USPS Promotion Targets the Senses

by Lara Copeland, assistant editor, PostPress
USPS created an entire brochure on coatings and decorating options for direct mail. This piece won Gold for Best Use of Specialty UV Coatings with Foil/Embossing in this year’s FSEA Gold Leaf Awards competition – submitted by 21st Century Finishing, Inc.

The United States Postal Service has added a new offer to its 2016 promotions calendar. The Tactile, Sensory & Interactive (TSI) Mailpiece Engagement Promotion is a two percent discount applied to mailing costs for direct mail pieces that include special effects and texture/tactile treatments. The promotion runs from March 1 through August 31, 2016, for Standard MailĀ® letters and flats and Nonprofit Standard Mail letters and flats. Building on the success of the 2015 promotion, Emerging Advanced Technology, the TSI Promotion leverages some of the latest technological advances within the print industry to encourage sensory engagement.

In the marketing industry, it has long been known that brand recognition plays a crucial role for businesses to create a long-term position in the marketplace. Neuroscience and neuromarketing research suggests that when advertising materials engage tactile experiences and senses, it can potentially have a significant impact on brand recognition and message recall. The TSI promotion encourages marketers to adopt advanced techniques on their mailpieces in order to drive customer engagement and response rates. The promotion features three treatments, categorized into specialty inks, specialty papers and interactive elements, which create tactile, sensory and interactive engagement.

A variety of specialty inks can be used to enhance the presentation of mailpieces. For the promotion, properties of specialty inks must be visible and distinguishable on paper while also augmenting the engagement of the mailpiece. Eligible specialty inks include many different treatments, such as Leuco dyes/thermochromics and photochromics. Leuco dyes/thermochromics can cause heat-sensitive dyes or inks to change color when exposed to a variation in temperature. Photochromics can change color with UV light exposure, while other treatments can create a change in appearance under pressure (piezochromic) or when exposed to water or liquids (hydrochromic). Other eligible specialty inks include, but are not limited to, conductive inks, metallic ink and clear ink.

Specialty paper, another treatment highlighted in the TSI promotion, must be distinguishable by the physical characteristics of the paper and/or the techniques used in order to qualify. In order to create stronger user engagement and potentially greater response rate and return on investment, mailpieces can feature a variety of paper substrates that lend themselves to the incorporation of unique elements that have the potential to trigger sensory connections. Paper that uses scent, sound or taste must be connected to the marketing message of the mailpiece and bound or sewn into the mailpiece to qualify for the promotion discount. This includes papers infused with scent, as well as papers that incorporate a sound chip, speakers or edible components. Additionally, visual and textural features must be in support of the mailer’s brand persona. These can include filters, holographic or lenticular special effects. Paper that incorporates textural treatments that can be sensed by touch alone, like sandpaper or velvet touch, also are eligible. Interactive mailpieces, also being considered for the postage discount, use folds and other dimensional enhancements to add dynamic effect. Three-Dimensional, pop-ups and infinite folding mailpieces can be considered for the discount only if the user can twist, spin, dial or bend it.

The mailpieces can incorporate any single treatment, or any combination of treatments, on the outside of the envelope, on the mailpiece or both. Participants are encouraged to apply these treatments in order to drive response rates by capturing the full attention of customers. Jeff Peterson, Foil and Specialty Effects Association (FSEA) president, urges members to discuss this special promotion with customers, saying, “This is an incredible opportunity for companies providing foil stamping, embossing and specialty coatings services.” The discount on postage can help large direct mailers cover the cost of the special treatment on postcards or other mailing pieces.

All entries must be submitted to the USPS Program Office where they will be reviewed individually for approval. The mockups are retained in order to ensure that the pre-verification version matches the final sample. Participants also must register on the Business Customer Gateway (BCG) at least two hours prior to presenting the first qualifying mailing and specify which permits and CRIDs will be participating in the promotion. When making a submission, note that the discount cannot be rebated at a later date, and it must be claimed at the time of mailing.

For more information, visit