Postal Promotions: Mailers Discounting MobileMarch 2013 By Erik Cagle, senior editor
You've got to love Patrick Donahoe. The postmaster general of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is a man of action, taking off his gloves and using the bare-knuckle approach to get Congress to enact meaningful, sustainable postal reform. A prime example was the announcement last month that, come August, Saturday mail delivery will cease.
Here's the bottom line: Donahoe gets it. Mr. ZIP defaulted on a pair of payments to the U.S. Treasury last year and, while the man won't be repossessing ZIPPY's mail truck, going $11 BILLION in the red is enough to leave anyone's stomach in knots. Donahoe can't wait around on a Congress that has turned crafting last-minute, under-the-gun legislation into an art form. He needed to act.
Dumping Saturday mail delivery was one of the few options at Donahoe's disposal, and it will save an estimated $3 billion a year. But, when you cut service to save money, it reduces an entity's value proposition, at least in the eyes of customers. Despite its own challenges, the USPS is mindful of the tasks facing the mailing community and its struggles to maintain profitability when using the mail stream as a marketing channel.
Last fall, the USPS announced its 2013 Mailing Service Promotions calendar. Much to the delight of on-the-go consumers, a number of the promotions incorporate discounts for the use of mobile-based technologies. Tom Foti, manager of direct mail and periodicals for the USPS, provided some insight for each promotion, with an extended look at the mobile-based offerings.
• Mobile coupon/click-to-call (March 1-April 30). This two-pronged offering focuses on encouraging mailers of hard-copy coupons to integrate them with mobile platforms for redemption. The second aspect rewards promotions that provide click-to-call functionality. Each program provides a 2 percent discount for mailers. Registration runs through April 30. According to Foti, insurance agencies are prime candidates for click-to-call promotions.
"Their main objective is to get someone on the line to speak to one of their agents," Foti notes. "When you scan a mailer with a barcode, it automatically gets you an agent or the click-to-call will show up on your phone."
• Earned value reply mail (April 1-June 30). First-Class Mail Business Reply (BRM) and Courtesy Reply (CRM) pieces scanned in the postal network will yield a 2 cent per piece postage credit. Registration for reply mail expires at the end of this month.