The Postal Service will formally change “Standard Mail” to “Marketing Mail” in the new year, better reflecting what this mail class is used for.
The project to rename Standard Mail was announced by Jim Cochrane, the USPS Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, last Spring. After polling customers, the new name “Marketing Mail” was finalized.
The new name takes effect January 22, 2017 with the postage rate hikes.
But some mailers don’t like it.And the Postal Service is accommodating them, allowing the continued use of “Standard Mail” on the indicia.
Cochrane told mailers in October that Full Service IMB mailings will be allowed to continue using “Standard Mail” for the next 18 months and then be reviewed.
One mailer group opposed to the change is the Association for Postal Commerce. It argued against Marketing Mail during the Postal Regulatory Commission’s recent rate hearings. APC argued that using the new “Marketing Mail” indicia “may cause recipients to view those mailpieces as ‘junk mail’,” according to the PRC’s final report.
APC’s efforts failed: the PRC said that the change was within the scope of the USPS’ “operational flexibility” and could go forward.
Advertising mail was originally called “Bulk Mail” but that name was changed to Third Class Mail and then became “Standard Mail”, which many believed sounded better than Third Class.
For Lee Garvey, President of Click2Mail, the name change could be counter-productive.
“It is likely that identifying Standard Mail as Marketing Mail will imply to the layperson that this class of mail has some inherent advantage as a marketing tool compared to other types of mail,” Garvey wrote on the Inspector General’s blog.
“Unless EDDM is the only kind of marketing mail the USPS expects small businesses to adopt, I would suggest that this name change is counterproductive because it will cause many SMBs to express a branding-driven, albeit technically uninformed, preference for a specialized marketing tool with a somewhat misleading name – and a lower contribution,” Garvey wrote. “Then, when this purpose-built Marketing Mail takes 7-21 days to be delivered, novice SMB users will become more likely to seek alternatives to postal mail for their marketing.”
“My vote would be for Standard Mail to be called “Non-priority Mail”, not with any pejorative or negative connotations in mind, but simply to fully disclose its operational identity in the USPS and truthfully specify its likely service level. Ideally, at some point an open and forward-looking classification reform discussion will help everyone understand what a from-the-ground-up design for “USPS Marketing Mail” could actually look like in the 21st century,” Garvey wrote.
Advertising mailers are not the only ones concerned with the change. Non-advertisers often use Standard Mail as a way to communicate with customers at a lower price.
Insurance companies, for instance, may send bulk mailings pertaining to policies. Having “Marketing Mail” on the indicia could send the wrong message to the recipient.
Another group effected: magazine and book publishers. Publishers often send their publications by Standard Mail instead of using Periodical Mail.
For now, Marketing Mail will officially replace Standard Mail as the classification name beginning January 22, 2017.