While we can still mail creatively with the standard #10 envelope, either by making it stealthy (no logo and curious call to action) or straight forward (company logo with official look and feel), the USPS just took a huge weapon away from all direct marketers. The rules around their recent postage hike, which is effective as of this Monday, are totally counter productive.
While I am in agreement that postage rates must be adjusted from time to time, I don't agree that the USPS should change their methodology of pricing this drastically. For example, mailing a 9 x 12 envelope to increase open rates used to be a standard and affordable practice. The recent postage hike has all but removed that option from my operations. Why? It will double the cost to send a 9x12 envelope, even if the weights are the roughly the same to a #10 envelope!
The irony of this fee increase is that it will seriously reduce the volumes and variety of direct mail sent out by marketers. These are the same marketers who have kept the massive influx of revenue coming in to the USPS. I should know, I was a guest speaker at one of their symposiums several years back.
So what is really at stake? Companies spent over $150 billion on direct mail in 2005 alone. That was approximately 10% of the US GDP. Direct Marketing was about 48% of the total advertising spend in the US in 2005. You can bet your bottom dollar that businesses will consider moving more funds towards email, print advertising and search engine advertising based on this change. I know I will. Direct Mail has a tough enough making an ROI hurdle when considering normal response rates. This just makes things even worse.