Ask Randy Virtual Session Recap
USPS Promotions Explained

SPC hosted an #AskRandyUSPS virtual session on February 1st, 2023. In this session, SPC Director of Postal Affairs, Logistics, and Strategy, Randy Weiler, explained new ways to qualify for USPS Promotions that are different from previous years. Randy also shared strategies to take advantage of this year’s postal discounts of up to 6%.

USPS incentivizes marketers to use promotions to ultimately drive up mail volumes. Promotions also exist to help offset the postal rate increase that took place on January 22, 2023. Moving forward, postal rates will be adjusted twice a year, in January and July. These increases are still tied to the consumer price index and inflationary alliances. We expect that July will be a 2.5-3% increase.

Question and Answer Round

We have summarized the key takeaways:

USPS Promotion Submittal & Approval Process 

In the last calendar year, 16,000 mailings participated in USPS promotions. So far this year, the USPS has approved 1,000 mailings for the Tactile Sensory & Interactive Promotion. Approval requirements are more liberal this year than in years past, with only 30 rejections of the over 1,000 entries. The USPS is more open to accepting new concepts to elevate participation rates in this promotion.

Here’s the process:

  1. The Mailer should make themselves aware of the specific requirements for the promotion.
  2. Each promotion requires a request in the mailer portal.  The submitter will enter basic information about their campaign and upload pdfs of the piece into the portal.
  3. A case number is assigned to the request.
  4. Print a receipt of the request with its case number.  If a physical sample is required, include a copy of this receipt with the submission.
  5. Upon receipt by USPS, the request will be considered, and a decision rendered of approval or rejection.  An email regarding the decision is typically received within 3-5 days.

For Tactile Sensory & Interactive Promotion and Personalized Color Transpromo, the process requires a physical sample to be sent to the Washington DC Promotion Office after a case number is issued from the portal entry request.  

Emerging Technology & Mobile Shopping Promotion typically have a longer approval time due to the nature of the promotion. This promotion requires additional information, identifying the category in which the direct mail piece is being submitted, and the technology being incorporated. This promotion incorporates technology such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, or Mixed Reality. 

Informed Delivery requires the submission, by email, of representative images, ride-along images, and the URL that is associated with the mail piece requiring no physical sample.

Here is a breakdown of the class of mailings for each promotion –

Tactile Sensory & Interactive Promotion – marketing class mail and first-class mail
Personalized Color Transpromo – only first-class mail
Emerging Technology & Mobile Shopping – marketing class mail and first-class mail
Reply Mail – only first-class mail
Informed Delivery – marketing class mail and first-class mail
Retarget Active – only first-class mail

Randy’s Insight: Non-profit mail is marketing mail. It is eligible when marketing mail is.

Speed round questions: Will this qualify for Tactile Sensory & Interactive?

  • Letter Package with Affixed Card(s) inside – Yes
  • UV Gloss Qualify – Yes
  • Any specific foldouts? Yes, approvals are very open in the world of foldouts. Some examples are: tear strips specifically pull strip reveals, infinity folds, and pop-ups.
  • Holograms? – Yes
  • Mailer with a short-folded panel or two on the inside – No  
  • Edible sample – Yes
  • Scented Varnish or Coating – Yes
  • Specialty inks– Yes
    • Some examples include: Gloss, UV, Gloss Varnish, Soft Touch, Grits, Metallics, and Conductive inks
  • Sticker on an Envelope – No

What are some specific pieces that qualified recently that wouldn’t in previous years?

  • Double gate on #80-pound gloss cover printed 4 over 4
  • #10 envelope package that was printed on a #70-pound matte text envelope.
  • #60-pound offset letter or a variety of 70# matte text, inserts and brochures, all 4-color process
  • Matte stocks

Randy’s Insight: Have a question on a specific treatment? Reach out to your USPS sales rep to get it answered.

Can you receive overarching approval across multiple mailings?

Yes, if there is a consistent treatment that is going to work across all your mailings, there is an opportunity to receive an overarching or blanket approval to extend over multiple mailing statements. You’ll need to include details in your initial request in the portal on how you will be using the treatment across all your mailings. There is cost associated with the approval process as well as the time it takes you to go back and forth. If you’re using multiple mailers, you also run the risk of getting one job or treatment approved by the USPS and the other denied. An overarching approval is to your best benefit.

How confident are you that submitting the same mail piece would consistently get approved?

Randy stated he is 80% confident that you should receive consistent approval if you reference an approved job case as well as get the same USPS representative to approve it. It’s important to remember these treatments are open to subjectivity, especially for the Tactile Sensory & Interactive Promotion. Sometimes you will be approved or sometimes denied based on the USPS reviewer. Ultimately, the USPS has the final say. SPC is here to advocate for our clients as we have in the past.

What do you recommend is the minimum postage amount on a mailing to consider if a client should take advantage of each incentive?

Randy recommends asking yourself, “what are we chasing?” If you are submitting the campaign on your own behalf, weigh the internal hours put behind the submittal. A couple of hours of work for only $100 off might not be worth it. From a mail service provider aspect, we must send in samples to the USPS which results in postage, packaging costs, and man hours. Therefore, you can expect to incur costs if the mailer accepts that responsibility.

Randy’s Insight: Ask your SPC Sales Rep about the USPS promotional calendar to see if implementing these promotions would offset the cost of production enough to be beneficial to you.

Take Advantage Now!

The USPS has opened Pandora’s Box for 2023 as to what will be approved for the Tactile Sensory & Interactive USPS discount. The time to take advantage of these promotions is now because these freer requirements and liberal approach will not last forever. Randy suggests this might be a one-year wonder. Moving into the next year, Randy expects there to be a pullback from the USPS since currently the incentives are almost entirely offsetting the postage increase.

Randy’s Insight: You do not receive cumulative postage savings. You can only claim one discount at a time.

Closing Thoughts

Randy encouraged everyone to attend the National Postal Forum in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 21st – 24th. It is a great opportunity to speak with a USPS representative and have open lines of communication. Most importantly, it is beneficial for networking! There are educational sessions that give other viewpoints on different technology applications for next year. Reach out to inquire about details about SPC’s hosted Happy Hour on Monday, May 22nd.

Thank you to everyone who joined our Ask Randy Virtual Session. To view past Ask Randys, check the Ask Randy Index on our website. Be on the lookout for future issues on our LinkedIn or Instagram pages.

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