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Commentary & Analysis

Your Postal Strategy: Key Benefits of Postal Resources, Experience and Expanding Your Network

Does your organization have a postal strategy? Mailing may be considered an ancillary service offering for a professional printing company, or it may be your core offering as a mail service provider.

By Christine Erna
Published: November 20, 2019

Does your organization have a postal strategy? Mailing may be considered an ancillary service offering for a professional printing company, or it may be your core offering as a mail service provider. 

In either case, mail represents a large expenditure measured in actual dollars and/or as a percentage of the total cost of any project that is mailed for your organization and your clients. 

What emphasis does the organization place on developing a team that has the knowledge, resources, contacts and expertise to optimize the organizational mailing revenue, accounts and expenditures? Are you getting by with temporary production staff or a few “cross trained” press/bindery operations team members?  Neither of these models is advised. Without trained and dedicated staff, no one is fully engaged with learning, measuring, monitoring, reporting and communicating the specifications/criteria for different mailing requirements in the organization. These can range from postal requirements, design consultation and how participation in the U.S. Postal Service’s 2019 Promotions can benefit your clients and the organization. 

Are you offering advisory services to your clients on things such as data hygiene services to cleanse their database files? Knowledge regarding things, like how many records in the data are considered undeliverable, saves them money and saves your organization possible assessments from the Postal Service due to non-conformance with the Postal Service thresholds represented on the Mailer Scorecard. Why would anyone mail these pieces? There is a direct correlation and impact to a marketing campaigns effectiveness metrics (i.e. response rate, ROI, etc.) if data hygiene is not performed and properly managed for every mailing. 

Are you presenting Full-Service Intelligent Mail? If not, what are the roadblocks preventing implementation? If you are a Full-Service mailer, are you taking advantage of all the free benefits offered?  Managing these free services can be an added revenue stream for your company, which is highly profitable since there is no cost to you for these free services. 

There are many varying aspects, twists and turns in managing mail, postage and the Postal Service's requirements/regulations. Establishing a postal strategy for your company is a sound business practice and once established, its processes provide an organization the ability to ensure consistent mail preparation, gain data visibility and develop a knowledge base within the company to support the complexity of mail and postage when not properly managed. 

There are many resources within the industry that support postal strategy development.

  • Professional training and education for employees and clients
  • Establishing, supporting and managing creation of a Postal Governance Strategy
  • Postal One Mailer Scorecard Monitoring
  • Postal coaching
  • Postal Affairs awareness

Companies engage industry expertise because postage is typically reported by line of business with little central governance/control. None the less, Postal Service regulations are complex and change regularly, reinforcing the need for postal governance to develop strong processes, professional management and dedicated oversight of the budgets and total spend associated with postage. Organizational cost reduction initiatives do not always support this strategy within an organization. In short, postal intelligence and sustained compliance result in significant savings and cost avoidance associated with assessments and nonconformance.

What are Your Postage Management Practices? 

The rising cost of postage and mail-related expenses are having a growing impact on your organization’s bottom line. Now more than ever it is critical that you efficiently manage your mailing and postage expenses and accurately charge back and recover mailing costs. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to be able to have an enterprise view of postage utilization. Are you effectively managing your postage expenses? Do you know how much your company spends on customer statements, notices and other mailings? 

A typical engagement consists of extensive gap analysis of a client’s beginning-to-end current direct mail communication programs that include:

  • Current state of address and data cleansing processes
  • Workflow
  • Vendor management
  • Physical mailpiece review
  • Postal Service move update compliance
  • IMb strategy and compliance
  • Undeliverable and return mail

Mail Production & Mailpiece Analysis 

Mail is a very specialized industry.  Data management, print and mail are complex industries that require specific knowledge in order to be effective. Postal resources can provide insight to improve workflow of production, improved efficiency of direct mail process (internal and vendor) and review mail pieces for compliance.

  • Document LOB functions that impact the quality and cost of mail.
  • Analyze interdependencies between processes.
  • Validate gaps and savings opportunities.
  • Gather metrics that contribute to total cost of mail (TCO).
  • Measure effectiveness of current processes. 
  • Measure compliance with USPS requirements.
  • Compare processes to best practices established at other companies.
  • Implement quick win savings opportunities.
  • Root cause analysis of factors that impact the efficiency of mailing processes
  • Recommended changes to data, print, mail and return mail processes.
  • Financial justification for process changes  
  • Revise process maps that compare the improvements to best practices. 
  • Control plan to track savings post implementation

Proactively engaging an industry expert to share practical solutions to manage/influence the direct mail and postal value chain will result in higher revenues due to improved management processes. Both revenue and revenue retention will increase through expanded service offerings. Operational efficiencies and postage related cost reductions will result in significant savings for the company and its customers. These cost savings will make you a preferred vendor driving even more work from new customers you have not been servicing.  Strategic, sustainable growth is fed by compliance resulting from “common sense” processes and technology where appropriate. All of this mitigates risk, increases transparency, shifts internal cultural paradigms and most importantly drives learning and engagement across the organization.  

Participation in various print and mailing industry associations, groups, events and online groups, has directly benefited me, my career and professional growth. 

Branding, marketing, sponsorships, blogs, podcasts and webinars are available channels and opportunities to support your engagement and involvement in the various associations that can provide the network and support for your organization to reach and attain your milestones and goals in growing your business. 

Expected Results and Customer Value

Every organization involved with mail strives to identify and correct knowledge gaps, improve customer communication, assure compliance with complicated postal regulations, reduce the total cost of mailing by improving all processes, control and understand postage and carrier spend, maximize the quality of each clients’ name and address database and finally, enhance communication processes.

If you are looking to add these skills immediately, they are available in the industry through Strategic Postal Advisors and other similar companies. Where are all the resources you need to develop these skills internally? Remember this is not a sprint but more like a marathon. 

As a Postal Advisor, Christine Erna educates, teaches, provides analysis for clients seeking better customer communications, improved efficiencies and postage savings.

 

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