Postal Discount Fun Part 1: Emerging and Advanced Technology/Video in Print Promotion

Yes friends, the post office is going to give you discounts for trying new things! They sent out a document with the super-catchy title of

to get you interested. Is it any wonder they’re struggling? When I read about it in the R.R. Donnelly newsletter, (thank you John Rossiter) I just had to see what the USPS had up it’s sleeve.

There are five discounts in all, and two of them so exciting that I’m going to tackle each individually. Now many of you may think that I’m being a touch sarcastic when I say they’re exciting, and you would be wrong. They’re REALLY exciting and in some cases a bit mind blowing.

Let’s start with “Emerging and Advanced Technology/Video in Print Promotion”. It is a continuation of the 2015 promotion, but this year offers an A/B testing option. The purpose is to encourage mailers to incorporate mobile and other print technologies into direct mail pieces. And here’s where it gets really cool “The promotion will extend to mailpieces incorporating Near Field Communication technology, an enhanced augmented reality feature, Video in Print technology, or similar advanced technologies.” Huh? So I googled them.

Near Field Communication technology

Basically it’s using your cellphone to interact with others or buy stuff. Even nearfieldcommunication.org doesn’t have a use for catalogers on their site. I read through the document till my eyes glazed over and this may just be the QR code discount that doesn’t do much, but heck, if putting a QR code in the catalog get’s you a 2% discount—why not? The A/B testing angle does make it a bit more interesting. You do need to have a mobile optimized site to qualify. Of course, you’re going to need a mobile optimized site to survive, so if you don’t have one yet stop reading and get that done.

Enhanced Augmented Reality

You may remember the USPS used this in their very lame 2014 holiday promotion that we giggled about in the 2014 Direct Mail Year in Review Pub Talk. BUT those lingonberry loving marketers over at IKEA used it for their catalog to let you preview how furniture would look in your room. Well done IKEA, very cool.

Cineprint is another interesting idea that, in my estimation, is doomed to failure. Here’s a link to the Lexus ad. Basically you slide your iPad under a page and the screen shines through and makes it look like the page is animated. There are several obvious problems with this. First you need an iPad. Second you are asking folks to stop reading the magazine or catalog and get the iPad, slide it under the page, and line it up correctly, all so they can watch an ad. Ads are rarely interesting enough for me to work to watch them. The third is obviously, why not just look at whatever it is on the iPad and skip the work and show through blur?

There seem to be several companies working on flexible mylar video players, but I wasn’t able to find anything you could use right now.

Video in Print technology

This one wowed me. It’s very Harry Potteresque. First up is a video screen in a direct mail piece. Here’s the Direct Mail sizzle reel.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, (because I’m psychic) and the cost per piece for that would be just silly math for most of you. Agreed. But if you have best customers you want to impress in a rather spectacular way, or you have a high enough average order, this one would definitely get attention. Sure the 2% savings isn’t going to make a dent in the cost unless you’re mailing millions, and who could afford to print millions except mobile providers or Apple? I called Americhip and got some pricing info and my quicky catalog math says that that if you did a test mailing of 50K and got a 2% response you would need an average order size of almost $900 to make it pay for itself. Use a best customer list and you might be able to bring that down to $500. While it isn’t for everyone, there are actually a good number of companies that it could work for. The prices include video creation, production and print. The cool factor is off the charts.

More interesting ideas to come on the other USPS discounts.

All the best,

Sarah Fletcher

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