Never Saying No: Compu-Mail’s Post-Composition Revolution
Businesses that can adapt to market realities are the ones that ultimately survive—and thrive. You need to keep your business goals aligned while building some flexibility into the process. You never know when you might hit a roadblock or encounter an exciting new opportunity. When you offer direct mail services like we do at Compu-Mail, the ever-changing realities of marketing mean we always need to be on the lookout for innovative approaches to new possibilities.
Compu-Mail is a direct mail marketing firm. Our team specializes in sending marketing mail directly to customers’ homes on behalf of our clients. We create and send everything from postcards to 8.5 x 11-inch letters to more complicated pieces. We also offer email and digital marketing services.
Some of our clients commission Compu-Mail to produce big mailings once a month. Each round takes up to two weeks to produce, from start to finish. It is a labor-intensive process. Once we wrap up these big mailings for the month, there is often extra capacity to fill with new opportunities in between those designated project times. We could see this as either an obstacle or an opportunity. We chose the latter.
The logical solution was to bring in smaller jobs during those opportunities that we could complete quickly—without taking up our whole production facility. The question became: How do we get from where we are to where we want to be?
Creating Opportunities from Within
I started my career in our imaging department. At the time, I was a recent college graduate just looking for anything to get my feet wet. After I got a strong understanding of our physical products and processes, I was ready to take on something more, so I moved into our technical services department. The technical services team offered the freedom and creativity to explore different tools to bring in new business for the company.
As I made the departmental switch, we were already looking for solutions to help fill some of our production gaps. We decided on Quadient.
Some of our technical services staff have been with our company for a number of years and remembered using Quadient back when it was known as GMC PrintNet. But the product has evolved so much since then, we launched a weeklong basic training session. The basic training was quite robust and gave me a solid foundation which allowed me to feel confident when starting my journey into Inspire.
Embracing the Era—and Possibilities—of Post-Composition
To take on additional jobs between big projects, we needed to improve our post-composition process. That is where Quadient Inspire shined.
Our team can now manipulate any file that our clients have finalized themselves and optimize it for cost savings and delivery accuracy. The one tool we use most often within Quadient Inspire is Text-In-Rect, which allows us to draw boxes around numerous variables on PostScript, PDF, and PCL files. We can move or hide images or text, remove barcodes, and add new barcodes. This lets us extract key data, verify names, and clean up the addresses.
Inspire allows us to take the extracted information from the address block on the file and run it through some of our postal programs, which will give us the best postal shipping rates. We replace the information with a barcode that identifies the postal specs to pass along the preferred rate. We then re-apply the clean data on the files to be sent out, rearrange the orders to get them in the correct mailing order, and send the deliverables out faster than ever before.
Without this feature, there would be a lot more back-and-forth communication with the client. We would have to ask more questions and request the data in a specific format, and then they would have to send us those data points. Increased interaction with your clients is not always a bad thing, but it will undoubtedly slow down the development process. This process allows us to be more efficient and effective for our customers while providing a more flexible and accommodating experience for them.
Manipulating native files any way we want is a huge plus not only for us, but for our clients as well. We can now process these files, print, and have them on our inserters in as little as an hour. This helps our clients save tremendously in direct mailing costs and helps them avoid redirecting their own staff resources to hand-insert thousands of letters into envelopes. That is a job not many people want to do.
All of these improvements result in faster, more streamlined jobs. With this nimble approach, we are able to take on small projects in between our bigger ones—all without draining resources from our whole production facility.
From Simple Printouts to Primary Print House
The changes we have implemented—along with our own best practices—have already helped us gain some clients we otherwise would have no chance of winning over. Some of these clients help round out our production schedule, while others help us grow our roster of big customers.
For example, we currently serve a number of customers that place a premium on privacy and security. We do not allow cell phones in our building and there is limited internet access. These policies give us an extra level of security so we can do business with organizations in healthcare, banking, and insurance.
This allows us to take on projects for companies that must be HIPAA-compliant, for example. We can handle sensitive documents like bank statements without clients worrying about anyone taking photos of account numbers, or other similar concerns.
By using Inspire, companies that are concerned with HIPAA regulations now feel confident that not only do they get better postage rates, but their own clients’ names are on the right letters, going to the right locations, and they will actually receive their mail. Now, we can offer these clients a more dynamic solution.
Inspire even enables us to start bringing more work in-house. One of our insurance company clients sends us files to print every night. Before we used Inspire, there were some files where we could have applied our new process to secure better postage rates and verified addresses. We initially ended up having to go a different route that was a bit costlier. Another hurdle with the job is the files we received seemed outdated. But with Inspire, it does not matter—we can handle the job. The fact that Inspire allows me to manipulate the data on such an outdated file is simply amazing.
I had used a different software a little bit when I worked in the imaging department. It was also pretty intuitive, but it does not have the post-composition abilities that Inspire offers. Our newfound opportunity to offer different services to our clients makes it clear that Inspire can help us add greater value to our clients. That is where Inspire really helps us shine. We now provide so many benefits to our clients that many have essentially made us their primary print house.
Learning Through Connections
As with all new solutions and tools, it is important to invest the time to learn and master new skills. I started with Quadient University, Quadient’s online community forum where customers can access training and share best practices. Early on, whenever I had a question, I would start by digging into the product manual, where I could find answers to most of my problems.
But sometimes I would need a very specific answer to a unique question, and the manual just would not have the answer. Luckily, Quadient University has an active discussion board where you can post your questions to the Quadient community-at-large.
From day one, I have posted several questions and would often get answers almost immediately. Quadient community members have always been incredibly helpful and can give you a starting point, if not the exact solution. I was recently invited to Quadient's The Quad, a networking site that allows you to connect with other Quadient users who are often working on similar projects to you. Even if you have a basic question, you can shoot it out there and someone will give you a quick response. In the early days, I was the only person using Quadient in my company, so these two resources felt like having another coworker.
Today, Compu-Mail is changing focus. We are looking at how we can bring in people who can work through these programs and run a campaign from start to finish—in the door and out to print—without necessarily hiring someone who has a traditional programming background. We do not need someone to sit here and write SQL code all day. That is where Inspire has been a game-changer for us.
My background is in criminology and philosophy, and I started in Compu-Mail’s imaging department. Within two months of having moved to our technical services team, I leveraged Quadient’s resources and tools to create an entire workflow that not only solved our problem but created an opportunity to seek out new business. And we are still just getting started.
Regardless of background, anyone with a beginner’s skillset can take the Quadient University modules, get a general idea of what to do with the program, and begin doing impactful work. This is incredibly useful for people who do not have a programming background or for organizations that do not want to make a $50,000 investment in a new hire who knows how to code. It just is not necessary if you have the right tools.
Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Quadient Inspire allows us to capitalize on our opportunities with new projects while opening a whole new realm of possibilities. It has enabled us to capitalize on our existing strengths and expand our business’ reach. We are not only creating opportunities for Compu-Mail, but also helping our existing clients to comfortably shift from doing their print work on a clunky legacy system to our more cost-effective, expedited process.
Quadient’s Inspire software as well as Quadient’s Satori Ignite are powerful, modern tools that are driving our innovation and growth. Quadient gives us the opportunity to grow at a faster, more exciting pace. With Inspire, we are on the path to growth without turning down certain jobs that were once beyond our scope. But this is not just about us. Now, we are able to help our own clients get from where they are to where they want to be.