How meaningful would another three to five percent of margin be in your business?

Operationally Build, Adjust, and/or Make Happen

This bucket of improvement is about standard operating procedures and processes.

Continuous improvement is, well, continuous. But if you can hone or refine one key process before peak season, it will make all the difference in the world.

Two years ago, we had a team that completely restructured their quality control (QC) department including the processes, timing, and paperwork involved. They were able to cut out QC steps, yet reduced the number of mistakes that ended up being missed by QC and becoming customer facing by 50%.

It was a huge game-changer in their Net Promotor Scores!

Big Leaps/Game Changers

This is the toughest of the four areas to make a reality. The question our customers face is: “How can I make a big leap in 60 days when I can’t do it during the rest of the year?”

Instead, ask your team: “If we made this Big Leap happen in the next 60 days, what would it mean for our customers and our people?”

The Big Leap goal has to be realistic. Don’t try to reengineer your entire workflow or change your entire supply chain.

One recent Big Leap example for a manufacturer in a different industry before their peak season was they finally accomplished what they had been putting off for years: redesigning their shipping area and adding other carriers.

The plans had been gathering dust for over two years. Once implemented, employee engagement increased in the area due to better ergonomics, and on-time shipping increased by just over seven percent due to better productivity.

Stop Doing/Not Fix

If we are going to make the magic happen in the above three areas, we need

The Big Leap goal has to be realistic. Don’t try to reengineer your entire workflow or change your entire supply chain.

to open up more time in the day to get those things done. So what is the team going to stop doing, not fix, or not worry about?

The majority of the time, the answer is one of two things:

 Reporting: Daily/weekly manual reports that no one looks at but take the team a few hours to complete. One way to test this is to not send a report for three weeks and see if anyone asks for it. If

no one does, then the report is no longer needed.

 Meetings: Reduce time in team meetings by making them less frequent and by reducing their length. Run them tighter by having a clear meeting objectives and clear agenda.

By cleaning up some messes, operationally adjusting, making a big leap and, yes, by stopping doing something, you can

set your team up for success during peak season.

Bruce Gresham and the team at Applied Vision Works (www. use practical methods to help business owners, leaders, and teams reach their goals faster. Connect via 704.726.6728, bgresham@appliedvisionworks. com or the LinkedIn QR code to the left. SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER


Precision in mail delivery is becoming more important to retailers, event promoters, and others who depend on direct mail to inform and motivate their audi ences. As more organizations leverage the power of omni-channel communica tions, they need to know when mail will arrive so they can time their messages via multiple communication channels.

Triggered mail is becoming more com mon as organizations integrate their CRM systems with marketing automa tion platforms. Businesses are sending customers materials based on individual criteria to approach them at the most opportune times. (See my column “From Batch to Triggered” in the July/August 2022 issue of Mailing Systems Technol ogy). Obviously, knowing the exact date a mail piece arrives at its destination is critical to the follow-up efforts associated with these highly targeted approaches.

Technology to the Rescue

Changes the US Postal Service has made in delivery standards and its transporta tion network have altered the length of time the USPS takes to deliver some of the mail. Fortunately, technology can make mail delivery predictions easier and more accurate than the old “spray and pray” days of direct mail marketing.

Before intelligent mail barcodes and Informed Visibility (IV), mailers did a lot of educated guessing to decide when to deposit mail, so it arrived at the ideal time. The guesses were based on the experience of professional mailers and a

few variables, such as the mail drop loca tion and the delivery points. Mail service providers measured the accuracy of hit ting an in-home target date with manual reporting from seed records in the data files or tracking coupons as customers redeemed them. The method worked well, but no one would call it precise. Mailers aimed for delivery windows that spanned three or four days, and reporting lagged behind the tracked activity.

Now, with the USPS tracking mail pieces as they travel throughout the deliv ery network, mailers have access to data that doesn’t depend on someone man ually recording delivery dates. Besides capturing the date when mail is delivered to a destination, mailers can track their mail throughout the journey. This allows them to make adjustments to campaign schedules or initiate actions to address mail processing delays that occur after turning mail over to the Postal Service.

The USPS launched Informed Visibility in 2018. In the beginning, all the IV data came from actual mail piece scans. Since then, the Postal Service enhanced the system to include container scans. The USPS uses container scans to infer the status of all the mail pieces assumed to be in that container, according to mail er-provided data. This fills in some gaps in the original IV system and provides mail ers with accurate, near real-time reporting on the whereabouts of their mail.

A Competitive Advantage

Mail service providers should be famil iar with Informed Visibility. Tracking the

mail adds value to the product they sell, which, in turn, encourages customer loyalty, improves the ROI of their custom ers’ direct mail campaigns, and increases profit margins.

By including Informed Visibility mail tracking and reporting with your custom ers’ jobs, you can:

Increase mail’s value through better coordination and triggered events in multi-channel campaigns

 Improve accuracy in hitting in-home target dates

 Notice changes in delivery times across multiple mailings or in specific regions

 Get near real-time notifications when mail is delivered

 Allow your customers to prepare for increased workloads or inventory demand prompted by the mail delivery

 Get early warning about delivery issues so you can help resolve them on behalf of your customers

Most mailers don’t deal with the raw IV data made available by the USPS. They contract with third-party companies who collect the data and provide meaningful reports that mail service providers and their customers can understand.

Flawless print and mail production is no longer enough to guarantee continued success as a mail service provider. Every one in the business can do that. Adding value to what you do for customers is essential to distinguish your company from others providing similar services. In-home date forecasting, added ser vices, and other benefits you can offer customers because of your expertise with USPS programs like Informed Vis ibility can make a difference in your business.

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps his clients meet the challenges they encounter in document operations and creates infor mational content for vendors and service providers in the document industry. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, send a connection request on LinkedIn, or contact Mike directly at



BCC Software offers powerful mailing software solutions for any sized business. From mail preparation, tracking, data enhancement, targeting, to Mail.dat editing capabilities and statement management using WindowBook products, BCC Software has a variety of services appropriate to meet any of your direct-mail marketing needs. Stop by our booth to learn about our newest products and features, and grab some free giveaways!

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.

Inspired by our customer-focused vision, Kern provides tailored solutions based on customer-specific applications. Ranging from small transaction or direct mail jobs, to high-volume, completely automated changeovers, Kern’s core products include the K1600 (12,000 to 16,000 insertions/hour), K3200 (18,000 to 22,000 insertions/hour), and the K3600 (27,000 insertions/ hour). Kern’s newest multi-format, high-speed inserter, the K3200, features the ability to automatically detect problems with the envelope before inserting, thus eliminating rework and optimizing performance. Each system integrates with Kern’s mailFactory software, which provides individually tailored software solutions in the ADF field.

Kirk-Rudy will be featuring various types of inkjet printing equipment at Printing United, including their new digital inkjet press, the FireJet. Capable of producing up to 18,000 full color printed #10 envelopes in an hour, the FireJet has proven itself as a money making machine in print shops all across the country. Teaming up with Memjet in 2019, Kirk-Rudy engineered the FireJet 4C to be that in between, niche color inkjet printer that was affordable ($80,000 for a typical system) and cost-effective to operate. With its 12.75” wide printhead and specially engineered vacuum base, the FireJet 4C prints full bleed on #10, 6”x9”, and 9”x12” envelopes.

For over 37 years, Melissa has offered leading contact data quality, enrichment and identity verification solutions. We’ve helped more than 14,000 organizations across multiple industries around the world proactively manage the quality of their data through solutions such as web and desktop mailing software, data hygiene solutions, mailing lists and LeadGen APIs for accurate, current, and complete customer data. We can help you increase international shipping efficiency, achieve last-mile success & improve logistics, and reduce fraud & improve delivery. We are The Address Experts.

Stop by booth N653 to see our microgluer® which features dot, line, or stitch patterns, patented output speed compensation, shutter control output, product and batch counter, and production rate meter. The microgluer® is the simplest and easiest to use tabletop folder with an integrated glue system and can be configured for all small format, direct mail applications today. Made affordable and accessible to our customers, expandability and flexibility are just part of the advantages to working with the GMS microgluer® family of products.

Quadient is the driving force behind the world’s most meaningful customer experiences. By focusing on Intelligent Communication Automation, Parcel Locker Solutions and Mail-Related Solutions, Quadient helps hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide simplify the connection between people and what matters. We will be showcasing our innovative envelope printing solutions like the MACH 6 Color Printer alongside our selection of class leading inserting products.

It’s been a couple of years — and in that time, RISO has developed two new lines of high speed, cut sheet inkjet printers — the ComColor GL and FT Series. If you thought you knew RISO, you should come by... It’s a whole new RISO, and we’ve got some new things to show you.

Since we cannot fit all of what we offer in our booth, SMS Direct Inc. and Linemods Inc. are bringing all of our equipment offerings to you via an 85” monitor filled with videos of our Inserters, Feeder/Accumulator/Folders, High Speed Inkjet, FolderGluers, Affixing, Plowfolding and much more!

BOOTH # N2661
BOOTH # N2464
BOOTH # N429
BOOTH # N2461
BOOTH # N1415
# N2055
# N1254 at


How did this last year treat mailers and

survey takes a look at

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 crosscheck, 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. For non-managerial staff, the average hourly wages went up in almost every category compared to 2021 (although some were still not back to 2020 levels). The average salary for both mail center managers and supervisors also increased compared to last year, as did the average time in the industry. That latter part is especially positive given all we hear about so many in our industry retiring without anyone readily available to replace them. Of course, there were some downsides as well. More managers are experiencing salary freezes compared to last year, and fewer managers hold the CMDSM certification.

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 2023.

Mail Center Managers

Male vs. Female

The gender gap continues to grow in recent years’ surveys, with this year’s 66/34 breakdown a slight increase from last year’s 62/38 split.

As has been the case for the past few years, the majority of managers are responsible for managing a relatively small workforce of 0-5 employees.

There was a slight increase in the number of mail center managers who held the EMCM certification compared to last year, but there was a marked decrease in the number who held the CMDSM certification. The number of those who held CMM dropped by one percentage point.

their organizations? Part one of our annual
wages, certifications, and more.
Number of Full-Time Employees Supervised 11-15 6-10 0-5 16-20 20+ 65% 9% 2% 4% 13% 7% 8.51%
18% 5% 6% EMCM CMM CMDSM Certification Unsure

Average Salary and Time in the Industry

The average salary increased compared to last year’s survey results, up from $55,351. However, it’s still quite a decrease from 2019 and 2020. The average time in the industry also increased, from 17 years.

Years &

Managers and the Economy

100 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0


Only 24% of our respondents reported that the economy has had no effect on managers, down from 32% last year. On the bright side, fewer managers had to take on additional responsibilities compared to our 2021 survey results, but the number who reported experiencing a salary freeze was far higher.





Has had no effect

Took on additional responsibilities

4% 7% Continuing Education

Salary freeze Other

Working additional hours

Salary concession

Number of mail managers decreased


2% What type of training did managers have access to/plan to attend in the past 12 months?

Only 22% of respondents said that managers would likely be attending national conferences in the next 12 months (regardless of whether these conferences were in person or virtual).

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


SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2022  19 100 80 70

$58,107 20
24% 13% 24% 7% 2%11% 13%
60 50 40 30 20 10 11% 0
33% 4%11% 7%9%

Impact of the Economy

The number of supervisors who have seen no changes due to the economy went up significantly compared to last year’s 19%.

The number of supervisors experiencing a salary freeze also went down slightly compared to last year.

The Lowdown:

Only 39% of our respondents report having supervisors in their mail center, a sharp decrease from last year’s 61%. (It’s worth noting, however, that the exact same companies don’t necessarily fill out our survey every year, which may explain some of this discrepancy).

For the second year in a row, there were more female supervisors than males, although this year’s 67/33 split was much more pronounced than last year’s 52/48 split.

Nineteen percent of supervisors hold the EMCMP certification, 10% hold the CMDSM, and 10% hold the CMM.

Thirty-eight percent of supervisors supervise between 0 and five employees, while 31% supervise between six and 10.

The average salary is $51,600 and the average time in the industry is 17 years.

Thirty-eight percent supervise other departments or functions, an increase from last year’s 33%.

Eighty-four percent of supervisors didn’t receive any training this year, either because no training was needed or there were budget/time constraints. Only 23% of supervisors are likely to attend national conferences in the next 12 months.

survey results.

The average time in the industry is just over 11 years.

Not even four percent are

by a union, which is consistent with last year.

percent have an

incentive program,

from last year’s 17%.

Supervisors The Lowdown:  The male/female breakdown is 40/60 in this year’s
 Twenty-five
Non-Managerial Staff Average Wages of Mail Center Staff Addressing machine operators Inserter operators Highest hourly wage Mail handlers Entry-level 10 0 20 15 5 25 2020$ 15.25 2022$ 14.00 2021$21.91 2020$21.24 2022$22.60 2022$ 15.95 2020$18.17 2022$17 .08 2021$ 16.75 2022$ 17.80 2020$18.45 2021$17.17 2020$16.75 2021$15.26 2021$ 14.84 0% 0% 0%0% 46% 38% 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 15%

Staff and the Economy

Has had no effect

Salary concession

Salary freeze


Existing staff work additional hours

Existing staff do additional tasks


Attend local PCC meetings/conferences

Attend national mailing 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


SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2022  21 Staff and Training

100 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 4% 15% 30%
Opportunities 0% 7% 56% 100 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 7% 0% 21% 38% 21% 10% 3%



Msophisticated network and computing plat forms that can become an open door to hackers and malicious software vulnerabili ties. Just think: Everything you receive in the mail was printed somewhere. Your tax bill, your credit card statement, your banking documents, even important legal papers all originated on some computer system, which sent a composed document to a production printer.

In the early days, printers were output devices connected via various physical peripheral interfaces. The original IBM 1403 line printer introduced in 1959 used a high-speed chain to imprint up to 6¼ feet per second of 11 x 14-inch fanfold pinfeed “greenbar” paper at greater than an average of 23 pages per minute. When running at full throttle, the device sounded like “somewhere between a power saw and a jet airplane,” according to its opera tors. The worst that could happen back then was to hear silence, which was a rare event, but indicated a system problem like when

hole punched, causing blank paper to slew at top speed in an end less loop.

Today’s printers are network devices. Even small desktop print ers have integrated Wi-Fi or ethernet and are very much part of the Internet of Things (IoT). These printers can have significant vulnerabilities and can sometimes be used as part of a “botnet” that hackers use to conduct a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. In the worst-case scenario, large production printers can be penetrated, allowing the hackers to listen to network traffic, steal documents, and install malware to take control of the device and return later for more damaging activities.

Printer manufacturers are aware of these vulnerabilities, but many consumer printer models still use hard-coded “admin” passwords that are rarely changed. Here are some examples of real-world attacks on printers and the dangerous consequences:  Criminals have disabled printers that confirm SWIFT network transfers during attacks on numerous banks in India.


Ransomware known as Mamba, or HDDCryptor, can shut down printers by spreading across network shares via server message block.

In 2010, a CBS News investigative reporter bought four printers for about $300 each and was able to recover pay stubs, domestic violence complaints, building design plans, and more.

In 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services fined one company $1.2 million for HIPAA violations for failing to erase healthcare records saved on a printer it had leased.

In 2016, an internet troll caused printers worldwide to print an anti-Semitic flyer by sending a PostScript file to exposed Port

In 2017, hacker “Stackoverflowin” created an automated script that finds exposed printer ports and sends a print job to the machine that warns users of its vulnerability.

In professional IT print and document distribution operations, it is always necessary to secure every network device that can become a vector for hackers to steal, ransom, or destroy valuable data. The US government has strict standards governed by frameworks like NIST 800-53. The federal government’s Defense Information Systems Agency has developed Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGs) that agencies like the IRS use in their device-hardening standards. These comprehensive Safeguard Computer Security Evaluation Matrices (SCSEMs) provide guidance for auditors to ensure each printer is as secure as it can be.

The standards for meeting IRS requirements for securing Federal Tax Information (FTI) are extremely strict and detailed. These standards serve as a useful goal for any organization interested in securing its valuable data. At a minimum, each printer should be treated like any other network device and included in vulnerability scans. Some other recommended actions are:

Does the printer alert appropriate officials in the organization in the event of an audit processing failure? Printers must be configured to record all relevant details of files processed.

Does the printer authenticate all devices or accounts to which it is permitted to accept or initiate connections? Printers must authenticate all connections.

Does the vendor have a CIS benchmark for the printer’s operating system? For example, Xerox has a benchmark called the Federal Overlay, which must be applied to all printers to comply with federal hardening standards.

Do users require passwords to manage or configure the printer? All printers must authenticate users using passwords, having similar complexity requirements as network or workstation logins.

Does the printer’s console have a timeout period? All printers with consoles must have a timeout of a maximum of 30 minutes, after which the user must log in again.

Printers do not ship secure out of the box. Organizations that operate production printers, or even desktop printers, used in sensitive or moderate risk applications must take the time to research, plan, and implement printer security, just as they would with the most sophisticated servers, desktop workstations, or network devices. Don’t forget that a modern printer is just as vulnerable as any other part of the network. Don’t let your printer be an open door to hackers. 

Steve Berman is Director of Risk and Compliance for DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest privately held full-service providers of high-volume print and electronic transactional communications. For more information, visit | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2022 23
Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery Keeping your critical communications running so nothing comes between you and your customers • Paul J. DePaoli 203.572.3887 •


The COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses, disrupted lives, and resulted in millions of untimely deaths. Its impact to our supply chain and economy will continue to be felt for a long time, and, unfortunately, it also resulted in further challenges to industries that rely heavily on employees that cannot work from home. That is especially true for the printing and mailing industry.

As our nation continues to recover from COVID shutdowns, a trend, known as the Great Resignation, has been emerging. Employees who became accustomed to working from home or reflecting on lifestyle changes have been quitting their jobs at a continued record pace. This is despite fears of recession, stock market turbulence, or 40-year high inflation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in April alone. That is among the highest levels since 2000, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down. According to a survey by human resources firm Mercer, one-third of

American workers surveyed said they were planning to quit their jobs in the next six to 12 months.

Mailers or mail service providers (MSP) who rely heavily upon employees in the workplace to operate software, services, and equipment to prepare and induct time-sensitive mailings are especially vulnerable to the impact of the Great Resignation. Many MSPs have already begun to explore ways to attract, retain, or, in some cases, replace manual processes in mail preparation with automated workflows.

In some cases, this can even repurpose employees into positions of future growth or attract new employees to the mailing industry by updating open job descriptions with a more accurate reflection of today’s complex mail preparation processes.

We recently had one medium-sized MSP that was challenged with filling an open position to operate their USPS CASS- and PAVE-certified solution. The daily mail volume was about 225,000 pieces prepared by 142 employees. They were challenged with not only filling this key position, but also


had issues growing their business as there never seemed to be enough time in the day to get everything prepared and out the door, due, in part, to complex mail preparation rules and frequent price changes. Each day, they processed 12 mailings, and each one took about 60 minutes to prepare.

By analyzing their workflow, they were able to upgrade the technology to leverage scripted processing and watch folder technology, which resulted in reducing their operating time from 60 minutes down to 20 minutes per job. This resulted in saving eight hours of processing time per day, which eliminated the need for the new position. And the cost of the software upgrade was less than half of what the annual salary would have been for the new employee.

Another MSP that was seeking an automated workflow to improve productivity opted to use technology with a visual graphic workflow tool. By visualizing how the name and address data would flow through the address correction, sortation, and labeling process, the operator could better understand the interoperability of

the underlying mail preparation tools. This workflow upgrade not only allowed them to more quickly implement complex mailing workflows, but also resulted in attracting an employee from a competing MSP as the employee viewed the data visualization tool as a way to “level up” their career with data analytics.

While upgraded workflows can be one way to mitigate the Great Resignation by repurposing or retaining employees, sometimes simply upgrading an open position description can help to attract employees to an industry that may seem technologically dated for those that are unfamiliar with printing and mailing. Rather than looking for a mail center operator to run CASS-certified software, consider instead seeking a data analyst with an emphasis on advanced name and address parsing, matching, and cleansing. Or, given the complexity of presorting, perhaps the revised description is more akin to advanced logistics planning and analysis.

And do not be afraid to tout the fact that the mailing industry continually works with “big data” in some big and

exciting ways. The USPS delivers over 100 billion pieces of mail to over 160 million delivery points every year. And every year, the United States adds over 1.1 million new delivery points to this vast and complex network. With over 6,500 families, businesses, and individuals moving every hour, the mailing industry network is anything but static!

Finally, make sure to include career growth as part of the overall recruitment package when trying to mitigate the Great Resignation. Employees want to see ways to “level up” their careers, and the Mail Piece Design Professional certification is an excellent way to invest in employees while simultaneously increasing the value of your services as an MSP to your customers. And do not forget to also check out your local Postal Customer Council for additional educational opportunities and to share best practices in attracting and retaining employees for your automated workflows.

Chris Lien is EVP Postal Affairs for BCC Software, a BlueCrest Company. | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2022 25


The beginning of this summer marked the completion of the first in-person National Postal Forum (NPF) since the start of the COVID19 global pandemic. This is a signal to the industry that represents a return to normal activity — an outcome that is important to brands, print service providers (PSPs, aka outsourced print and mail providers), and the general public receiving communications. But why?

The Value of Print and Mail to Society

Print and mail play an important role in how we communicate, despite the continued concerns over total mail volume, USPS service commitments, and digital transformation strategies designed to augment print and mail (or completely replace it). Readers of the May/June issue of Mailing Systems Technology know that the topics of saving money, optimizing processes (people, data, and technology), and taking advantage of print and mail opportunities in different sectors dovetailed with the educational tracks and vendor displays at NPF 2022 in Phoenix. There is so much to talk about when it comes to communicating with people, and it is complicated by the vast number of methods and technologies that can be leveraged to achieve communication goals.

A Simple Question with Significant Impact

What file format are you leveraging when it comes to creating and delivering communications to recipients?

This may seem like a simple question, and it may seem to pale in comparison to topics like data strategy, CASS, PAVE, NCOALINK, or even the tracking and delivery notifications of mail pieces. Digital transformation and your digital strategy may be top of mind, especially as we continue to see changes in how consumers want to receive, consume, and reply to communications since the beginning of the pandemic. Managing the file format, the print production, and the mailing fulfillment processes can become a competitive differentiator for your brand and organization as you navigate new output channels and ongoing changes in customer preference.

What do we mean when we say file format? This is how the file containing the designed content is saved. While the source files might be developed in InDesign, Quark, Quadient, or XMpie, to be used for print or e-delivery, they are saved in one of the common production formats. For print and mail, common ones include PostScript (PS), Advanced Function Presentation (AFP), PCL, Metacode, and Portable Document Format (better known

as PDF). Depending on where you sit in the communications chain of custody, PDF may seem the most familiar, with PostScript following quickly behind. This is your first exercise: Find out what format your organization is using to produce print and mail communications.

Evolution Doesn’t Always Lead to Best Practices

Like the USPS, print and mail processes (and e-delivery) have continued to evolve. However, those evolutions may not have resulted in the most efficient, optimized, or sustainable combinations of people, processes, and technology. Consider the W. Edwards Deming quote shared in Wes Friesen's article, People First, from the May/June issue: “Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failure are deficiencies in the systems and processes rather than the employee.” Customers are still leveraging many different ways to create their print and mail (as well as digitally delivered versions). Some processes are dictated by the systems in place today to create content. For many organizations, PDF is the format for the majority of the work they are taking in. From a strategic point of view, this should be a goal.

Why PDF? First, it is an ISO standard, which means it is being actively managed,


developed, and improved through working groups filled with knowledgeable industry professionals. This is a huge value as it means that there are specific guidelines for structure, behavior, and capability. Being an ISO standard isn’t unique to PDF, but it is unique to a file format that can be leveraged across both print and digital delivery channels. It has been proven through research and real-world applications to be the most efficient method of moving communications through a production process to delivery to the customer. In 2018, the PDF Association estimated there were trillions of PDFs in the world, with billions more created every day. In September of 2021, the PDF Association said that PDF is the third most popular file type on the web behind HTML and XHTML. It also makes up 90% of the searchable file types when compared to .docx, .pptx, and .xslx.

The Competitive Advantage Connection

Okay, so PDF is prolific, but how does that translate into a competitive advantage for print and mail? Optimization and flexibility.

For example, ViaTech in Texas leverages PDF to improve processes from the time the PDF is accepted for production through

to the time it is delivered to a recipient. By pairing workflow automation software with postal optimization software, they were able to recapture 50 hours a day and redeploy valuable employees to more important tasks. Add that up: 50 hours times a typical hourly rate multiplied by an entire year. As you look at your digital transformation strategy, you may find that you need to leverage PDF for electronic delivery channels or accommodate ISO standardization to drive high-quality transformation to HTML formats for responsive and engaging digital experiences.

PDF can be adjusted for the intent, which can save your production processing time by reducing the weight or size of the PDF file. DataProse, a PSP also in Texas, has seen up to a 95% file size reduction by employing PDF optimization technologies. Since PDFs can be fully indexed (a way of documenting the content and triggering actions), this means more intelligent batches of work can be generated. This then optimizes the production and commingling of mail in an automated, cost-effective manner.

Getting non-PDF work? 2022 is the time to revisit your workflow structure. By moving away from a legacy file type such as

PCL, you could realize benefits like Borns Group, which standardized on PDF in 2019 and added $400,000 in incremental yearly sales revenue. They enjoy the ability to provide better customer satisfaction to their print and mail customers by being able to re-run postal optimization after last-minute customer changes, re-order the print file run, and make their mailing window. Using PDF as their standard, along with software, means it takes an hour or less when it used to take up to a day when handled manually. The bottom line is that PDF has the potential for cost recovery and reduction in many areas. Homework: walk your workflow from the time documents are created or accepted as print-ready files with the goal of understanding what happens through the processes. Then apply the PDF advantages to see if you can drive process improvements. 

Jonathan Malone-McGrew is Senior Director of Engagement, Solimar Systems. With family roots in the print and digital communications space, Jonathan brings an understanding of client and partner environments, technologies, and the resulting challenges. Responsible for partner and client engagement, he is always willing to lend his expertise. | SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2022 27


email without opening it, but a direct mail piece needs to be retrieved from the mailbox and looked at, giving marketers a cou ple of seconds to get the addressee interested in the mail piece. Recipients can feel the coating on the mail piece, interact with the mail piece, and save it for viewing again at a later time. You can’t touch, hold, feel, or interact the same way with an email. Direct mail provides a physical relationship that other channels do not provide. Direct mail is also the only channel that can guarantee reach to every household in the country.

Marketers have a wide variety of digital channels to choose from including search engines, banner ads, social media, and streaming services. The advantages of these channels are lower cost per exposure, as well as the ability to more easily track leads and customize ads to specific market segments.

In the grand scheme of life, 6,000 is not a huge number, unless it is the number of digital ads the average person is bombarded with. Yes, the average person sees approximately 6,000 digital messages per day, pays attention to 50, and remembers only two.

How do marketers create one of the two ads that are remembered, and not one of the 5,998 overlooked or forgotten messages? One way to increase your chances of success is to combine direct mail with a digital campaign, which can deliver 40% greater engagement.

Direct mail is the only channel that a person must look at before disposing of it. You can skip over a social media ad or delete an

Combining the direct mail piece to the digital world is easier than you think. One way to do so is to take advantage of Informed Delivery through the United States Postal Service. More than 47,000,000 people are subscribers of Informed Delivery. Subscrib ers receive an email with scanned pictures of their mail piece and a ride-along ad on the day it is scheduled to arrive in their mailbox. This creates excitement and gives the recipient the ability to see what will be waiting from them in their mailbox. The ride-along ad contains a link to your website where your offer can be viewed and acted on even before the mail piece arrives.

The USPS is giving a four percent discount on postage for Informed Delivery campaigns in 2022. The registration period runs from June 15, 2022, to December 31, 2022, and the promo tion runs from August 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022. You can find more information on PostalPro.

Prefer to start out with a digital campaign and follow up with a direct mail piece? By using email, social media ads, search


engines, and streaming services, you can provide data-driven offers specific to individuals with the right offer at the right time. But by tracking interested individuals who may have viewed your website or abandoned an item in a shopping cart, you can use direct mail to “retarget” the prospect. Use a personalized direct mail piece with an exclusive offer, like a picture of the item that was viewed or abandoned, and a call to action to drive a consumer back to your website and complete the purchase.

Combining digital and hard copy direct mail is a win-win. Let’s look at the numbers:

 Direct mail plus email plus web provides a 37% lift over individual channels.

 Mail plus digital plus TV has a 17% higher purchase intent over individual channels.

 Digital plus mail campaigns have 40% greater customer engagement.

 There is a 40% higher brand recall when email was followed up by a direct mail piece.

We need to emphasize to future marketers the importance of direct mail as a part of omnichannel marketing campaigns. Academia, the print and mail industry, and the United States Postal Service have developed the Direct Effect Program, formerly known as Academic Outreach. This is a diverse group of people who have one goal: to teach future marketers the value of direct mail.

141 colleges and universities and counting are currently on board with the Direct Effect Program, which has an advisory board of academic faculty and industry advisors, along with the USPS. All educational materials are carefully curated with the guidance of the board. The board meets on a quarterly basis to review the program’s progress and to improve upon the Direct Effect offerings.


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What do more than 46,000 mail production and workflow professionals know that your colleagues do not?

The three-part program includes the Direct Effect Challenge, the ability for faculty to download content to be included in the marketing curriculum, and the Direct Effect Ambassador Program.

The Ambassador program is where an industry member will complete a course on the Direct Effect curriculum and will be added to a list of ambassadors. An ambassador will then teach a 45-minute class on the value of direct mail and the use of omnichannel marketing programs. The class features graphs, statistics, and sample mail pieces. The ambassador uses sample mail pieces to interact with the students, showing them how to use QR codes, augmented reality, and interactive direct mail pieces with digital campaigns. To find out more about this great program, go to

Happy mailing!

Rob Hanks is an inside sales representative at Suttle-Straus and has more than 28 years of experience in direct mail. Rob is a Certified Direct Mail Professional and a Certified Mail Piece Design Professional though the United States Postal Service and serves as the Industry Co-Chairperson for the Greater Madison Area Postal Customer Council. Rob is also the Postal Customer Council Advisor Committee National Industry Co-Chairperson for the Education Sub Committee.

Every month, Mailing Systems Technology delivers information and ideas for improving the production, quality, workflow, and delivery of your company’s printed customer communications and direct mail.

The USPS is giving a four percent discount on postage for Informed Delivery campaigns in 2022.
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e-delivery) have continued to evolve. However, those evolutions may not have resulted in the most efficient, optimized, or sustainable combinations of people, processes, and technology.

Printers do not ship secure out of the box. Organizations that operate production printers, or even desktop printers, used in sensitive or moderate risk applications must take the time to research, plan, and implement printer security, just as they would with the most sophisticated servers, desktop workstations, or network devices.



marketers the importance of direct mail as a part of omnichannel marketing campaigns. Academia, the print and mail industry, and the United States Postal Service have developed the Direct Effect Program, formerly known as Academic Outreach. This is a diverse group of people who have one goal: to teach future marketers the value of direct mail.


While upgraded workflows can be one way to mitigate the Great Resignation by repurposing or retaining employees, sometimes simply upgrading an open position description can help to attract employees to an industry that may seem technologically dated for those that are unfamiliar with printing and mailing.


Precision in mail delivery is becoming more important to retailers, event promoters, and others who depend on direct mail to inform and motivate their audiences. As more organizations leverage the power of omni-channel communications, they need to know when mail will arrive so they can time their messages via multiple communication channels.