Case Study – Data Marketing Network

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The evolution from being solely a direct mail house to also providing transactional print and mail services is a challenging yet logical leap.

“The market perception is that a direct mail shop doesn’t have the technology or the sophistication to offer statement and billing services,” says Jono Huddleston, President of Data Marketing Network in Nashville, Tennessee. “That perception is simply not true for a significant number of companies in the market place, such as Data Marketing Network, that specialize in segmented, highly variable and targeted marketing campaigns.”

Even though direct mail clients have the same quality requirements as statement customers, bills, statements and other high-volume first-class mail come with a host of federal and state regulations, ironclad service level agreements, stringent postal rules, tight security requirements, and a demand for unfailing high performance that lie well outside the comfort zone of most direct mail business owners.

“Transactional mail raises the bar in many ways from a regulatory point of view,” notes Huddleston. “but most of all it demands incredible efficiency and reliability. Every mailing must be 100 percent accurate and on time, every time. This means every operation in the facility has to be fine-tuned to be as efficient as possible. It is not an easy transition, but the evolution allows us to provide better service for direct mail and statement clients alike.”

A Production Bottleneck

Huddleston’s 27-year-old company has a long and successful history of creating data-driven direct mail and had eased into handling transactional mail for customers. While it possessed much of the equipment and skills required, as the statement segment of the business grew Huddleston realized he had to dramatically increase production capabilities.

“The more we learned, the more we realized we needed to process data more efficiently. This would create capacity with our existing team and position the company for further expansion into direct mail and transactional printing and presentment,” he notes.

One particular recurring job underscored the need to enhance the operation. As the size of the job grew, the time required to process it for printing expanded to 12 hours. This included householding, merging of data between multiple data files, processing the data through NCOA (National Change of Address), presorting, and validating each piece in the job.

“It was a production bottleneck that put a limit on how many other jobs could be processed reducing our production capacity. More importantly, it limited how we could grow the business,” relates Huddleston. “But it highlighted an opportunity for us to become more efficient and increase capacity.”

He turned to Uluro, a front-to-finish suite of solutions that uses OnceAmation® technology to set up an application once and deploy it repeatedly without the need for manual intervention. The solution is completely integrated into a single, fully automated document production system that lets service providers streamline and reduce the costs of complex print and mail processes.

Dramatic Time Savings

Once Uluro was installed, automating the job took about three hours to set up and test. The process that had been taking 12 hours was about to be dramatically shortened.

“It was time to see how it handled the real job,” recounts Huddleston. “We uploaded the data and it was completely processed and ready to print in about 15 minutes. All the front-end data processing, presorting, NCOA, validation, everything. The two most exciting things to me were the speed with which it could process the data and become production ready, and that a job could be automated in just three hours.”

For Data Marketing Network, Uluro provides a way to handle significantly more volume while delivering the best postage discounts for its clients. “Now as we increase volume, our data processing team has a more robust tool in Uluro to easily co-mingle multiple jobs, even when they are in different print runs. This lets us obtain production efficiencies while generating the best postage rates for our customers,” says Huddleston.

A Competitive Advantage

As direct mail has become more and more complex and targeted, Huddleston finds that direct mail clients require the same accuracy and security associated with transactional mail. Increasingly sophisticated levels of data processing, security, and production throughput are expected.

Huddleston’s investment in Uluro allows his clients to monitor their jobs through production so they can see exactly when their mailing goes out and track response more effectively. “Our goal is to constantly search for ways of improving the services we offer our clients”, says Huddleston.

“For example, on the transactional side, there is ePresentment and ePayment, which expands the company—and our clients—beyond the print and mail world,” explains Huddleston. “We have transactional clients with smaller volumes who normally wouldn’t have access to those kind of services. but with Uluro we can provide them a sophisticated level of service that sets them apart. I’m real excited about what Uluro can mean for us and our clients moving forward.”