Yesterday we focused on the ways new technologies are transforming mailing services and making mailing operations more efficient. Today we will share some new products and promotions that you will want to be aware of.
New Products and Promotions
The USPS marketing team told NPF attendees that their goal is to publish a 2013 calendar of anticipated promotions and incentives by October. This should give mailers more time to plan and participate in the promotions. We applaud the Postal Service for listening and responding to industry concerns that many of its recent promotions did not offer enough lead time to accommodate the usual direct mail planning and production timeline.
The Postal Service has submitted a request to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to introduce a new product that will increase branding opportunities for direct mail. It’s called “Picture Permit,” and it allows mailers to add logos, trademarks, or other images to the permit imprint indicia on the mailpiece. If you’re interested in this new option, be aware there is a testing process to ensure the image doesn’t interfere with any postal scanning. This testing may take up to four to six weeks, so planning will be required to use this product. Picture permits will be allowed on First-Class and Standard Mail letters and cards, with use on other shapes of mail expected to rollout later. The Postal Service expects PRC approval for this product and its introduction to the marketplace by the end of June.
However, the mailing industry expressed strong disappointment that the Postal Service proposal calls for a charge for adding this graphic element to a mailpiece. The proposed charge is 1¢ per piece for First-Class Mail and 2¢ per piece for Standard Mail. Our concern is that the increased cost may discourage mailers from using a product that could make mail more interesting and relevant.
There was also a great deal of discussion regarding the upcoming mobile barcode promotion. Mailers were pleased that the Postal Service is continuing to offer incentives designed to highlight innovative ways to use mail and link it to mobile commerce. One concern expressed by large financial and insurance mailers was the requirement for a mobile barcode to lead to a site that would allow the recipient to complete a financial transaction and how it wouldn’t work for their complex transactions, which often require a multi-step sales process. There is a second way to qualify for this promotion – using the mobile barcode to drive to a personalized site – but this option may not work for all of these mailers.
While we totally support the Postal Service’s desire to have mailers make smarter use of mobile barcodes – linking to mobile enabled sites that are relevant to the mailpiece – we are concerned that the current rules are too strict to allow many mailers to participate.
Overall, this was an upbeat NPF that was focused on the future of mail. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe summarized the mood in his keynote address, “[The Postal Service has] left nothing off of the table in terms of rethinking how we perform our core function of delivering. The best way forward is to embrace the potential of change. As an industry, and as individual businesses, we need to think about the rewards of a more dynamic future.”
Marketing Services Manager