Breaking through the clutter

I recently attended the National Postal Forum in San Diego with over 4,000 professionals all whom were in the business-of-mail. At the conclusion of the 4-day conference it was clear that despite the decline in mail volume over the last five years, the USPS is still very bullish on mail. That’s not to say we’ll see a return of pre- 2006 mail volume, but hopefully a sustained spike in advertising mail over the next 12 months.

According to Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, 75% of US businesses are not using mail as an advertising channel. Advancing technology has created a plethora of alternative media choices and as a result, the mail channel has suffered. However no matter how you slice it, when executed the right way, direct mail does work. The PMG recognizes this as a huge opportunity for the USPS; so much so, they launched a money-back guarantee to select businesses that spend over $250 million in advertising outside of the mail channel. If a participating advertiser mails a minimum 500,000 pieces of first class or standard mail and fails to meet the established metrics, as verified by a Postal Service representative, the USPS will refund up to $250,000 in postage costs.

To further boast the value of mail, the USPS is currently in the development stages of a B2C integrated marketing campaign including TV spots and direct mail. Building on the success of their package marketing campaign “If it fits, it ships” which resulted in a 35% boost in flat-rate box year-over-year sales, the PMG noted the USPS hadn’t focused on promoting mail in over ten years and this new campaign would be “a little unusual, but it could also be very powerful.”

As a proponent of direct mail, I applaud the USPS for breaking through the technology clutter and shedding much needed light on the mail channel – one that brings not only accountability to marketers but “tangibility” to customer engagement.

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