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Press Release Source: U.S. Postal Service

USPS Launches Small Business Marketing Council

WASHINGTON, June 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Nine national organizations serving small business interests are among the founding members of the United States Postal Service's Small Business Marketing Council.

The council's objective is to serve and address the postal needs of the nation's 20 million small businesses and will focus on developing this vital economic sector's ability to grow and prosper through the use of mail as a business and marketing vehicle.

"The Small Business Marketing Council is an opportunity for the Postal Service to expand its outreach to the small business community," said Anita Bizzotto, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. "Not only does it give us an opportunity to make this community aware of our products and services, it provides a forum where we can build a better understanding of the needs and challenges faced by small business across the country."

Bizzotto will co-chair the council with Gene Del Polito, President, Association for Postal Commerce.

The founding members of the Small Business Marketing Council are:

* National Small Business Foundation
* Association of American Chamber of Commerce Executives
* National Black Chamber of Commerce
* The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
* The U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce
* National Association of Women Business Owners
* National Restaurant Association
* Association of Small Business Development Centers
* American Society of Association Executives

"This council brings associations serving small businesses together with the Postal Service in a formal way," said Del Polito of the Association for Postal Commerce. "It strengthens the partnership between the mailing industry, the Postal Service and its business customers, and has the potential to open exciting and new avenues for growth opportunity."

The Association for Postal Commerce and the Direct Marketing Association also have joined the council as members.

The Small Business Marketing Council will work with USPS to address and understand the domestic and international needs of small business.

Council activities may include seminars, workshops, trade show exhibits, publications and electronic media sponsored by its members. Small business market research conducted by the council also is planned.

Since 1775, the Postal Service has connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. It is an independent federal agency that visits 142 million homes and businesses every day and is the only service provider delivering to every address in the nation. The Postal Service receives no taxpayer dollars for routine operations, but derives its operating revenues solely from the sale of postage, products and services. With annual revenues of more than $69 billion, it is the world's leading provider of mailing and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world. The Postal Service delivers more than 46 percent of the world's mail volume -- some 206 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year -- and serves seven million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide.

Source: U.S. Postal Service

Using a mailing service can save businesses time, money

DEC 27, 2005 - For Madison Area Technical College, the problem was how to mail tens of thousands of alumni newsletters.

The college didn't have the space to prepare a bulk mailing, said Kathy Waters, the lead worker at MATC's mail center. And they didn't have the machinery to make the process easy, meaning they were looking at having to do the job by hand.

But there was a solution, which saved the college $5,000: Use a mailing services company, one that had the machinery and expertise to get the job done fast and efficiently.

"Mailings can be a very effective way of doing business," said Terri Bouffiou, customer relations coordinator for the Madison branches of the U.S. Postal Service. But she added, "as well as a big cost to a company."

Mailing-services companies' assistance may be more important and timely beginning next month, when postal rates rise by about 5 percent.

Everything from the color of ink to the shape of an envelope can add cost to a mailing. Mailing-services companies sort items, which saves money per piece.

The Postal Service created the mailing service industry by offering mailing discounts, said United Mailing Services district manager Mark Colb. Mailing-services companies, by sorting mail, take away much of the Postal Service's workload.

United Mailing has five branches in Wisconsin, including one in Madison, and 500 employees.

"We are the mail business, we know about the postage industry," said J&J's Bauer. When businesses use mailing services companies, "they can focus on the core business that they have."

Mailing-service companies advise clients about the best ways to get mailings noticed. They also provide automated inserting equipment and mailing lists.

"I just met with a law firm that sends mail out at full rate and also uses a carrier service," Bauer said. "I went in and educated them and I figured out I'd save them about $2,000 per year. Once their mailing equipment lease is up, I can save them another $1,200 per year."

"A lot of this is educating the customers about their options," said J&J's operations manager, Jeff Utter.

Design errors are one of the the most common mistakes people make with mailings, said Bruce Virgin, vice president and general manager of First Class Mailers on North Fair Oaks Avenue in Madison. A flower company he worked with made a $3,500 mistake when they printed a direct mail advertisement on the wrong color of paper. The paper was too dark, so the post office couldn't distinguish between the paper and the text, Virgin said.

Capital Newspapers, publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times, also provides mailing services through its Target Marketing program.

Nonprofits can also save big. Volunteers often stuff envelopes and put stamps on mass mailings, Virgin said. But these groups can save more money by bringing the job to a mailing service because as a nonprofit organization, they can receive a special bulkmail rate, bringing their cost from 18.5 cents per piece - the best price if they do the mailing on their own - to as cheap as around 9 cents per item.

Mailings also often take longer than expected, Bouffiou said. Before a mailing is sent out, it needs to be designed and printed. The company needs a mailing permit and a mailing list. Mailing-services companies, however, can provide all of that and complete most mailings in less than a week, Bouffiou said.

Capital Mailing Systems on Advance Road in Madison mostly caters to small businesses. The most common and costly mistake businesses make is formatting for bar code, said business manager Daniel Phelps. Incorrect bar codes can cost businesses an extra 5 cents per piece, which, for a large mailing can mean thousands of dollars.

"The domestic mail manual is hundreds of pages long and people in mail services are people who are experts of that book," Phelps said.

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