USPS Wants to Win Direct Mailers’ Hearts by Valentine’s Day
USPS has a goal — by Valentine’s Day, the agency wants to show its love for innovative direct mail. The deadline for its contest for mailers is Feb. 15. Before then, B2C pieces that employ Informed Delivery and noteworthy B2B mail can vie for Next Generation Campaign Award trophies.
The competition that started in October honors the mail owner, as well as the marketing agency and printer with whom they worked. USPS will announce the winners of the Grand Champion and the Innovative B2B Campaign Award prizes in May at the National Postal Forum (NPF). [Author’s note: Full disclosure, USPS is advertising with Target Marketing about this contest.]
B2B mailers don’t necessarily have to employ Informed Delivery in order to win, but the campaigns do need to “incorporate advancements in printing and mobile technologies (such as lifelike textures, variable data printing, cutting-edge formats, NFC technology, augmented reality, QR Codes, video-enhanced print, etc.) as an integral part of the messaging,” read the campaign rules.
As for Informed Delivery, or email that shows scans physical mail, USPS itself won Target Marketing’s email marketing category for "The Best Marketing of 2017” campaigns or programs. But that notoriety may not have been enough to make marketers aware of Informed Delivery, so USPS incorporated it into its annual direct mail contest last year.
Ray Van Iterson, the U.S. Postal Service’s manager of marketing strategy and innovation, says:
“We expect the number of entries to grow again this year for two reasons: First, the number of campaigns using Informed Delivery is up significantly; and second, we have added a business-to-business (B2B) category. We added the new category, both because there are many campaigns using innovative approaches to get the attention of executive decision-makers and vendor selection teams, and also because many of these campaigns cannot leverage Informed Delivery yet. Our Informed Delivery service allows individuals to receive emails that contain images of the outside of mail pieces that are coming to their residences, but is not yet available for mail delivered to business addresses.”
Winners get the bonus of being able to use the Next Generation Campaign Award badge in their marketing.
Van Iterson adds:
“Also, all finalists for the Grand Champion award (including the Grand Champion) and the Innovative B2B Campaign Award winner will be highlighted by the U.S. Postal Service. This includes having their campaigns showcased at the USPS booth, having the opportunity to speak about their campaigns at a breakout session, and having their mail pieces reproduced in the Next Generation Campaign book that the Postal Service distributes to thousands of direct marketers.”
In addition to email and mail contest notifications sent to previous contestants, current USPS Informed Delivery marketers and vendors using innovative mail technologies, for example: video in print, specialized inks and other innovations, USPS will market the contest to direct marketers.
But that requires a broader awareness effort that will include display ads, newsletter sponsorships, direct mail and email.
Van Iterson says:
“Our primary goal is to encourage direct marketers to increase their use of direct mail and enhance the sophistication of their direct mail usage. We expect that as marketers employ new techniques, they will see increased response rates, which will increase their ROI, and lead them to increase their use of direct mail.
“We expect that the contest will also expose some companies who do not currently use direct mail to the power of the mail, and the new options that technical developments have brought to mail.”
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Related story: USPS Dominated 2017’s Email Marketing Campaigns