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USPS Unveils New Products for Marketers

Date: June, 2011 --

At recent events involving the leadership of the US Postal Service, including the National Postal Forum and the quarterly Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee, senior officials of the USPS described some new proposed products that should be of interest to all marketers, and certainly to mailers. 

First is the proposal for "second ounce free", which apparently is a revised version of "Reply Rides Free", where the whole second ounce will be free according to USPS President and Chief Marketing Officer Paul Vogel, speaking at MTAC. Vogel anticipates an announcement in October with price implementation on January 22, 2012. The USPS is also working with the marketing industry to improve the appearance of the reply card. That said, it is probably too early to begin planning to make use of this in marketing programs before the anticipated announcement in October. 

Second, it may be about time to begin looking at increased use of self-mailers. According to Krista Finazzo, manager of Operational Requirements with the USPS, the foldable self-mailer regulations notice will be submitted in the Federal Register in the summer, with a Final Rule hopeful by fall of this year. 

Foldable self-mailers outside a limited range of previously approved specifications have been under study for some three years. Unfortunately, the industry’s creative abilities outran the technical capabilities of the USPS sorting machinery. Some of the mailers resulted in spectacular jamming of machinery as a result of ripping, shredding, die cuts being caught in machinery, perforations ripping open and glue disintegration. When an envelope gets distorted in a machine scanning 10 letters a second, the down-time consequence is dramatic: two hours to clean the machine. 

A coalition of mailer associations and manufacturers provided some 200 different samples of mailing pieces for testing in order for the USPS to be able to outline specifications for regulatory approval. This three year process has resulted in a new set of standards for folded self-mailers. This four page set of standards will be included in the Federal Register notice. They cover maximum dimensions, weights, paper basis weight (minimum 70 lb), closure method options (which vary with design and weight), glue lines/dots/dashes, perforation requirements, die cut fixing, and location of closure. 

Third, Vogel announced two other recently approved programs. One is "parcel select regional ground service" that provides regional pricing and faster delivery and the second is “forever prepaid priority mail postage” which would operate just like the "forever stamp" program but would apply to priority mail. Serious savings would be possible with this initiative. 

The fourth and final point on the QR Code product is detailed in another article form this month’s newsletter titled "Mobile QR Codes on Your Promotion Pieces." 

So the USPS is indeed thinking about mailers like you and is putting a lot of energy into developing ways to make that address file that Data Services maintains for you even more valuable.