Print, fold, stuff, stamp, address, and send. Rinse and repeat hundreds of times over and you have completed what modern businesses consider normal in a world full of automation and outsourced services. Most business owners consider the bottom line when it comes to the basic processes needed to keep a business afloat, simply repeating the mantra, “why pay someone else to do it when I can just do it myself?” Outsourcing your mailing could be the easiest way to save you time and money, but there just isn’t enough information out there about how it works.
Prior to Print-and-Mail services (and even now), businesses completed all of their print, folding, and mailing in-house, meaning someone in the office is in direct control of creating documents; printing, folding, and inserting the mail; and then getting the mail out the door and to the USPS. When you outsource your print and/or mail services, any part of the steps above could be done outside of your business. Which parts you outsource are entirely dependent on how much work you want to complete in-house and what parts of the workflow you wish to keep control over. In general, there are four different types of print-and-mail services:
1 – Full Composition: Full composition places control over the composition of each document (and the entire process essentially) into the hands of a print-and-mail provider. The Print-and-Mail service will coordinate with the business owner on how they want the document to look, what they want it to say, where to place logos, if there are inserts, and more using templates. The service will then take Raw Data from the business owner and compose, print, fold, and mail the documents.
2 – Outsourcing Mailroom: Though it’s uncommon, an outsourced mailroom is also a type of outsourcing print-and-mail in which an external company is brought into a business to run the entire mailroom. The control of the document is still in the hands of the business owner, but every other step in the print-and-mail workflow is managed by an external company.
3 – Outsourcing Fulfillment: Outsourcing fulfillment allows the business owner to keep control over the composition of a document as well as the printing of each document. After a document is printed, the business owner will coordinate with an outsourced fulfillment service that will take the prepared prints and mail them.
4 – Outsourcing Print-to-Mail: Outsourcing Print-to-Mail allows the business owner to keep full control over the composition of each document. After creating a document and any relevant inserts, the business owner then sends fully composed files, such as PDFs, to a print-to-mail provider, who will then print and mail the documents for the business owner. In some instances, the print-to-mail provider also provides custom print drivers that streamline and automate the delivery aspects of the process.
Though they sound extremely familiar and are often used interchangeably, Print-and-Mail and Print-to-Mail services are indeed different. Print-and-Mail can be thought of as an umbrella term that encompasses all services, composition, print, fold, and/or mail, which includes Print-to-Mail services. Services that market as Print-to-Mail will do the printing, folding, and mailing for you, but leave the composition of the document to you, giving you greater control over the document.
Online Print-to-Mail offers traditional print and mail services via the internet, allowing small- and medium-sized businesses to control the mailing process from their desk while maintaining the same (or higher) output quality. Depending on how much mail you prepare on a regular basis, it could take a considerable amount of manual labor and could require you to pull people from their regular duties, forcing you to lose production overall. Online Print-to-Mail services concatenate many steps of the mailing process for efficiency and with your mailing services being outsourced, less in-house work is necessary to keep up with mailing demands. This provides economy of scale, allowing your employees to focus on doing other important work and leaving the tedious job of mailing to automation. Comparing base pricing for online print-to-mail services (even without volume discounts) would reveal that outsourced mail preparation is a great deal cheaper than in-house processes, especially considering you won’t need to purchase mailing supplies anymore. And because Print-to-Mail services live on the internet, you can complete a mailing job anywhere in the world with a few clicks of a mouse, eliminating the headaches of having to manage the process.
Going online and/or outsourcing with your print and mail needs can make your business more efficient, enabling you to focus on your core competencies without having to make sacrifices for everyday business upkeep. Even minor tradeoffs in using print-and-mail services can be circumvented using other types of outsourcing that give you the control you need over your business-critical documents. Businesses of any size and with any use case can make use of outsourcing their print-and-mail needs; you just need to find the best fit for your particular situation.
Jordan Kauffman, Freelance Writer for MailXStream
MailXStream is an online print-to-mail service that allows you to control the important parts of the print-and-mail process–your document content and format–with the rest of the nuance and tedium left to MailXStream. For more information, check out mailxstream.com or reach out to us.