Direct Marketing Association's Jerry Cerasale on the Proposed USPS 'Summer Sale'
This is a test for the Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission: Can they do this? Can they get it done? Can they get it done quickly? And then it's a little bit of a test to mailers: Will it grow some volume? I think the Postal Service is aware of the fact that this is late in the game for planning purposes for mailing and, of course, with the time lag of the PRC decision, also creates issues as to how much mailers will respond.
So, this is important for all mailers to get behind. The reason [the Postal Service] picked the top 4,000 mailers is because they have to do a baseline for each individual mailer to figure out if they're putting out more volume than they did last year. And that will take some time administratively. Our hope is that this works OK, and then we'll get greater notice on this [program] ... The Postal Service will have more time administratively to create baselines, and it will be open to all mailers.
TM: Is the U.S. Postal Service assuming any risk of decreased revenues with this discount?
JC: I think there is a small amount of risk on a shift [of mail drops]. But as you look at a lot of Standard mailers—at least those selling goods—their big time of the year is the holiday season. And I'm not sure they're going to shift—which is why the USPS doesn't have the sale extended beyond September—mail from October, November back to September because that could mess up response rates on holiday mailings. So there is a risk, but I don't think it's as great as some might initially think. I'm positive there will be some mail that will be shifted from October to September, but not a lot. And there might even be some mailers that delay mailings from early June into July. While there is some risk for decreased revenues, you also have the offset if it works. If it grows volume, you're going to have increased revenues. I think this is a relatively low-risk trial.
TM: Could this "summer sale" be the first in a line of overtures from the USPS to work with mailers to hold on to their business?
JC: We hope so. We encourage the USPS to not make this the first and the last, but to make this the first in a long line of [efforts].