The U.S. Postal Service is under siege, but it’s fighting back with new services and PR. Since the first of the year, news streaming from the USPS has been flat-out and rolling.
• On January 25, the USPS announced its popular “2nd Ounce Free” pricing in which businesses mailing First-Class Mail automation, presort can mail letters weighing up to 2 ounces at the 1-ounce postage rate.
• On January 27, the USPS touted its Express Mail Flat Rate Box. Ideal for consumers and small businesses selling merchandise online, the Postal Service’s Express Mail Flat Rate Box provides overnight delivery — up to 70 pounds — almost anywhere in the country for $39.95.
• On February 16, the Postmaster General released his five-year plan for “returning to profitability and long-term financial stability.” As reported by the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association, the plan included the following options:
– $20 billion reduction of annual costs by 2015.
– full repayment of a $12.9 billion debt owned by the Postal Service to the U.S. Treasury.
– provision of employee health benefits independent of federal programs.
– transition to a national five-day delivery schedule.
– aggressive pursuit of its mail processing, retail, and delivery options.
• On February 24, we learned that the Postal Service “saved more than $34 million dollars and generated $24 million in 2011 by reducing energy, water, consumables, petroleum fuel use and solid waste to landfills, conservation efforts encouraged by the Go Green Forever stamps.”
• On March 7, the Postal Service edited its plan to consolidate its mail processing network, announcing that the plan also would include a suspension of the consolidation efforts during the election mailing season. The switch, said USPS, was “in order to avoid any adverse impact on the November election,” but the suspension also bought time for opponents to gather forces against post office closings, etc.
• On March 20, “The U.S. Postal Service REunveiled a new integrated marketing campaign to promote easy-to-use and affordable direct mail and shipping services to America’s small businesses.” For about 15 cents apiece, the so-called Every Door Direct Mail service works directly with small businesses locally to help them prospect new and existing customers without the need for names or address.
• On March 30, The USPS announced its intent to allow commercial mailers to include logos, trademarks, brand images, and other kinds of marketing designs in the permit imprint indicia area.” The plan, which must be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission, is earmarked for June 24, 2012 release.
And then things picked up at the National Postal Forum.
• On April 2, the USPS announced the unveiling of gopost, the first automated electronic parcel locker for receiving and shipping packages. If you’ve seen it outside your local post office, you know it does look very cool.
• On April 3, “Postal News” announced the launch of its latest redesign of the Click-N-Ship online tool, designed to make it easier and faster for customers to manage and ship their domestic and international packages. “Customers using Click-N-Ship will see a cleaner, more streamlined design that reflects the features of usps.com,” the press release said.
• On April 4, the U.S. Postal Service honored Connecticut-based creative and marketing services firm, Sibley Smart Copy, with the 2012 Deliver magazine Marketing Achievement in Innovation and Leadership (M.A.I.L.). Hey, good copy works!
And, last but not least …
• On April 2 at the National Postal Forum, the Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe, told attendes in his keynote address, “As an industry, we have to retain what differentiates mail and physical delivery, and bring it into the future. It’s astonishing how much is changing in the ways people communicate. Mail has to be a part of these changes … Where we start is with the idea of delivery.”
Mr. Donahoe discussed the four core business strategies of the Postal Service:
– “Strengthening the business to consumer channel;
– improving the customer experience;
– growing the package business;
– and continuing to become leaner, faster, and smarter as an organization.”
“We have left nothing off of the table in terms of rethinking how we perform our core function of delivering,” he said. “The best way forward is to embrace the potential of change. As an industry, and as individual businesses, we need to think about the rewards of a more dynamic future.”
Eddie Woods’ April 12 blog has more details from the Postal Forum. Check out his report here.
Some of these benefits obviously accrue directly to consumers. Other programs and services support the mailing industry, while options like Every Door Direct Mail appear to put the industry in competition with the postal service itself. As such, all efforts are aimed at survival. To which we can only say, “soldier on!”