On Monday, Louis DeJoy became the 75th Postmaster General (PMG), succeeding Megan Brennan. We thank Ms. Brennan for her leadership and many years of service to the broader postal community as she makes her transition into a well-deserved retirement. Mr. DeJoy is the first PMG in nearly 20 years to come from outside the Postal Service, but his background in shipping and logistics should provide a good foundation as he leads the agency through challenging times.
As one of the nation’s largest producers of Marketing Mail, IWCO Direct has always viewed our relationship with the U. S. Postal Service as a partnership. We look forward to building a close working relationship with Mr. DeJoy, just as we had with Ms. Brennan. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts and suggestions for the new PMG about how to ensure mail remains the strong marketing channel it has been since the first mail-order catalogs were introduced in the late 1800s.
Consistency and Predictability are Paramount
Consistent operational performance that drives stable pricing and predictable in-home delivery is what marketers need from their Postal Service partners. In addition, marketers need the reassurance that the Postal Service will be here for the long haul.
We know direct mail works. It’s a trusted source of information and drives solid response rates and return on marketing investment (ROMI). Recent news stories have called into question the financial stability of the Postal Service. While those of us in the mailing industry know the Postal Service is too important to the nation to be allowed to fail, USPS management needs to move decisively to reassure marketers that their investment in direct mail will be supported well into the future.
Workshare is the Linchpin for Marketing Mail
The strength of Marketing Mail has been built on worksharing partnerships between the Postal Service and the mailing industry, like presorting and drop-shipping mail. As former USPS VP Strategic Planning, Robert Reisner, has observed, “The Postal Service is already one of the largest public-private partnerships in the world. Understanding the elements of the relationships with customers, mail service providers, mailers and suppliers is a critical step” in planning the future of the Postal Service. Workshare partnerships are essential to a healthy postal ecosystem. These opportunities should be maintained and expanded.
Mail Complements and Competes with Other Marketing Channels
Savvy marketers know the importance of direct mail in their channel mix. In fact, mail combined with digital channels is one of the best marketing strategies available. However, marketers are always evaluating their channel balance and how that balance impacts their ROMI.
When postage rates rise faster than the rate of inflation, especially in a marketing channel environment in which the cost of using digital channels continues to fall, marketers are incented to move away from mail. The physicality of mail is one aspect of direct mail’s strong performance. We can’t let the cost of processing and delivering physical mail offset that strong performance.
Incentives are Important Right Now
Marketing Mail volume dropped 40% in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while we are seeing volume slowly come back, marketers are still figuring out how to engage with customers and prospects in the new/now/next normal.
Just as enterprises like retail stores and restaurants will be offering coupons (many using direct mail!) and other discounts to bring customers back through their doors, the Postal Service needs to seriously consider a broader array of “incentive pricing” to make it easier for marketers to relaunch and expand their direct mail campaigns as our economy reopens.
Our Invitation to the Postmaster General
We have one last recommendation for Mr. DeJoy: The Postal Service has many stakeholders; we know you’ve spent the past several weeks getting to know the people and processes of the Postal Service, but don’t forget to get to know your mailing industry partners, as well. As I noted in a post earlier this spring, the philosophy of the Postal Service is “the eagle always faces forward.” Now is the time for us to “face forward” together.
As part of the mailing industry leadership team for the Postmaster General’s Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), my colleague, Bob Rosser, and I look forward to engaging with you during the July MTAC meeting. Although COVID-19 distancing restrictions are currently limiting visitors to our facilities, if you want to learn more about how Marketing Mail is created, please consider visiting any of our facilities in Pennsylvania or Minnesota once those restrictions are lifted. We hope to see you soon.
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