Monday, July 22, 2024
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The Office Mail Hat-Trick

 Part of our small business focus

 If you’re like most small businesses (and most people for that matter), a lot of your correspondence has shifted from the venerable Postal system to email and various other forms of electronic communication. You may even have started to mail your invoices electronically through Quickbooks, but there are still those pieces of correspondence, the official forms, the personal letter, that still need to be placed in an envelope and mailed. If you’re in sales, marketing or public relations, you are often collecting or trading business cards either with prospective clients or at trade shows. There’s a good chance you will want to mail that new contact a brochure or promotional piece of literature. In any of these cases the procedure ends up being the same. Get the information into (and out of) the computer, print the label for the envelope, figure out the correct postage (including the newest increases) so that the correspondence can be mailed. That little process, familiar to all of us, is often the cause of great consternation and lost time. But now there’s a better way.

The One-Two punch from Dymo

Dymo , the label people, have introduced the Desktop Mailing Solution. It’s a simple ‘right out of the box’ answer to the ‘How much postage?” question. It incorporates a lightweight, very precise postage scale that connects via USB port with your PC.  The included software not only reads the weight but calculates the correct postage.  But, as dymopostal.jpgwe all know, that’s only half the battle. Normally at this point we would start rummaging through various desk drawers to find the right combination of stamps. Not anymore. The second half of the Dymo solution is a twin turbo label printer. Twin, you say? One printer automatically prints out the exact postage on a special stamp label using a paid account with their postage partner, Endicia. By the way, there are no annoying monthly fees. The second label printer is used to conveniently print out the mailing label to that new prospect who gave you his business card at lunch. But “Hold on” you say. How does it know what information to print?*  

CardScan -  The Icing on the cake  

As we mentioned at the top of the article, business cards are still the reality when it comes to business networking. I’m not aware of any studies, but I’d say it’s a safe bet that millions of them are exchanged every day worldwide.  CardScan.JPGI’d also be willing to bet that a good percentage of them get lost or laundered.  We have been testing, and enjoying the CardScan Executive business card scanner. This elegant, compact scanner (6.5” x 1.75” x 3.6”) in conjunction with its supplied software package, does a superb job of scanning and organizing all of your business cards and related information. Scanning is a quick 3 seconds and can be activated either through the software or simply by feeding the card into the scanner. This automatically activates the scanners software application and brings up the cards image. The software also has a convenient icon to quickly print the appropriate information on a label in the second printer in the Twin Turbo labeler*.

*that’s how.. 

The OOBE (Out Of Box Experience) 

 DYMO Desktop Mailing Solution

The Dymo labeler and postage scale come nicely packaged with simple but complete instructions. Software is installed first and then the two devices simply plug into available USB ports. The postage scale is powered over the USB interface and the printer, as would be expected, requires separate A/C. Everything was immediately recognized by the system and test labels printed without problem. Setting up the postage account was a simple process on-line.  Dymo provides a convenient link during registration which quickly takes you to the Endicia site to enter the necessary information.  With the account set up all that is necessary is to tell the software which of the twin labelers to use for postage, right or left, and the rest is automatic. One of the nicest things about this process, besides its complete simplicity, is that you always have the current postage. No more running to the Post Office for 2 cents worth of postage. When rates change, the software changes the rate. Since you only print out what you need at the time, you never have leftover stamps with the out of date postage amount. Both printers in the Twin Turbo are fully functional and you can print every kind of label from address to shipping to CD or DVD labels on either one. The supplied software includes a label designer, address book, and interfaces with software such as Microsoft® Word, Outlook®, Excel®, QuickBooks®, WordPerfect®, Goldmine®, ACT!®  and of course CardScan®.  We leave the right side printer dedicated to postage and swap out label rolls for specific purposes on the left. I mention this because the only downside we found was when we accidentally printed postage on the wrong label stock. The money is deducted from the on-line account, but the labels are not valid for postage. This is probably a mistake you’ll only make once. The postage labels have particular markings on them for scanning by postal machines. Beyond that, the convenience, accuracy and time saved with unnecessary trips to the Post Office make it well worth the $239 (msrp). And, as I mentioned before, there are no monthly fees unlike some of Dymo’s postage competitors.

 If you are a business that doesn’t put out a huge volume of mail, Dymo’s Desktop Mailing Solution is well worth looking into.

 CardScan Executive

The CardScan Executive offers a comparably easy setup. Simply install the software, attach the scanner and you’re ready to go. The key to the consistency and ease of use of the product is a combination of a quick, quality, compact scanner, backed up by a powerful, accurate OCR/database application. The CardScan people have thought this one through very well. OCR is surprisingly accurate even with business cards that are heavy on the graphics and logotype. At 3 seconds per card you can scan an entire trade show’s worth of cards in only a few minutes. The software will sync with all of the popular software, such as Outlook, Act!, Lotus Notes and Goldmine flawlessly. It also plays well with others. You can sync it to numerous handheld devices such as Palm, Windows Mobile devices, iPods and smart phones. We had no trouble setting up various contact databases and synchronizing them with Outlook and our Palm Treo.

Finally, the scanner gets its power through the USB port. This means that both road warriors and desk jockeys can put this powerful tool into their carry-on or onto their desktop with great results. Combine it with the Desktop Mailing Solution and you’re a one person marketing department. The CardScan Executive retails for $259.99.

Now why, you might ask, did I entitle this article the Office Mail Hat-Trick...

Newell-Rubbermaid scores

 One mark of a successful company is its ability to adapt to the marketplace. To have a vision of where they see some aspect of the future and allocate or acquire the necessary assets to achieve that vision or position themselves to flourish in that new landscape. Newell-Rubbermaid has gone way beyond those fun containers and storage bins that we all know and love and taken some major steps in bolstering and expanding its office products division. The 3 products you read about above belong to companies that were acquired by Newell-Rubbermaid in the last 2 years. Both CardScan and Dymo are part of a rich and expanding office products group in the Newell-Rubbermaid brands family. Other names you may be familiar with are Sharpie, Rolodex, Parker, PaperMate and Waterman. With these three new products, packaged together, Newell-Rubbermaid has truly scored an office tools hat trick.