USPS Offers Direct Mailers '2nd Ounce Free'

By David Ward, San Diego, Thursday 26 January 2012

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Looking to boost commercial use of First-Class Mail, the US Postal Service this week launched its new "2nd Ounce Free" pricing program that enables direct mailers to send letters weighing up to two ounces for the one-ounce postage rate.

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USPS' Gary Reblin

The USPS said the new pricing strategy will enable high-volume commercial mailers to get more out of each mail piece by letting them add additional/operational content or letting them experiment with heavier paper stock or larger envelopes for greater impact.

In an interview with PrintWeek, USPS VP-Domestic Products Gary Reblin said the new pricing was in response to feedback from the direct mail industry, adding, "Mailers wanted it simple. They felt like they could do something if we provided a long-term commitment so they could insert transpromo into their mail pieces and look at how they do. If we weren’t willing to make a long-term commitment it was hard for mailers to do anything consequential."

The decision to make the second-ounce pricing permanent came after the USPS conducted several successful case studies, Reblin said, adding it does not apply to individual mail sent by consumers.

"One of the things we want to do is encourage creativity and we don’t want mailers to hold back what could be a more effective message — and something that could affect their return on investment — by sticking to the 1 ounce requirement," he said.

"The Postal Service realized we had a 'Win-Win' here, because the second ounce is not very costly for us to add - our equipment can handle a two ounce piece just as well as a 1 ounce piece. And at the same time it has the potential of adding a lot of value to the ecosystem and to the mailing community."

The USPS has long touted the value of transactional mail, providing statistics that show not only that bills and statements delivered via First-Class Mail are opened more than 95% of the time, but that recipients spend an average of two to three minutes with each piece, making it ideal for targeted messaging.

Right now it may be too early to predict how much 2nd Ounce Free will boost First-Class commercial mail. "This is one where we’re putting the bogey out there for people and we’re doing a lot of case studies and we’ve got a pretty big marketing plan around this," Reblin explained.

"The reason we’re doing this is more than a growth strategy - it’s a retention strategy. We want to look at increasing the value of First Class mail and sometimes that’s harder to measure."

Reblin said he expects the new pricing to appeal to both heavy, year-in, year-out direct mailers as well as smaller companies or even political campaigns that may take advantage of it for only limited periods.

"This really is an opportunity for people to get more of their message out and we think the combination of what we continue to promote with mobile bar codes and the second ounce program enables mail to work more for you than ever has in the past," he noted.


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