Light at the End of the Tunnel?
In a presentation at the inaugural National Catalog Advocacy & Strategy Forum in Arlington, Va., on June 26-27, hosted by the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA), Senior Vice President of Customer Relations for the USPS Steve Kearney (and the former vice president of pricing and classification) said that although postal rates won’t decrease in the future, there’s a silver lining for the 70-plus in attendance — mostly catalog marketers: A special prospecting rate specifically for catalog mailers is a possibility.
After much prodding from the audience, led in particular by Lawrence Davis, vice president of marketing at Ross-Simons Jewelers, and Chris Bradley, president of Cuddledown, Kearney conceded that the USPS could try to work with catalogers to set a special rate for prospect catalog mailings. But there would have to be provisions.
Kearney noted that in order for such an agreement to work, catalogers will have to prove to the USPS that these catalogs wouldn’t be mailed if the reduction in price isn’t guaranteed. Catalogers in attendance agreed that with such a reduced rate, they’d be crazy not to put more books in the mail. This in turn would increase volume for the USPS, thus creating a win-win situation for both, the audience argued.
Discounts for All
The discounted rate must be made available for catalogers of all sizes, Bradley said. He noted that in the past, smaller catalogers have been at a disadvantage because they haven’t been able to afford negotiated service agreements with the USPS because of expensive legal fees that larger mailers can more easily absorb.
Another issue with the discounted rate is the length of time needed to determine if the program is working or, in essence, a pilot test program. While Kearney favors a shorter time frame from the USPS perspective of about six months, audience members targeted a year for the prospecting rate test.