You’ve created a Direct Mail plan and gotten the budget approved. You’ve harassed your data guy, the graphic designer, and the print supplier.  Now, you can finally send everything off to the lettershop and wait for the responses and donations to roll in.

Right? Maybe, maybe not.

Before you sit back and breathe a sigh of relief, here are some tried-and-true lettershop tips to help you get those DM packages out the door on time and on budget…

1) Limitations for machine inserting

There’s nothing worse than getting your stock to the lettershop only to find out those beautiful A-7 invitation style envelopes with the 3” flap you ordered are not machineable.  Be sure to check with your lettershop supplier for their machine insertion capabilities. This includes things like allowable envelope flap sizes and shapes, number of inserting stations, and camera matching capabilities.  Every lettershop is different.

2) Find out what times of the year are the busiest for your lettershop

Fall and early January are notoriously busy for most print and lettershop suppliers.  Everyone is trying to get their stuff out before Christmas for year-end, or early January for New Year renewals.  Plan ahead. Ask your lettershop supplier how long they need to complete your project so your deadlines can be met.

3) Mail quantities and Canada Post requirements

When your mail quantities exceed 5,000 for Personalized Mail (aka Addressed Admail), Canada Post requires you to supply an Address Accuracy report with your mail.  If your accuracy is below 95%, Canada Post will ding you for extra postage.  The formula for calculating the penalty is

Total Volume x (95% – actual Address Accuracy %) x 5¢ = $Total Adjustment

Your lettershop data department can run Address Correction to get your accuracy up to the minimum 95% requirement and it is valid for 1 year.

4) National Change of Address (NCOA)

National Change of Address is another way to update your donor’s addresses.  Your lettershop’s data department can  do this for you, but you must register with Canada Post and sign a Terms of Use agreement.  Then, you’ll get a Terms of Use ID number which your lettershop will need to run NCOA on your data.

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5) When in doubt, ask questions

At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to ask.  The lettershop staff are mail production experts. It’s their business to know what can and can’t be done, including all those Canada Post rules and regulations (and there are tons of those).  Do yourself a favour and ask.

With these lettershop tips in hand, your mailing will be smooth sailing. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief!

This post was written by Tracy Holmes, former Logistics Specialist at Good Works, who managed all aspects of direct marketing production.