ScanMyPhotos.com's image raised by USPS flat-rate box

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One of the goals of marketers is to take advantage of every opportunity to raise brand awareness - and this includes packaging materials.

Seeing that need, the US Postal Service has been working to raise the profile of its co-branded flat-rate box program. The program has been around for more than five years, but is just now beginning to pick up steam among many midsize e-commerce companies.

One such business is Irvine, CA,-based ScanMyPhotos.com, a service that enables consumers to have more than 1,600 personal photos spanning generations digitally preserved and ported to a single DVD data disc.

ScanMyPhotos president/CEO Mitch Goldstone credits partnership with the USPS and the use of flat-rate boxes with both the Postal Service and ScanMyPhotos brands with helping its business grow.

"It's been extraordinary - we couldn't have entered into this entirely new business without the flat-rate boxes," said Goldstone, who began his company 17 years ago as a traditional photo processing service. "Lots of times people send us orders that need to be turned around at the last minute for a birthday or anniversary. So we use USPS priority mail flat-rate boxes for all of our business."

ScanMyPhotos charges a flat $99.95 to scan as many photos as can be packed into a single flat-rate box. Built into that fee is the $8.95 USPS flat rate for priority shipping.

"We wanted to keep it really simple," Goldstone explained. "We mail them the box and they can fill it up and return it to us without paying anything. After we scanned their photos, we send back all the pictures along with the DVD data disc all for that one flat fee."

Because it primarily deals with family memories, Goldstone stressed it was important that customers were comfortable with the shipping process, adding the co-branded boxes also helped with the company's image.

"When we first started, we would put stamped labels on the boxes ourselves," he said. "I wouldn't want to call that hokey, but it wasn't as professional an image as a company that had been around for as long as we have wanted to convey. So the co-branded boxes have really added a lot of value."

USPS public relations representative Yvonne Yoerger said the co-branded flat rate boxes are emerging as a solid revenue stream for the Postal Service, adding, "The Postal Service is such a well known brand and offers the credibility and reliability of on-time delivery, so businesses are happy to have their name associated with that."

In addition to flat-rate boxes, the USPS can also offer direct marketers, who reach certain volume or revenue requirements, co-branded customized packaging.

In addition to helping a company raise its profile, the co-branded boxes also help businessse keep costs down, Yoerger notes, "Another big bonus is our packaging supplies are free to the customer."

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