Understanding Postal: Caught in the Postal Downstream
In my role as second-in-command with American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA), I’m often asked by members what they should do about their catalog marketing programs in light of the current state of calamity facing the nearly bankrupt U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In these uncertain times, our recommendation is fivefold:
- Pay attention to what’s going on in Washington and advocate for your company’s general needs.
- Determine your specific business needs as they relate to the Postal Service.
- Build a relationship with your elected representatives. Communicate to them your business needs and how they impact your employment.
- Engage and support those working with the Postal Service and Congress to figure out viable solutions to this complex problem.
- Stay informed as to how various alternative approaches may impact your business.
Despite all the postal tumult, ACMA’s raison d’etre, lobbying for lower or stable catalog postage, is under control — at least for now. Effective Jan. 22, catalog mailers are subject to a consumer price index-capped 2.2 percent rate increase for Standard Mail flats and a 2.4 percent rate hike for Carrier Route flats, the two primary catalog mail categories. While no increase is ideal, these modest increases are certainly doable for most direct marketers. There is, however, an exigency rate case on the table.
Beyond this seemingly routine postage rate hike, there’s plenty of backstage drama taking place in Washington, most of which will impact catalogers and other mailers. To focus on matters specific to catalogers, consider the full picture of the ailing USPS. As of press time, the House and Senate were seeking ways to rework their marked-up postal reform bills (H.R. 2309 and P-21, respectively) to get them enacted. The goal is to reform the USPS for future long-term success as a scaled-down operation in the digital age.
Both bills, as well as a plan unveiled by the Obama administration, were introduced last fall not long after the USPS itself presented a multifaceted plan to rebound from its current dire situation.