At National Postal Forum, Postmaster Urges 'Dramatic Change'
For the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), it is time for “dramatic change.”
On Monday morning, May 22, at the National Postal Forum (NPF), taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 21-24, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy made the declaration to a room filled with what appeared to be thousands of event attendees.
“The time for subtle, incremental change has long ago passed,” he said.
Over the course of his hour-long keynote address, DeJoy described the need for systematic change across the USPS, and he didn’t mince words. He spoke candidly about the organization’s struggles and downfalls during the past 15 years and described a bright future with a series of changes to the USPS with a “comprehensive redesign of the organization and practices.”
DeJoy gave attendees a look at some of the plans and strategies that the organization has implemented since the release of the Delivering for America plan.
“Our objectives have been comprehensive, broad, and they have been deep,” he said. “We have focused not just on delivering the mail tomorrow, but also rescuing the Postal Service from ongoing and severe crisis.”
DeJoy recalled June of 2020 when he joined the organization and described the conditions inside the organization as “unimaginable.” “We were projected to lose $20 billion that year and run out of cash in 50 days,” he said.
He questioned how such a vital organization could fall into a financial situation that rendered it close to collapse. He cited a variety of factors that contributed to the decline, but stressed that today, the organization is incorporating solutions to enable growth and success. Some of these solutions include reinventing processes, reorganizing districts, ensuring consistency, and updating more than 900 manuals, as well as infrastructure changes. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, DeJoy admitted.
In fact, one executive called it “The Great Unwind,” he said. “Once we had a better handle on what we were doing every day, we began to address the major structural design changes required in each function,” he said.
The USPS is investing in new technology, such as package processing systems and data management, and taking steps to meet its promises, like ensuring that all facilities are equipped with the power needed to support a fleet of electric vehicles, announced last year.
DeJoy closed by saying that the organization is striving to “reclaim its voice.” “One of the most unfortunate characteristics of the Postal Service that developed over the past 15 years is that we lost almost all ability and willingness to shape the dialogue about us,” he said.
With his overall inspirational message, it’s clear DeJoy is aiming to do that.
Digital Marketing and Direct Mail Integration
The NPF kicked off on Sunday, May 21, with educational sessions. Three USPS officers took the stage for the first session, “Direct Mail in a Digital World.” Tom Foti, VP, product solutions, shared that the direct mail advertising market is expected to grow from $41.7 billion in 2022 to $43.1 billion in 2023 and reach $43.7 billion in 2026, according to the Winterberry Group. He explained that this is because direct mail is holding steady when compared to other advertising channels.
It’s clear that marketers have confidence in direct mail as a channel since, according to the speakers, only 7% of marketers do not already integrate direct mail into their omnichannel strategy. However, the opportunity exists to innovate how direct mail is used.
Shavon Keys, VP, sales, complemented Foti’s statements by adding that one of the opportunities in direct mail exists in personalization. Brands can and should present their customers with relevant products and services “at the right time.”
“Consumers continue to want experiences that are personalized to their personal preferences,” she said.
In fact, audiences cited reliability, trust, and personalization as key benefits of direct mail, Foti noted.
Gary Reblin, VP, innovative business technology, then joined Foti and Keys on stage. He described the “explosion” of Informed Delivery users in the past two years – 36 million to 55.5 million in the past two years – as well as USPS’s efforts to garner more trust with customers. He explained that the organization has a new strategy to place 450 parcel lockers in 10 markets. The lockers will be free and available 24/7 and will allow USPS customers to have packages sent to a secure location.
On the theme of the power and influence of Informed Delivery, Robert Dixon, director, product technology innovation, and Fernando Mello, manager, digital media, both of the USPS, hosted a session highlighting the successes of Informed Delivery in the mail and digital space.
With Informed Delivery, “you have a unique opportunity to enhance the impact of the message,” Dixon said. He explained that the 55.5 million users are highly engaged, with a 66.7% average email open rate for the Informed Delivery Daily Digest email and 21.5% open rate across all industries.
It’s not just a digital marketing platform, he told the attendees, “It’s Phygital … Intrinsically integrating digital and physical marketing efforts to continue to drive customer engagement.”
And it’s effective. He said that when direct mail and email are combined, it results in an average 27% response rate.
Although it’s effective, it needs to be strategic. Mello joined the conversation and explained that consumers have high expectations, which requires highly effective marketing strategies because “a lot of digital clutter exists.”
The most valuable source of information in 2023? First-party data, he predicts.
Informed Delivery can “provide a rich source of first-party data,” Mello said.
“Informed Delivery is a marketing channel, and it creates a memorable 'phygital' experience,” he concluded.
Related story: Marketing Mail Innovation Showcase at National Postal Forum