As regular readers of SpeakingDIRECT are well aware, the December issue of Printing Impressions magazine is dedicated to ranking the 400 largest printers in North America. In addition, the editors provide an outlook for trends and challenges in key market segments including direct mail. This year’s direct mail outlook is titled, “Mail’s Mixed Messages.”
We always enjoy Senior Editor Erik Cagle’s way with words—and the first sentence of this year’s direct mail feature has to be one of our favorites. Erik compares the current state of the USPS’s finances to “a 1974 Ford Pinto with bald tires stuck in the swamp.” We couldn’t agree more and remain steadfast in our conviction that Congress needs to focus on postal reform. Mail is a $1 trillion industry that employs more than 8 million people. For mail to remain a viable direct marketing channel, the industry needs a financially stable Postal Service that offers consistent, reliable delivery at an affordable cost.
The key to keeping mail cost competitive as a marketing channel continues to be the CPI price cap, which will be an important element of any postal reform initiative. Tying price increases to the rate of inflation makes the increases more predictable for mailers and provides continued incentives for USPS management to keep costs in check.
Another element needed for successful postal reform is creating a more sensible amortization schedule for pre-payments into the Retiree Health Benefit Fund. The Postal Service has already set aside nearly half the funds needed to pay retiree health benefits 75 years into the future—more than any other Federal agency and more than most private enterprises. The accelerated pre-payments demanded by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act have forced the Postal Service to report massive financial losses even when it is showing growing operational profits.
One of the common threads in this year’s article is the role direct mail plays as part of an integrated marketing approach. Our clients are some of the most sophisticated marketers in the country and they continue to depend on mail to acquire new customers, win back lost customers and sell more products and services to existing customers. We’re excited about the tools and technologies that enable our clients to tie physical mail to an interactive digital experience for their prospects and customers.
As noted in the article, 2014 was an exciting year for IWCO Direct. Our investment in high-speed inkjet printing began in 2011 with the first U.S. installation of the Canon Océ ColorStream 3500 and we again augmented our platform in 2014 with the addition of two more Océ ColorStream 3900s, bringing our total to six across the IWCO Direct enterprise. The Printing Impressions article hinted about an exciting announcement we will be making in 2015 regarding new technology. We’re finalizing our commitments to add equipment in 2015 that will mark at least two more “firsts.”
While new equipment is exciting, the magnet that attracts savvy marketers to IWCO Direct is our Proprietary Intelligence model for marketing services. We have evolved our total package production solution to address the full life cycle for marketing campaigns with proven solutions for data, strategy, creative, execution and analysis.
As 2014 comes to an end, be sure to read the Printing Impressions’ story to learn more about the smooth road to relevant, responsible and real-time marketing in 2015.
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