It’s no secret the US Postal Service has taken a hit from the private sector mail business. The blog Presort.com reports that the USPS is predicting an 8.3 billion dollar loss in 2011, and therefore may be facing a shut-down in 2012.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Postal Service has been conducting a series of free seminars for small businesses around the country; seminars that that help business owners to potentially grow their businesses utilizing services from the Post Office.
At first glance, this sounds like a win-win, right? Good for the small businesses, because they learn and implement new marketing tactics, and good for the Postal Service, because they can sell more of services and generate some much needed revenue, right?
Well, read a little deeper, and you begin to wonder. At least I did.
Here’s what appears on the back of side of the 7 X 10 glossy mailer that landed in my mailbox:
“Saturate a target area.”
“Spam the neighborhood!”
“Utilize carrier routes instead of mailing lists.”
“Don’t bother defining your target customer, segmenting you list; just throw the spaghetti against the wall, and hope that some of it sticks.”
“Save on lists and printing.”
“Wait a minute!!! How am I saving on printing, if you’re telling me to “saturate” a target area with a printed mailer? Wouldn’t it make more sense if I carefully target my best prospects, and deliver more personalized, and highly relevant messages and promotions to them? Won’t I get a much higher hit rate? And won’t I save even more on printing costs, if I utilize targeted email campaigns, instead of printed mailers?”
Am I reading it wrong?
Businesses communicate differently with their markets today, than they did when the U.S. Postal Service was established in 1971, and when the Post Office Department was decreed by the Second Continental Congress in 1792.
And Customer expectations have evolved. Customers hate spam. And customers hate junk mail. And more customers are beginning to hate those companies that send them junk mail. It’s bothersome, intrusive, and it wastes a lot of paper.
And Marketing practices have evolved. Companies are realizing that it’s more cost-effective to send a series of targeted messages to carefully-segmented sets of customers, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. Yes, it’s more work, but the ROI is much greater.
And Technology has evolved, to make it all faster, cheaper, and easier. It’s now very affordable for even the smallest company to build and manage a mailing list, and group that list into meaningful segments, and create and send highly-relevant email to each customer segment.
And yes, there’s the Green Thing. Companies are trying to use less paper, and customers respect those companies that do.
Is the US Postal Service really helping small businesses with their “Grow Your Business Days” seminars? Or are they hurting small businesses by promoting mis-guided and outdated marketing practices?
Am I being too critical of the Postal Service?
I’d like to hear what you think.