I recently journeyed down the Mississippi River to attend the Envelope Manufacturers Association’s Fall Meeting held in exciting New Orleans. Life is a little bit different at the southern end of the river than it is up here in the north! The meeting’s theme, “Agility: The Foundation of our Future,” was a continuation of the topic highlighted at the organization’s Spring Meeting.
One of the primary subjects of the gathering in New Orleans was how the U.S. Postal Service is looking to agility and innovation to provide growth and financial stability. We were honored to have Postmaster General Megan Brennan as our opening keynote speaker. Brennan stated that the core competency of the Postal Service is delivery, adding that service is “foundational.” The Postal Service is leveraging data and analytics to provide innovative new solutions to mailers, such as predictive delivery for mail as well as packages.
Brennan cited several challenges facing the Postal Service. Most notable is that its fixed cost base will impose greater financial pressure if the agency isn’t able to right-size its infrastructure to match current mail volume. She acknowledged that the Postal Service can’t address its challenges simply by raising postage rates. She observed, “I know price matters. We won’t do anything to reduce volume or damage mail. We need to keep mail affordable, and we need to keep you in the mail.”
Brennan described the Postal Service as the platform at the center of the mailing ecosystem, noting that the agency must innovate to deliver value. She observed that to close the financial gap, the Postal Service was pursuing three initiatives: expanding growth (especially in package delivery), optimizing workflows to create more efficient operations and gaining legislative support. She noted that her goal was to build consensus for postal reform legislation and asked for industry support to keep the needs of the Postal Service “on the front burner” for Congress.
We also heard from Gary Reblin, USPS VP New Products and Innovation, who discussed how the Postal Service is working to make mail more valuable. He provided a preliminary look at promotions the Postal Service is considering for 2016. Promotions expected to be available for Standard Mail include Emerging and Advanced Technology, Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement, and Mobile Shopping. The Earned Value Promotion, encouraging the use of reply mail, will also be back.
Reblin also provided an overview of a new pilot program that will provide subscribers the ability to see the contents of their mailboxes each day through an online dashboard. The program, now known as “Informed Mail Delivery,” will move into an expanded beta test in the New York City area in November. Keep reading SpeakingDIRECT as we will be providing a more detailed overview of this exciting new program in a few weeks.
USPS Inspector General David C. Williams provided an overview of striking new neuromarketing research sponsored by his office. Initial findings indicate that printed materials provide a deeper, more lasting impression than do materials presented on screen. The findings led Williams to observe, “Mail is the long pole in the tent of marketing strategies.” The Office of Inspector General is continuing to fund this research.
To round out the event, Cheryl Chapman, Chairman of the EMA Foundation Board of Trustees, shared results from the 2015 Mailing Industry Jobs Study. The mailing industry accounts for 7.5 million jobs (6% of all U.S. jobs) and $1.4 trillion in sales revenue (4.6% of U.S. output). 92% of mailing jobs are in private industry – reinforcing PMG Brennan’s description of the Postal Service as the hub of the mailing ecosystem. Results of the study have already been shared with the Postal Service and Senate staff working on postal reform legislation, and will be released to the public shortly.
The EMA Fall Meeting also looked at technical and management issues, such as implementing Total Productive Maintenance and how to enhance the safety of our manufacturing operations. We also discussed the important role paper-based communication plays in many aspects of our lives, including an update on the “Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds™” campaign recently launched by the Paper + Packaging Board. Check back on Friday, when my colleague Karen Weil will provide a look at what that campaign is all about.
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