This holiday season we want to wish you lots of love, time with family, hot chocolate, and of course… all your mail delivered on time. We are thankful for your support in 2014, and we look forward to serving you well in the coming year as well.
Please note that according to the USPS, most post offices will be closing at 12:00 noon on Christmas Eve (Wed. Dec. 24th) and New Year’s Eve (Wed. Dec. 31st). Be sure to drop mail in blue collection boxes by noon on those days as well, as the USPS will be picking up mail early.
See LetterStream’s holiday hours below, and click here for a link to the 2015 USPS holiday calendar.
Getting an address list out of your software for the purpose of sending a mailing can be a confusing task at times, but we will attempt to decode things just a bit.
You have probably been entering your customer names and addresses into your accounting software or management software. You might even have names in a CRM (customer relationship management) package like Act! or an email program like Outlook. Wherever you enter names and addresses, there is generally a way to get them back out in order to send a mailing.
The process of getting your mailing list out of your software is called “exporting” or an “export“. If you know this simple term you can search the Internet or your software help files for more clues on the subject. Most software packages that allow you to enter names and addresses generally have an export function of some kind.
As it relates to software (not a website or web service), the process is usually as easy as clicking on the “File” menu on the upper left of the menu bar, then choosing “Export“. (The reason we excluded websites and web services is because the standard “File” menu doesn’t exist with websites, and most websites have their own unique way to export data.)
When exporting your data, there are sometimes a wide variety of file formats that you can save your file to. We recommend exporting your data to a .csv file, otherwise known as a “comma separated values” file. The nice thing about a csv file is that it can easily be opened by Excel or other spreadsheet programs, and it can be loaded into other applications as well.
Paper… it’s a powerful thing. Almost every important document ever composed was written on paper. Great empires were built on principles written on paper; music, plays, poetry, laws, business agreements, commerce, novels, treaties, blueprints, the list goes on and on.
A good book on the subject is “On Paper” by Nicholas A. Basbanes published by Random House. Basbanes details the 2,000-year history of paper, including how it is made and how it is used. His book has a rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon.com and promises to be a good read.
We caught an entertaining interview with Basbanes on the Diane Rehm Show the other day which launched us into our search for his book. It would be nice and appropriate to say we bought the paperback, but there are other ways to read a good book these days. 😉
Unlike so many other landmark breakthroughs … we know today with some degree of certainty when paper was first made and where it emerged.
So there you go. You were wondering what you were going to do with all that time that LetterStream saves you…
And now you can get your paper fix without licking all those envelopes.
While most of our customers choose to outsource their entire outbound mail operations to LetterStream, there are some that are unable to reassign staff or who are hesitant to return leased equipment due to financial burdens that might be incurred.
Whatever the reason not to outsource completely, we have a solution in keeping with our mission of being the best mail solutions partner. We have created a hot backup mailing facility program to allow businesses to keep their own mailing operations up and running, and increase their speed and reliability by using LetterStream when more mailing power is needed.
The program is simple to implement and is fairly inexpensive considering you have all the power of LetterStream print and mail operations at your finger tips. This includes a fleet of high speed printers, a mail preparation and inserting department, and barcode tracking of every mailing project. LetterStream is fast and accurate, and our prime location in Scottsdale, AZ protects us from most of the world’s natural disasters and extreme weather. So if your operations are down because of snow or ice or flood or earthquake… chances are we are still fully staffed and fully operational, and can get your mail out the door and on its way.
For our east coast friends, LetterStream being in the MSTtime zone results in a few extra hours each day to get your critical mail jobs out the door. We can handle a wide variety of business and transactional mail including letters and flats, checks and invoices, and certified and registered mail.
Contact us to learn more about how LetterStream can keep your mailing operations up-and-running, in any situation.
I was shocked to discover that my business closed the other day. For some reason I had assumed I wouldn’t be the last to know.
Well, that’s not exactly how it turned out, but it sure threw me. I was tracking a test piece of USPS Certified Mail that I sent to my office. And right there in the USPS tracking history were the words “Business Closed“. Wow, what a bummer.
When I see the words “Business Closed” on a piece of mail it reminds me of “Moved – Left no forwarding”, or “No longer at this address” or “No receptacle”. Those words conjure up “Out of Business” and, well, “Business Closed“. After all, the screenshot above is what Google found when I did an image search for “Business Closed”. Looks like they came to the same conclusion.
Seeing those words on a piece of mail to my own office caused me to wonder what sort of financial position we must have been in to just up and close our doors in the middle of the night.
Turns out all is fine (except for maybe the choice of words the Postal Service uses when tracking Certified Mail). Here is the explanation for this new tracking status: “Business Closed” simply means that the mail carrier arrived outside of the normal business hours. In our case, the mail carrier attempted to deliver a certified letter on a Saturday when we were closed for the day (key word, ‘day‘).
So when you see the words “Business Closed” in your tracking history, simply translate it to “No one at the office today, will try tomorrow“. Personally, I was happy to know that I can continue showing up and writing little tidbits about First-Class and Certified Mail on this blog.
*To track a certified letter, go to www.LetterStream.com and find the “Certified Mail Tracking” section on the lower right side of the page.
David Patterson, founder and president of LetterStream, will be interviewed on the radio on Thurs., May 1, 2014. He will be heard for a 5-minute segment of the “Business for Breakfast” program on Money Radio.
“Business for Breakfast“, hosted by Ken Morgan & Julie Dougherty-CFP, airs weekday mornings from 6-8 am on Money Radio 1510 AM,and is also heard on 99.3 FM.
David will be talking about how easy it is to get USPS First-Class and Certified Mail out the door on the LetterStream website.
This question is similar to ones that we’ve answered in our blog posts over the years, but with a slight twist. Sometimes a perfectly addressed letter gets returned to us without a yellow sticker, without handwriting on the outside saying something like “no longer at this address“, and seemingly without any clue as to why the mail piece came back.
Well, there are always clues. For starters, re-read the recipient’s address, one line at a time. Is the address really accurate as written on the envelope?
If every indication is that the information is correct, simply ask the USPS mail carrier for some insight as to why the piece was delivered to you instead of the person it was addressed to. Chances are they can tell you; but if not, simply hand the letter to them and ask if they could re-mail the piece for you. Quite often they will politely take the letter and get it back into the mail stream for you.
There are times when the USPS barcode (printed on the lower portion of the face of your envelope) is incorrectly coded to send the letter to your own address. If there is a barcode at the bottom, see if there is a zip code spelled out beside the barcode. If the zip code printed there is your own zip code, the mail piece may get rerouted to your own address again due to the automated equipment the Postal Service uses to sort mail. In this case, use a sharpie or black pen or marker to block out the barcode on the bottom. This will force the postal sorting machines to look at the destination address one more time to figure out where the piece is going. Chances are, this will allow the piece to arrive at the right destination, assuming your address is valid (click here to read about address correction).
Still not sure what is happening to your mail piece? Take a picture of the envelope and email it to us. Make sure you capture the entire face (front side) of the envelope. We will be checking the ‘to’ and ‘from’ addresses, postal barcode, permit/postage area, and anything else on the face of the envelope that can give us clues. Please make sure your image is in focus. It can be rather difficult searching for clues in an out-of-focus image.
We will do our best to unravel the returned mail mystery and let you know what we find.