Porridge Papers – Paper Made By Craftsmen

This is a great video about the making of paper. Not only does it capture the art and craft of paper-making, it is a well-produced video that portrays the essence of community and determination.

The story of one man (and his family and community) determined to create great paper the old-fashioned way, from the excess paper of envelopes.

So grab a cup of coffee, find a quite place, and take in this inspiring video…

This awesome short film was curated by WindstreamWe couldn’t help but love that name. ūüėČ

It’s part of a series of videos produced for the Tumblr blog¬†Locally Crafted.¬†In addition, the film was directed by Kevin Osgood, brother-in-law to one of our very own¬†LetterStream employees.

Nicely done Kevin!

 

How To Export Mailing Addresses Out Of Your Software

Export Addresses Thought BubbleGetting 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.

But the best feature of the csv file format is that it can easily be loaded to the LetterStream website for creating a mailing.

The export process discussed here isn’t an exhaustive solution to all software packages and websites, but just know that the magic word is “export”.

If you’d like to share your specific method for getting address data out of your software, feel free to contact us¬†and let us know. We will post it in the help pages of the LetterStream website.

 

The History Of Paper

On Paper by Nicholas BasbanesPaper… 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. ūüėČ

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.

 

Do You Have A Backup Facility For Your Mailing Operations?

Critical Mail BackupWhile 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 MST time 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.

 

"Business Closed"

Business Closed Google Image Results
*Google Image Search

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.

Business Closed Certified Mail Tracking Status

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.

 

LetterStream on the Air – Money Radio Interview

Money Radio

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.

*Be sure to tune in from 7:24-7:29 am to hear how LetterStream and OnlineCertifiedMail can work for you.

 

This Letter Is Fine. Why Did It Come Back To Me?

Letter Man with Question MarkThis 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.

 

Off To The CAI Arizona Trade Show In Glendale, AZ

Central Arizona Chapter CAI - Community Association InstituteLetterStream will have a booth at the Arizona Chapter CAI (Community Association Institute) trade show again this year.

The event is this Friday, April 4th, 2014 at the Glendale Civic Center in Glendale, AZ.

This will be a great local event with:

FREE FOOD —¬†lunch provided between 12:30 – 2:30
FREE RAFFLES —¬†drop your business cards for lots of chances to win
FREE STUFF —¬†the usual; pens, sticky notes, stress balls, etc.
FREE FUN —¬†catching up with current and prospective vendors and business partners

We will be in booth H1. Interesting booth number, but we will be in the hallway by the registration table. Be sure to stop by and meet our crew and learn how LetterStream can help improve your mailing process.

This event is free to homeowners, community managers, board members, property management employees, etc. (i.e. just about everyone). Click here for registration.

The Trade Show Floor and Hallway Exhibits will be open from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm.

It’s a can’t-miss opportunity to stop by and say “Hi” to the LetterStream team.

Glendale Civic Center ~ 5750 W Glenn Drive ~ Glendale AZ 85301

 

What’s The Longest City Name In The U.S.?

Update January 2018 – T. Ross, of Michigan, informed us that there is a new longest town name in America. The official name is “Village of Grosse Pointe Shores, A Michigan City” making the name 48 characters long including spaces! We might suggest that this new super-long city name be truncated to “Grosse Pointe Shores” as both the City itself and the USPS seem to use this shorter version. Funny thing, entering the complete official name in the USPS Zip Code lookup tool causes the USPS tool to fail. ūüôā For those in a city planning capacity, we might recommend that you work to keep your new city names to less than 22 characters.

That’s an interesting question, but why should we care?

Well, you got me there; as there isn’t a big reason to care. However I discovered this information years ago, and when you’re in the mailing business it’s sometimes handy to know these little oddities.

For instance, this might come in handy if you are building a CITY field in a database, or maybe testing some new addressing software. You might also want to know this if you are using MS Word to create a mail merge onto a small postcard.

You see, if you know the longest city name in the U.S., you can put your addressing software to the test and impress your colleagues at lunch. ūüėČ

Some might say the longest U.S. city name is Truth or Consequences located in New Mexico, however, the longest, at 22 characters including spaces, is Rancho Santa Margarita, California. And with a population of around 50,000, it counts as a bona fide city.

Rancho Santa Margarita map

If you are creating your own mailings, you might want to scribble this down somewhere so you can make sure your database and mail merge programs can handle it.

On the other hand, if you use LetterStream, you can trust that we’ve already figured this one out, as well as many other peculiarities relating to mail.