While offering mailing services can deliver a new revenue stream for print service providers, it’s important to remember that it’s an entirely new business requiring different knowledge and skills, says Jim Workman, Assistant Vice President, Center for Technology and Research, Printing...
To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with MyPrintResource. Already have an account? Login
Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.
Complete the registration form.
While offering mailing services can deliver a new revenue stream for print service providers, it’s important to remember that it’s an entirely new business requiring different knowledge and skills, says Jim Workman, Assistant Vice President, Center for Technology and Research, Printing Industries of America.
Mailing is a complex business, requiring the printer stay on top of postal regulations that change frequently. It requires the ability to clean, sort, and manage address data files, all the while client postage costs are kept to a minimum and mail gets delivered on time to the right recipient, reports Workman. An increasingly critical area is that of security—you must be able to insure 100% protection of your client’s financial information.
Navigating through postal regulations and requirements can be frustrating, so your first step as mailing partner is to make sure you understand your client’s goals and objectives,” says Rocky Abbett, Vice President, NOVA Marketing Services, St. Louis, MO.
“Your job is to listen carefully, digest the info and bring the client mailing solutions that are best them. It seems simple enough but you’d be surprised how often it doesn’t happen,” says Abbett. “Clients today are balancing more responsibilities than ever before and as printers we are expected to read between the lines, interpret their needs and come back with ideas that are creative and cost effective. One ounce or one extra inch in the design of a mail piece can push it into a higher United State Postal Service (USPS) price bracket. “
As a printer considers moving into the mailing business, it is critical to understand all that is involved in achieving postal discounts, reports Josh Evans, VP Product Development, Lorton Data. “Like many things, there is a significant gap between the idea of mailing, versus the actual implantation,” says Evans. “Printers often take prepress professionals and add the responsibility of mailing. This can easily result in compromises for both prepress and mailing activity. Mistakes can result in stock spoilage, lost postage, and delays in delivery.”
For example, the POSTNET barcode will no longer qualify mailings for automation discount rates starting in January of 2013, Additionally, starting in January of 2014, the only way to obtain the automation discount rates will be to mail using the Full Service Intelligent Mailbarcode (IMb).
“While mailers can still qualify for discounts using POSTNET barcode throughout this year, Lorton Data is recommending to all of our customers to start using the IMb as soon as possible so that they are ready for the transition,” says Evans. “To use the Basic IMb, mailers must first obtain a Mailer ID from the USPS. To obtain maximum discounts, mailers must use the Full Service IMb, which requires some extra steps and time.”
One of the most important decisions is the selection of mailing software, says Workman. The complexities of USPS rates and regulations make it virtually impossible to compete without investing in one or more software programs.
“The biggest mistake many companies make when moving into the mailing industry is not evaluating the total cost of software ownership, resulting in added expense and downtime,” says Evans. “If searching for tools or software, be sure to evaluate all the costs involved. Will I need dedicated resources such as a postal expert, computer, or data processors to run software? What happens if my staff is out unexpectedly? Do I need to dedicate time for software updates and maintenance? What alternatives do I have if something goes wrong?
From the data side, printers need resources for cleansing, updating and sorting mail lists in preparation for the mail stream. Important technologies to consider include postal processing services such as CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) certification and NCOALink®, presort capabilities that when used, enable mailers to receive maximum postal discounts.