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Meet the Mailers: Understanding the Campaign Supply Chain

In this episode, I talked with PCI about direct mail best practices and how USPS promotions help with postage saving.

In this episode, I talked with Nelson Penalver, Executive Director Sales for Postal Center International (PCI). PCI is a fast-growing South Florida-based direct print, mail and marketing solutions partner.

Our conversation covered a wide range of topics, from his background in the industry to how the company helps clients find the right solutions for their needs.

Nelson emphasized how his company reviews the entire mailing production process to help customers save money and get their campaigns in the mail:

We get involved in everything, in order for us to give advice to the client, in order for them to save money at the end of the day with that piece.

Nelson Penalver VP Of Business Development
Postal Center International (PCI)

Among the topics we covered:

  • Direct mail best practices
  • Saving postage money with USPS promotions
  • How to keep your clients’ data and mail secure during a crisis (are you prepared?)
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Why direct mail works today

Here are some questions and answers (edited for clarity and space):

  • In the last year, the company has expanded your services and branded as The Powerhouse. How does it set your company apart, as well as helping your clients save money on postage with all the things you do?

You know, when you talk to clients and you know a lot of our competitors present this as the mailer or the printer, the promotional product guy, the signage guy, we believe that The Powerhouse has a range of services that all together provide savings to customers.

When it comes to the right mail and saving postage, we understand from the moment we get the database. First of all, a perfect example: we just talked to a client who wants to announce that they are moving one of their medical centers. So she wants to get an English-Spanish postcard. What’s the best way to do so? We understand from there, what the main goal is, what’s the best way to reach them, what’s the layout of the content of the card, the size.

And then what’s the database look like? So we understand what automation we’re going to use, how we are going to presort it, how we’re going to get it to the client, where the location is. So understand the whole business is not just you telling us that you need a postcard. We’re going to put postage on it and get it out. We really understand the entire process in order for us to bring savings on postage to the clients.

  • Your company works with healthcare and financial services companies. Are there specific best direct mail practices that work for each of them?
[W]e look at the entire supply chain. We look at the entire business of the client. We have instances where when you deal with major insurance companies, they come with the artwork ready, so there’s no designing in there. But one of the things that we’ll be able to do very quickly is to involve ourselves with the design portion from the get-go.

So what is the end goal of that insurance company or that healthcare organization or financial institution? What are the best things that you’re doing?

And sometimes it’s the paper size, envelope size, envelope colors, postcard paper. Can we do that in our inkjet digital technology? Can we automate some of those insertions when there are envelopes and different forms [and] understand the complexity of the variable data, because that’s the other component that is very important.

So we, as a company, have our own developers, we have our own IT team that understands all that. And we have our mailing department that again, we’re going from “Oh, give me your postcard” – I print it – I mail it – “Goodbye. Thank you. Pay me”. We are away from that.

We get involved in everything in order for us to give advice to the client in order for them to save money at the end of the day with that piece, because, you know, as designers, people come with different colors on PMS, and “I want to add this die cut piece” when it translates to postage savings … So we look at that and we advise clients on all that type of stuff.

  • Business today – like life – can be unpredictable. What types of things do you do to ensure that your clients’ data and mail will remain secure in the event of a crisis?
[A]ll these beautiful things that we have here couldn’t be done if we don’t have the right certifications. For us, compliance and being able to meet the demands of the market, especially in cyber security, is extremely important.

You know … HITRUST, SOC 2, we are HIPAA compliant …last year we got PCI DSS so that we can do mailings of credit cards. There is a group of major banks that put together an initiative through a company called TrueSight, which is cyber readiness. We just went through it in order for us to deal with two of those major banks and being able to have our systems in place.

So we go through audits every year, right now we’re going through audits and we take data so strictly and seriously that, you know, we have our own systems to maintain that security. And we’ve been passing with flying colors.

You know, we are, for example, we’re in the state of Florida, Hurricane Alley, [and] we have one of the best data recovery solutions and business continuity plans for our clients.

This building is a category five building. So hurricanes are protected. [W]e have a three-tier generator system that can allow us to run this place 90 days without a single drop of electricity.

Apart from that, we have a site in New Jersey that we work with as a partner that mimics exactly what we have. And now we’re bringing on board our own facility in Texas. We’re adding print and different technologies. And that will be our disaster recovery solution either way, either from Texas to here or here to Texas. So we’re building an infrastructure that will give that peace of mind to our clients.

  • How important is environmental sustainability to your company? How important is this issue to your clients in partnering with them on their direct mail?

Well, you know, one of the things, when we talked about sustainability, that’s becoming a big word nowadays that will continue to grow. We are triple certified when it comes to green initiatives in terms of printing.

The chain of custody is very important to us. And especially in this crisis of paper, we can not just buy paper anywhere. If we’re going to put those logos on, we need to make sure they’re coming from the right source. Then, everything that is a waste here, goes through recycling.

That’s something that we take very seriously. We get – to be honest with you – yes, we get rebates. We get some compensation because of the way we recycle, but nothing goes to waste here.

We want to keep the environment safe, our clients happy and be able to provide that sustainability that is required in our world to continue growing and, and being the wonderful world that we have.

  • What trends do you think will unfold in direct mail over the next year and into 2023?

Well, the fact that personalization will continue to be a big factor, I think that that plays a big role – how ready you are. I attended last year the Inkjet Summit in Texas, and one of the things that the new inject technologies allow us to do is play real big time with data and variable components.

So if the more personalization you can now do that, plus the digital component that goes behind them, the Omni-channel Platform. Those are trends that will continue to play a big role.

Some of the things that are 3D technology, information that you can put in the tactile type of ways … we’re building a postcard for a company that when you open it up, it becomes a 3D piece. So creating factors for people to have fun with it, I think that that’s a new trend that we’re going to see in 2022 plus 2023.

Here is our conversation. We’ve added timecodes for your convenience.

Thanks again, Nelson, for an interesting and informative chat! To learn more about PCI, visit pcibrands.com.

Your comments and ideas are very important to us in making your Who’s Mailing What! experience even better for you. Through these engaging and informative talks, we hope you’ll take away practical tips, insights, and stories to inspire and build your own success.

If you have any feedback — or are interested in sharing your expertise with our wide and diverse audience — please reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you!

Direct Mail Evangelist

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