Since Benjamin Franklin appointed the first Postmaster General in 1775, the United States Postal Service has grown to better serve a growing population through new technologies. In 1918, scheduled airmail service began to provide faster mailing across the entire country. In 1994, the Postal Service launched its public Internet site to create an online presence during the rise of Internet use. In 2013, the United States Postal Service will take its first steps towards integrated marketing.
Fiscal Year 2012 was challenging for the USPS and Fiscal Year 2013 will be just as difficult. The use of email and online services has provided more efficient communication. Today’s market needs require on-demand service, which is a setback to what has become known as “snail-mail”. But with every challenge there is a solution. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahue emphasizes that, “Our industry is fundamentally strong and has a bright future. Mail remains an incredibly effective and important part of marketing America’s products and service.” The USPS’ focus remains on delivering mail. But in order to sustain a strong market presence, the industry must adapt with innovation.
On October 29, 2012 the USPS released its full calendar of promotions for 2013. The promotions offer discounts by integrating mail with mobile and innovative technologies.
The new offers indicate a clear drive to make print an integral component of a direct marketing mix by making it interactive. The Postal Service’s integration is a validation of the ongoing transition and value of integrated marketing. The marketing world is constantly evolving, forcing companies to adapt accordingly. The interactive approach is an adaptation to an increasingly sophisticated population. Allowing people to store coupons via mobile is a direct response to the rise of the mobile platform. Integrated marketing channels offer more positive results that not even a centuries-old direct mail provider could avoid.
The integrated marketing examples below from the Postal Service’s 2013 Promotional Calendar validate everything we do at WebbMason. Our customers are experiencing this integrated approach because we understand that the addition of new marketing channels serves up the right communication for the right audience. Today, the American audience thrives on mobile and interactive communication. The United States Postal Service was strictly involved with direct mail but people’s needs have changed. In order to regain their status, they had to realize print is not enough. Today is a digital age, but a print and technologic mix will provide the greatest results. WebbMason’s success has been dependent on our ability to recognize this need for integration. The Postal Service’s direction is validation of a solution near and dear to the heart of WebbMason. We have taken the right steps in moving toward an interactive and integrated marketing approach for our customers and ourselves.
Sample Offers from the Postal Service’s 2013 Promotional Calendar:
Mobile Coupon and Click-to-Call | Dates: March 1 – April 30
Discount: 2% of eligible postage
Mobile Coupon: The physical mailpiece must be a coupon using print-to-mobile technologies (such as QR codes) that allow the recipient to store the coupon on a mobile device. The discount must be offered only to mailpiece recipients, and the coupon must be redeemable as either a physical document or from a mobile device.
Click-to-Call:The physical mailpiece must use print-to-mobile technologies (such as QR codes) that links directly to a mobile optimized website with a “click-to-call” link or brings up a phone number automatically in the users’ phone.
Emerging Technology | Dates: August 1 – September 30
Discount: 2% of eligible postage
Augmented Reality: The mailpiece must support an augmented reality experience that is facilitated by a mobile device or computer. The augmented reality experience must combine real and virtual, be interactive in real time, and register in 3-D.
Authentication: The mailpiece must integrate the attributes of physical mail, including delivery to a physical address, with mobile technology that allows a user to complete authentication for customers, prospects, or mail recipients. Prior approval from the USPS program office is required for this option.