The mailing industry isn’t going anywhere any time soon and neither is print. Over time will there be less mail and less paper? Absolutely. Over the last decade, there has been a slow and steady decline, but there were 128.9 billion pieces mailed in 2021, which is still a large volume of mail. Even after print volumes took an enormous nosedive after COVID-19, businesses are still printing billions and billions of documents every year and the market is more stabilized than 2020.
The issue isn’t that mail or print is irrelevant and that it’s impossible to make money selling it. It’s that usage is down, so if you sell print, then you’re going to need to find a way to supplement the lost revenues associated with the slow decline in print volumes.
If you sell print, you already own most of the mailing process. Whatever is getting mailed is probably getting printed on equipment and using supplies that you sell. By adding mailing solutions — like postage meters and mail management solutions — to your portfolio, you can embed yourself even further into your customer’s mailing processes. It’s both a way to expand into existing accounts and also a way to get your foot in the door in new accounts. And unlike with other alternatives to print — say managed IT or cybersecurity — adding mail to your portfolio isn’t cost-intensive or complicated, and you can start selling relatively fast.
Vertical opportunities in mailing
Marketers learned long ago that paper can be a powerful persuasion tool, and they’re not the only people who still rely on mail to communicate and convey their message. Healthcare providers, banks, insurance companies, schools and almost every government agency all rely on mail to communicate with their customers. Some verticals are inherently more reliant on mail to handle core processes than others, and the sheer volume that is processed demonstrates that not only is mailing a staple of their business process but that it will be around for some time. In addition, some verticals might have higher security risk guidelines or need a solution to help them stay compliant with laws and regulations that govern their industry.
Investing in mailing solutions to reduce their mailing costs and make sure that their mailing processes flow securely, seamlessly, and in compliance with the law is crucial. By providing them a reliable solution and building a strong customer relationship, they’ll be more receptive to future equipment, software and services that you recommend in the future.
From small practitioners to hospitals and large healthcare networks (and everything in between), the healthcare industry relies on mail to handle a bevy of communication tasks, including billing statements and notices, patient test results, appointment reminders, marketing and promotions, and announcements and policy updates. As it does with many processes in the healthcare industry, HIPAA adds complications to the simple act of sending patient information in the mail (but to be fair, these protections are needed — stealing and selling medical records is a big business).
These are vital tasks to healthcare providers. If patients don’t receive their invoices in time, then the healthcare provider doesn’t get paid. In addition, if you don’t adhere to HIPAA rules, then you can expect to pay fines, hurt your reputation, and put patients at risk of fraud.
Dealers can attract healthcare providers with hardware and software to streamline mailing processes and to ensure that mail is packaged and delivered securely. As an example, postage meters ensure that all mail is properly weighed and applies the precise postage amount to each mail piece. When paired together with other mailing solutions, such as hardware with the ability to automatically stuff envelopes (sealing envelopes from edge to edge) and address verification software, they can ensure that the correct information is mailed to the correct patient.
Accounting and finance
Whether it’s a professional services organization or an internal department within a company, the accounting/finance vertical sends a lot of mail, including tax documents, financial reports, estate planning documents, investment and retirement account packets, billing statements, and invoices. Given the volume and wide array of document and package types accounting and finance professionals deal with, they’re going to need a mailing solution that can stand up to the demand.
Volume and variety aside, mailing is an important process in the accounting and finance verticals, so speed and accuracy are key. Finance departments may be obligated to share specific reports and statements in a timely fashion, and failure to do so can result in lawsuits and fines. In addition, accounting and finance professionals need a fast and reliable mailing solution to ensure that invoices are sent out as soon as possible (which in theory, should result in being paid sooner rather than later) and that taxes/invoices are paid promptly, as well as software to keep track of it all. After all, if someone is going to recoup the cost of mailing for a business, it’s going to be the accounting and/or finance department that handles it. This information is also beneficial when it comes to audit time, as there is a clear record of all the mail that was sent.
Like most businesses, law offices send their fair share of invoices, as well as marketing, promotions, and other communications. But they also rely on mail to send contracts, court filing, case evidence packages, and confidential correspondence with their clients.
As is typical for professional services providers, lawyers have to keep track of their expenses for each account, so they can recoup those costs when they bill the customer. When you’re mailing large volumes of documents like lawyers do, those costs can add up quickly. With mail tracking software, you can help lawyers transform their mailroom from cost center to potentially a profit center.
By adding mailing software, law offices can easily keep track of every piece of mail they send — including identifying which attorney, client, and matter that mail is associated with — enabling fast and easy cost recovery. Some solutions even offer the ability to rate shop, so you can ensure that your mail piece will arrive when you need it to and at the best available price. This helps eliminate hours of processing and tracking mailing costs; you can run a report in a matter of minutes and invoice customers quickly.
Decertification and the general mailing solutions opportunity
Starting on December 31, 2024, all postage meters that are not USPS IMI-compliant will no longer be valid. Six months later in June 2025, any mail that was printed prior to the decertification will no longer be valid either. Any business that relies on postage meters must replace all older technology mailing systems (IBI) or revert to manual mailing processes. This is a tremendous opportunity for those in the office equipment space who are seeking alternative revenue streams. You already have close relationships with these customers, and you’re already part of their mailing processes because they are likely sending paper printed on your machines.
And the machines are just the first step. There are several solutions that integrate with postage meters that you can incorporate to help customers improve their mailing operations. For example, parcel shipping and workflow automation, mailing list management, and analytics software can be used to set up pickups, create personalized shipping labels, track packages, shop around for the best rates, and qualify for discounts through USPS. These solutions also provide businesses with granular insights into their mailing processes — down to the individual letter — so they can constantly monitor and improve their mailing operations.
The mailing opportunity for office equipment dealers is great, especially for dealers that specialize in the healthcare, legal, and accounting finance verticals — paper-intensive industries that have a disproportionately larger need for mailing solutions. But for any dealer, mailing solutions provide you with a foot in the door at new accounts, and a great way to burrow deeper in existing ones. Between all the businesses that rely on the mail to get the job done and the impending decertification of IBI postage meters, there has never been a better time to add mailing solutions to your portfolio. Not only is it adjacent to a need that you already fulfill, but it’s also one that you can understand and get off the ground in a flash without making a huge investment of time and money.
Michael B. Hannon
Michael B. Hannon is an executive leader with extensive experience within the mailing equipment and financial services industries. Taking on the role of managing director in early 2020, he is responsible for all aspects of FP’s North American regional operations. Having moved up through the company, beginning in sales in 2007, he has a very hands-on, customer-centric and sales-focused approach. Gaining knowledge of the industry throughout his career, he has been able to develop and implement numerous processes and programs, like FP Finance and sales process automation, that have improved both sales and operations, leading to FP’s continuous growth in the region.