Kudos for the USPS, With Reservations
Over the last three years, I've been super vocal about my dislike for the U.S. Postal Service and its less-than-forward-thinking bureaucracy. When it slammed catalog mailers with 20 percent-plus postage increases in 2007, I went (pun intended) postal on it.
Earlier this year after it announced its summer postage sale, I was optimistic. But once I looked at the fine print (i.e., how much you had to mail to qualify), I was critical then, too.
I try to be fair and balanced in offering my opinions.
Therefore, I have to applaud the USPS for its announcement last week that there would not be a postal rate increase in 2010 for dominant classes.
For those of you not aware yet, last week Postmaster General Jack Potter sent out a memo announcing no 2010 rate increase, which has spread around the internet faster than a scandalous YouTube video goes viral. That memo can be reviewed here.
I know, I know: Postal rates are already ridiculously and restrictively high. But at least mailers can build their 2010 mail plans without having to cut circulation from marginal lists and housefile segments.
Along with my kudos to the postmaster and the USPS, however, I also want to put them on notice. Here goes:
Dear Mr. Postmaster General,
You've started a trend here. Between the postal summer sale and now this offer to keep postal rates stable in 2010, catalog and direct mailers believe that you may actually be interested in working to our benefit. We look forward to the next postal sale, and hope that the USPS opens it up to smaller mailers to take advantage of. We truly hope that you'll continue to stop thinking like a bureaucracy and encourage more mail volume with innovative special offers and such.
But direct marketers are also wary because the USPS holds a great deal of power and leverage over us. The last substantial postal rate increase nearly put us under with rate increases of 20 percent-plus. What was the USPS thinking? That move single-handedly drove more and more mailers into the online world. Doing the math, we believe the increase actually caused your revenues to go down due to less mail in the mailstream.
Remember this, Mr. Postmaster General: Every penny more it costs us to mail means we need to generate about 2 cents more per catalog mailed just to break even. In this economy, we need every opportunity we can get to mail our catalogs profitably. We're struggling to stay alive and keep our workers employed and our customers satisfied.
Keep up the good work, Mr. Postmaster. Please continue this trend.
The Direct Mail Industry
As to you, my loyal readers, I encourage you to send your letters to the postmaster general (or just copy mine and send it). Make your voice heard! Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Reach the postmaster general at the following:
The Honorable John E. Potter
U.S. Postal Service
475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20260-0010
Next week I'll discuss a tactic to help you reduce mail costs by doing a specific suppression on your housefile and list rentals.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog, direct marketing and social media agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert. You can email him at email@example.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect or read his blog at gilbertdirectmarketing.wordpress.com/.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.