Archive for the ‘USPS’ Category

I See Dead Puppies

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Actually I don’t, but apparently I do talk to them on Twitter.

Yesterday, I was reading about the forever stamps being released this year by the USPS and came across the story of Owney the dog–who will be featured on a stamp in July. Owney was the unofficial mascot of the Railway Mail service from 1888 to 1897 where he rode the rails with postal workers. He even traveled around the world in 1895. You can learn more about Owney’s fascinating story at the National Postal Museum website. Today, Owney is stuffed and residing at the Postal Museum as a representative from that era of mail service.

After reading about Owney, I was compelled to post the following (somewhat humorous) remark on Twitter, “There’s a stuffed dog at the Smithsonian’s Postal Museum which is all the motivation my cat needs to do something noteworthy before death.”

Yes, I do tweet about my cat a little too much.

Much to my surprise, I received the following response just a little bit later.

Somewhere out in the interwebs an employee for the Postal Museum or the Smithsonian, is tracking these types of comments in Twitter. Looking for key words like “Smithsonian” or “Postal Museum” and commenting where appropriate. So a random joke like mine actually got the attention of an employee of the museum who responded as @OwneytheDog. It’s brilliant marketing if you think about it. A tiny gesture of goodwill from a stranger helps ensure that I’ll be looking for these stamps in July when they are released. For once, I’m not joking.

You read a lot about how to market on Twitter. Social Media Gurus use terms like “generating brand awareness” to sell the value of Twitter to their clients – or just to fill blog space. Either way, you don’t need a massive campaign to be successful at social media; it’s really the little things that count. The minimum required to be “good” at social media is to respond to customer inquiries and complaints, or seek out people to help generate interest. Yesterday, when the folks operating Owney’s Twitter account came across my silly little tweet and took thirty seconds to respond with two words, I doubt they anticipated a corporate blog from me in response.

Honestly though, isn’t that what people really want from Twitter? To know someone is listening to them and is willing to engage in a conversation.

This was so much more successful than the individuals that send you a message with cryptic text and a link to www.ifyouclickthislinkyourcomputerwillexplode.com.

Before I wrap this up, getting a tweet from a stuffed dog isn’t the strangest marketing I’ve received. Months ago I tweeted about throwing away single socks. I received a reply from an individual selling socks in packs of three. In other words, it ensured that if I lost a sock, I’d always have a backup. I replied asking how I’d know to buy an extra right or left sock. I never heard back.

To summarize, you can build a lot of goodwill with Twitter or Facebook by doing the little things right. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to impress people and get them on your side. It can be as simple as using the tools provided for the application you are working with, monitoring those tools and responding when appropriate. So if you find yourself at the Postal Museum, say hi to Owney for me. If you don’t find yourself there anytime soon, be sure to pick up his stamps in July.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make my cat a YouTube viral sensation.

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What do Rockets, Missiles and Cloud Services have in common?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

The answer is that they have each played a part in the history of the mailing industry.

February 23, 1936 – two rockets were launched in an attempt to transport mail 2,000 feet across a frozen lake. These rockets crash-landed on the ice and the postmaster had to drag the bags of mail across the frozen lake to the post office.

On June 8, 1959 – a navy submarine fired a guided missile carrying 3,000 letters towards a naval air station in Mayport, FL. At that time the postmaster general stated, “Before man reaches the moon mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California by guided missile.”

On January 7, 2010 – Lorton Data announced the release of “Aqua-Mailer”, a complete, on-demand suite of direct mail services. These “in the cloud” services enable direct mailers to streamline their processes and save on software costs therefore increasing their bottom line profit.

Mailing technology has come a long way………..the sky’s the limit!

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Intelligent Mail Barcode Deadline Changes but…

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

The Postal Service has pushed back the deadline for mandatory use of the Intelligent Mail barcode from May 2009 to May 2011. Just because it isn’t mandatory for a while doesn’t mean you can’t start using it now, and take advantage of all the benefits available today. If you don’t currently use endorsements, ACS, or PLANET codes, and simply use the POSTNET barcode for postage discounts, then it’s a breeze to switch over to the Intelligent Mail barcode. Just get a Mailer ID and the rest is easy!

If you do use endorsements, ACS or PLANET codes wouldn’t it be nice to clean up your address block? Let the Intelligent Mail barcode do it all!  Why print a POSTNET barcode, a participant code, and a PLANET code when you only need to print the Intelligent Mail barcode?  You can get started today by learning more about IMB at http://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=intellmaillatestnews.

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USPS promises no rate increases in 2010

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

On October 15, Postmaster General Jack Potter issued a letter reassuring postal customers there would be no price increases in 2010 for dominant mail products.  These include First-Class Mail, Standard Mail and periodicals. For the average individual, this might sound like a mundane announcement, but for direct marketers and mailers across the county this has positive implications for the upcoming calendar year.

First, it will be easier to plan marketing budgets.  Potter stated: “as we begin the fiscal year and as many of you, our business clients, are preparing your 2010 operating budgets, we want to end all speculation.  The Postal Service will not increase prices for market dominant products in calendar year 2010.”

Companies that participate in direct mail now have a static number to calculate their postage expenses for all marketing activities.  This will also allow them to allocate any funds set aside for postage rate increases to other marketing activities which can drive sales in 2010.

Next, at minimum it should sustain current mail volumes, if not increase them for 2010.  According to Potter, “While increasing prices might have generated revenue for the Postal Service in the short term, the long term effect could drive additional mail out of the system.”  By not increasing prices, Potter shows he understands the current economic climate could drive people away from direct marketing based on cost.  Holding steady allows companies to continue the same flow into the mailing system, or even increase their units.

Third, it is an important forward looking statement from the USPS.  Historically, the perception is that the Postal Services has been run like a government bureaucracy.  With the recent summer sale, and now locking in 2010 prices in time for direct marketers to plan a 2010 budget, Potter is acting like a corporate executive and aligning the attitude of the USPS more with the mindset of businesses that use its services.

Finally, it is a bold move to support the direct mail industry by the USPS.  By locking in rates during a time of deflation in an attempt to keep revenue steady while looking at other cost cutting moves, the postal service is positioning itself to help direct marketers stabilize their businesses.

In essence, these moves not only help the United States Postal Service, but the move to retain the current volume of mail and revenue should encourage companies to continue their direct marketing campaigns, and potentially increase direct mail activities.

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