Early in my career I worked for Ken Roberts who was one of the largest financial direct mailers in the country. He started out as a one-man operation, and he used to love telling stories about how at the beginning, he’d get his kids to help him stuff his sales pieces into envelopes and slap on the stamps.
But soon Ken’s company got too big for his kids to handle the volume and he engaged the services of a professional mail facility to prepare his sales pieces and mail them out.
If you’re past the stage where your kids can process your mailings around the kitchen table, it’s time for you to look into hiring the services of a mail processing facility too.
Where will you find one?
Probably the easiest way to find a mailing facility is to ask your print shop to recommend one. Or you can look in your local yellow pages. You’ll also often find that many printers have the capability to process mail.
A mailing facility doesn’t have to be located close to you. It could be in the next state, or even across the country. So, you can turn to the Direct Marketing Association to help you find one. Visit their website at www.the-dma.org and search their vendor list.
Help with preparing your mail pieces
If your job is small enough, some of the work may be done by hand. If it’s larger, there are machines to do everything, from folding and collating to inserting and tabbing, so your whole job could be automated.
In any case, your mailing facility should be able to take the entire job from start to finish. You supply (or pay for) the raw materials: the printed pieces, the envelopes, the order forms – whatever is needed. Then the mail facility takes it from there, assembling the pieces and bundling them according to Post Office regulations.
Help with preparing your mail list
It’s critical that every time you mail you MUST clean your mailing list of bad addresses. A recent survey by the USPS found that up to 30% of mailing lists can have problems with addresses, with many of them resulting in mail that is undeliverable.
A good, all-round mailing facility will have the ability to run your mailing list through address correction software for you. It will catch duplicate names and correct bad addresses – thereby saving you a bundle and making sure your precious sales pieces get delivered to the right people, on time.
Help with presorting your mail
The USPS offers discounts when you presort your mail (upwards of 250 pieces) because it helps them out with the processing by reducing the work on their end.
For example, by presorting your mail, you are sorting the mail for them and then putting it in mail trays or mailbags. All the USPS has to do is throw it on the right truck going to the specific location that you’ve indicated on the tray or bag.
This will provide HUGE savings for you. Let’s say you are mailing out 10,000 letters via First Class mail. The postage is currently $0.49 per piece. IF you presort your mail, you may end up paying around $0.43 per piece. A total savings of $600.
Help with keeping up with changing requirements
Just like the IRS, the US Postal Service is continually coming up with new rules and regulations regarding direct mail. Some of these changes may affect requirements for address updates or for presorting the mail. Keeping up with all these changes can be very difficult, especially if you don’t like to spend your days reading press releases from the USPS.
Here’s where a good letter shop can help. It’s their business to track these changes for you, and figure out ways to implement requirements to save you money and take the pressure off of you.
Always get verification – no matter how good your mail facility is!
Even if you have great faith in your mailing facility, one bit of caution is in order. You always want to verify the exact number of pieces mailed and the exact amount of postage used.
You need to get verification from the USPS that they received your mailing along with confirmation of the amount of postage used. If you spent $2,528.35 on postage, get a form/receipt from the USPS showing what was received, when the mailing entered in the mail stream, AND how much it cost.
A good mail facility can make your direct mail campaigns run seamlessly. Do your research to find one that fulfills all your needs. You’ll have to pay for their services, but it may well save you more money in the long run.