Our business landscape is changing every day. But one thing doesn’t change. Our commitment to sharing our knowledge and perspective with our customers.
Our industry has never lacked bravado, and the current trend of printers touting the benefits of their co-mailing service is no exception. We’ve all heard the claims: “UNSURPASSED SAVINGS!” “The most flexible co-mailing program in the industry!” “The largest pools available!”
While we may disagree on the specific benefits of one vendor over another, we can all agree on the basics: co-mailing reduces cost, and it gets your catalogs and publications to the end user faster and in better condition.
But how do catalogers and publishers get past the hype and understand true net savings?
With a full thirty to forty percent of your overall budget riding on co-mailing distribution cost, it’s incredibly important to understand what the individual offer means. Granted, the accuracy of the range of savings has gotten better over the years, but experienced Circulation Managers know that their actual postage costs may still vary significantly depending on size of pools and other variables outlined in the various offers.
I talked with more than 50 companies before I wrote this blog - some very large, some medium and some small. The majority expressed frustration about how difficult it is to analyze competing offers let alone predictably budget for co-mailing variables.
So where does Fry fit in to all of this?
At Fry Communications, we believe that figuring out the true cost of co-mailing shouldn’t require an advanced degree in mathematics. We also believe that you shouldn’t suffer because all the variables didn’t align for maximum savings.
Through our ONSITE Co-Mail Center, Fry offers our Total Delivered Cost Co-Mail Savings Guarantee. No matter the month, no matter the size of the co-mail pool, we guarantee your postage savings. Our total delivered cost is inclusive of Postage, Freight, Administration, Fuel, Drayage—all in one simple presentation, based on a review of your mail files.
Our Co-Mail Savings Guarantee is based on a measurable, verifiable and transparent index – the DMU (aka Origin Postage). Our written guarantee, presented as a discount from DMU and Total Delivered Cost, removes the risk of negative variability for our co-mailing clients.
As a buyer we feel your yardstick for evaluation of competitive offers can simply reflect two key measures:
1. The Guaranteed Total Delivered Cost, and,
2. The “close to in-home cycle time” it takes for your product to be received once your files are approved. Our on-site Co-Mail Center facilitates that too.
We think that is simply powerful.
As media consumption habits continue to evolve, so too will the publishing model. The circulation landscape is very different from where it was just two or three years ago. There is more emphasis on audience development and reader engagement. Publishers who want to stay relevant are making efforts to give readers what they want -- content in multiple formats, in real-time and through a different prism.
Consumers have raised the bar with their expectations as they use technology in all facets of their lives. Mobile devices allow us to manage our bank accounts on-the-go, buy a cup of coffee without taking out our wallets or get a restaurant recommendation while waiting on a street corner. Keeping up with the digital movement doesn’t mean putting your content through a major metamorphosis, nor does it mean investing in tons of bells and whistles to dazzle your readers on the iPad. By strategically building your content across multiple channels, you will propel your brand to be part of the conversation when it’s most relevant to your readers.
It is important to be where your readers are. This means being online, on hand-held devices, in social media and of course in print. It also means properly leveraging each of these platforms to best showcase your content and your brand.
Print is still the foundation of the business and consumers place a high value not only on the tactile nature that only a print product can offer, but also on the depth that can be achieved through print content. Consumers spend time with the print product, at their own leisure. There is a level of comfort and certainty, which is what we love about print.
Meanwhile, many publishers now embrace the web as an extremely valuable medium that can further engage readers with the brand. It does not replace nor replicate the print product, but rather enhances the consumer relationship. Publishers that best exemplify this have made their websites into destinations that augment the print magazine by offering extra features such as blogs, videos, photo galleries and breaking news.
Publishers are also actively using social media to build the consumer relationship. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ offer more than just outlets for content as they allow publishers to be part of the conversation and showcase the personality behind the brand. Publishers should continue to develop the strategy behind their print magazine, website and social media outlets knowing these are three distinct sources that help to tell a story, provide insight and offer perspective.
Handheld devices (i.e., smartphones and tablets) are rapidly emerging as another critical platform that can be used to deliver a unique branded experience and thus also need to be part of every publisher’s digital strategy. More consumers will own a smartphone than a desktop computer in 2012. Mobile devices are on track to be the single most popular way to browse the Internet.
As handheld devices gain critical mass and more consumers download native applications, publishers not only need to have a presence, but they also need to ensure a positive user experience as they would with any other aspect of their brand. Android and Apple are the two main platforms that support mobile devices. There are others, but these two have the lion’s share of the market. Your print customers have now become your fans as you’ve embraced the web and social media. You offer them more than just feature stories or “how-to” articles.
Continue to evolve the way you deliver content to handheld devices – be fast to deliver information, offer fresh and relevant content, utilize multimedia, incorporate social media and take your design and format to a new place that fits with your brand. This is an exciting time and your readers are looking for you to show them the way and make their experience rewarding. Put yourself in the shoes of your consumers and provide them with an experience that they will continue to follow and more importantly, value.
Director of Business Development, Thumb Media Group
Time to say farewell to a very interesting year for the US Postal Service, and hello to a year of that’s already full of unknowns for the mailing industry. As the Postmaster General Patrick Donahue says, “The Postal Service will endure.”
In 2011, we saw delivery times increase and postal finances plummet due to the decline of mail volume in almost all classes of mail. Politics have come into play more than ever, with several legislative bills in both the House and Senate regarding retiree health benefit pre-funding, closing of Post Offices, closing of processing facilities, and implementing revised delivery standards. There was also much talk about the elimination of Saturday delivery.
The year also saw an increase of 636,500 additional delivery points, even while the US Postal Service management managed to reduce overall operating expenses by approximately $4.8 billion compared to 2010. That’s a huge accomplishment, but more reductions will be needed for the success of the Postal Service. The USPS ends the fiscal year with a $5.1 billion loss. Ouch.
On to 2012! What does the future hold for the USPS and the mailing community? One thing we do know for sure: postal rates will increase to the new rate structure on January 22, 2012.
However, the unknowns for 2012 are many! Such as:
A possible exigent rate case filing. If some of the other cost-cutting issues on the table are not soon addressed, and with the $ 5.1 billion loss for the fiscal year 2011, the USPS will need additional revenue to survive 2012. If an exigent rate case were to happen, I’d say we would know by May or June 2012.
Service standard changes. The USPS filed new delivery standards with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), increasing their delivery standard by one day. The PRC is reviewing the standard and will respond with their recommendations. However – and this is important - the USPS is not under any obligation to follow the recommendations and could just implement what has been proposed.
Closing of Post Offices. This big unknown falls under the political umbrella and is up against a fight from various members of Congress and the general public.
Closing of Postal Facilities. The USPS is reviewing the current 461 processing facilities to try to reduce the number by more than half, to approximately 200. These closures will have a domino effect on drop shipping facilities and overall mail delivery for both letters and flats-sized mail products.
Elimination of Saturday delivery. Daily newspapers and “News” publications with the end of the week in-home delivery will feel this proposed change the most. Adjustments for alternative mail delivery or change of production schedules may have to happen to keep publishers and advertisers happy.
These unknowns could affect everyone in the mailing industry. Spreading out the pain, so to speak!
In a nutshell…. 2011 was an interesting year, but 2012 will be very, very interesting with all of the challenges facing all of us in the mailing community. With all that is on the table, this will be quite a roller coaster ride. Just remember what the PMG said: “THE POSTAL SERVICE WILL ENDURE.”
Glenn Sollenberger – Director of Postal Affairs/Distribution
Bea Gabany – Presort & Mailing Manager