We have established that with Full Service IMb certification your business will reap the greatest postal discounts available, as well as achieve enhanced accuracy, control and visibility of your mailings. However, if you have yet to get on board with IMb, there are still many ways to ensure you are saving as much as possible on postage. For those businesses that send out high volumes of business mail, the financial impact of postage can be significant, making it critical to explore and use every avenue possible to offset these costs.

Here are some immediate actions every business can take while working toward Full Service IMb certification:

· Follow USPS pre-sort rules: Properly preparing and pre-sorting mail will earn significant USPS discounts. Leverage these discounts aggressively by making sure mail is segmented to reach the critical volumes per ZIP Code needed to qualify for the highest discount rates. To qualify for these rates you must print a delivery point barcode on each mailpiece and commingle the mail for concentrated volume to geographical areas. · Verify addresses: Nearly one-fourth of all mail that goes through the USPS contains some simple error such as misspelled street names and improper abbreviations, which can result in significant postage cost increases. If a mailpiece cannot be delivered (e.g., "undeliverable-as-addressed" or UAA), the cost to correct the piece is expensive. There are a number of tools offered by the USPS to help identify undeliverable addresses and link old addresses to new move addresses. Check them out at www.usps.com
Then double-check those addresses: According to the USPS, there are 145 million confirmed mail delivery points in the United States today. "Cycle L" requires mailing lists to be run through DPV (Delivery Point Verification) processing. DPV compares your mailing list to the USPS's own list of known addresses and verifying whether or not a CASS-certified Zip+4 address is one of these confirmed delivery points. For example, a Zip+4 Code might cover an area with addresses from 100 Main Street to 300 Main Street. Typically, addresses would run 100 Main Street, 102 Main Street, 104 Main Street, and so on. However, if 104 Main Street is an empty lot, this is not a valid delivery point and DPV would mark it "N" for "invalid" - and a First-Class rate applies. While DPV can't correct an invalid address, having a process in place to identify and eliminate them will save.

· Take advantage of "2-4-1": As of January 22, 2012, the USPS ruled that when business mailers mail Presorted First-Class Mail pieces weighing between one and two ounces, the second ounce is free ("2-4-1"). This ruling gives companies the ability to fill their mailings with additional promotional messaging and other information relevant to the recipient.

· Continue to explore electronic options: Electronic bill presentment is another way to sidestep the postal costs. Though reports by the USPS show that more than 70 percent of people still prefer to receive their statements through the mail, converting just 10 to 20 percent of existing customers to electronic bill receipt corresponds to a significant cost savings and is worth the effort.

As we prepare for IMb
Over the last few years, the cost of postage has been rising gradually and this trend shows no sign of slowing. While you prepare for the inevitable mandate for Full Service IMb, keeping current with changing regulations and available technology will ensure you are taking advantage of savings that can go straight to the bottom line.# # #

Harry Stephens is President/CEO and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation's largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations. He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Atlanta Postal Customer Council, Major Mailers Association (MMA), PCC Advisory Committee (PCCAC), and the Board of the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC). He is a board member of The Imaging Network Group (INg), an association for Transactional and Direct Mail Marketing service bureaus. As an expert on high-volume print and mail, he has frequently been asked to speak to various USPS groups. You can contact Harry Stephens at hstephens@datamatx.com