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US Postal Service – The Power of Direct Mail

Date: December, 2011 --

The US Postal Service senior management meets four times a year with an organization known as the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC). This committee consists of some 60 or so trade organizations who are deeply engaged with the USPS in making its operations as efficient as possible.  They are in fact an important community of advisors to the USPS on everything from the wisdom of a special postage rate on self-mailer envelopes to what information they need when people file change of address forms.  When MTAC meets, probably 75% of the USPS’s volume is represented in the room. They help the USPS focus on what customers need, what is not working in their operations, and what the USPS should NOT do.

Besides many technical committees who work on a wide range of topics between meetings, and who report on their work to the entire membership at “MTAC”, USPS management reports on developments and prospects.  Sometimes these developments are major, as when we reported last May on the soon-to-issue specifications for self-mailers. 

The news comes from the management of the USPS, and this time Joyce Carrier, Manager, Advertising and Media Planning, reported on USPS research on perceptions of mail by customers and its own experience using direct mail to “sell the Post”.  She also introduced the USPS’s own strategy to build the value and volume of the mail. 

In essence the USPS will:

  • Sell mail products to businesses through case study proofs and data
  • Sell mail products to businesses by demonstrating that consumers read mail via direct mail, Internet and television marketing.

Joyce had some very upbeat data from recent research. For example, the USPS discovered 36% of businesses believe that consumers don’t like mail, when in fact 64% of consumers themselves believe mail is an effective communications tool.  That’s a pretty good data point for that first goal noted above.

Joyce also  noted that they will be using the example of the USPS’s own direct mail campaign (a 2010 Echo Winner) titled “The Power of Mail”, which resulted in over 2 million requests for shipping kits (so-called “flat rate boxes”).  One other part of the same campaign involved magazine advertisements, some with only a phone number and URL and some also with BRM cards.  The cards increased the magazine ad response rate by 600%! The ROI on that portion of the campaign was 107%! 

The US national share of total ad spend devoted to direct mail has remained around 12% for much of the past 20 years, and the USPS Household Diary Study shows that 18% of 22 to 24 year-olds will respond to standard mail pieces.

So, direct mail is evolving and the creative uses and “marketing affiliations”, such as the magazine ad and a BRM card, are proving highly effective.  Of course, you have to get the right message to the right person, and Data Services, Inc. can make sure the right person gets the right message. Ensure data quality does not affect your next direct mail campaign with Data Services’ Free Data Hygiene Audit.