Got Mailing? How Did It Get So Complicated to Manage?

Doyle Oden | June 15, 2023

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Today’s mail printers are asked to do a lot more than printing. And managing it all is getting complicated.

These days, the client requests start with creative production and runs all the way through to print fulfillment and even distribution. What’s more, the demands for personalization and variable print capabilities grow by the day—even as customers demand lower costs.

To combat the challenges of a contracting industry, print, and mail shops need to find ways to adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace. Increasing their capabilities in mailing is a strategic adaptation, but one that’s more complicated than just snapping their fingers and changing their processes.

Print businesses need to offer a variety of options for direct mail, including creative digital integrations that go beyond just customizing names inside and out. Deeper customization that places the right message on the right mailing to the right person at the right time is key.

But how can print businesses, many of which are already struggling with staffing and profitability challenges, expand their direct mail management without losing control?

A simplified approach is needed, one that gives print shops the ability to:

  • Manage creative deliverables
  • Manage direct mail distribution (domestic or international)
  • Handle higher volumes of variable print products
  • Control costs despite growing complexity

Below, we’ll discuss the many challenges that come with mailings and with postage inventory management. Then we’ll show you how print MIS integration using our award-winning Avanti Slingshot™ is the optimal solution for your direct mail management challenges.

The Challenges of Mailing

Beyond the challenges built into the mailing landscape (which we discussed above), print shops are facing three specific hurdles that affect their efforts in direct mail.

Increasing Competition

First, as taking on these higher-value end-to-end campaigns becomes more common in the industry, the printers who play in this pool are facing increased levels of competition.

These are high-ticket projects with a moderate degree of complexity. Pricing them accurately is key to protecting margin, but getting an estimate to customers quickly is key to winning business.

In other words:

  • Take too long or price too high, and you risk losing the business.
  • Price too low, and you risk profitability.

You need a tool that helps you price profitably, correctly and quickly.

Related, given the increase in competition, you also need the ability to provide multi-channel support that goes beyond your basic fulfillment workflows. If you’re trying to run these complex mailing projects using manual inputs, it’s likely impossible to keep up and eliminate errors.

Need for Creativity

It’s more important than ever to capture consumers’ attention, and doing so takes creativity. It’s not enough anymore just to put the recipient’s name on the envelope. You need to make creative use of materials, customizations, and graphics if you want to hold recipients’ attention and get them to open the envelope.

Your print business and the professionals who work within it have years of print knowledge that you can leverage into creative thinking. That’s the real difference-maker—but only if you have the right print MIS and the integrations that can make those creative ideas possible.

Need for Transparency

These mailing campaigns are typically high-priced, and your customers naturally want to know where their money is going. This drives a need for transparency in your bids and estimates.

When you can show your customers the breakdown of where the money goes (considering credit card processing, file and job submissions, track production, phased delivery dates, and speedy, accurate billing), you gain trust even as you protect your margins.

How Avanti Slingshot™ Delivers Powerful Direct Mail Management

The missing link in many print business’s mailings is a modern, powerful print MIS—one with the print MIS integrations that enable better direct mail management.

Here are three ways that Avanti Slingshot™ delivers results that others can’t match.

Estimating Excellence

In such a competitive environment, the estimate is key. Get it right and deliver it quickly, and you’ll win more jobs while protecting your profits. Get it wrong or take too long, and you can guess the rest.

Imagine fast, accurate estimating for all elements of a project, including creative design, printing, postage, data services, drop, and packages.

With Avanti Slingshot’s Estimating Module, anyone can create an accurate customized estimate—even without years of industry knowledge across multiple production processes.

Print MIS integrations with Avanti Slingshot’s Quote Letter, Sales Order, and Job Manager modules allow you to easily develop jobs from start to finish, combining both print and mail on a single job. And thanks to additional integration with third-party Web to Print vendors, you can create a completely touchless workflow, eliminating manual input errors and enabling you to focus on what you do best.

Creative Control

Avanti Slingshot gives you the ability to control even complex projects. You can plan, manage, and track multiple drops, including data points like these:

  • Items to be part of the drop
  • Quantities within each drop
  • Drop locations
  • Mandatory drop completion dates

When you let Slingshot take care of items at this level of detail, you free your creative team to focus on messaging, graphics, and additional higher-margin value-added services.

In other words: By freeing you from the burden of manual planning, managing, and tracking, Slingshot gives you back creative control.

Detailed Reporting

With Slingshot, data is at your fingertips. You can provide customers with detailed reports that include postage summaries, tracking and replenishing customer postage accounts, credit card processing, file and job submissions, and delivery tracking updates.

You can use these same tools to make requests for pre-pay or to generate status updates.

This level of detailed reporting helps you win the job by showing customers the breakdown of their spend. It also helps you keep clients happy: in a matter of moments, you can surface whatever detail or status the client has requested.

Improve Mailings with Avanti Slingshot

Direct mail provides an impressive opportunity for business growth, but it adds significant complexity compared to traditional print management.

Avanti Slingshot is a leading print MIS solution with a modular approach, enabling you to implement print MIS integration throughout your print operations, no matter what unique services you offer.

Avanti Slingshot’s Direct Mail Management module allows you to develop estimates quickly and accurately, with job-by-job postage tracking and powerful postage inventory management.

Full online access for your customers means they can access postage summaries, replenish their accounts, interact with file and job submissions, and much more.

If you’re ready for a better approach to direct mail management, you’re ready for Avanti Slingshot.