The New Year is upon us and your Uncle Sam wants you to try something new with your direct mail efforts! OK, technically, it’s the United States Post Office that wants American businesses to try some new stuff, but we’re pretty sure that Uncle Sam and the USPS are on the same page.
So what is it that the USPS has in mind—and why should you care?
For one thing, the USPS is attempting to motivate direct mailers to do more A/B testing as part of their “Emerging and Advanced Technology” promotion. In the past, companies that did smaller quantity mailings often didn’t meet the requirements to receive the 2 percent discount that larger mailings received. That made it impractical for businesses to do A/B split mailings. The thinking is that if it costs less for you to do that, you just may try it. And doing head-to-head tests of different mailings is a great way for you to find out what works best. The more successful you are with your mailings, the more you’ll mail. So it ends up being a win/win situation for businesses and the USPS.
The USPS is also promoting a Standard Mail “Tactile, Sensory, and Interactive Mailpiece” program. The idea behind this effort is to encourage mailers to experiment with advanced print techniques such as rubberized and sandpaper textures or die-cut interactive pieces. Standing out in the mailbox has always been one of the leading challenges that direct mailers face. The USPS is experimenting with new technologies and materials that will allow mailings with a different tactile feel and shape to go through the mail stream—and hopefully grab attention once they hit the mailbox.
In the past, the USPS was pretty rigid about the physical requirements for direct mail. Not only did materials that fell outside of these requirements fail to qualify for discounts, but in some cases, they weren’t allowed to mail at all. That put a bit of a damper on the creativity of those trying to stand out. The idea is that new technologies will allow a lot more creativity—and generate better response.
Part of your mailing strategy for 2016 should include finding ways to differentiate your business from your competitors. It’s possible with these new endeavors (which are still in the approval process) from the USPS will at least help your mailings to stand out.
We’ll keep you posted on the progress of these initiatives, but now may be a good time to include something new in your direct mail plan and budget for 2016. After all, you don’t want to disappoint your Uncle Sam!