Postal: What If the USPS Disappears?
"It is still [about] the overall cost structure of the USPS," says Joe Schick, director of postal affairs at Quad/Graphics. "Its platform needs to continue to be right-sized in order to bring down those costs. The USPS' greatest challenge is getting ahead of the curve and anticipating industry and volume changes before they are here."
DMA's Hudson says the USPS needs to recognize its role as a supplier to the American economy, and—like any supplier—work with its customers, and "not treat them like the enemy—listen, don't dictate." She says, "Get excess capacity out of the system by doing it now. Eliminate door delivery. Don't look to the customers' pocketbooks to fix all ills. Don't be afraid to lay off excess workforce."
"Two to three years ago, we had a perfect storm," says Howard. "There was a recession, inconsistent [USPS] delivery performance, young people only using digital media—and even when clients still loved to use the mail, their CFOs told them they couldn't. Marketers were forced to look elsewhere.
"Now," he continues, "we have excellent USPS service performance … and young people, deluged with digital messages and becoming turned off there, actually are discovering mail. Marketers have been coming back to mail, and using it wisely in an integrated way. The timing couldn't be worse for congressional inaction and steep postal hikes."
Clearly more is needed to enliven the Postal Service, and mailers are getting anxious and looking elsewhere.
Chet Dalzell is a New York-based freelance communications consultant with extensive ties to the direct marketing field. He also writes the Marketing Sustainably blog on targetmarketingmag.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @chetdalzell.