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Direct Mail: Seven Ways to Save in 2017

by Kim Mauch

Satori Software

Conference Postcard Utilizes Raised 3D Coating and Receives Postage Discount

To help promote its 2016 Topical Conference, the SPE Decorating & Assembly Division utilized a special raised and textured digital UV varnish on its promotional postcard to attract attention when potential attendees received it in the mail. The digital spot UV coating was applied over the 4-color printing by PostPress Specialties (Kansas City, Missouri) on a MGI JETvarnish 3D digital press.

With the use of this special process, the division was able to obtain a two-percent postage discount from the USPS under its Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement Promotion. The combination of the visual attraction of the postcard and the postage discount created a very successful campaign for the conference.

We’re still waiting for notification of a 2017 price increase, but the USPS already has announced its plans for mailers to save money next year. With postal prices already a big cost center for mailings, any way to cut down on postage spending can make an impact on your company’s bottom line. That’s where the USPS mailing promotions can come in. While the list of promotions hasn’t changed much over the years, the 2017 promotions have had slight tweaks and adjustments. Let’s take a look at the proposals.

Earned value reply mail promotion

This promotion encourages mailers to use Business Reply Mail and Courtesy Reply Mail 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 is five cents per piece and now the Alternate Postage program Share Mail also is 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, it makes sense to sign up for this promotion, as you won’t need to change your processes or mail piece design to get this credit.

Tactile, sensory and interactive mailpiece engagement promotion

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 to interactive folds or heat-sensitive ink. Standard 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 technologies. It goes a bit beyond a standard QR code – to qualify, your mail piece will need to include a way for the recipient to engage with technology. This has meant augmented reality and digital print in years past. In 2017, mailers can use virtual reality or programmatic retargeting technology to qualify. If you really want to be on the cutting edge, you can get a tidy two percent postage discount.

Direct mail starter promotion

As the only new promotion this year, the Direct Mail Starter program is a way for smaller mailers to achieve postal discounts. While the program is specifically targeted to small mailers, anyone can get the five percent discount for their first 10,000 pieces of Standard 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 promises 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 transpromo area must include personalized messaging, but new participants only need to include the color component. This promotion will run the last six months of 2017, giving mailers plenty of time to design and implement their mail pieces.

Mobile shopping promotion

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 six 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 offering isn’t technically a promotion, as no signup will be required, Postmaster General Megan Brennan indicated that with the next price increase, USPS will start 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, adding marketing messages and the like. With the third ounce free, mailers won’t need to separately measure and account for these pieces in their mailing.

In the best good-news-first fashion, USPS has given us a very early preview of 2017. We’ll likely know the bad news, also known as the price and sortation changes, this fall. Which promotion are you most excited for?

Kim Mauch is a subject matter expert in mailing preparation and submission at Satori Software. This article originally appeared in Mailing Systems Technology. To subscribe, visit www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com/subscribe.