BY HARRY STEPHENS
MAIL CALL: Print providers and the USPS both want print to prosper-here are some special incentives
Print providers and the United States Postal Service (USPS) have one common goal. Both want to keep print alive-and for very similar reasons. As a high-volume business mailer, I am on the Board of the National Postal Policy Council, a member of Major Mailers Association and a member of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service. The common purpose of all these organizations is to represent the interests of major First-Class mailers with the USPS.
Of course, our main goal as business mailers is to fight hard to keep rates on all printed matter from going up. We are certainly active in our efforts to do that. However, being involved in these organizations also gives me the advantage of seeing what the USPS is doing to help businesses in other ways-and they are doing quite a bit. The USPS has introduced initiatives that we can all take advantage of as we work to grow and expand our business.
MORE BOUNCE WITH THAT SECOND OUNCE
On January 22 of this year, prices were once again raised for most mailing services, but this time there was a silver lining. The USPS also announced that for First-Class Mail Presort pieces weighing between one and two ounces, the second ounce would be free. The new pricing makes it possible to send marketing pieces such as full-size newsletters on high quality stock, or multi-page brochures, catalogs and bulky promotions at no additional cost. You can also add bigger and more noticeable inserts with targeted promotional messaging to regular mailings. And, yes, along with adding value to your customers' mailings, it will help our Postal Service by keeping more mail in the system.
EVERY DOOR DIRECT MAIL
Many of you reading this may have seen the promotions the USPS is running on Every Door Direct Mail™ (EDDM). Yet another avenue for keeping mail in the system, it also keeps print alive-and gives you another service to offer your customers. If you have customers who currently mail postcards for their business and could benefit by targeting customers in a particular area, then this new mailing program by USPS is for you. EDDM enables businesses to mail at an astounding 14.5 cents per postcard without even needing to have a mailing address.
Additionally, EDDM gives you a turnkey opportunity to leverage several additional services you can offer your customers, including design, full-color printing on both sides and mailing fulfillment. With EDDM, you won't be able to address the recipients by name or deeply target them, but you can target the mailings based on a common denominator such as geography. This makes EDDM perfect for store openings, event announcements or flyers for local merchants.Suppose your customer has a business that is opening a second location across town. You know a demographic exists within several miles of the new office that may have a high likelihood of using the services this business offers. It's a perfect opportunity for using Every Door Direct Mail targeting those carrier routes. With the postal savings your customers will gain, you might even be able to offer more creative options with the design, like unusual folds or die-cuts.
Note that mailers must be flat and not standard size. Maximum dimensions are 15 x 12 inches. Minimum dimensions are 11.5 x 6.125 inches. Additionally, mailers can't be time sensitive, since they won't be given the same priority as First-Class mail.
TAKE A LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE
Keeping print alive for both the USPS and print providers does require a long-term strategic view and understanding of the trends that are driving business today. In response, the USPS is working hard to enhance its services and eliminate outdated processes. In most circumstances, print is able to stand on its own merit, but in other instances, such as direct mail, it can use support. I encourage every business to take advantage of the efforts the USPS is offering to change how its customers perceive and use printed mail. Using the services and features available from the USPS can offer printers new revenue streams as well as cost saving-and it offers the USPS the opportunity to continue to increase the value of mail. It is a win-win for everyone.
Harry Stephens is President/CEO and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation's largest, privately held full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.