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Postmaster General Says Technology is Making Mail More Powerful

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Press release from the issuing company

SAN FRANCISCO — Technology and changing consumer expectations are helping to transform mail into an even more powerful communications channel, Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe told the nation’s largest annual gathering of mailing industry leaders today.

“As the mailing industry, we must continue to work to drive innovation and leverage data and technology to improve the consumer experience and grow revenue," Donahoe said in his keynote address at the National Postal Forum. “Our challenge as an industry is to shape those moments when people are experiencing mail, and make them more powerful in the future. That’s part of getting our game on — shaping our future and building excitement about the power of mail and the future of mail.”

Mail already has an advantage over other ways of communicating, Donahoe said, because it is tactile and encourages users to interact with it. “People slow down and absorb what they receive. They process it. They retain it,” he said. To strengthen that experience, Donahoe urged the mailing industry to focus on four key ideas: making mail more personally relevant, more actionable, more functional and more creative.

“Through the convergence of data and technology, mailers can use the insights about individual interests to make mail more personal,” he said. “With imbedded QR codes and augmented reality, mail becomes much more functional and creative, creating an even more influential experience.”

Donahoe also touted the fact that American businesses are spending the same percentage of their marketing dollars on mail today as they did 30 years ago. 

“Even with the emergence of cable television, social media and smartphones, marketing mail has remained constant because of the tremendous value it delivers to consumers who receive it and its ability to drive an exceptional return on investment for the businesses who send it,” said Donahoe. “The growth of our industry is going to be driven by changing technologies and customer expectations. We have to work together as an industry to anticipate these changes by leveraging the value of mail to shape new opportunities.”

The Postmaster General also advanced themes relating to innovation in the Postal Service in the areas of delivery, digital integration and targeting to extend the delivery platform and provide growth opportunities for the mailing industry and America’s businesses. 

“Innovating digital integration is fundamental to improving the consumer experience — and combining the targeting power of online advertising with that mail experience will make mail far more valuable to the receiver and the sender,” Donahoe said.

The Postmaster General also described the Postal Services’ aggressive cost reduction efforts and their impacts on the mailing industry:  reducing the size of the workforce by 193,000 employees since 2006; reducing the organization’s cost base by $15 billion; reducing 21,000 delivery routes; and consolidating the network of mail processing facilities while maintaining record levels of service.

“No other organization that I can think of — either public or private — has gone through a similar downsizing so rapidly and continued to function at a high level,” said Donahoe. “It all comes down to one word for this industry: affordability. The faster we can reduce costs, the better we can avoid pressure to raise prices. That’s why we continue to seek comprehensive reform legislation to provide more flexibility in our business model to create a sustainable platform for the future.”

 

Discussion

By Joe Webb on Mar 19, 2013

"Donahoe also touted the fact that American businesses are spending the same percentage of their marketing dollars on mail today as they did 30 years ago."

This is rather hard to believe -- would like to see the data on this (I can't find any).

The quote from the speech is "30 years ago, marketing mail claimed roughly 12 percent of the total marketing spend in the U.S. economy. Do you know what that number is today? It’s still 12 percent."
The whole speech is at http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2013/pr13_036a.htm

If you imagine something that looks like a bell curve, and each end is 12%, that could be the value before and after a boom. If this was the case, the volume of mail would have been growing as long-term advertising spending grows roughly at the same long-term rate as GDP.

It does not make sense compared to other data, especially those published by the USPS itself.

That said, this man is in a thankless job. I'm surprised his forehead is not covered with bruises from hitting his head against his office wall.

 

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