Strahm Automation & Mailing Services is changing the way our customers think about printing and mailing. With our range of services, our personal attention to each of your projects and our dedication to finding ways to meet your deadlines, budgets and specifications, Strahm Automation & Mailing Services will earn your confidence and trust, one project at a time. Smart. Seamless. Specialized.
The Color Transpromo Promotion will provide upfront postage discounts to mailers who use dynamic color print for marketing and consumer messages on their bills and statements.
Promotion Period June 1, 2015 – November 30, 2015
Registration April 15, 2015 – November 30, 2015
Discount 2% of eligible postage
Eligible Mail First-Class Mail commercial letters that are part of an IMb® Full-Service mailing
Now is the perfect time to take advantage of the USPS Color Transpromo Promotion.
Transpromo is the use of space on your transactional statements to add promotional content. A majority of people still prefer to receive paper statements. Recent data breaches aside, a paper statement is tangible and less likely to be deleted or lost in the massive amounts of electronic messages received every day.
USPS reports that consumers spend 7 minutes per day sorting and reading their mail. 98% of mail is brought into the home the same day it is delivered. Bills and statements are particularly important, read and saved for longer periods. Compare this with the 15 – 20 seconds a person reads an unsolicited email.
Don’t limit yourself to generic marketing messages. Versatility and personalization are virtually unlimited, allowing you to develop relevant messages and offers. Tracking response rates has become easier than ever with use of personalized web pages and codes.
Transpromo is not just for marketing, either. Traditionally used to up-sell or cross-sell, it should also be used to educate about your industry or service, remind them of upcoming events or deadlines, or drive readers to a website.
Using color as part of your transpromo campaign helps to draw the reader’s eye to this special messaging. How can you incorporate an infographic, a fun drawing or even charts and graphs into your message?
Register with USPS and take advantage of the 2% postage savings by using Color Transpromotional mail today!
Posted in Thursday Blogs! on May 21, 2015
Utilities: Educate and Engage Business Customers
This week an item in our local business newspaper caught my attention and had me brainstorming potential ways utilities could add value for their business customers.
Our city may require building owners to report on their energy usage. I began to think of channels and topics utilities could use to engage and educate their business consumers.
How can our customers help their customers?
A couple of items came to mind. Communicating to a utilities’ business customers – through printed inserts to statements, separate newsletters, or email alerts with links – a utility would have so many opportunities for educating their customer.
• How to become a Green Company – What is involved? What first steps should they take? Where can they find more information?
• HVAC Issues – are there new products available to help reduce consumption?
• Lighting issues – new innovations bring more efficiency
• Choosing solar power – What size? Durability? Longevity? Cost vs Value?
Whether they choose to communicate via newsletter, printed inserts with billing statements, or links through targeted emails, the utility confirms their place as an authority in the community.
Choosing a vendor for print or mail services (or both) can be similar to buying a new car. First, a lot of research on the internet. Checking out vendor websites, searching for news stories and reading online reviews. Next you reach out to people you know, and ask for their recommendations and experience. Then, you start contacting vendors.
After you’ve narrowed your selection, it’s time to start finding out more the finalists. If your company is looking to find a long-term partner, your best tool would be the Request for Proposals (RFP) process. For a “one-off” project, you may request bids from the vendors. In either case, you still need to learn more about the vendor than just their pricing.
When we help companies draft RFPs for outsourcing, there may be dozens of questions. Usually, there are standard questions from the purchasing, procurement or legal departments. There are application-specific questions – file formats, service-level requirements, postage costs, presort availability, materials, etc. Then there are questions that appear in almost every RFP.
In addition to pricing, here are 20 questions you should ask when selecting a print/mail service provider:
1. What electronic file formats can you accept for print and mail processing?
2. What are the makes, models and age of all equipment used in providing print and mail services?
3. What is the utilization-to-capacity ratio of each machine? How much additional capacity do you have available?
4. Does your equipment vendor provide you with onsite service, or do you employ dedicated certified service maintenance engineers for your equipment? If yes, what are their certifications?
5. How much have you invested in new equipment over the past three years and what is your business strategy with regard to continuous evaluation and implementation of new technologies?
6. Will you use a third-party any work or otherwise partner with other service providers (e.g., print, fulfillment, presort)?
7. Will you dedicate a service representative to this account?
8. How will our company be kept informed of the progress of our work, for example when will jobs in progress be completed? Do you provide this information online? If so, please describe whether the information is real time or if it is updated in a batch method?
9. How does your customer service structure support notifications of delayed jobs, resolving issues, etc.?
10. What processes or process improvement initiatives do you have in place to continuously improve and increase quality, improve timeliness, and reduce cost?
11. What are your capabilities of providing electronic versions of documents (e.g., email, online viewing, etc.)?
12. How do you capture your tracking information (e.g., number of files transmitted, number of files processed, what was printed, what inserted, total number of packages mailed/shipped and postage applied)? In what format is the information?
13. Describe the quality control procedures that you have in place for ensuring consistent output quality. Include your process performance standards, quality control reports, internal tracking devices, and types and frequency of manual or machine checks. How will you provide this data back to our company?
14. Describe your tracking system used to identify damaged documents and ensure that the correct number of documents are reprinted.
15. Describe the security measures that you have in place regarding the handling of confidential document data (e.g., HIPAA, PHI, SSNs, and other personal information). Describe your policy on the destruction of documents containing such confidential information.
16. Describe your disaster recovery procedures that are in place in the event of a shutdown or a lapse in service for any reason. Include descriptions of your onsite problem prevention and maintenance programs, location and capacity of back-up facilities, equipment and capabilities used in backup facilities, and logistics of the disaster recovery.
17. What is the average level of experience for your staff? What is the industry experience of your production managers? What certifications do they hold (e.g., MQC, EMCM, CMM and CMDSM)?
18. What is your company’s involvement with print/mail industry professional associations?
19. What are the monthly volumes for your largest and average customers?
20. List at least three references of the same size and in the same industry, who are currently receiving your services.
Blog Author: Mark Fallon
Don’t Forget Your Mobile Users – or Why I Still Have Bangs
If you are driving customers to your online presence to make a purchase, pay a bill or just to learn more about your product/service, don’t forget that many of these people will be viewing on their mobile devices.
At Strahm we view our messages on every device available to us. How does it look on an iPhone, android, tablet? Do all the images appear? Do links work? If there is personalization, is it correct? Does it take forever to load?
You can ask for more information from your respondent, but keep it very short and very simple. They won’t stay on your page to fill out form after form.
An example is a website I would love to browse – they have great content that I’m just dying to read – but as I navigate to every page, I get a pop up requesting that I sign up for their newsletter.
Although I already receive their newsletter, I don’t mind that their request appears as soon as I hit their home page. The annoyance is as I click through to articles I want to read, I get the same message over and over. And I close their page and go somewhere else for my daily dose of fashion advice.
I have tried access on my tablet, phone, through the link in their newsletter and twitter. Each format had the same result of the never ending pop up. (It’s so bad that I sent them a tweet. I do really want advice how to grow out my bangs.)
What are the takeaways?
• Design with mobile users in mind
• View on every device you can get your hands on
• Make adjustments as needed and view again
• Test, test, test download time, links, etc.
• Keep it as simple and easy-to-use as possible.
First-Class Mail 2015 Promotions
As part of its commitment to grow the mail, the Postal Service is pleased to announce several First-Class Mail promotions that will offer incentives or discounts to mailers throughout 2015.
Earned Value Reply Mail is designed to encourage mailers to use First-Class Mail as the primary reply means for their customers, by providing a postage credit for each returned Business Reply Mail or Courtesy Reply Mail piece.
Color Transpromo is designed to encourage mailers to increase the value of bills, invoices, and statements by combining the power of digital and color technology, which can produce greater connection and response from customers.
Emerging and Advanced Technology is designed to create omni-channel marketing opportunities by integrating direct mail with mobile technology. This engages interactive experiences and encourages mailers to use “enhanced” augmented reality, Near Field Communications (NFC), and other technologies.
|Registration Period||Program Period|
|Earned Value Reply Mail
|March 15 – April 30, 2015||May 1 – July 31, 2015|
|April 15 – November 30, 2015||June 1 – November 30, 2015|
|Emerging and Advanced Technology*
|March 15 – October 31, 2015||May 1- October 31, 2015|
*Standard Mail is part of the Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion and is currently being
reviewed by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
If you have any questions, including whether or not your mail qualifies for any of the 2015 promotions, please call one of Strahm’s dedicated Customer Service Representatives. You can reach us at (816) 756-2733 or email@example.com.
My Direct Marketing Program Was a Success! Now What?
Your marketing program was successful – people are redeeming coupons, visiting your store, signing up for your service. Are you capturing more data about them to use for future campaigns?
First, determine what you want to know. You can get pretty deep here, but below are a few data points you may want to consider.
- Email address?
- Product or service purchased?
- Geographical area?
- What and how did they respond to your marketing – email, in-store purchase, etc?
Try to keep your requests for more information simple. No one wants to answer 20 questions. It can come off as intrusive and really, the easier you make it, the better.
Look at it this way, I can go to ABC’s website to purchase a widget but I have to fill out a bunch of forms. Or I can go to Amazon and buy with one click. Even if Amazon charges me a little more for the widget, the ease of use has won me over.
You can see where we’re going with this. You can use this “beefed up” data to more effectively target your market, just don’t be creepy about it.
Posted in Thursday Blogs! on February 20, 2015
You’ve decided that you want to do a direct mail marketing campaign – now what?
You’re priority should be designing a mail piece that will deliver results. One important factor is the copy you use on your mailer.
Want some quick tips?
First make sure you nail down the message you want to send. Keep it short and simple – more words won’t necessarily grab the reader’s attention so focus on what is important to them about your product or service.
Keep the layout clean and simple too. Don’t use a lot of different fonts. Don’t have copy running all over the place in an attempt to be fancy. If you make it hard to decipher your message, guess what? No one will respond.
Focus on areas that the reader will naturally gravitate towards. Put your most important words (free offer, huge discounts, act now) in the headline, subheads and as the first parts of a sentence.
Take advantage of action words and verbs as much as possible. Don’t write about something, speak directly to your customer and tell them what you want them to do.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to proof read and then proof read again. Have co-workers and maybe even friends and family take a look. Sometimes you are so tied up in the process that you can’t see the forest for the trees!
Successful copywriting will get you off to a great start in designing your direct mail piece.
The USPS Asked In a Sustainability Campaign,
“How Green is Your Mail?”
- Manage Ink: When designing your mailpiece, choose fewer colors and less ink coverage/usage. This reduces chemicals used during the printing process.
- Think TransPromo: Create a document that combines transactional printing (think statement or invoice) with a marketing piece – all in one document and one envelope. In fact, USPS will have a 2015 promotion encouraging the use of TransPromo marketing.
- Paper Usage: Use a smaller font and/or decrease the margins in order to keep to a single page document. Can’t do it? Default to printing both sides (duplex). Going duplex can save you up to 50% on paper costs while serving the environment as well.
- Sourcing Paper: Choose paper stocks that come from managed forests. The Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) certification supports responsible forestry; forests are audited for best practices and must meet strict guidelines. As well, this sends a clear message to your customers that you care about forests.
- Utilize Print on Demand: This concept has been around for years and centers on printing only what you need/when you need it. This eliminates waste caused by document obsolescence. As well, you could select a printer at or near your point of consumption, reducing or eliminating transportation costs.
- Mailing Lists: Updating your mailing list may be a challenge, but the cost savings and environmental impact is significant. It is estimated that 15% – 20% of individuals and businesses move each year. Reduce waste and eliminate the printing and postage costs of mail that is non-deliverable.
Has your organization implemented green initiatives in their mailing practices? What outcomes did you experience? We’d love to hear your stories!
How A Letter Travels OR How Does My Mail Carrier Know Where I Am?
Here at Strahm Automation we use several processes to meet Move Update compliance.
Some customers choose NCOA as a pre-printing step – saving them printing and postage on addresses that may not ultimately make it into a mailbox. As well, they get reporting back of updated addresses and addresses that are just flat out “bad”.
Many presort only customers choose Move Comply as their update method. This process takes place at the presort level. Our MLOCR sorters bounce the address on the envelope against a USPS database and spray the correct barcode onto the envelope.
Back to Mary and her question of how the carrier knows exactly where to deliver her mail, this informative piece from the USPS gives a great overview of how a letter travels through the mail stream. I hope you find it enjoyable!
Expect To See Slower Delivery Times For First Class Mail.
With the consolidation of up to 82 processing centers nationwide, a lot of First Class letters and periodicals will cease to be delivered overnight; they will arrive in two days, and mail formerly delivered in two days will now be delivered in three days.
According to the Federal Register, Standard Mail with have the same deliverability as today, with three to 10 days within the contiguous United States. Packages will take two to eight days.
As those 82 facilities close and 95 assume the work, USPS is continuing to focus more on its growing areas of revenue—package delivery—vs. its shrinking areas—First Class mail volume.
Current estimates indicate approximately 20% of the First-Class Mail volume is expected to be delivered overnight, more than 35% is expected to be delivered in 2 days and about 44% delivered in 3 days.
The graphic below illustrates an approximate breakdown of First-Class Mail service performance after Phase 2 implementation:
You can find the USPS official FAQ here: https://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/ofn-phase-2-faqs.htm