Marketing Mail or marketing fail?

The USPS has been busy thinking of new and innovative ideas to keep up with marketing trends, and provide value to their core business of delivering mail. Sometimes, however, I wonder if they may be a little out of touch with a major customer segment, i.e. the business mailers across the US. Marketing Mail is one upcoming change that seems to be misguided.

The USPS delivered 80 billion standard and 62.4 billion first class mail pieces* in 2015. It’s clear that Standard Mail volume is a huge part of what keeps the USPS going. But in 2017, the USPS plans to change the name of Standard Mail to “Marketing Mail”.

Why? A USPS Industry Alert sent on Oct 12, 2016 has the answer.

Standard Mail is being rebranded as USPS Marketing Mail to better align the product name with our customer’s use of this mail class.

This reminds me of a marketing fail that my own company was involved with, over 15 years ago.

Our sales team had decided to send a promotional letter to potential clients. The mailing piece was nothing remarkable, however the fail came when looking at the return address. The sales team had put “Sales” as the name in the return address area.

I imagined all the people who received this mailing piece, standing by their trash can as they sorted their mail, and seeing “Sales”, and thinking, “Oh, this is a sales letter — trash”. I guess we made it easy for them to not worry about what’s inside the envelope. It was pretty clear from the outside that the piece could be discarded without any further thought.

And now back to “Marketing Mail”. When I first heard about this I was, to say the least, surprised. How could people at the USPS not realize that putting the words “Marketing Mail” on the outside of a mail piece would not lead the person getting the mail to simply think “Oh, this is a sales letter — trash”? I checked into the details behind this change, and it looked like the USPS was planning to phase it in slowly, not requiring the changed markings on a mail piece until 2018, and I breathed a sigh of relief. We have time to change things.

Yesterday I received an update email from the USPS about the use of the words “Marketing Mail” instead of Standard Mail.

We have heard the industry concerns about “open rates,” and are exploring options that will not require the term “Marketing Mail” to be used. We thank you for your feedback and look forward to our ongoing collaboration.

So now I want to send a huge THANK YOU to all those in our industry who have made it clear to the folks at the USPS that this idea isn’t quite the great idea they originally thought it was.

A question for you.

What options would you like to see? Should we ask the USPS to leave it as Standard Mail? Perhaps a name change to Bulk Mail (oh, wait, that’s been done before). What do you think?

Source: Marketing Mail or marketing fail? | Andrew Henley | Pulse | LinkedIn