This document is intended to help communicate and socialize to a broader community within the mailing industry the potential next steps in addressing the Advance Federal Register Notice (AFRN) on potential changes to Marketing Mail content. This AFRN was issued by the Postal Service August 23, 2018 and requested feedback from the mailing community.
The stated goals of the AFRN were:
There were nearly 4,700 comments on the AFRN received from mailing associations, printers, mail service providers, non-profit organizations, marketing services, magazine publishers, elected officials, and concerned citizens.
MTAC Task Team #27 was created to determine next steps in addressing issues.
Potential next step for discussion is to limit the activity to three specific areas:
Non-fulfillment mailpieces that meet the existing mailability, machinability, and automation requirements will continue to be allowed to be mailed regardless of content. This includes traditional Marketing Mail letters & flats (direct mail envelopes, cards, flyers, catalogs, newsletters) as well as, mailpieces with content that include non-paper items such as (not inclusive):
The Postal Service would like to evaluate the impact of expanding the limitation of fulfillment (as defined within Marketing Mail parcels) to the letter and flats shape Marketing Mail. The proposed new regulation (below) for letters and flats responds to mailer concerns by limiting the impact on current uses of Marketing Mail, while blocking the types of fulfillment that would most naturally be sent as parcels. It is expected that any changes of this nature would require approval from USPS Management, Governors and the Postal Regulatory Commission.
Proposed New Regulation
Marketing Mail Letters & Flats
Marketing Mail Letters and Flats cannot be used for fulfillment purposes (i.e. the sending of items specifically purchased or requested by the customer of a mailer) with the exception of:
A – Fulfillment items used for promotional purposes
B – Fulfillment items which are primarily paper-based.
A – Promotional Fulfillment – Promotional fulfillment items will be allowed to be mailed as a Marketing Mail letter or flat. Promotional fulfillment items are defined as items fulfilled for promotional purposes and are often used to strengthen relationships with existing or prospective customers, donors, or clients. Although the items may be requested these promotional fulfillment activities are secondary to a primary non-fulfillment transaction or engagement (i.e., the donation of gift/ money, a paid subscription to periodical, etc.) between an organization and customer.
Examples of promotional fulfillment include:
Regardless of content, these promotional fulfillment items must meet the appropriate Marketing Mail requirements for processing and rate category eligibility.
B – Fulfillment of primarily Paper-based items – Fulfillment of primarily paper-based items will be allowed to be mailed as a Marketing Mail letter or flat. These include items which have been requested or purchased that are primarily paper-based. The items being fulfilled may include (not inclusive):
Regardless of content, these paper-based fulfillment items must meet the appropriate Marketing Mail requirements for processing and rate category eligibility.
Task Team 27 met weekly from January 4 through February 22 to review/refine the August 2019 AFRN concerning Marketing Mail content. The scope of this TT was to further define the USPS proposal to limit the scope of products which may be considered in the future ineligible for Market Dominant Marketing Mail rates.
The discussions focused on 2 main topics:
The TT discussed those pieces may not run efficiently or effectively on postal equipment. The TT recommended, using data, to identify these pieces in the mailstream, confirm in fact at the plant levels they will not run on automation equipment, and work with these individual mail owners to correct the package design.
The TT recommended a review of machinable characteristic requirements for both letters and flats to verify they meet the needs of all postal equipment in use. During these discussions the TT also identified confusion in the DMM definition/specification of qualified machinable flat mail piece designs. This definition of a machinable flat mail piece should be reviewed.
The TT discussed how to provide more clarity and definition for mailpieces that would not be impacted by the intent of the AFRN as well as for those identified fulfillment mailpieces that may potential be impacted. It was not the intent of this AFRN to limit the ability of customers mail items such as premiums, faux cards, coins, etc. which marketers use to either entice response or thank a consumer for a purchase or donation. The Postal Service goal has been to facilitate efficient processing of letter and flats mail pieces and also maintain a high-quality brand value in the shipping industry by ensuring the shipping expectations of ecommerce consumers are met.
Recommend the Postal Service proceed to do the following: