They were expensive to print and more expensive to mail. This was before social media took hold. We counted on direct mail plus email marketing to promote our event.
I presumed my mail person at the printer’s knew her stuff in ways that would not only keep my postage costs down, but also get the thousands of pieces delivered fast.
On this postcard, we offered an Early Bird rate for the conference. The deadline for this discount was approaching. We mailed the postcards First Class Presort.
What happened when the postcards were dropped into the mail stream? They went nowhere fast. We’d seeded our list as always. I remember sweating it out, frustrated for days, stretching into weeks, when we didn’t receive our postcards.
I had to dig to find out where the hold-up was. Someone at the USPS told me that because of the way the cards had been mailed, the post office had X number of days to get them in the mail stream. It was too close for comfort and caused us tremendous stress.
Direct mail campaigns require a subject matter expert – someone who knows the USPS regulations cold, or at least knows enough to find out key information for the customer.
We customers assume the pieces will be delivered with no undue delays, unless, of course, we’re aware of what’s allowable by the USPS. I think this is a reasonable expectation.
When that mailing issue surfaced, I felt blindsided. I didn’t get the advice I needed.
Today, I’m fortunate to know mailing experts like Christine J. Erna, Senior Postal Solutions Architect for Novitex Enterprise Solutions. I asked her how customers can better ensure that their direct mail provider is covering all the bases.
First, she pointed out certain sections on the USPS web site, like the one detailing the USPS Service Standards in 2015. Updated quarterly, these are officially defined as “A stated goal for service achievement for each mail class.” She also shared a link that allows you to enter the zip code of origin and the class of mail. It will show you a map of the service standards based upon these elements. Check it out.
Christine taught me more about “Intelligent Mail. “The USPS has worked hard to gain visibility of all of the mail in their operations. With the advent of the Intelligent Mail Barcode and Full Service Intelligent Mail, you can actually see the scan data of the intelligent mail barcode on your individual mailpieces, and for customers that present their mail as Full Service Intelligent Mail, this data is FREE. Full Service Intelligent mail requires the mail preparer to create a unique serial number for each mailpiece and upload an electronic data transmission of their mailing utilizing a mail.dat file. Industry software generates this and enables the visibility of mailpieces while they’re being scanned throughout the USPS network of mailing equipment.”
Finally, she suggested we ask our service partner questions like these:
- Are you a Full-Service Intelligent Mail preparer?
- Do you offer IMb Tracing Service with reporting?
- Where do you present the mail to the US Postal Service?
What else can customers do? Contact the USPS Mailpiece Design Help Desk. They can review your mailpiece and explain the service standards early in the process. Here’s that number: 1-800-593-6093. Or email them at MDA@usps.gov.
In today’s mailing environment, wrote Christine, you should never have to wonder where your mail is.
© 2015 Margie Dana