Six Uses for Mail Merge

Six Uses for Mail Merge

Pretty much anyone who is more than just an occasional casual user of Microsoft Word knows at least that something called “Mail Merge” exists. For those who aren’t quite sure how it works, the feature allows you to customize form letters by inserting fields for things like the recipients address, a salutation and perhaps some piece of data unique to that person.

One example of this that I use is to send out acknowledgement letters for donations received by a client who does fund raising. Aside from the usual parts of the letter to be customized, the letter includes the amount of the gift received. It could be anything, though that you might want to insert into each person’s letter but is unique to each person. You might be sending out appointment reminders and want to include the appointment data in the reminder for each person without having to manually edit each letter.

But, there are other used for Mail Merge. Here are some I have done or at least considered:

  1. Labels for displays. For one client, I was given a spreadsheet of plants and their Latin names to be printed on 4 x 6 index cards for a garden party. This was a perfect job for a mail merge. I just had to set up the proper template in Word and insert the fields, format the text and run the merge.
  2. Name Tags for an event. Like the plant labels, name tags are easily done. If you were a member of a networking meeting or holding a big business networking event, you could add things to the name such as the business and the city the person is from. Your logo can be included, and with a little more effort, you could actually include the guest’s business logo or photo.
  3. Speaking of photos, you could also create a temporary ID card/pass for a group of people.
  4. Want to make a directory of employees for your business, members of your club etc. to hand out? Mail merge can handle this easily. There are functions built in to print multiple records on one page, and with some study and effort, you can even get it to put dividers between groups of names when the first letter of the last name changes.
  5. Of course there are mailing labels and envelopes.
  6. I used a mail merge to create a standard monthly report. As it happens the data could be exported from a database and then I could add some formulas to do the necessary analysis, call up the Word file with the standard report and run the mail merge and all the data went into place all properly formatted, calculations done and pretty much ready to go.

So, what are your mail merge ideas? I know there are lots more than I’ve come up with here. It’s one of those tools that have more uses than I can think of on the fly, but, sometimes a situation comes up where I realize that it’s a tool I could use.

Why you might not always DIY

Person under car doing oil change
Courtesy Robert Couse-Baker CC by 2.0


What do you value most in hiring outside help?

For some, the biggest value is having someone take on a part of a project that they just don’t have the skill for on their own. Adding a page to a web site would be an example.

For others, the biggest benefit might be having the task done by someone who is more skilled at it and can do it more quickly. A lot of us know how to change the oil in our car. It’s generally quite easy. But, it’s inconvenient and there are other things we’d rather be doing. So, even though it can take nearly as long to stop in and get it done, even if it’s a stop while doing other errands, it’s a lot easier just to pay them to do it as it is to do it yourself. Social media can be that way. It’s so distracting for a lot of us. Sure, it’s easy to post on our three or four main channels, but it’s hard to get in there and do that and get out and get back to other things.

How about doing the work you went into business to do? How frustrating is it to find yourself having to do a bunch of things you really didn’t sign on for? I know of one person who told me he’s no longer working for himself because he never got around to invoicing his clients. He had the potential of being a highly paid consultant. Imagine if he hired someone just to print and mail invoices!

The great thing about the freelance economy is that these problems and many others can be so easily taken care of with the appropriate person. Just think, your one person operation could have a staff photographer, an IT department and a graphic arts studio available whenever your project needed one and, here’s the kicker, at no cost to you when you don’t.

What’s on your plate, keeping you from moving forward?

Verified by MonsterInsights