What Not to Do


Don't use mailing data fields for anything but mailing data.

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 for deliverability.

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.

Switching Companies

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 is compiled.

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

Goldenrod colored 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.

Remittance Envelopes

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 folding.

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 displays.

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.

Quick Fix

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.

Bad Packing

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.

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