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Oct. 13 2009 02:08 PM

In my role preparing lists, addressing, packing and posting deliveries I now find myself in an unexpected role. Our bulk mail customers specialize in very different professions than mailing and often know little about postal policies. Still they depend on bulk mail to keep in touch with their customer base. So, like many of us, I found my customers relying on me as a source for postal information!

When first asked for postal advice by a mail customer I was startled, but I soon learned our positions make us quite useful to mailers. We may not know answers to many questions, but I found we usually know who does know. We are at the head of a network of mail software programmers, postal service workers and experienced people in our own shops. This network often allows us to provide customers important advice they want and need in addition to the mailing services we perform.

We provide some nearly invisible tasks expediting postal paperwork, addressing and sending mail. This we perform seamless customer service. At other times we also actually help customers develop mail strategies for their trade. An example of this is the recent postal rate advantage offered by Standard Automatic Letters over traditional "Flat" mail advertisements. Some of our customers, reluctant toward changes, have experimented successfully with redesigning flats as tri-folded and tabbed single sheet Std Auto Letter mailers. Actually, these mailers can often include up to five sheets without exceeding the 3.3 ounce weight for basic standard rates, the only difference being printing, forlding and tabbing costs.

USPS usually puts us in their information loop when such new developments occur, but our mailing customers are often unaware of changes in postal policies and rates. Sometimes we can help just by giving a heads up to mailers when rate changes are about to occur, so our customers may get in advertising campaigns ahead of rate increases. At all times customers are liable to have only a vague grasp of how carrier routing, automation vs. non-automation, firm packaging, and so on work, or when best to use saturation or targeted or densely populated lists. We are often the first link in their chain for learning how to make business sense of mail.

Simply put, we are in partnership with our customers in making the best and surviving in today's tough market. We may underrate the value we add, but as partners we provide significant information and guidance to mailers in addition to providing efficient production, addressing and posting.