I once heard someone in our industry remark, "the name and address is only pennies, that's no big deal." Using that thought process ignores the additional expense of the ink and paper, postage, production and also the lost potential revenue to mail to an incorrect or inappropriate address. Instead, use those resources and mail to someone who is a better candidate at a deliverable address.
Another example of the USPS' goal to reduce UAA and improve the state of the direct mail industry is extending the now familiar Move Update Requirement for discounted First-Class Mail to Standard Mail and changing the frequency to 95 days in 2008. That could occur near the same time as the changes to CASS Cycle M (You are familiar with Delivery Point Validation, DPV and LACSLink last August). These are not the only actions initiated by the USPS to improve address quality. Already announced is the requirement that all address files must be processed thru CASS Certified Address matching software to earn a discounted rate of postage by January 2009.
Going Green Sustainability Policies and Actions Say NO to Do Not Mail
High kudos to the U.S. Postal Service for its "Cradle to Cradle " certification on its Priority Mail and Express Mail packaging. (See May 30th Remarks of Postmaster General John E. Potter at: www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/allnews.htm )
So why is that a big deal? Anyone who's aware of the news and advertising today will realize that all companies are taking measures to "go green" and establish and implement sustainability policies. Doing so is vital in so many ways. Especially to highlight the value of mail and dispel the myths promoted by media vying for ad dollars around direct mail that it is a major pollutant and a source of identity theft. Direct Mail makes up less than 2.2% of municipal solid waste (and that number is much less when industrial waste is included) and less than 4% of the source of identity theft comes from mail. So where does identity theft originate? Here's the list that was compiled by The President's Identity Theft Task Force. It includes:
- Employee or insider theft
- Electronic intrusions or hacking
- "Phishing" for personal information through bogus emails
- Lost or stolen wallets, checkbooks or credit cards
- Taking information from a credit card receipt or during a purchase
- Misuse by a family member or sharing personal or financial information
- Computer malware, spyware or keystroke loggers
- And there's old-fashioned "dumpster diving" picking through someone's trash
With Do Not Mail legislation a growing threat in many states, a green message, and relating the real facts about mail is essential for the 9 million people employed in the $900 billion direct marketing industry.
Intelligent Mail Barcode What Are the Specifications Anyway?
Keeping up with change. That definitely applies to the newest barcode developed by the USPS. When it was first announced, it was called the 4-state barcode. I was pretty concerned and hoped I lived in one of those new trendy four states. It took awhile to find out that the "state" referred to one of the four different heights of the barcode. Come on, I'm not alone! Confess! As the USPS folks work with industry to find the right specification that will work for both, you have got to stay tuned to all your industry resources, as well as the USPS website that houses all the technical specifications and timelines at: http://ribbs.usps.gov/onecodesolution/.
There are so many uses for this new barcode to not only provide visibility inside the USPS' processing system, but to identify the mailer, gain new updated address information and determine even the class of mail without looking at the postage or rate marking.
Service Performance and Performance Measurement
What gets measured gets improved. That's an old saying, but it tends to be true. One of the requirements of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act the President signed into law last December requires the USPS, in consultation with the Postal Regulatory Commission, to establish service standards and a system of objective performance measurements for their market dominant products (First-Class Mail, Periodicals, Standard and Single-Piece Package Services). I look at this effort as good news since we reply on consistent delivery of the mail. Once the plan has been established and implemented, the performance numbers will be available to the public to assist with planning mail promotions and also to see improvements in delivery consistency.
All of the topics require learning, training and possible system changes within any organization. A statement that often finds people embarrassed is, "I put my people thru a training session, so we should be fine." There is a lot more to training than just attending a one or two hour PowerPoint presentation! The concepts have to be put into practice. You have got to apply what you think you learned. I conducted many presentations this past year on "The Rate Case."
I cautioned the attendees about a little known fact compiled thru research with human resource managers from Fortune 500 companies: 90 % of what adults learn comes from previous knowledge. So if you had little knowledge of how to calculate postage rates before The Rate Case, pull out the Advil!
And retention after 24 hours is:
- 10% Hear
- 20% See
- 65% of what you See and Hear
- 80%-90% of See, Hear and Do in a logical sequence
Until you apply what you think you remember, you have not learned. Just ask someone what a Flat is and how to determine if it is too "droopy."
Direct Mail Is Still Preferred
A recent survey by International Communications Research, commissioned by Pitney Bowes found that 73% of consumers prefer mail for receiving new product announcements or offers from companies they do business with. Mail was also preferred by 70% of respondents for receiving unsolicited information on products and services from companies with which they are not currently doing business. For confidential communications, such as bills, bank statements and financial reports, 86% of respondents preferred mail as their channel of choice. The survey also found that 31% of consumers are less likely to discard unopened mail, including new product brochures, catalogs or other advertising materials.
Keeping up with Postal Changes. Are you "Dialed In?"
"Today, more than ever, organizations and their employees must find ways to accept and accommodate change. Change creates a climate of uncertainty and discomfort." That statement, and other information about adapting to change, is available from COPE Inc. Being aware of the constant changes associated with the direct mail industry is the first important step. How do I keep up with postal changes? The same way many of you do. You're reading one of the leading industry publications right now!
I also read and subscribe to daily email newsletters from other top industry sources, including the DMM Advisory (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the PCC Insider (www.usps.com/pcc). I participate in the U.S. Postal Service's Postal Customer Council as well as the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, MTAC. I am a member of the Association for Postal Commerce, PostCom, and reference their website daily. Another good website that lists postal activity from across the USA is www.postalnews.com. The Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association, MFSA, provides great educational events, webinars and newsletters as well as an interactive member email forum to ask and learn about our industry. And I know you subscribe to the FREE USPS MailPro, right?
By staying connected, you will be able to have more insight and ability to pursue topics that affect your operations and see the challenges as an opportunity to learn new skills. You can look for what you can control in your work and provide input as the changes affect your business.
As I raise my glass, filled with a very nice merlot, I am reading, "Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life" by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, MD. (I thought the cheese would go well with my wine while I learn how to better adapt to all the postal changes in my life). I don't need to wish, "May You Live in Interesting Times" because if you work with direct mail, you already know that you do!
Wanda Senne is the National Director of Postal Development for World Marketing and liaison to the USPS. She currently serves on the MTAC Leadership Committee in the focus area of Seamless Acceptance & Induction and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom). What began as an industry-given nickname took on a life of its own when she was officially referred to as the Postal Princess by the Deputy Postmaster General in 1992. She often receives business letters and emails addressed to the Postal Princess and, strangely, many have sought her regally-titled business card as a collectors' item. For additional information, call 770-431-2591, email email@example.com or visit www.worldmarkinc.com.