There are a lot of folks out there right now, both USPS and Mail Service Providers, touting the benefits of Full Service Intelligent Mail. "Free" Address Correction information! "Free" Start-the-Clock information! Proceed with caution when you see the word free, as there is always some cost associated with making use of the data, and some important considerations to be made. Full Service Intelligent Mail is not the only choice, and in many cases not the right choice for a mail owner. There are benefits to using Basic Intelligent Mail.

    First and foremost, the use of the Basic Intelligent Mail barcode will enable a mailing to receive automation discounts on letter and flat-sized mail pieces, today and in May 2011 when usage of an IMb will be required. POSTNET barcodes will no longer be accepted in order to get the most desirable automation rates. Transitioning now, while you can control the processes and timelines, is the way to go.

    Using information imbedded into the Intelligent Mail barcode, even Basic Intelligent mail users can take advantage of some optional USPS Add-On services in order to extend their capabilities and benefits. Two such services are currently available: OneCode ACS, an Address Correction Service; and OneCode Confirm, the only piece tracking service available for First-Class Mail, Standard Mail and Periodicals.

    Basic Intelligent mail with OneCode ACS - OneCode ACS allows First-Class, Standard Mail or Periodicals flats or letters to receive electronic or automated address corrections. Participants are charged the automated or electronic address correction service fee for OneCode ACS fulfillment records. In addition to being very economical, OneCode ACS users can forego hard copy address corrections, thus improving time frames while decreasing costs.

    Basic Intelligent mail users (and Full Service users, for that matter!) who need visibility into the mail stream can take advantage of adding OneCode Confirm. OneCode Confirm service allows you to access mail stream visibility data for both outgoing mail and incoming reply mail pieces. It provides near real-time mail processing information about letters and flats. OneCode Confirm lets mailers know when their message will be reaching their customers. It also enables response tracking options.

    It's all about choices. The key is education and understanding of not only the rules and requirements, but also understanding of the costs and the benefits; in other words, getting a complete picture. It's truly not just about postage discounts. Get the most out of your mailing by getting all the facts, and making an educated decision as to how to proceed. The USPS has choices designed to help all kinds of mail owners, while maintaining and expanding upon more options for both now and in the future. Now that Intelligent Mail is well established, utilize the experience of mail service providers, and from other mailers, in order to help you make the right choices. Try something new!