Tag Archives: The Bureau

The Bureau – January 2020 Edition

Houston, TX– Happy New Year! We hope that 2019 was a successful year for you and hope that the coming year is your best yet.

For me, 2019 was like “driving in the fast lane”. The year passed at surprisingly accelerated speeds.
Overall it was a fantastic year for us. However, we had some unusual challenges too.

When tropical storm Imelda caused the North Houston Post Office roof to collapse; timely mail delivery within the city took a big hit. As late as mid-November we were seeing local delivery standards crawl between 8-12 days which had a negative impact on many clients.

Information from USPS HQ regarding mail acceptance, contingency plans, and progress to re-open the facility was slow to be shared. It was frustrating because the focus was on national super volume mailers. Invitations to calls with information updates weren’t extended to most of the local Houston mailers, printers or fulfillment houses. Many were left to secure information through the grapevine or other resources. Our involvement with local and national trade organizations really paid off during this timeframe. We were able to sit-in on many of USPS HQ calls and stayed current with progress.

Our partnership with Leo Raymond of Mailers Hub and Tom Glassman of Ricoh; both MTAC (Mailers Technical Advisory Committee) members, were critical and we appreciate their help with getting us included in the loop.

Also, we made a point to share the updates with as many local businesses as possible (even
competitors), through our blog, email blasts, and social media platforms.

It is these types of situations that remind us of how important it is to seed your mailing list and how tracking can help manage a campaign through a crisis and still be successful. Direct mail is a marketing powerhouse and still produces higher returns than its digital counterparts.
It drives people to websites, social media platforms and converts prospects into buyers.

Fortunately, local marketing mail delivery has since improved significantly. As of the first of 2020, our studies show local delivery times are (on average) between 4-6 days. We anticipate a return to a 3-5 day delivery by the end of January.

In November, we headed to Dallas for (the first ever) Printing United show. What a show it was! Over 30,000 attendees viewed print and mail equipment covering 724,000 sq feet at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. We were simply amazed by the technology presented by companies from all over the world. As a result of the show, we made some capital investments that will continue to expand our in-house capabilities and service offerings. We will share details with you in our spring newsletter.

We anticipate this year to be filled with change. For example, starting on January 1st, the CCPA
(California Consumer Privacy Act) went into effect. This represents the start of the US attempt to protect an individual’s privacy as it pertains to data collection. It’s similar to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was enacted in May of 2018 by the European Union.

Some of the things the CCPA allows (for California residents) include the right to know what personal information is being collected about them, if their information is being sold and to whom. They have the right to say no to the sale of their personal information and are allowed access to it.

As it is written today, our Consumer Bankruptcy data file is not subject to the CCPA. All Consumer Bankruptcy data is public information which is gathered by the federal courts and is exempt. Go to our online privacy policy page for details.

Privacy is important. However, government regulated consumer data collection could cast a negative impact on the marketing industry as a whole. Data collection goes far beyond social media sites and has been the backbone of our industry since its infancy. Over 20 other states have introduced bills attempting to regulate how data is collected and each bill has their own
idiosyncrasies which will make data compilation and compliance an enormous challenge in the
future.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the bureau. And, as always, we sincerely thank you for your business and partnership. Happy New Year.
Sincerely,

 

 

Ron Royall, CEO

 

September 1965 The Bureau


2019 has also been extremely busy with the celebration of our 70th anniversary and once again, we are including a scan of a newsletter that we created and mailed from the past.

In September of 1965, BEB featured a wooden postcard from Cutter Lumber Products of California as the Mailing Piece of the Month. We shared “Direct Mail Pointers” (most are still applicable today), and talked about how to serve the growing population across the nation. In so many ways, things have really changed. For instance, only 38% of the workforce in 1965 were women, and are seldom mentioned in any of these early articles. In other ways, things have not changed at all. For example, the most important part of a direct mail campaign remains data. We hope you enjoy the peek from the past.

2019-09 THE BUREAU R12

 

The Bureau – Fall of 2019

Volatility within the stock market and the instability of the global economy can be very unsettling.  Planning long-term becomes quite challenging and no one is certain how long the trade and possible currency war with China will last.

In July, the Federal Reserve Bank reported that the Houston business-cycle and leading indexes  pointed to a growing economy. Employment accelerated, particularly mining-related jobs, but the U.S. rig count and oil prices continue to fall. Manufacturers reported negative impacts from tariffs, while measures of global manufacturing show signs of slowing. Nonetheless, the Feds still reported that the outlook for Houston remains positive.

Meanwhile, we spent the first half of 2019 diving deeper into wide format and providing our clients with more signage and promotional products. A 6-foot horse cut-out and flip flop bags were only a few of the items produced this summer.

We also upgraded some of our equipment and software. We have been busy educating our existing staff on the new systems and have hired some new talent to help take us into the next decade.

As I often mention, our staff is very involved with local and national trade associations and we have had a busy first half of 2019. We were invited to speak about social media at The Printing Industries of the Gulf Coast Women in Print Luncheon in February, in May our friends at Mailers Hub invited us to conduct a session on direct mail marketing for nonprofits at the National Postal Forum, and we co-hosted the sold out Graphic Excellence Awards in April.

Both of our Marketing for Local Business series sold out and we met some fantastic entrepreneurs while hosting great guest lecturers from across Texas. We had to turn away students for the summer series, and as a result we decided to offer the classes again, beginning in October. It will be the last series of this year and it is already half full, so register soon if you’re interested. Click here for details and registration. Use promo code BUREAU at checkout and receive any two classes FREE.

2019 has also been extremely busy with the celebration of our 70th anniversary and once again, we are including a scan of a newsletter that we created and mailed from the past. In September of 1965, BEB featured a wooden postcard from Cutter Lumber Products of

September 1965 BEB Newsletter

California as the Mailing Piece of the Month. We shared “Direct Mail Pointers” (most are still applicable today), and talked about how to serve the growing population across the nation. In so many ways, things have really changed. For instance, only 38% of the workforce in 1965 were women, and are seldom mentioned in any of these early articles. In other ways, things have not changed at all. For example, the most important part of a direct mail campaign remains data. We hope you enjoy the peek from the past.

In contrast, this edition of The Bureau features several articles about new technology including artificial intelligence and how it is impacting our industry. We have a story on the successful driverless trucking test the USPS conducted between Dallas and Phoenix over the summer, and information on Informed Address or IA. The outgoing piece doesn’t have an address at all, just a barcode.

Fall is only a few, weeks away and the holiday marketing season will soon be upon us. Please keep us in mind for any and all of your marketing needs, and as always, thank you for your business and partnership.

 

 

 

 

Ron Royall
CEO, Business Extension Bureau

The Bureau – April 2018

Heading to your desk right now, we hope you enjoy the latest version of The Bureau, our award winning company newsletter.  Inside this issue:

Super Charged Informed Delivery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUPER CHARGED INFORMED DELIVERY

Informed Delivery allows users to see images of their mail in the form of an email.  The USPS is hoping that marketers will Super Charge those images by bringing them to life through interactive Informed Delivery campaigns.   Interactive campaigns allow you to create a custom image that can be linked to a URL within the recipients email.

Each unique set of customized supplemental content is associated with an individual mail campaign.  Multiple campaigns can be conducted at one time for a single mailing. Each campaign is triggered by and mapped to a single Mailer ID (MID) that is used on the mail piece and can be customized to be active during a defined date range.

The USPS is very excited about this program and hope that marketers take advantage of this new digital channel that ties hardcopy mail to digital content. Because multiple people within a single household can sign up; you get an extra bang for your mail as additional digital impressions will be fed to the other  household members when they open their email. So far, the USPS is experiencing high email open rates, up to 72% daily as of March.

Informed Delivery interactive campaigns provide additional benefits, allowing mailers to enhance the presentation of the scanned mail piece images that consumers are already receiving.

It gives the mail recipient or other household members the opportunity to take action immediately on the     mail piece by clicking on a campaign image/website link –regardless of whether or not they retrieve mail from the physical mailbox.

You can coordinate multi-channel campaigns, and collect information on campaign reach and results (e.g., open rates, click-through rates) through data analytics too.

Virtually any mailer can conduct an Informed Delivery campaign if the following criteria are met:

  • Mail pieces must be automation compatible
  • Mail pieces must contain a valid IMb
  • Mailer or MSP must be IMb certified

At this time, there are no fees associated with conducting  an Informed Delivery campaign.

There are a couple of drawbacks to the program though.  Not everybody is jumping on the bandwagon to opt-in yet.  So far, 50,000 users in the Houston metropolitan area have signed up and 12 million have opted-in to the program nationwide.

Also, packages and flats are not available yet; but should be coming online very soon.

The USPS is leading a huge push to get people signed up and are courting marketers across the nation to experiment with this technology.

Ironically, after signing up some people have reported that they have stopped going to the mailbox every day.  Instead they are using the email to determine the priority of the contents and visiting the mailbox less frequently.

A lot of people are really excited about this program and believe it will “deliver” the post office into a healthy state.  At least it is good to see the USPS  heading in the right direction to try and make mail and digital a powerful and sustaining combination.

 

 

The Bureau – Letter from Ron

The first quarter of 2018 has been a wild ride.  The S&P 500 Index looks like a Swiss mountain range with  dramatic ups and downs, and the US Postal Service is focused on some pretty exciting programs that could give a lift to direct mail marketing.  However, at the same time, the USPS is also considering implementing a new rate increase structure that threatens the very livelihood of the industry.  It is as nerve racking as a super fast roller coaster, and makes for exciting times.  Especially because our client base is using direct mail more today than they did 5-years ago.  We continue to see increases in print and mail, and our digital media clients have started to experiment with smaller, very targeted and personalized mailings and getting excellent returns.

A large portion of this issue of The Bureau is dedicated to bringing you up to speed with the latest happenings in Washington surrounding postal topics.  We will define informed Delivery and introduce you to the interactive campaigns available.  We will outline Geo Framing, a cutting edge technology that tracks latitude and longitude from electronic devices and we will highlight IOT, The Internet of Things. 

We have included a schedule of our award winning Marketing for Local Business classes for the balance of 2018.  We have several guest lecturers this year and our previous four series have sold out.  We  update content  prior to each class to keep it fresh and relevant and as a result, I’ve noticed that several of our past graduates have attended classes on multiple occasions.

We are working on an educational series that is dedicated specifically to nonprofits; if you or your staff have an interest, please let us know as we can bring the seminar to you as well.  Click here for more information.

We are joining MD Anderson’s Sprint for Life 5K on May 5, 2018 as we are walking to honor the memory of our beloved Rama Moore who fought and lost a valiant battle with ovarian cancer this past Christmas.  We are trying to raise $1,500 and every dollar counts.  If you would like to donate please go to runforrama.com            Employees and their families from every department within the company will be there.  It will be a great time and is supporting an excellent cause.

We hope that  you find the content of this newsletter informative and helpful, and if you have questions about anything contained within, please don’t  hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your business and partnership.

 

 

Ron Royall, President

Jaw Dropping GeoFraming

What would you think if someone told you that they could give you the addresses of 85% of the people that have entered your store over the past six-months?  On top of that, what if they could tell you who entered your competitors stores   during the same time-frame?  They Can!

Welcome to JAW DROPPING GeoFraming

Whenever a digital ad is pushed to your phone or other mobile device, the advertiser uses a unique Advertising Device ID (Ad ID).  It is the industry standard for all commercial ads airing in the US.

GeoFraming captures the Unique Ad ID of mobile devices present at a specific location using latitude and longitude data, then maps it to the home.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Third party data providers are supplying anonymous unique AD ID data for devices that have been present in specified locations for marketing companies to target.  Data is obtained in as little as 72-hours (soon to be within 24-hours) after a device was in the targeted location, such as a shopping mall on Black Friday or a car dealership. This allows for timely data without personal security or privacy hurdles associated with real-time location data.

Data derived from GeoFraming will not include names, email addresses, or report the specific matching of devices to the household.  It will provide you with a list of addresses from the devices present at your GeoFramed Event or locations.  From there you can overlay information from a consumer database by matching the address to create a profile of the audience that includes names, estimated incomes or any other demographic available.

Not only are advertisers using the cutting edge technology to help define their audience; they are also using it to see who is shopping at their competitors location.  Imagine the  jeweler who can identify the couple that  visited their engagement ring sale from the week before, and be able to determine that the same couple visited other jewelers as well.  This would signify a couple that is intending to buy and very soon.  That is a hot lead.  

Collection of Ad IDs and location data is, of course, limited based on users that have opted-in or have the appropriate settings running on their apps.

Don’t confuse GeoFraming with other GEOMining; check out these other jaw-dropping products used today:

Geo-Fencing: Drawing a virtual fence around an area or location and showing your ad, to people inside that “fence.”
Geo-Retargeting: Following people AFTER they leave the geo-fenced location and continuing to show them your ads.
Geo-Retargeting Lookalike: Following people AFTER they leave the geo-fenced location and continuing to show them your ads as well as showing their neighbors your ads.
Geo-Framing: To go back in time to previous events where we have captured people’s mobile Unique Device ID’s, map those Unique Device ID’s to their homes, and show those people ads now through the Household IP technology on all devices.

 

 

 

 

The Magic of (USPS) MERLIN is Gone

For over 10-years, the USPS Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup INstrument, also known as MERLIN, has been used by acceptance clerks to test and verify mailings.  When first rolled out, it created quite a stir within industry surrounding measuring mail quality at the point of mail acceptance.

Full-Service mailers have moved to Seamless Acceptance and   enjoy the benefit of standardized acceptance and verification         processes thereby eliminating the need to have mailings tested on MERLIN.

MERLIN is also used to ensure that addresses were updated within 95-days of the mailing date with customer filed COA (Change of Address) orders.  The USPS announced that on January 21, 2018, the method for ensuring compliance with Move Update              requirements will change from the MERLIN Method to a new Census Method.    The new method checks compliance on all mail pieces (unlike MERLIN that verified samplings), and reduces the current 30% threshold to .5%.

This marks the end of the MERLIN era, and the start of greater efficiency in measuring postal compliant mail.