Friday, April 2, 2010

Plan Properly and the 2011 Postal Increase Won't Be So Painful

By Jennifer Spitzer

This morning I’m reading an article in MailPro, the USPS’s newsletter for mailing professionals, about the postal service’s 10-year plan to avoid a cumulative $238 billion shortfall over the next decade. Some of the changes are already well-publicized, like the proposed adjustment of delivery days which will eliminate Saturday delivery. The USPS will also restructure retiree health benefit payments and work toward providing consumers more modernized access. Before you know it, you’ll be able to buy a cup of joe at Starbucks, eat a burger and mail a package – all while you’re shopping at Target.

As I’m reading, I see the second-to-last bullet point of the plan, “A modest exigent price increase will be proposed, effective in 2011.” Apparently my vocabulary is too limited for me to know exactly what this means, so I looked up the word “exigent”.

Ex-i-gent [ek-si-juhnt]- adjective. 1. Requiring immediate action or aid; urgent; pressing. 2. Requiring a great deal, or more than is reasonable.

To me, using “modest exigent” to describe an imminent postage increase is a contradiction of terms. To achieve an immediate increase for 2011, the USPS will have to propose new pricing to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) before the end of the year. I’m willing to bet what the USPS defines as a reasonable increase and what marketers are able to bear are two different things. So the question is will it truly be modest or are we looking at something a little more exigent?

It’s not all gloom-and-doom for businesses that use direct mail as a means of increasing business from new and existing customers. You just need to plan properly. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.

1. Once it’s announced, pay attention to when the increase is going to take effect and plan your mailings accordingly. If you’re planning a large mailing, mail before the increase and you’ll save a lot of money.

2. Challenge your marketing agency to review their delivery logistics. You may be eligible for additional postal discounts just by adjusting where you enter your mail.

3. Keep a clean database! Make sure you’re not wasting postage by mailing to addresses that have no chance of being delivered.

4. Finally, and most importantly… be targeted.

Now more than ever, your direct mail needs to move away from mass distribution and toward more targeted solutions. You’ll mail less, but enjoy a better return on your investment. Find consumers who want or need your product at the exact moment your message hits their mailbox and you’ll find that a modest exigent postal increase isn’t so painful after all.


  1. "At PostalEASE, the phone version of the Liteblue USPS Gov employee portal, employees can begin TSP .gov payments or access Federal Employees Health Benefits. Visit the Liteblue PostalEASE website for more." Liteblue Postalease