One of the hardest things about staying informed on all of the changes around mail, is knowing where to go for information. The good news is there is an amazing amount of quality content if you know where to look. My goal with this article is to set up the main categories and links to where you can get your questions answered. The key takeaway is you do not need to know everything, but you do need to know how to find the content when you need it. Hopefully this guide will be a resource that you can use in the future.
1. Mail Rates – Notice 123 from the USPS is the best pricing guide available. It has every rate structure and it is easy to navigate. I print out the PDF version each year so I can refer to it quickly. If you take nothing else away from this article, you should at least bookmark this link.
2. USPS Quick Service Guides – These guides will give you all of the information you will most likely need on the main postal topics.
3. USPS Periodicals – This is a great way to stay informed and all of these publications are free.
- MailPro – This goes over changes happening with the Postal Service. You can sign up for free to get printed copies or access versions online.
- PCC Insider – This newsletter goes over upcoming events, success stories and provides a different perspective on postal news.
- Deliver Magazine – I love this periodical because it focuses on what is working around marketing mail. It gives examples of different types of mailings and cross channel campaigns that are providing high response rates. It also gives ideas on what creative items and concepts can be mailed. This is free and can be accessed online or in print.
4. Industry Periodicals – It is good to get a different perspective written from non USPS sponsored sources. These are the best that I follow regularly.
- Mailing Systems Technology – I am not just saying this because I write for them or because it is free, but because I believe this is the best magazine in the industry. All of the articles are written by people who are at the highest levels in the industry and their mission is to educate on best practices.
- Mail – This magazine publishes industry news, product announcements and has a regular feed about what is going on. I really like their website as a great source of information on products and postal updates.
- Parcel – Although the focus is mostly on private carriers, they do mix articles with postal options and should be kept on the list if you ship product. This periodical is also written by the top experts in the industry.
5. National Events – These conventions are a great way to stay informed on changes in the industry, take classes from top experts, visit vendor booths to see what is available and network within the industry.
- National Postal Forum – This is the biggest postal event of the year, and is typically scheduled in March or April. This year it is on March 17-20th in San Francisco.
- MailCom – The Mail Systems Management Association puts on two national events, one in the spring and fall. They typically will try to run these on different coasts so a larger audience can attend each event. The spring convention is scheduled for April 27th – May 1st in Atlantic City. One big benefit is you can take the certification exams for the CMDSS, CMDSM and MDC at the event.
6. Local Events – In almost every metropolitan area, there are meetings and educational seminars held to group the mailing community together and share best practices. I recommend joining both of the groups below and staying involved in the activities that they run. This the best way to stay connected with your peers.
7. Certifications – If you are going to work in the mail industry, it is always great to have certifications behind you defining your level of expertise. These are some of the most common with links to where you can get more information.
- Mail Design Consultant (MDC) – Hosted by Mail Systems Management Association
- Mail Design Professional (MDP) – Hosted by the USPS
- Certified Mail and Distribution Manager/Supplier (CMDSM/CMDSS) – Hosted by Mail Systems Management Association
- Executive Mail Center Manager (EMCM) – Hosted by the USPS
8. LinkedIn Groups – I find this to be one of the best ways to stay informed because by being part of these groups, I get emails about what is going on and opinions from the community. Here are some groups to consider joining.
- Digital Mailroom
- Direct Mail Group
- Document Handling and Mail Processing Professionals
- Document Imaging & Printing Technology Solutions
- Going Postal
- Hybrid Mail
- IPMA In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association
- Mail Geeks
- Mail Systems Management Association
- Mailing Systems Technology
- Mailroom Operations Forum
- NPF – National Postal Forum
- Parcel and Postal Distribution Forum
- Postal Affairs in Direct Mail
- USPS Mailing Solutions Specialists
9. Equipment Guide – Mail – The Journal of Communication Distribution, prints the Official Mail Guide that is an excellent source of most of the equipment and services available in the mailing industry.
10. Mailing Services Pricing Study – QP Consulting does a very in-depth study on the pricing and services offered by commercial printers and mail service providers. It is an excellent guide to validate that you are getting the best prices from your providers.
As you can see, there are many resources at your disposal that can help you get information, enhance your education, connect within the mailing community or use as leverage in negotiations. Hopefully this guide will be something you can bookmark and refer to as the content is needed.