Schimek applies his 26-plus years of mailing industry experience to provide product management and strategic direction for Quadient’s mailing business, formerly known as Satori Software. As Senior Director of Postal Affairs for Quadient, Bob Schimek serves as primary liaison between Quadient and USPS on technical matters affecting the company’s mailing solutions, which include CASS and PAVE certified software, integrated 48-month NCOALink processing and post-sort solutions.
With the 2017 price increase behind us, it’s a good time to revisit opportunities the postal service offers for mailers to save money in 2017. With postal prices already a big cost center for mailings, any way to cut down on postage spend can make an impact on your company’s bottom line.
The USPS® has had success offering mailing “promotions” to encourage mailers to use certain mail design techniques. These promotions help the Postal Service by allowing them to collect information about the effectiveness of these techniques, which can build the business case for using mail effectively and potentially drive more mail volume. For mailers, this has helped justify investing in new technology, such as color printing, and has allowed some budget flexibility to try out the new techniques. While the list of promotions hasn’t changed much over the years, the 2017 promotions have had slight changes and adjustments.
Earned Value Promotion
The primary goal of this promotion is to ensure mail remains relevant in the First-Class Mail® marketing mix. This promotion encourages mailers to use Business Reply Mail (BRM) and Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) envelopes and cards. For each BRM or CRM piece returned to you, USPS will apply a credit to your permit. This has been a popular promotion in years past, and the only thing you need to do is sign up. Mailers of all mail classes are eligible. The changes for this year are significant – the promotion will run for six full months (up from three last year), the credit was increased dramatically to five cents per piece, and now Share Mail™ is also eligible. Share Mail™ is a program where mailers can include a piece that the recipient can send to a friend, while the original mailer pays the postage. If you use BRM and CRM, you are leaving money on the table by not participating. You won’t need to change your processes or mail piece design to get this credit. Although registration has closed for this promotion, it is something you should plan for in 2018.
Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Promotion
This promotion runs through July 31, with registration closing on June 30. The interesting thing about this promotion is that the technologies required to qualify aren’t very new to the mailing industry. Almost anything that makes the paper itself interactive can qualify – from textured paper and finishing, scented paper or stickers, interactive folds or heat-sensitive ink. Marketing Mail™ letters and flats that include any of these elements can gain a two percent postage discount. Designs do need to be approved in advance, but this is an easy way to save for the interactive elements you’re already using.
Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotion
This program has been popular for users of digital and mobile technologies and runs through August 31 this year. It goes a bit beyond a standard QR code – to qualify, your mailpiece will need to include a way for the recipient to engage with technology. In 2017, mailers can again use NFC technology, Video in Print (ViP), Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)/Beacon technology, and "Enhanced" Augmented Reality to quality. New to the options this year are Virtual Reality and Digital to Direct Mail. If you really want to be on the cutting edge, you can get a tidy two percent postage discount.
Direct Mail Starter Promotion
The Direct Mail Starter program is a way for smaller mailers to achieve postal discounts. While the program is specifically targeted to small mailers, any first time mailer can get the five percent discount for their first 10,000 pieces of Marketing Mail. If you are a Mail Service Provider, this could be a good incentive to bring in new business and demonstrate the value of mail. To qualify, you’ll need to sign up, use a QR code or other mobile-print technology to point to a mobile-optimized website, and submit your documentation electronically. The promotion will run from May to July, some of the lightest volume mail months.
Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion
If you send First-Class Mail bills or statements, this program offers a two percent postage discount for including dynamic/variable color print for marketing and informational purposes on the statement or bill. For those who have used this promotion in the past, the requirements have increased a bit; the transpromo area must include personalized messaging. But new participants only need to include the color component. This promotion will run from May through December, giving mailers plenty of time to design and implement their mail pieces.
Mobile Shopping Promotion
Registration begins June 15, and the promotion runs August through December. By far, the Mobile Shopping promotion has been the most popular in previous years. The fall season is already the busiest part of the mailing calendar, and the growth of online shopping - especially on mobile phones - has been staggering. In 2017, mailers have a full five months to include technology that directs to a mobile shopping experience, even through social media platforms. The upfront two percent postage discount, in addition to the increased interest in the mobile site, makes this promotion appealing.
Third Ounce Free
While this isn’t technically a promotion, as no signup is required, the recent price increase includes offering the third ounce for free for First-Class Mail. USPS started offering the second ounce for free a few years ago, and it has been popular. First-Class mailers have been able to experiment with more flexibility in the envelope, increasing the value of the mail piece by adding marketing messages and the like. With the third ounce free, mailers don’t need to separately measure or pay additional postage to add additional content to their mailing.
Similar to last year, the Postal Service has stated its intention to announce and file the 2018 promotion early in the summer of 2017. It’s not too late to take advantage of some of the 2017 promotions and keep in mind that planning for 2018 will begin soon. For additional details, instructions, and promotion calendar, visit USPS Promotions & Incentives Programs for First-Class & USPS Marketing Mail.