Postal Discount Fun Part 2: Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement Promotion

In my last post, Postal Discount Fun Part 1, we looked at advanced technology and video in print. Most, if not all, was way out of the average cataloger’s budget. Part 2 is a lot more affordable.

The discount for Sensory and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement runs March through August 2016 and is a 2% discount. The only group I can think of that is doing really cool things in this category is Marie Claire magazine. Here’s a video of the zipper cover they ran last year. It’s still a standout. No, I didn’t make the video. I was too excited and zipped the moment it arrived.

They did another one this year with a faux leather clutch that opened to the actual cover. I loved it and it really got my attention.

Marie Clare Clutch Cover

The cover used a laminate to recreate a leather texture and when you opened the “clutch” there was a snap on the flap. How fun! You don’t see these on the news stands and, I have to admit, it feels like a treat for those of us who subscribe.

So what would you use this for in a catalog? L.L. Bean does swatches every now and then. Pre-recession I used to see some interesting Post-it tags for the holidays. I doubt if a simple gatefold would qualify, but it isn’t clear. It just says:

The 2016 promotion will continue to improve consumers’ engagement with the mail by requiring mailers to incorporate advanced print innovations – such as developments in paper and stock, substrates, finishing techniques, and inks – into their mailpieces.

If there are any printers who what to do a Pub Talk on cool ideas for this—just give us a call. If you haven’t run the numbers on doing something cool and attention getting with covers I encourage you to give it another look. Saving a few dollars per thousand on postage isn’t the real motivator here. Standing out in the mail and being seen as an innovative company is. Smaller catalogers will have a harder time making the numbers work, but what would a 5-15% increase look like? Those aren’t crazy numbers for a WOW cover. Could you do a new product launch? Best customer promotion? If you have a cheap customer and you’re selling on price this is a BAD plan, but if you have a chic customer this could work well for you.

Another promotion that the USPS is offering is a 2 cent discount on the return postage for BRM’s and CRM’s (Return Reply postcards). These blow-in and bind in return mailers are an old-fashioned idea that might be worth another look. They’re super cheap to print so a 2 cent discount on postage is a decent perk. Tell a friend, special offers, sign-ups are just a few ways to use them. Think about single-offer promotions in non-competing catalogs. The promotion runs April to June and the returns are discounted until December 31st.

The only other promotion that applies to catalogers is the Mobile Shopping Promotion.

Mobile Shopping Promotion: As in prior years, this promotion will encourage mailers to integrate mobile technology into their direct mail, and will create a convenient method for consumers to do their online shopping during the 2016 holiday season. The 2016 promotion will include a new social media component, under which consumers will be able to connect with “Buy Now” features available on most major social media platforms. Like last year, regular and nonprofit Standard Mail letters and flats that meet the promotion requirements will be eligible for an upfront two-percent postage discount during the promotion period.

Break out the QR codes and point them at Facebook? Not sure if the discount would cover what most social media platforms charge for the sale. Bit of a head scratcher that one.

So why is the USPS willing to give discounts for these types of things? First, innovation and cool mail keeps them relevant to consumers. Second, when shoppers hit the “Buy Now” button there’s an excellent chance the USPS will be delivering the package. It isn’t as out there as it seems at first blush. Your mail carrier is going to become your delivery person.

And yet they aren’t getting rid of the 3.3oz rule for catalogs… hmmmm…

Hey USPS—that would be a good discount to try!

All the best,

Sarah Fletcher

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