December 2, 2010, marked Jack Potter's last day as Postmaster
General. We would like to thank Jack for his 32 years of service
with the USPS, particularly the past nine as PMG. During the
longest tenure as PMG since the early 1800s, Potter dealt with many
tough circumstances, including 9/11, the anthrax scare and
declining mail volumes. He was an ally to the mailing community and
his leadership has been deeply appreciated.
His successor, Patrick Donahoe, is a seasoned postal service
veteran with the knowledge and experience to tackle the continuing
tough challenges facing the Postal Service. As he starts his term
as the 73rd PMG, we would like to offer our recommendations for
what it will take to keep the USPS viable well into the future:
- Engage Congress to address the issue of Postal Service
overpayments into retiree healthcare benefit and pension
programs. Relieving the Postal Service of its prepayment
obligations into these overfunded accounts, and moving the
surpluses to cover other USPS obligations, would go a long way
toward keeping the Postal Service in the black for the next
- Provide consistent and predictable service performance and
prices. For direct mail to be an effective part of a
multichannel marketing campaign, mailers must be able to accurately
predict when mail will be in-home. For accurate planning and
budgeting, mailers need the stability of price changes indexed to
inflation (not an ongoing string of exigent increases).
- Continue to make needed adjustments to USPS operations.
The postal processing and distribution network, and the labor force
supporting it, are too large for the current volume of mail.
- Determine customer value by looking at each customer's total
use of the postal system, not using an incremental
product-by-product approach (e.g. the Postal Service should look at
the profitability of a customer across all classes of mail and all
postal products used, not viewing each class or product's
profitability in isolation).
- Develop a better understanding of USPS customers and their
needs, then adjust the USPS product mix to meet those needs.
Examples include revising outdated regulations, understanding the
Postal Service's role in the end-to-end supply chain that creates
and delivers marketing mail, and focusing on how to create value in
the supply chain as a whole.
- Build stronger internal teams focused on product
development so mailers have a partner within the Postal Service
who will ask, “How can we make this work together?”
instead of focusing on why something won't work.
- Empower customers to drive product development. For
example, allow mailers to develop “apps” using data in
the Intelligent Mail barcode based on an “IMb app developer's
toolkit” rather than requiring all development be
These are significant challenges facing Donahoe and the USPS.
But with the support of the mailing community, we believe that,
together, we can build a stronger USPS in the years to come.
Kurt Ruppel is marketing services manager for IWCO Direct. These
suggestions first appeared in IWCO's “Speaking Direct,”
a blog about building customer acquisition, loyalty and engagement
using direct mail and digital marketing programs. See www.iwco.com/blog.
P.S. Move over, Neil Armstrong
1969 marked the first moon walk as well as the start of IWCO.
The company was founded as Instant Services and became Instant Web
after installing its first web press in 1976. The “Instant
Web Companies” name reflects its acquistion of United Mailing
in 1977 and Victory Envelope in 1981.
Do you have a suggestion for the new PMG? Send it to KOB@americanprinter.com