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Oct. 24 2012 10:29 AM

Paranoia - unreasonable suspicion of other's thoughts or motives.

Occasionally, over the last few years, I have railed against the USPS and their efforts to track our customers and compete directly with printing and mailing service providers. I have even gone as far as to accuse our industry leaders of being too understanding, complacent or sympathetic to the needs of the Postal Service. Seeing the Postal Service as a threat, I constantly advocate for a more confrontational approach to the USPS when they infringe on what I perceive as our rights, our customers and our markets.

For years it seems as if I have been the lone voice advocating for strong action when the USPS deviates from its core mission, delivering our mail. My position since the early 90's has been that the USPS wants to not only deliver direct mail but also design and produce direct mail. I came to this conclusion early on, not just from the actions of the Postal Service, but from conversations with mid-level postal managers who stated that this was their intention.

I once had a good friend (postal industry) jokingly tell me that I may be suffering from borderline paranoia. But then added, of course if they really are out to get you, you're not paranoid just threatened. Thinking back, maybe he wasn't joking. At any rate, for my friend and all those in our industry that might agree with a layman's diagnosis of paranoia (unreasonable suspicion of other's thoughts or motives), I offer this as my defense and as a WARNING!

In the Postcom Bulletin dated September 14, 2012 there is an article written by Raquel Ferrari, Programme Manager, Direct Marketing and Stakeholder Relations, Universal Postal Union. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is an organization of the world's postal services. The USPS is a major player in this organization. The article discusses the opportunities (and successes) postal services around the world have in the market place as they look to stay relevant. I excerpt a few of the significant points that were made in the article here. To read the full, chilling article contact the people at

Ferrari talks about trends happening in Postal Services around the world:

1. "[they are] adding value to their core distribution services by offering products and services both before and after delivery."
2. "These include consultancy and agency services, data management and list offers, printing, finishing and lettershop services, as well as response management, logistics and reverse logistics, and customer service."
3. "Some of these value added services have even become core to some posts, such as data management"

Based on a survey the UPU conducts yearly:

1. "at least 43% of all posts now provide mailing list services"
2. "36% possess mapping and profiling capabilities for unaddressed direct mail"
3. "58% offer mail preparation services such as lettershop and/or printing"
4. "42% of posts offer consulting in direct mail"
5. "Some have turned into full service agencies, offering one stop solutions allowing advertisers to plan and implement their entire direct mail campaigns through the post."
6. "Such solutions are often, but not exclusively, focused on small and medium enterprises."

Another trend identified in the article is a move into digital channels:

1. "the creation of special divisions dedicated to digital channels"
2. "the acquisition of subsidiary companies specialising in direct marketing"
3. "To give just a few examples: Canada Post is currently expanding into digital media offerings, placing great emphasis on the collection and use of data; Norway Post has acquired Bring Dialog, a customer relationship agency that offers end to end campaign planning, including delivery through various media channels; is one of the companies owned by Deutsche Post DHL specialising in targeting for online advertising; and PostNL's subsidiary Netwerk VSP, which delivers unaddressed printed advertising throughout the Netherlands, launched an interactive platform in 2011 offering leaflets online on behalf of retail clients.
4. "Data is fundamental to the achievement of successful direct mail campaigns, and it is also the foundation of digital media campaigns."
5. "When expanding vertically into channel diversification, one of the key developments [for Posts] is exactly into digital data management."

If you feel threatened by the correlation of how other Posts are expanding their services and the direction the USPS has taken over the last few years, you too may be paranoid. If you can't see that the full intention of our Postal Service is to use their considerable resources to compete directly with us you are, at the very least, naive. The Postal Service cannot be allowed to expand beyond the delivery of mail or it will be the end of our industry! Sorry, my paranoia may be showing again.

Todd Butler, Butler Mailing Services, eKEY Technologies, 513-870-5060,,

Making postal delivery, an interactive, digital experience!