Don't use mailing data fields for anything but mailing
Sounds reasonable, right? However, it happens fairly frequently
that data that should not show up in these fields does. Things
such as phone numbers, a "do not mail" note, notes
about the clients themselves (tough client, don't ring doorbell,
etc) whatever it may be, it is likely the client will see
it when something gets mailed to them. There is no practical
way to know if your data has something in it that it shouldn't
- short of going through the records one by one.
NCOA processing is required for any discounted bulk mailing (Presort
Standard or First Class Presort). There are several ways to meet this
standard. After your file has been put through the NCOA process, you will
be able to receive any updated records plus records that were not able to be
standarized. Please make this request prior to processing your file.
Investing in clean data will save you money in the long run.
Consider your cost for printing, labor and postage for all
pieces that do not reach an intended recipient. Most mailing
projects involve some amount of records that cannot be verified
Finally, consider using a combination of address
updating and an ancillary
endorsement for all mailings. Address updating is easy
and affordable. Clients who's file we have processed for address
updating are often amazed (or better said sometimes concerned)
at how many records in their database have changed
- some as much as 4 years ago! Having 15% or more records
that have moved would not be unusual - if you have never updated
your file through an automated process.
For some situations it may be tough to enact data quality
changes but it will pay off in the end. It can be as simple
as educating employees about how and where to enter data and
the need to be consistent in the use of data fields. Notes
should go in a field just for client notes and nothing else
(name in name field, zip code in zip code only field, etc.).
Also, IT departments can create data entry environments that
force data into the correct format.
How much is one sale or contribution worth to you?
Let's talk about reply mail. This gets people in trouble
fairly often (and has recently). When an automated mail piece
is being processed and you are including a reply piece, it
is REQUIRED that the envelope or card used be automation compatible.
If we are helping you design your direct mail pieces, this
won't be an issue. If you are doing the inserting or having
your own printing provided (listen up printer people) avoid
this costly mistake. Not a big deal when only mailing 1,000
pieces, but try multiplying 100,000 pieces by 5 cents (what
you might lose) and see what it costs - OUCH!
Also, avoid designing mailers where the reply piece shows
on the outside. Because the reply piece includes a delivery
address bar code it could put your mail into a loop - meaning
the automation machines could scan that bar code and return
the piece to you as if that was the point. It might be okay
to have it shown on the opposite side of the address panel
(back side) but if you want to do this, allow us to submit
it to the USPS prior to printing.
When switching from another company to Kama Inc. it helps
to have all the information you can about your previous work
prior to the switch. This is more of a concern when it comes
to selecting mailing lists and retaining artwork.
Often the count that results when we compile a list is different
than what was used on a prior occasion. Some of this can be
attributed to the ongoing maintenance that is needed for all
databases, but some can be from the way a list is selected.
On several occasions, it has been the case where our numbers are significantly
different than what a previous company selected. There can be several valid
reasons for this so please ask to discuss them.
On an occupant list, there is no real way to have a significantly
different number unless the selections are made incorrectly.
This can often happen when you are dealing with service areas
for a branch or franchise situation. On a consumer list, accuracy
of selections is key as well as the process by which the database
So, DO select Kama Inc. for all your mailing needs, but DON'T
forget to have any prior information available to you (lists,
logos, artwork) before you start the process.
The most common
issue we come across is not having enough materials printed or shipped when
starting a direct mail project. We can often overcome any
delays associated with less than needed quantities but not
always. My best advice is to always double check what you
had printed and when sending boxes, making sure all boxes
are full. Also, checking to make sure the boxes sent have
the contents you are expecting to have in them is a good idea.
Kama Inc. welcomes the chance to earn your printing business
as well as your mail processing business.
Don't Use The Wrong Paper
paper - a favorite color in the fall but in the case of one
client, it was rejected for automation use. We asked the USPS
design analyst for clarification and he gave it closer scrutiny
including additional analysis with specialized tools. His
determination was that the paper color could be too dark for
enough contrast (between the background and the bar code)
plus the fact that there was some bleed through from the other
side could have caused interference. This paper has been used
numerous times without any problems but it should be noted
if you are considering Goldenrod paper that sending at automation
rates may be a problem. We have not had another instance yet
but the USPS doesn't "Merlin" test all mailings.
A project we processed included inserting
a reply envelope and a letter into a #10 regular envelope.
What the client didn't know is that when remittance envelopes
are printed they come to the printer flat (flaps out) so both
sides are able to be printed. Unless you request your printer
to then fold the envelopes this has to be done once they get
to us. The additional expense plus additional processing time
could have caused a delay but fortunately we were able to
still complete this client's project on time. The source of
these envelopes was from a central storage of a multi-branch
organization so it wasn't something this client could avoid.
Should you originate printing of these envelopes with someone
other than Kama Inc. ask the printer if the price includes
Don't print exactly what you need.
Make sure you have enough quantity printed for your project.
This may seem like a natural but not always. Of course, because
of cost and other issues, you may want to keep your requested
quantity close to what you think you will mail. However, keep
in mind you should always allow at least a small amount for
machine setup and for some that can get damaged during processing.
Having to go back and print more will only increase your cost
due to additional setup and processing and may cause concern
with others involved in the project. If we know what quantity
is expected we can tailor an in-house or purchased list to
meet that expectation. If we are providing the printing for
you, rest assured there will always be enough for addressing.
When using printers outside of Kama Inc. let them know what
you need for your final quantity. While you may order a certain
quantity, industry standards are to bill + or - that quantity.
We have seen vendors deliver only 90% of the quantity ordered
which meant part of a client's mailing list did not get sent.
Also, don't forget what you might need for pass outs or counter
No Personal Handwriting
Be careful if you want to personalize! This happens from time
to time and we usually get it stopped before it gets too far.
Often, clients want to personalize bulk mail postcards with
hand written notes and this is definitely not allowed. If
you try it, the USPS will hit you with first class rates which could double or
triple your postage.
When having materials printed, make sure your printer
goes easy on the powder. Printers use powder to keep individual
sheets from sticking to each other or from offsetting the
printed ink to the next copy. What may be good for the printer
is bad news for the mailer. Powder quickly builds up on feed
rollers which means more stopping and longer production times.
It also interferes with sensors that use light detection,
especially on tabbing equipment that allows for frosted or
clear tabs. We will always bring this to your attention but
if it would continue, it would be necessary to increase the
charge for processing because of the increased processing
time. One project we handled was so heavy with powder it literally
would cover your hand when placed on some sheets. Simply ask
your printer to go easy on the powder and let him know why
if they ask.
There have been a couple
of projects where we received mailers without an indicia (postage
permit) so we had to print those on. Since they were small
projects the delay and additional cost were minimal. Indicias
should always be preprinted but in a crunch we can apply them
with an inkjet printing machine.
We had a client ship some mailers to us he had
already printed. When they arrived many were curled and unusable.
The curling happened for a few different reasons, all of which
you should pay attention to when obtaining and storing your
own printing. Quite a large amount were spoiled (industry
speak for torn or mangled) but fortunately, this client sent
enough to complete the project.
Some paper is highly absorbent and when it sits in a humid
area (like your trunk or storage room) is starts to curl.
Try putting a piece of paper outside these days and see what
happens to it (absent of sun and rain).
Another cause is the way mailers are packed. Self-mailers,
more importantly, need to be separated between layers with
heavy paper stock and need to be packed tightly. When they
are not, you have more pressure on the bottom layers and especially
so when boxes are stacked on each other. If you have a partial
box after completing a mail-out it would be a good idea to
stuff the box with other paper and/or package the remainder
with rubber bands.