News

New Deputy Postmaster General Appointed

Capitol Hill staffer Ronald Stroman has been named as the new Deputy Postmaster General according to a press release issued by the USPS.

His appointment marks the first time since 1971 the U.S. Postal Service has filled the No. 2 position from outside. Stroman will bring more than 30 years of professional experience in government, legislative affairs and leadership.

Read More

BMS Direct Achieves SAS70 Type II Certification

March 1, 2011, BMS Direct successfully completed a rigorous TYPE II examination and audit of their statement printing services in conformity with the Auditing Standards No 70 (SAS 70) for Service Organizations.

The SAS 70 was developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for service providers who wish to prove a high level of control effectiveness to independent auditors, and is the most widely recognized auditing standard for service companies.

Read More

USPS Eases Intelligent Mail Barcode Requirement

We recently posted that The Intelligent Mail barcode will be required by the USPS beginning in May 2011.  On Jan 13, 2011 the Postmaster General made a surprise move to delay the mandatory deadline of May 2011 for implementation of the new Intelligent Mail Barcode.

The reason for the delay was justified in this statement, “Recognizing ongoing concerns about mailers’ readiness for broader adoption of the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb®), the USPS® has decided that automation discounts for mail with POSTNET barcodes will continue to be offered beyond May 2011.”

Read More

Two BMS Employees Selected for Bullet Proof Manager Training

BMS Direct has purchased two Corporate Scholarships in Crestcom International’s 48 hour management training program, the Bullet Proof Manager. Crestcom’s Bullet Proof Manager contains 24 topics taught in (2) two-hour classes in Lynchburg each month over a 12 month period.  The BMS Direct team members who attend this extensive training will be taught to be more effective in 24 key skills critical to the success of our business.

Stacy Barber and Donna Lipphard

Some of these topics include:

  • Managing Change
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Customer Service
  • Strategic Planning
  • Team Building
  • Hiring Skills
  • Motivation

Our management team was polled to help select two of our managers/supervisors to attend the training who demonstrate the willingness and potential to be great leaders within this organization.  I am pleased to announce that along with your input, Leif and I have selected Donna Lipphard and Stacy Barber to attend this management training program.  Stacy and Donna will attend a 30 minute orientation on Monday January 31st here at BMS and the training program will start on Tuesday February 8th at the Hilton Garden Inn on Wards Road.

I am very exciting about the great opportunity for Stacy, Donna and the BMS Direct organization.  Please take a minute to congratulate both of these team members.

James E. LaPrade, Sr.

President

BMS Direct

Read More

Intelligent Mail Barcode Required May 2011

The Intelligent Mail barcode will be required by the USPS beginning in May 2011

May 2011 is the date set by the United States Postal Services requiring Intelligent Mail barcodes for automation discounts, business reply mail and confirm service.  Combining the capabilities of the Postnet and Planet barcodes into one unique barcode  makes the Intelligent Mail barcode a much more efficient process for all parties involved.

What is an Intelligent Mail Barcode?

The Intelligent Mail barcode, formerly referred to as the 4-State Customer barcode, is a new Postal Service barcode used to sort and track letters and flats. The Postal Service is promoting use of the Intelligent Mail barcode because it expands the ability to track individual mailpieces and provides customers with greater visibility into the mailstream.

How does it work?

The Intelligent Mail barcode combines the data of the existing POSTNET™ and the PLANET Code® barcodes, as well as other data, into a single barcode. The Intelligent Mail barcode is a type of height-modulated barcode, that uses four distinct vertical bar types (Full, Tracker, Ascender and Descender).

How do mailers benefit from the Intelligent Mail barcode?

The Intelligent Mail barcode is the result of the Postal Service’s efforts to develop more robust codes capable of encoding more information, while minimizing the space used on the mailpiece. The Intelligent Mail barcode:

  • Has a greater overall data capacity than existing barcodes.
  • Provides mailers with more digits for their use, allowing for unique identification of up to a billion mailpieces per mailing.
  • Provides more accurate and detailed information about mailings which can enable better decision making.
  • Increases mailpiece “real estate” by eliminating the need for multiple barcodes.
  • Allows for participation in multiple USPS service programs with a single barcode.

Am I required to use the Intelligent Mail barcode in lieu of POSTNET and PLANET codes?

Currently, use of Intelligent Mail barcode is optional; however, because it offers significant advantages over POSTNET and PLANET Code barcodes (including using less mailpiece “real estate” and offering more overall data capacity), most customers have found it makes good business sense to adopt this new format, today. The Postal Service will require use of the Intelligent Mail barcode to qualify for automation prices beginning May 2011.

For more Q & A regarding Intelligent Mail Barcodes download USPSIMB_QandA Fact Sheet.

Read More

Simplified Addressing Changes Effective 01-02-11

The USPS has eased the rules on simplified addressing effective Jan. 2, 2011. These changes are expected to help small businesses who have not used direct mail because of the cost. Simplified addressing enables business mailers to use mail delivery route information, instead of exact names and addresses, to reach target customer groups in specific geographic areas.

Read More

Document Centers “Go Green”

Environmental Efforts in 2010

By Mike Porter, President, Print/Mail Consultants

Please recycleThe other day I was asked if 2010 was going to be the year of “going green” in the document industry. I guess because I’ve written a lot on the subject over the last year and developed a couple of products to help document centers be more green, someone thought I might have some insight. I answered that I thought the amount of resources devoted to green projects depended a great deal upon the economy, but it doesn’t take an expert to come to that conclusion.

It’s not that companies intentionally want to ignore the impact they have on the environment; they just have other areas that require their attention, and they have to make priorities. I doubt that environmental efforts will be moving towards the top of the list until the economic concerns are handled.

While companies may not be taking actions in their document print and mail operations specifically for the environmental benefits, some of them are going to lower their environmental impact anyway as a byproduct of cutting costs. From an environmental perspective, I suppose whether you justify green projects in document operations with related cost savings or you get the projects approved with the cost-reduction aspects alone makes no difference, so some greening will continue, regardless of the economy. But creating the greatest environmental benefits may require more effort than taking the quick and easy approach.

recycle_save treesAccording to a survey we did last year, a lot of document centers have already taken two steps towards environmental sustainability: Switching to materials with a higher percentage of recycled content and recycling their own paper waste. Unfortunately, our survey revealed that often those are the only measures that have been taken. Perhaps that is an indicator of the impact the economy has had on corporate environmental sustainability objectives. More involved efforts have yet to be tackled.

Closing the Gate after the Cows Have Left the Corral

It seems to me that by the time a piece of paper reaches the print production facility, most of the impact it is going to have upon the environment has already taken place. Isn’t the consumption of fuel and energy and the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that are connected with all the processes necessary to de-ink, manufacture, package and transport the material about the same for all paper, regardless of recycled content? Using recycled paper sounds like a good idea, but without taking other measures, how big of a difference does it really make?

I’m not suggesting that we abandon paper recycling efforts; we should be printing on recycled paper. I’d much rather see paper go to the recycling center than the landfill, and I think we should reuse those paper fibers as many times as we can. I just believe that we would enjoy greater environmental benefits by manufacturing, transporting and printing fewer pieces of paper, of all varieties, than we can ever achieve by simply switching to using material with a higher recycled content.

So that’s what we teach document professionals with our training classes, and it’s where we concentrate our efforts in the green assessments that we do for clients. We help them reduce the consumption of paper materials with strategies such as eliminating undeliverable addresses, reducing page counts, increasing electronic delivery or ridding print jobs of duplicates and irrelevant mailpieces. As a result, they are able to order less paper. Combined with using recycled materials for the remaining documents that are produced, and continued in-house recycling efforts, I think we help companies make a difference.

2010 may not be the remembered as the year of going green, but many companies can make a start this year by changing one or two things in document operations that will result in lower paper consumption and less wasted output. When things get better financially, then the efforts can be expanded.

Mike Porter is an expert in print and mail operations and President of Print/Mail Consultants, a consulting firm that helps companies nationwide be more productive, adapt to changing requirements and lower costs in their document operations. For more information on green training or assessments, visit www.printmailconsultants.com or email Mike directly at mporter@printmailconsultants.com.

From Mailing Systems Technology. Click here for a direct link.

Read More

pURLS become Prominent

2010 Forecast: Direct Mail Far From Dead, with pURLs Playing an Even More Prominent Role

by Ethan Boldt,Inside Direct Mail

However, because of those reasons cited in paragraph one, direct mail is not going anywhere. In fact, with the powerful addition of Personalized URLS to the arsenal, direct mail may even be positioning itself for a comeback. “I think the channel’s forever altered, but not forever gone,” says Nancy Harhut, executive creative director at Harhut for Hire and former executive creative director of Hill Holiday. “People still trust the mail, like to touch their mail, and sometimes prefer the privacy, security and record of mail.”

Here’s how 2010 will shake down, according to some well known direct marketers:

1. Direct Marketing’s New Holy Trinity?

While social media and mobile marketing is becoming more popular, they both remain small potatoes compared to what Harhut calls marketing’s “Holy Trinity”: direct mail, email and Personalized URLs. “Direct will still lead acquisition efforts and then be used to punctuate customer deepening campaigns. There’s been some evidence that all the email we’re sending is hurting its efficacy, while at the same time, direct mail has been ‘rested’ long enough so that now it’s working even better than before- what’s old appears new again,” she describes.

Meanwhile, she believes that SoMe and mobile will find their rightful place in the communications mix, but will always be minor players. Instead, she’s adamant that the DM-EM-PURL approach will grow more prominent. “Smarter targeting, more data-driven communications and increased personalization will become necessities,” says Harhut, who mentions that the historic problem has always been data quality but that most companies have access to clean, robust data today.

2. Personalized URLs Help Create a Channel-less Future

Most companies have siloed their marketing efforts, but Harhut thinks that self-interest will begin to trump channel. “If the target sees something of value, then that will be more important than where he or she sees it,” she explains. “The humble closed-faced, teaser-less, ‘hand addressed’ #10 or ‘greeting card’ will continue to pull. Mail that carries an ‘ignore at your peril’ air about it will continue to get opened.”

In other words, creative mail that skillfully employs the usage of Personalized URLS will only enhance the chance a prospect will respond. Because Personalized URLs are so eminently trackable, then the credit of a conversion will then be given to both the direct mail piece as well as the landing page.

Indeed, with this channel-less future, direct mail may change its role for many campaigns. “It will still be a driver to action, but will have a dramatic shift toward use as a follow-up tool,” predicts Grant Johnson, CEO of direct marketing agency Johnson Direct. “It’s much more effective than email from a prospecting aspect and some of those companies who abandon mail will come back and use it to begin the dialogue. As the web grows more and more, mail will play a key part in driving new visitors. Email as a retention tool is very powerful, but too much email, spam blockers, and overuse will make it less effective and some firms will go back to mail.”

3. New Testing Group: the Landing Page

Just as testing remains a key to successful direct mail, the same is true with purl campaigns. “Don’t forget that testing here should still apply, yet is woefully missing,” states Johnson.

For example, a test that shows that conversion rates were much lower than anticipated usually point out the landing page wasn’t synced properly with the direct mail piece, and that could extend to the data, the personalization, the creative or the offer. “Not syncing the landing page with the direct mail piece that brought the prospect there is the #1 destroyer of conversion rates,” affirms Bob Bly, copywriter.

Yazge, Print and Graphic Communications, Jan 2010, click here for direct link.

Read More