In today’s increasingly electronic world, mailing rules and requirements are rarely, if ever, seriously considered and weighed by those not in the mailing industry. Most of us are simply too busy with the research, design and offers of our mail pieces to take on the challenge of researching the complex requirements of the USPS and what that means for our mailers. The good news is that there are people out there who’d love to do the job for you. The bad news is that not all of them are credible. Before you jump into business with a mailing partner, here are five questions to ask to ensure you’re doing business with the right one:
1. Is there a markup on postage?
Ask for a copy of your postage statement (a 3600 or 3602). Many printing companies will send you a copy of your postage statement so you can see that you’re only paying for the actual postage amount. With so many printers doing business this way, it’s unnecessary to pick one that doesn’t.
2. Does your mailer have CASS-certified software approved by the US Postal Service?
The USPS has all sorts of requirements for the types of software that can be used to clean up and store mailing lists, and it’s imperative to select a mailer that plays by the rules. Double check that your printer uses certified software, and then triple check.
3. Do they run your mail list through NCOA (National Change of Address)?
USPS requires that you run NCOA within 95 days of a mailing. It’s important to remember that not only does your mail list need to be run through the most up-to-date postal software available to obtain change of address information, it’s critical for any business to obtain address corrections quickly and in an easy-to-understand format to influence the success of future mailings.
4. Does your mailer help you maintain a clean mail list?
Who has the time (or the patience!) to comb through a large database making address changes and corrections one at a time? Teaming up with a mailer that can do that for you, and then maintain your mail list for future mailings and send your new, improved list back to you will save you countless valuable business hours.
5. Does your mailer stay up to date with all the new postal rules and regulations, ensuring that your mail receives the most expedient treatment at the post office?
Checking to see if your mailer employs staff that are certified Mail Design Professionals by the USPS can tell you whether or not doing business with that particular mailer is a good idea. A mailer who takes their role seriously and keeps up with all the new postal rules and regulations will ensure that your mail will be designed properly and submitted quickly and seamlessly into the mail stream without issue.
Many printers also make an effort to keep their clients informed about new postal regulations, and these are usually the best ones to go with. Mistakes in mail piece design are costly, and you want to make sure your mailer is getting you the best postage rate available.
6. Does your mailer commit to notify you when your pieces have mailed?
It may seem like a silly question to ask, but in a rush to get things done, many mailers rely on assumption to keep in touch with their customers. A commitment to following up with a confirmation email or a personal phone call is key in keeping track of the delivery of your materials to the post office.
Just as important as the need to get answers to these questions before you decide on a mailing partner is the need to get answers to these questions from more than one company. You may find that the first one you reach out to meets all the necessary criteria. Even so, it’s important to gather information from multiple companies. While you may already have found one that meets this criteria, you may uncover another who exceeds it, and another who simply does it better than the rest. Carefully weight your options before making a decision to avoid any costly setbacks or even a mediocre experience. With the right amount of research, you’ll be able to find the printing and mailing partner that’s just right for you and your business!