It’s Marketers’ Turn To Deliver For The U.S. Postal Service

by | Oct 6, 2020

Check out this article on Forbes!

When it comes to branding, it’s hard to beat the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Even in our increasingly digital-driven world, an operation that can deliver a letter thousands of miles across a continent for 55 cents — and do so reliably — is something to celebrate.

In surveys, Americans consistently rank the Postal Service as their favorite government agency. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the stories and reports of delays in mail delivery over the last few months have hit a nerve.

In surveys, Americans consistently rank the Postal Service as their favorite government agency. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the stories and reports of delays in mail delivery over the last few months have hit a nerve.

People are worried about getting their medicines, their Social Security checks, and important legal and financial documents. Now that many states have expanded vote-by-mail options because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s left people wondering if they’ll receive their ballots (or be able to mail them back) in time for the fall general election.

Then there’s the simple fact that a lot of people actually like getting and sending mail, whether it’s birthday cards, orders for their small business or, you know, junk mail.

At my company, we provide support for our clients’ direct marketing programs, and our clients often tell us that direct mail helps them drive business, increases engagement, and delivers a great return on investment. Call me an optimist, but I’m excited by the opportunities to keep direct mail growing as a strong marketing channel.

Here are a few ways marketers can improve their own direct mail marketing campaigns while supporting the USPS at the same time.

1. Mail Smarter

Mail volume overall has declined by 33% (subscription required) since its peak in 2006, despite immense growth in package shipping over that time. This is common knowledge in the direct mail industry, but might not be something the general public or marketers in other channels would know.

While the era of mass mailings is ending, the era of customized, relevant mail is well underway. This means that you have to mail smarter: Focus more on one-to-one personalization and your best-performing segments.

It also means jumping into the mail more quickly, so all of your operations will have to be at the top of their game. Your customer data, for example, will need to be as accurate, complete and up to date as possible. This will help you segment better and move toward more customized mail.

By using USPS’s Informed Visibility free tracking service, you can view real-time delivery progress information on your mail campaigns. This data can help you coordinate your mail with your other omnichannel efforts, such as email, TV, or the web.

2. Be An Advocate

In addition to all of the good that you can do for your customers as a more engaged marketer, remember that you’re part of a much larger community, even if you have never thought about it that way before. You can use your powerful voice to advocate for better mail service, both regionally and nationally.

Your area Postal Customer Council (PCC) is a good place to start. This is a collaborative program, both online and in-person, that puts your delivery issues and other concerns in front of your local USPS officials. It also offers training, expert advice, best practices, information resources, and networking meant to help you create, print, and prepare successful mail.

You can also make your voice heard, and amplify it, as an active member of industry trade associations, such as the PRINTING United Alliance, Association for PRINT Technologies and Association of National Advertisers.

Joining national industry associations and regional groups can be an effective way to raise your profile, and the industry’s profile, in the eyes of policymakers. During the initial state shutdowns in response to Covid-19, for example, many companies worked with their trade groups to have their businesses classified as “essential services” to be able to stay open.

3. Keep An Eye On Postal Reform

Right now, we don’t know what the future holds for the USPS. The one thing I find most people agree on, though, is that the status quo is not working well anymore.

Some amount of reform is essential. Maybe the USPS’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) needs to be redefined and adjusted. Other measures have been suggested, such as ending the requirement to pre-fund retiree health benefits, allowing the USPS to set more of its own pricing and facility closures, or even offering banking and other community services.

There’s a lot of work to do, and it should be as nonpartisan as possible to achieve a broad consensus that benefits all stakeholders.

Final Thoughts: Let’s Work Together

This is the time to build on an incredible asset that makes the USPS great: a nationwide network that delivers to every address. To keep our communities connected with direct mail, marketers can be a part of the solution.

 

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