In today's challenging business environment, successfully managing mailing operations has become instrumental for many organizations as they look for ways to connect with existing customers and acquire new ones, reduce expenses and help drive operational efficiency and productivity. 


New advancements in mailing technology are transforming the way organizations direct the flow of mail and documents, integrating every step of the message process from creation, data mining, printing, preparation and finishing, distribution, receipt, archiving, retrieval, response and database updating.


Every piece of mail - whether it's a brochure, invoice or an activation kit - is an opportunity to acquire new customers and strengthen existing relationships. Effective mailing strategies can capitalize on those opportunities and translate directly to increased profits.


One of the mailing industry's most powerful drivers is direct marketing. According to the Direct Marketing Association, marketers spent $173.2 billion on direct marketing in the United States last year.  In addition, the DMA estimates that measured against total U.S. sales, these expenditures generated $2.025 trillion in incremental sales, or 10.2 percent of total U.S. GDP.


Why is direct mail growing? High response rate, return on investment, and direct

measurability of success. It is also less intrusive than telemarketing, garners better

response rate than e-mail marketing, and is more personalized - and far more cost-effective - than broadcast or print media.  Also, a well-crafted mail piece has the advantage of being able to get through to every home and business and make regular contact with customers.  As a matter of fact, one of the reasons that direct mail is such an effective relationship-builder is that it gives an organization the opportunity to spend more time, more often, with more key stakeholders than many other types of communications.


Benefits of High-Production Addressing and Imaging Systems

Advances in technology and new ways of doing business have made it easier to meet and exceed customer needs while keeping financial costs low.   Every day, organizations - both large and small - are taking steps to improve their mailing operations, connect with customers, and increase revenue.


Today's high production addressing and imaging systems can help organizations maximize output, improve productivity and optimize the efficiency of their mail flow to quickly communicate their message to customers and prospects.  Effective addressing and imaging systems are also designed to fulfill a wide range of requirements, offering flexibility for specific applications and needs. 


Some addressing systems offer a fully synchronized solution with the feeder, base and conveyor working together seamlessly, therefore reducing the need for manual intervention and increasing overall throughput. In addition, options such as ink management systems can help save valuable time and costs with uninterrupted printing performance. This enables organizations to manage low ink and out of ink situations by automatically switching cartridges.


Addressing systems that use HP thermal inkjet technology offer crisp quality even at the lowest setting to print clear barcodes that will pass Post Office inspections.  Some systems can also handle a variety of media and can be configured with a 3-, 4.5- or 6-inch image area, and offer spot color options, in-line or off-line tabbing, and technology that reads Postnet and Intelligent Mail® barcodes and verifies print quality to help prevent costly printing errors and mail rejections. 


Medical Mutual of Ohio

One example of a company that is leveraging the power of direct mail and effective addressing solutions to help increase productivity and efficiency is Medical Mutual of Ohio.  Headquartered in Cleveland, Medical Mutual of Ohio is a family of companies that specialize in group and individual health insurance plans for eight states.  Medical Mutual of Ohio prides itself on customer service and making sure its three million customers are treated right.


When it came down to communicating information to its customers, Medical Mutual of Ohio needed a mailing solution that could help get its jobs completed efficiently and professionally.  With an $8 million postal budget and 24 million pieces of mail sent out annually, keeping its mailing operations running smoothly was not an easy task and was of the utmost importance to Medical Mutual's Distribution Resources Services group. Due to the variety of mailing pieces sent out, from Wellness Notice self mailers to Value Vision brochures to calendars, Medical Mutual needed a mailing solution that could handle a wide range of media types and sizes and had flexible printing options.


Medical Mutual turned to a local dealer to investigate their options for optimizing their mailing operations.  Medical Mutual knew they needed an addressing system that could perform to its high standards for print quality, speed and flexibility to replace their current system. After a detailed analysis of equipment, Medical Mutual purchased a high-production addressing and imaging system equipped with moveable print heads covering up to 6" of print at speeds of up to 30,000 pieces per hour.  The addressing system was the perfect fit for Medical Mutual's operations.  The system included a feeder with patented dynamic rotation technology and a conveyer for maximum efficiency and performance, as well as in-line tabbing. 


With communication to its members increasing dramatically each year, Medical Mutual of Ohio had to make sure its mailing operations were ready and able to handle the increased workload. With the new addressing system in place, operations not only stepped up to easily handle an increased volume of mailing jobs; they also improved their turnaround times.  The end results were improved efficiency, productivity and annual cost savings of $800,000.


Medical Mutual of Ohio's success started with putting the right tools in place to meet specific requirements and goals that would benefit their business and customers.  They also worked with a local dealer who acted as a consultant throughout the process.  This is a great example of how spending time researching and evaluating solutions - such as a high-production addressing and imaging system - as a component of an organization's overall strategy for mailing operations really paid off. 


In an environment where direct mail spending is estimated to reach $69 billion in 2009 and postal rate increases will become more regular, rewards like higher profits, lower costs, and loyal customers (more of them, too) should be all the incentives needed to aim for optimizing your mailing operations. 



Ernie Hedrick is Vice President of Sales for Secap, USA.  In this role, Ernie oversees Secap's sales and development strategies for all of its products and services.  In addition, he manages a network of Dealer Sales Managers who cover the United States and assist the dealer sales network in the marketing and selling of Secap equipment.


Ernie has over 25+ years of broad-based sales leadership experience in the mailing and office equipment industries. Prior to his current position at Secap, Ernie was the District Director in Philadelphia for Pitney Bowes where he was responsible for leading one of the company's biggest sales forces in the country.  Ernie was also responsible for heading up one of Pitney Bowes's first specialized business units focused on selling addressing, shipping and folding/inserting products.  In addition, his background includes spending several years selling computer output microfiche/microfilm in the independent dealer channel in the Tri-State area.