Recently, two key USPS communications related to the IMb were issued.

The first was a federal register notice entitled "Implementation of Full-Service Intelligent Mail Required for Automation Prices," which is a formal notice to enable Full-Service IMb being required for automation discounts in 2014. This notice is consistent with the USPS messaging on the deadline to adopt Full-Service IMb for all mailers and re-enforces the momentum for mandatory Full-Service adoption.

Current adoption percentage is about at 60% for 1st Class, 35% for Standard Mail, and 55% for Periodicals. The USPS needs a much higher adoption rate across the mail classes, to reduce costs and to further enable service performance measurement. As recently stated by Jim Cochrane of the USPS, "What gets measured, gets treasured."

Consistent with driving toward adoption, the USPS has developed its "tech credit" program that is a postage credit to offset technology migration to IMb. The credit per mailing site is $2,000, $3,000, or $5,000 for 125,000-250,000, 251,000-500,000, and 500,000+ mailpieces respectively. A mailing site is known in Postal parlance as a Customer Registration Identification number (CRID). While the tech credits may certainly not offset total customer costs for Full-Service adoption, the tone of the program is certainly to further incent mailers along with the mandate.

The second is the 2013 promotions calendar that highlights the USPS incentive programs throughout the year. All of these promotions require mailers to be mailing under the Full-Service program. It is recommended mailers review the calendar and programs, consider the opportunities for their business, and take advantage of postal budget savings and enhanced mail value.

Several of the 2013 promotions highlight the "multi-channel" opportunities to continue to drive the relevance and value of mail. For example, Mobile Coupon/Click-to-Call provides an incentive to mailers to embed coupons that allow mobile platforms (smartphones, etc.) for redemption. Also in time for next year's holiday season is Mobile Buy-it-Now, which provides a year end promotion to encourage direct mail pieces to have the capability for users to more easily complete their holiday shopping.

Again, these incentives may be modest, but will enhance a multi-channel customer marketing approach. Also, these programs may be critical to business success and the ongoing success of the mail channel.

As many organizations approach the planning cycle for next year, these programs highlight the need for marketing organizations to coordinate their strategies and budgets around a multichannel customer interaction model for optimized return. In some cases there may be temptations to pursue hard savings in channel investment in lieu of what customers prefer as a contact channel for offer presentation that may lead to true business growth. This needs to be managed carefully as customer preference should always be the driving force behind the communications medium.