USPS Touts Direct Mail For Small Biz

US-mailboxFaced with steep declines in the volume of both first-class mail and direct-mail deliveries, the U.S. Postal Service has created a new suite of services -- and an accompanying marketing campaign -- touting direct mail’s advantages to small business owners. The initiative is aimed at increasing small business owners’ use of direct mail, in part by making it easier with a new Web-based service.

The Web-based service, Every Door Direct Mail, offers small business owners a simplified online interface for planning and executing local direct mail promotions at an average price of less than $0.15 per piece. Significantly, users don’t need to provide their own list of names and addresses for direct mail campaigns, which are targeted geographically down to the street or neighborhood level; however, users must still bring the mailings to their local post office.

The USPS is promoting the new service to small business owners through a new marketing campaign, including integrated TV, print and (fittingly) marketing mail advertisements.

The nation’s postal service continues to face a dire financial situation due to a steep decline in the number of pieces of mail delivered, from a peak of 213 billion in 2006 to just 177 billion in 2011. The total volume of standard (marketing) mail delivered every year has tumbled from 103 billion in 2006 to 84 billion pieces in 2011. First-class mail volume has fallen from 98 billion pieces to 73 billion pieces over the same period.

As a result of these declines, the USPS has been forced to propose sharp reductions in personnel and operations, including the closing of 220 mail processing centers and 3,600 post offices. The USPS has also proposed ending overnight delivery for first-class mail and periodicals and cutting Saturday delivery, although both measures have been halted (at least temporarily) due to political pressure, including successful lobbying by the magazine industry.

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