Mailers love the savings they receive on innovative mail pieces through the Postal Service’s yearly schedule of promotions, but they’ve long had two gripes about the program: Set-up costs are price prohibitive for smaller businesses, and the promos are announced too late to allow larger enterprises to ramp up for them.
In planning the 2017 promo calendar, the Postal Service responded to both complaints. It filed with the PRC for market-dominant price adjustments for next year’s promotions at its earliest juncture ever, May 16. And to make the promos more inclusive, it’s introducing a “Direct Mail Starter Promotion” for SMBs.
“It’s great to see the Postal Service file the request so early. For most companies, the budget process for the following year begins in the summer, so to have the information now is helpful,” says direct mail consultant Mark Fallon.
Qualifying for promotional rates often requires companies to set up new systems such as color printing, mobile landing pages, and multichannel integration. That takes time, and mailers regularly complain at postal forums that promotional lead times are insufficient for them to get the budget approvals they need to move forward.
Promotional requirements also demand investments that smaller players have been unwilling or unable to make. The “Starter” promo proposed for 2017—which requires a link (such as a QR code) to a mobile-optimized site—ups the ante for low-budget mailers. While the typical discount on USPS promos is 2%, this SMB-angled promo offers 5% off on a max of 10,000 pieces.
“These moves are a reflection of new leadership at the Postal Service, from [Postmaster General] Megan Brennan and [CMO] Jim Cochrane both,” Fallon says. “Megan has always been pro-customer, and since Jim’s become the permanent marketing person, they’ve gotten more responsive.”
Promos being repeated on the 2017 calendar are Emerging and Advanced Technology; Mobile Shopping; Tactile, Sensory & Interactive Engagement; Earned Value Reply Mail; and Personalized Color Transpromo.