Mailers and printers run direct mail lists through NCOA, the Post Office’s National Change of Address system. NCOA is a massive database that catches all kinds of errors, including incomplete zip codes, misspellings, expired forwards and carrier routes. (And your printer should provide you with the NCOA updates.)
Once this NCOA processing is finished, your addresses are printed onto the mailing piece in the color (okay, I suggest black) and typestyles you’ve chosen. For many projects, the addresses may be printed as part of the all-over printing.
Depending on the size of the mailing list, you may save enough in postage to cover the cost of using a printer/mailer, versus printing and applying labels in-house. The NCOA website has some case studies of possible savings.
Having a great printer/mailer on your team who knows mailing can make a huge difference – but remember that you can pick and choose services. For instance, for my holiday cards a couple years ago, I gave my list to North Shore Printers so that they could run it through NCOA and imprint the envelopes. Then they brought the printed cards and addressed envelopes back to me so that I could sign, stuff, seal and stamp them. That saved me so much time addressing and ensured my addresses were correct. And of course the envelopes looked so much better than they would have with labels.
I’m always happy to help you through the process and get you answers to your mailing questions – just shoot me an email or call me at 847-223-1825.