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Special Section Mailing & Fulfillment -- Mailing Increases Printer's Bottom Line

November 2004
By Mary Ann Bennett

One of the hottest business trends of 2004 is the move many printers are making to bring mailing and fulfillment services into their line of offerings for their clients. Whether through acquisition, partnering, expansion or a combination, the trend is on an exciting upswing and there appears to be no end in sight.

However, careful planning should be utilized before progressing down this path. It has already been shown that moving headfirst into this new venture without diligent attention can lead to a waste of time, money and effort for everyone involved.

Step 1: Develop a Strategic Plan for Mailing.

A common practice in developing a strategic plan is to identify your company's SWOTs: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Strength: Printers already have the essentials of the basic process in place. Printers commonly take in a customer's information (files, artwork, data, etc.), place that information on paper, package up the printed pieces and then deliver the finished product with supporting documentation (packing slip) to a designated place. To add mailing to this process, the printer simply needs to add addressing to the information they already place on the printed piece, package the pieces according to USPS specs and deliver the finished product to the mail acceptance dock along with supporting documentation (mailing statement).

Weakness: Lack of knowledge of the USPS. For most of us, the USPS is simply part of our everyday lives. Mail is interwoven into the fabric of America and the processing of mail that goes on behind the scenes is something that is seldom, if ever, a point of concern. In actuality, the USPS is one of the most technologically advanced institutions in the world. Printers need to take significant steps to bring better understanding of this concept to their company and clients.

Opportunity: Ability to provide turn-key service from "concept to doorstep" for your print customers.

Threat: Financial exposure. An improperly prepared mailing can result in the loss of money, reputation and the client.

Step 2: Increase Your Knowledge of the USPS.

The USPS is in the business of moving mail. None of its facilities are designed to store or warehouse mail. Therefore, they must get mail in and out—through the system—as quickly as possible. Every postal program, every piece of equipment, every requirement is designed to facilitate the efficient and accurate movement of mail from the acceptance dock to the mailbox.

The USPS internal processing costs are as low as $4 per thousand letters. And they can be as high as $44 to $46 per million if the mailpieces cannot be processed on their automated equipment. The biggest postage discounts are made available by the USPS to mailings that are prepared for processing on their fastest pieces of equipment: delivery point barcode letter sorters.


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