The USPS is trying; really they are…

The financial struggles of the US Postal Service have been well documented, and the news for this year hasn’t seemed to improve any.  In spite of its marketing success, direct mail volumes have continued to decline. And yet, we see this as good news!

How is this good news?  The dire situation of the USPS is bringing about a new way of thinking within some areas of its operation.  The Postal Service is trying to rethink and retool its current business model and is making strides in trying to be more customer-friendly. And like businesses in the private sector (us!), they are looking at ways to grow by implementing innovative programs.

Two of its newest programs provide excellent, simple, and affordable marketing opportunities for small businesses. And in spite of the decline in direct mail volumes, the effectiveness of direct mail marketing campaigns continue to breed success. 

Here are two of the programs that we encourage businesses to consider:

Every Door Direct Mail

This program is actually a rebranding of the Simplified Addressing Process, but it is worthy of a look. In its basic form, Every Door Direct Mail lets business saturate an entire residential zip code (or zip codes) with qualified mail pieces for as little as 14.2 cents postage per piece. Additionally, the pieces can be mailed without applying individual names and addresses, allowing users to easily target a specific geographic area.

So imagine you own a restaurant, a dry cleaner, an auto dealership, an apparel store or a fitness center. You have a special event, offer, or program you need to spread the word about. You want to specifically target residences in nearby zip codes.  And you want to target EVERY SINGLE RESIDENCE. This program is ideal.  No databases or mailing list required. No addressing or labels.  And all at a single piece postage rate as low as 14.2 cents each.

One caveat with this program is the unusual mailpiece size that is required to qualify. By definition, it must be a “flat” or “parcel”.  Some common sizes in this category are: 6.5”x9”; 6.5”x11” 8.5”x11”. Pricing for turnkey implementation of this program can be found here.

For more information, you can visit the USPS site, or contact us and we would be happy to help implement a program for you.

Summer Sale & Mobile Barcode promotion

We mentioned this last week, but it’s worthy of another look. 

For a while we’ve been talking about how QR codes can be used to help bridge the gap between the physical (printed)  and the digital worlds.  These 2d mobile barcodes help make the printed piece more engaging, and often more relevant for the targeted recipient.

Recognizing this, the USPS is offering a Summer Sale on qualified mail pieces that contain a QR code.  During July and August, you can save 3% on postage on Standard and First Class letters, flats and cards that include a QR code that can be scanned and read by a smartphone.

We go into a little more detail in this recent blog post.

Double Whammy

For those adventurous and somewhat spontaneous businesses, you can actually take advantage of BOTH of these USPS programs.  A qualifying mail piece – flat – that is distributed using the Every Door Direct Mail process that is printed with a QR code, may qualify for a 3% savings off the 14.2 cent mail rate.

Yes, the USPS is struggling. And out of its struggles come opportunities for business to enhance their marketing efforts in an inexpensive, and effective way. It’s worth a look.

It’s Official – USPS Says QR Codes are Hot.

It’s Official!  The Postal Regulatory Commission has approved the USPS 2011 Mobile Barcode Promotion. And it’s not just any barcode we are talking about. Of course it’s our beloved 2d codes commonly referred to as QR codes.  You know, those quirky little pixilated squares that are popping up in magazines, on products, and yes, in direct mail.

For a limited time, from July 1 through August 31, 2011 the Postal Service is offering mailers an upfront 3% discount on First-Class and Standard Mail letters and flats that include these mobile barcodes. And unlike other promotions offered by the USPS, this one is pretty straightforward and available to most all mailers and marketers.

To qualify for this Summer Sale, these guidelines apply:

  • Mobile barcode must be two-dimensional and readable by a mobile smartphone. One dimensional barcodes do NOT qualify.
  • Mailing documentation must be submitted electronically and postage must be paid using a Permit Imprint. Current electronic submission methods include: Mail.XML, Mail.dat and Postal Wizard.
  • Participating mailers will be required to affirmatively claim this promotion in electronic postage statement submissions, certifying each mailpiece contains a mobile barcode either within contents of mailpiece or on outside of mailpiece.
  • All mailpieces in a mailing statement must contain a mobile barcode.
  • With the exception of IMb full service discount, only one incentive per mailing will apply.
  • Mobile barcode must be used for marketing and advertising purposes. Mailpieces containing mobile barcode that convey information about the postage value, destination, sender and machine serial number for security do not qualify.
  • And to make it even more appealing, Non-Profit mailers are eligible for the discount as well. (They were excluded from the original proposal.)

So why the Summer Sale?

Like so many marketers are currently doing, the USPS wants to take advantage of the recent buzz being generated by QR codes.  The Postal Service sees the use of these codes as a great way to link the physical and digital world of direct marketing, and this gives marketers another opportunity to include them in their marketing strategy. Additionally, the Postal Service hopes to demonstrate to mailers how this tool can increase the value of direct mail.

If you need a little more detailed information on this promotion, go here.

If you would like more information on marketing uses for QR codes, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss ideas with you.