Imagine driving down the freeway and seeing a pile of boxes sitting on the shoulder. You pull off and discover the boxes are filled with your mailing…when you thought it had gone to the post office weeks before.

Or how about finding out that only half of your 500,000 piece mailing actually mailed and that your lettershop had simply pocketed the postage money for the rest?

Now stop imagining. These things really happen.

More than 20 years ago, I decided to make it a priority to protect my clients from being ripped off by lettershops and postal employees. So I developed a 10-point system that has proven to be very successful.

Delivery Secret #1: Always write your postage check directly to the postmaster.

There is no reason to ever write a check for postage that is not made out directly to the post office. It doesn’t matter that your printer or lettershop, or even a printing broker, is acting as your go-between.

Fill in the “Pay to the order of” line with asterisks as follows: “***** U.S. Postmaster********************.” This ensures that the only one cashing your postage checks is the post office.

Don’t leave any room for the lettershop or print broker to write their own name next to “postmaster.”

Delivery Secret #2: Always open your own mailing permit account.

Many lettershops will allow you to use their mailing permits. It can be a nice convenience. But it opens up accountability issues.

Once you have your own permit, you are able to accurately track, on the back end, how your postage money has been spent.

Many of our clients use our permit to watch and track what is happening.

Delivery Secret #3: Use professional management.

Use professional management to make sure that your campaign runs smoothly and successfully.

At CDMG, we’ve mailed out over one billion pieces, relying on our print buyers, account executives and senior staff to ensure the success of our clients. We always have a representative onsite to ensure on-time, quality-controlled, accurate printing, addressing and mailing.

Delivery Secret #4: Always send a representative to keep an eye on your mailing.

Always send someone to the printer and lettershop to oversee the production of your job. If you don’t, you are opening yourself up to a lot of problems.

If are using an agency to produce your work, they will often include press checks and onsite oversight as part of the service they provide.

As a service to my clients, I appoint a specialized staff member to represent them. In fact, members of my staff often go to lettershops across the county overseeing jobs, which often means working around the clock. But having them there has prevented numerous disasters over the years and saved my clients from having to worry.

Delivery Secret #5: Quality control: coordinate all parts of your mailing campaign together.

When you coordinate all parts of your mailing campaign – creative, printing, lists and addressing – together, you help ensure quality control.

My creative agency, CDMG, can handle all aspects of your campaign from start to finish so that you get a greater degree of quality control.

Delivery Secret #6: Always do your own counts of what is to be mailed.

No matter what the paperwork says, or what they think they’ve seen, have your person do their own count of the mailing.

No, I don’t mean count every individual piece. But they should know roughly how many pieces are going into a mailbag, or onto a pallet and that there are enough bags or pallets to reasonably match your mailing numbers.

In addition, make sure that your mailing is kept separate from other jobs going through the lettershop.  Don’t be persuaded to mix your mail with mail from other jobs, even if there is a small savings.  The overall safety of your mailing is more important.

Delivery Secret #7: Always watch your job being loaded onto the truck or delivered to the postal rep.

One of my clients told me a story of a job she had handled on her own…

Several weeks after a mailing had gone out she was taking a tour of the lettershop facilities. And there still sitting on pallets was part of her job. And she wondered why her response wasn’t very good. We not only watch this for the client, but even take pictures for our clients and email the photos to them.

And yes, this is important because you can’t just trust a written form…

Delivery Secret #8: Always make sure you see your 3602 forms and verify that the counts are correct.

A 3602 Form is the document that the post office uses to verify that they received your mail and that it was processed. They are time and date stamped.

Although 3602s are a pretty good way to verify that the mail actually went out, they are also susceptible to fraud.

I have heard stories of 3602 Forms that had had their dates and quantities altered literally in front of the person they were being created for.

So always verify that the information is correct.

Delivery Secret #9: Always seed your mailing lists.

If you are not familiar with this term, “seeding” a list means that you add dummy names and addresses to your lists that forward back to you at different locations. You should be able to track across ZIP codes that reflect the actual coverage of the mailing.

Although you can use employees’ names and addresses, I always recommend that you use a national (or even international) mail-monitoring service. This service will provide you with a seed list matched closely to your mailing, then collect the pieces received and even return them to you as part of the service.

Finally, for internal tracking, use a rotating set of names that include a special code run (e.g., an identifier in the address such as “Dept. 99” or a middle initial) for each list use. This should be a different set of names than your standard seeds and the code used should identify the names with the job.

One more thing about seeding: Make sure your list is seeded before it arrives at the letter shop and is not done by their internal list people. It is not unheard of for a lettershop that knows who is on the seed list to make certain that those names are mailed to first and on time, while the bulk of your mailing sits in a warehouse or never gets mailed at all.

Delivery Secret #10: Mail on-time!

Mailing on time may be difficult than you think when you’re dealing with a printer who is faced with multiple jobs and clients.

When you work with CDMG, you also get the assurance of working with a printer with whom we have a longstanding relationship and generate significant revenue…and who will most likely prioritize our clients. That way, you get the security of knowing your mail goes out on time.

Here’s a checklist that you can print out to make sure you follow all the steps – and ensure your mailing is safe and successful.

If you need help making sure your next mailing makes it to the post office, call me today at (310) 212-5727 or email Caleb at We can give you great prices (because of our volume buying), expert supervision and the peace of mind of knowing your mail is being delivered.


Here are the rest of this week’s articles: