From the Desk of Harry Stephens…

From the Desk of Harry Stephens…

I have just finished my usual round of September travels—starting with the Major Mailers Association, the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC) where I serve on the board, then on to the INg workshop and finally a visit to Graph Expo to see what’s new. I always learn a lot on these whirlwind trips and this one was no exception. This year there was a great deal of buzz around inkjet technology and how it makes it more affordable to add color to our documents to keep print alive and relevant. I will write something about that later. In this newsletter I want to tell you about the NPPC meeting.

Delivering value was also the buzz at the NPPC meeting. James (Jim) P. Cochrane spoke to us about the need to make mail more relevant. Jim is a 41-year veteran of the USPS and has been the acting chief marketing and sales officer and executive vice president (CMSO) since April 2015. He reports to the Postmaster General.

As Jim spoke about relevancy and value, what immediately came to my mind was “2-4-1 and Everybody Wins.” It was the title of a column I wrote four years ago. 2-4-1 came about at a Major Mailers Association meeting where Paul Vogel, the president and chief marketing/sales officer for the USPS at the time, spoke about improving the USPS experience for its customers. After his talk, one member brought up the idea that perhaps the USPS would approve allowing business mailers to mail a two-ounce piece at the one-ounce rate. Every major mailer at the meeting liked this idea, the USPS implemented it and it was highly successful.

I began to think about all I have been learning about inkjet technology having been at the recent Inkjet Summit and its ability to lower the cost per page; and if 2-4-1 was a success in increasing mail by making mailing more documents affordable, why build a better mousetrap—just make it larger by now allowing three ounces at the one-ounce rate. That would give business mailers a little more latitude and alleviate the worry of losing the discount to mail at the single piece rate if they were slightly over the two ounces—adding value. It would help support the demand for creating (and mailing) more documents in color—adding value. It would allow mailers to get the mail to the recipient faster as 3-4-1 would be at the threshold of the cutoff for Standard Mail—adding value.

After Jim spoke, I made the suggestion that moving up an ounce to ‘3-4-1’ would be a serious additional stimulus for marketing via First Class. Jim Cochrane is a person who welcomes changing things if it makes sense—and 3-4-1 certainly does. In 2011, I predicted 2-4-1 would be a win-win for mailers and the USPS and it was. I think 3-4-1 will be win-win as well—providing the extra value needed to keep printed mail relevant and save money for your business. Let’s see what happens!