USPS Proposes Changes to Marketing Mail Standards

The USPS is proposing a change to content standards for its Marketing Mail letters and flats which would limit the types of physical content allowed as part of the mailer. The proposed changes would require that Marketing Mail letters and flats contain only paper-based or printed matter—meaning that no merchandise or goods could be mailed as USPS Marketing Mail letters or flats. Those pieces would then be required to mail at other more expensive rates.

Huge Implications for Direct Mail

This change has significant implications for direct mail manufacturers, printers and marketers themselves. Any mailings that include objects or items that could be considered merchandise or goods would be affected—including non-paper goods like gift cards, loyalty cards, CDs, DVDs, coins, pens or any other promotional items not made of or printed on paper.

The USPS claims in its Federal Register notice that these changes would improve service, reduce inefficiencies and make the service more consistent with parcels, but it is a significant change for a large swath of marketers and non-profits who depend on Marketing Mail for these communications. These existing mailings would cost significantly more under other mail classifications, a serious financial challenge for marketers, non-profits and other organizations.

Call to Action: Comment Period Now Open

Due to the significant nature of this potential change, SPC encourages marketers, mailers and colleagues to respond to the notice during this open comment period. Any comments can be submitted via email (at productclassification@usps.gov, with the subject line “USPS Marketing Mail Content Eligibility”) or mail at:

Manager Product Classification
U.S. Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW Room 4446
Washington DC 20260-5015

Comments must be submitted by October 22, 2018.

Suggested Script for Submitting Feedback

SPC believes that these proposed changes are not beneficial for marketers or the printing industry because they remove cost-effective options to connect with interested audiences. We think it’s important for affected parties (marketers, corporate clients, mailers and printers) to weigh in and voice our opposition to the potential changes. To make it easier, we’ve created a letter you can customize and submit via email or mail.

To the Postal Rate Commission:

Our organization, [Enter Organization name] is writing today to officially comment on Proposed Rule 83 FR 42624. We believe that the proposed rule change will adversely affect marketers, mailers, mail production vendors, printers and non-profits in an adverse way. 

By narrowing the scope of allowed content to only paper-based/printed “merchandise” for USPS Marketing Mail, the USPS is virtually guaranteeing that the costs involved in current mailing campaigns will increase, reducing overall mail spending and potentially forcing the cancellation of many mailing efforts. At a time when the USPS could benefit from a diversity of postal spending to tackle its own financial woes, the move to push mailing out of lower-cost segments like Marketing Mail seems short-sighted and not good for the long-term health of the Postal market. It will also affect the long-term viability of non-profit organizations and other organizations that depend on time-tested methods of audience marketing for their very existence. 

Because of this and other factors, we oppose the proposed rule change and strongly urge the USPS to reject this ruling. 

Thank you.
[Organization Name]
[Organization Contact Information] 

For More Information

USPS has not stated when these changes (if approved) might go into effect, but it’s possible that they could be activated with the expected rate increases in January 2019. Questions can be directed to Elke Reuning-Elliott, Manager of New Solutions at USPS by email or phone at elke.reuning-elliott@usps.gov or (202) 268-4063. SPC’s Director of Postal Affairs and Logistics, Randy Weiler, can also answer any questions you might have about this issue and other USPS-related matters at askrandy@specialtyprintcomm.com.

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