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Mega-Issues Driving Mailers And Printers Closer Together

Press release from the issuing company

August 15, 2006 - - “Many of our members who haven’t traditionally thought of themselves as printers are buying digital presses these days,” says David Weaver, CEO of the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association (MFSA). This trend is a response to several pressures affecting the mailing industry, but chiefly reflects a desire by mailers to offer broader, more valuable services to clients instead of simple mailing. “Mailers are concerned about the commoditization of the business and are fighting to avoid that,” Weaver says. “Buyers of mailing services have become very sophisticated, and have a tendency to want to drive the price down to next to nothing. Our business is responding by trying to build up the value side of the proposition. We’re offering unique services, looking for differentiation through the intelligent application of such technologies as variable data printing. “That’s why there’s such a logic to having printers in the mailing and fulfillment business,” Weaver says, expressing the rationale behind a recently announced plan for MFSA to hold its annual Leaders Conference, and stage a series of seminars, at this fall’s GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO in Chicago. GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO takes place October 15-18 at McCormick Place. It is expected to fill more than 420,000 square feet of exhibit space, the largest national exhibition in the U.S. since 2000. Of those 420,000+square feet, more than 30,000 will be occupied by the Mailing & Fulfillment Center, a dedicated exhibit area showcasing the latest mailing technologies, presented by more than 50companies. Weaver says MFSA is increasingly looking for alliances with other organizations to help its members cope with the convergence of postal, mailing and printing activities. Among the critical factors affecting the business today are what Weaver terms the three “mega” postal issues: Postal reform, rate increases, and physical changes to the U.S. Postal Service infrastructure. A major postal reform bill may see Congressional action this fall, and a rate increase is pending, to take effect in the spring of 2007. Higher postal rates, Weaver says, will only increase the tendency of mailers to explore other promotional vehicles, and make it even more important to offer these mailers creative strategies that take advantage of every discount and preference in the postal regulations. Marketers need to work with suppliers who have “an intimate knowledge of the postal regs,” Weaver says. Infrastructure issues also affect the costs borne by USPS and eventually impact on rates, he notes. “USPS is supposed to operate like a business,” Weaver says. “It doesn’t get any tax support. To operate like a business the USPS has to be flexible enough to open and close facilities around the country.” Any proposal to close a post office or other facility, though, tends to incite a political fury. Effective postal reform must address this paralyzing situation, according to Weaver. “USPS is involved in a very objective process to make its infrastructure fit what the business process is today,” he says. “They must be allowed to make the adjustments that are demanded.” MFSA’s agreement with the Graphic Arts Show Company is part of the strategy of making common cause with other groups that have a vital interest in postal issues -- as well as giving leading mailers a chance to catch up with rapid technological change in the printing industry. MFSA’s Leaders Conference will bring about 100 top company executives to Chicago. This group includes members of the association’s Board of Directors and chairmen and members of its key committees. As part of the show’s seminar program, MFSA will stage six seminars: - Mailing Services: The Final Frontier? – The Business Proposition for Offering Mailing Services - Talking Postal – The Basics of Dealing with the Postal Service - Moving Your Eggs into More Baskets – Diversification with Mailing and Fulfillment Services - Avoiding Design Disaster – Using Mailpiece Design to Maximize Postage Discounts - Printing Smart – The Blueprint of a Winning VDP Strategy - Fulfillment - How To Get Started In addition, free seminars presented by manufacturers will take place throughout the show days in the Mailing & Fulfillment Center on the show floor. Complete information and online registration for both the exhibition and seminars are available at www.graphexpo.com.

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