PostalShout: Email your snail mail
I did something today that I haven’t done in quite a while. I walked outside the house, wandered around a little bit, and then placed a letter in one of those blue mail boxes you’ll find on the street. For those who don’t remember what I’m talking about, they look like this. As you’ll note in the article, these collection boxes for our postal mail are fading into the past. One day we’ll only find them in historic museums and Hollywood movie sets.
Most of us have come to appreciate the convenience of communicating online. Be it emails or paying bills, we don’t often need to go through the arduous process of sending letters in the mail. This involves typing up a document, printing it out, folding it and stuffing it in an envelope, placing a stamp on it, and then ensuring it finds its way to the outgoing mail. There are many steps of this process that can go wrong, not to mention it’s tedious and decidedly slow in comparison to the technological alternatives.
The situation still arises, as did for me today, where you need to put a letter in the mail. After rummaging through your desk to locate an envelope, and then find a stamp that has the required postage, you might just be able to send it. Let’s face it- there’s got to be an easier way. And there is. It’s called PostalShout. PostalShout is a new service that streamlines the snail mail process. You can use their system to send letters online by simply sending an email.
The way it works is pretty intuitive. Really, the internet should have thought of this a long time ago. You type up your letter in your favorite word processor- say MS Word or Open Office. Then you send it as an attachment to a specific email address at PostalShout. From there they will print and send your letter.
Now some people may be wondering how PostalShout knows where to address the letter to, and what to set as the return address. This is handled by utilizing the templates on PostalShout’s website. They provide ready to use snail mail templates for Word 2003, 2007, and Open Office. These have sections clearly designated for all the aforementioned categories. Once you fill it out, just send it off and you’re done. You can also send them via their online interface as well. The letters go out each day around 11AM EST. So let’s imagine you have a particularly lazy secretary who doesn’t send the mail out until later in the week since she’s talking to her boyfriend all day and playing solitaire. PostalShout will bypass her completely and get the letter on its way with minimal effort.
There are a few helpful features to ensure everything lines up with the sending of the letter. The first is they check all addresses if sent within the US. If there’s an issue they won’t send it and contact you instead to provide a valid address. Next is that they notify you as soon as the letter is sent. If you’re anything like me you don’t feel like your letter is safe until it’s in the blue postal box or in the hands of a mail carrier. PostalShout knows the minor amount of anxiety we all experience with letter sending, and lets us know right away when the letter is off. Since the PostalShout folks were already well on their way with a great letter mailing service, they decided to go the full distance. They built an API so developers can integrate it with their own programs.
The service is pay as you go, with single page letters costing from 81 to 101 cents. (Some suggest that the penny will also go the way of postal mail. We include the reference here for historical purposes.) The time it costs people to handle letters internally could much better be spent on other things. Currently they’re offering a free trial, for people to test the system and send some free letters!
Sending letters by mail may never completely go away. There will always be occasions where we need to put a physical piece of paper into someone’s hand. PostalShout makes it as easy as sending an email. The solution can be used by individuals or businesses of any size. With their service just about anyone can send letters online.
PostalShout went from B to C, to B to B. That is, it’s not a service that your everyday Jane would use anymore. Their new service is called PostalMethods, which is just about the least sexy site name one could think of. (Unless they’re talking about the antics of crazy people.) In any case, congrats on making the transition to a more successful business model.