The Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service met April 9 and discussed the
Continuing Resolution recently passed by Congress to fund government operations. By including restrictive language in the Continuing Resolution, Congress has prohibited implementation of a new national delivery schedule for mail and packages, which would consist of package delivery Monday through Saturday and mail delivery Monday through Friday, and which would have taken effect the week of Aug. 5, 2013.
Although disappointed with this Congressional action, the Board will follow the law and has
directed the Postal Service to delay implementation of its new delivery schedule until legislation is passed that provides the Postal Service with the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule. The Board believes that Congress has left it with no choice but to delay this implementation at this time. The Board also wants to ensure that customers of the Postal Service are not unduly burdened by ongoing uncertainties and are able to adjust their business plans accordingly.
The Board continues to support the transition to a new national delivery schedule. Such a
transition will generate approximately $2 billion in annual cost savings and is a necessary part of a larger five-year business plan to restore the Postal Service to long-term financial stability.
According to numerous polls, this new delivery schedule is widely supported by the American public. Our new delivery schedule is also supported by the Administration and some members of Congress.To restore the Postal Service to long-term financial stability, the Postal Service requires the flexibility to reduce costs and generate new revenues to close an ever widening budgetary gap. It is not possible for the Postal Service to meet significant cost reduction goals without changing its delivery schedule – any rational analysis of our current financial condition and business options
leads to this conclusion. Delaying responsible changes to the Postal Service business model only increases the potential that the
Postal Service may become a burden to the American taxpayer, which is avoidable.
Given these extreme circumstances and the worsening financial
condition of the Postal Service, the Board has directed management to seek a reopening of negotiations with the postal unions and consultations with management associations
to lower total workforce costs, and to take administrative actions necessary to reduce costs. The Board has also asked management to evaluate further options to increase revenue, including an exigent rate increase to raise revenues across current Postal Service product categories and products not currently covering their costs.
The Board continues to support the Postal Service’s five-year business plan and the legislative goals identified in that plan, which will return the Postal Service to financial solvency. The Board additionally urges Congress to quickly pass comprehensive postal legislation, including provisions that would affirmatively provide the Postal Service with the ability to establish an appropriate national delivery schedule.
The Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service met April 9 and discussed the
Postmaster General Says Technology is Making Mail More Powerful
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO — Technology and changing consumer expectations are helping to transform mail into an even more powerful communications channel, Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe told the nation’s largest annual gathering of mailing industry leaders today.
“As the mailing industry, we must continue to work to drive innovation and leverage data and technology to improve the consumer experience and grow revenue,” Donahoe said in his keynote address at the National Postal Forum. “Our challenge as an industry is to shape those moments when people are experiencing mail, and make them more powerful in the future. That’s part of getting our game on — shaping our future and building excitement about the power of mail and the future of mail.”
Mail already has an advantage over other ways of communicating, Donahoe said, because it is tactile and encourages users to interact with it. “People slow down and absorb what they receive. They process it. They retain it,” he said. To strengthen that experience, Donahoe urged the mailing industry to focus on four key ideas: making mail more personally relevant, more actionable, more functional and more creative.
“Through the convergence of data and technology, mailers can use the insights about individual interests to make mail more personal,” he said. “With imbedded QR codes and augmented reality, mail becomes much more functional and creative, creating an even more influential experience.”
Donahoe also touted the fact that American businesses are spending the same percentage of their marketing dollars on mail today as they did 30 years ago.
“Even with the emergence of cable television, social media and smartphones, marketing mail has remained constant because of the tremendous value it delivers to consumers who receive it and its ability to drive an exceptional return on investment for the businesses who send it,” said Donahoe. “The growth of our industry is going to be driven by changing technologies and customer expectations. We have to work together as an industry to anticipate these changes by leveraging the value of mail to shape new opportunities.”
The Postmaster General also advanced themes relating to innovation in the Postal Service in the areas of delivery, digital integration and targeting to extend the delivery platform and provide growth opportunities for the mailing industry and America’s businesses.
“Innovating digital integration is fundamental to improving the consumer experience — and combining the targeting power of online advertising with that mail experience will make mail far more valuable to the receiver and the sender,” Donahoe said.
The Postmaster General also described the Postal Services’ aggressive cost reduction efforts and their impacts on the mailing industry: reducing the size of the workforce by 193,000 employees since 2006; reducing the organization’s cost base by $15 billion; reducing 21,000 delivery routes; and consolidating the network of mail processing facilities while maintaining record levels of service.
“No other organization that I can think of — either public or private — has gone through a similar downsizing so rapidly and continued to function at a high level,” said Donahoe. “It all comes down to one word for this industry: affordability. The faster we can reduce costs, the better we can avoid pressure to raise prices. That’s why we continue to seek comprehensive reform legislation to provide more flexibility in our business model to create a sustainable platform for the future.”
To help marketers prepare earlier for its upcoming mail promotions, the U.S. Postal Service for the first time is publishing a yearly promotions calendar. The 2013 Mailing Services Promotions Calendar will include six promotions designed to generate continued interest in the various uses and benefits of mobile barcodes in direct mail as well as provide opportunities for marketers to be more successful with traditional integrated marketing campaigns.
An overview of each program is included in the document “2013 Promotion Calendar Overview.” More information about each promotion will be released as it becomes available.
The 2013 Mailing Service Promotions Calendar includes:
March 1 – April 30, 2013:
Mobile Coupon/Click-to-Call: This promotion provides an upfront 2 percent postage discount on the integration of mail with mobile technology and will promote the value of direct mail in two ways. First, it will encourage customers to integrate hard-copy coupons in the mail with mobile platforms for redemption. Second, it will drive consumer awareness and increase usage of mail with mobile barcodes that provide click-to-call functionality. Registration is Jan. 15, 2013, to April 30, 2013.
Please contact your Priority Envelope Sales Representative for further information or guidance. 800-822-0523 or 763-519-9190
Get the full story behind how far the print industry has come in this informative flip book.
courtesy of Printing Industries of America (PIA)
By Nancy Scott (Digital Nirvana) on January 17th, 2013
Direct mail can now deliver sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. That’s all five of the human senses. And guess what? So far, mail is the only marketing medium that can do all that. Likely, for the next few years anyway, direct mail will remain — and vastly improve upon — this full sensory capability.
Sight. Well, that’s what direct mail has always been. Something to look at, something to read. Even in its most simple form, direct mail can be amazingly effective. Consider this simple sampler from GEICO.
Sound. If you’ve received a birthday card in the last year or two, you’ve probably experienced audio by mail. The technology is commonplace and still evolving. Check out this version of variable print combined with variable audio from Big Dawgs promotion.
Smell. The Scent Marketing Institute was founded in 2004, but today the organization sponsors ScentWorld, a worldwide conference coming up February 6-8 in New York City. The organization’s “knowledge base” features 160+ articles related to the use of scent in marketing. Check out a few case examples of scented direct mail here. Meanwhile, technology buffs should check out this story about a scent-capturing printer that recognizes odors and translates them onto a tangible postcard paper.
Touch. Embossing, irregular shapes, dye cuts, glued on items (magnets, tea bags, coins) metallic finishes, and other “feel-me” attributes give direct mail a touch-me dimension. Set up as a division of ImageWorks Manufacturing in 2003, Shipshapes is just one of the companies that is seeking to refine direct mail touch.
Taste. Yes, you can taste it. First Flavor, Inc. offers direct mailers edible Peel ‘n Taste® strips. How might that go down? Mylanta used taste to help prospective customers compare their flavor to competitor, Maalox.
How about some case studies of sensory direct mail? Check out Deliver magazines’s article from last fall, which featured TruGreen Lawn Care’s use of a scented postcard or a political candidate’s use of “old garbage” to demonstrate something “stinky;”
And then there are the sensual combinations. Video first appeared on the printed page in an issue of Entertainment Weekly back in 2009. No, it’s not cheap and it may not be in wide use (yet). But if you’re into direct mail professionally, you know video is an option right now from technology partners Chicago’s Fusion92.
Right now, are American consumers ready for their sensory experiences via direct mail? So far, maybe not so much. But as augmented reality delivers more ways to experience print, the appetites should grow.
Priority Envelope is happy to announce the arrival of a
NEW 2013 W & D Model 326 converting machine in our Minnesota facility.
This new equipment will significantly increase our capacity for the following envelope style and size ranges:
Booklet Style Envelopes (2 ¼ x 4 ¾ – 9 x 12)
Catalog Style Envelopes (3 3/16 x 3 15/16 – 10 x 13)
The machine is also capable of printing 2 colors on the outside and 1 color on the inside of an envelope.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
Phone 800-822-0523 or e-mail email@example.com
How Paper Bills Could Protect You From Cyber Theft
By Jordan Robertson | Dec. 17, 2012 5:18 PM EST |
Posted in Global, Hackers, Security
Hackers are increasingly wiring money directly out of victims’ online bank accounts – without ever typing a keystroke.
As a computer security reporter, I’m often asked for advice on how to avoid being hacked. I quickly rattle off three safeguards: 1) Use long phrases and symbols in passwords; 2) set up two Web browsers — or better yet, two computers — to keep sensitive data walled off from everything else; 3) on websites that offer it, sign up to receive text-message alerts if someone tries to break into your account.
I may need to add a fourth.
An exchange I had last week with Tom Kellermann, a cyber security expert who has advised the White House and the World Bank Treasury, sparked a new tip that might upset anyone who has a “think before printing” disclaimer in their e-mail signature: Don’t use paperless billing.
Trend Micro, the Japanese antivirus-software maker and Kellermann’s new employer, published an interesting report earlier this year about “automatic transfer systems,” and how criminals are increasingly using them to siphon money out of people’s bank accounts without them ever knowing it.
They do this by initiating wire-transfer requests the moment a victim logs into an online banking account. And, even spookier, they change the account balance and transaction history you see on your screen to hide the fraud. They use malicious code that kicks in after the user has logged into their bank’s website.
In other words, your account could show a full balance online but actually be empty. The only way you’d find out is if you went over the limit or if you see it on a paper statement that’s mailed to your home.
Kellermann presumes that 2013 will be when this cyber tactic becomes mainstream, due largely to the rise in mobile banking. For now, the attack is more common in the U.K., Germany and Italy, but versions targeting U.S. and other countries’ financial institutions do exist and will likely become more common, according to Trend Micro.
Hackers have transferred as little as 500 Euros ($658) to as much as 13,000 Euros ($17,120) at a time to foreign accounts using this technique, Trend Micro found. The criminals often steal small amounts each time victims log into their accounts, to avoid detection.
So if you do a lot of online banking, consider getting paper statements. It’s not eco-friendly or particularly convenient, but paper isn’t so easily hackable.
Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
US postal regulators have finally approved controversial new Standard Mail Flats prices at the US Postal Service.
USPS had suggested the Postal Regulatory Commission was going a little further than its remit when it rejected its original proposals last month, and demanded an above-average price rise for the rate category that includes items like catalogues.
Under protest, USPS went away and proposed a fresh rate increase, which yesterday was approved by the regulators.
As approved, Standard Mail Flats rates will increase by an average of 2.617% as of 27th January, 2013.
This compares to a 2.61% increase for Standard Mail Letters, a 3.081% increase for Standard Mail Parcels, a 2.059% increase for Standard Mail High Density Letters and a 2.092% increase for Standard Mail High Density Flats and Parcels.
USPS is changing other prices as well from next month, as approved by the Commission earlier this month.
The Postal Regulatory Commission rejected last month’s original proposal for a 2.57% increase in Standard Mail Flats prices because it said the Postal Service did not demonstrate it was making progress towards completely covering the costs of the loss-making service.
The regulator had issued an order to the Postal Service back in 2010 to work towards recouping the Flats service losses, since under US postal law USPS is supposed to ensure full cost coverage for its monopoly portfolio products.
USPS, which has attempted to avoid excessive price increases for fear of driving catalogue companies out of business or toward alternative distribution channels, argued last month that it was making progress towards full cost coverage by working to cut the service’s operating costs. However, the Commission said it wanted a higher cost increase.
Approving the revised pricing, the regulator said yesterday: “The Commission finds that an above-average price increase for Standard Mail Flats is expected to improve cost coverage more than the initially proposed below-average increase.”
Today saw the Commission’s chairman, Ruth Goldway, criticised USPS for its “reluctance” to adopt Standard Mail Flats rates in line with the Commission’s 2010 order.
She said that the Postal Service’s actions meant mailers now had less time to prepare for the rate changes.
“I am committed to facilitating prompt decisions from the Commission in response to requests for price adjustments from the Postal Service,” Goldway chided USPS, “In turn I expect the Postal Service to respond to clear orders of the Commission by preparing price adjustments that satisfy (US postal law) requirements in a manner that provides adequate lead time for adoption by the industry.”
DMA Finds Marketers Are ‘Bullish’ on Growth Prospects in Its Latest Business Survey
November 21, 2012
NEW YORK—Nov. 21, 2012—The Direct Marketing Assn. (DMA) released its “Quarterly Business Review” (QBR) for the third quarter of 2012. DMA partnered with management consulting firm Winterberry Group on the report.
Despite ongoing uncertainty about the fate of the economy and its potential impact on broader business opportunities, a vast majority of respondents to the third quarter 2012 “Quarterly Business Review” survey said they are confident about the practice of direct and digital marketing (DDM) and its prospects for future growth.
“Increasingly, marketers are expressing confidence in the prospects of direct and digital marketing, with a majority of respondents expecting their revenue to increase during the fourth quarter,” said Linda A. Woolley, DMA’s acting president and CEO. “Notably this quarter, more marketers are reporting that the availability of data and the general demand for DDM media are having a positive impact on their organizations’ DDM activity.”
A full three-quarters of the surveyed U.S. marketers and marketing service providers said they were bullish about the growth prospects for DDM—with a plurality (47.1 percent) saying they “strongly agree” that the practice of direct and digital driven marketing is well positioned to grow in the future. This represents a slight increase from last quarter, when 72 percent of respondents voiced similar confidence.
On an index basis, respondents echoed a similarly modest improvement in confidence from the second quarter. The DMA/Winterberry Group panel of marketers and service providers reported a composite confidence index of 3.91 in the third quarter (on a 1-to-5 scale), up from 3.85 in the preceding period.
Other key third-quarter findings include:
• For the second straight quarter, the only DDM channels that saw increased investment were those in the digital space—further reinforcing the secular shift in economic influence toward both emerging and established online media
• The percent of DDM budgets allocated to customer acquisition efforts in Q3 was 58.8 percent, very near to the 60 percent benchmark that generally indicates periods of robust economic expansion (and in line with budgetary allocations that have been reported each quarter since Q3 of 2011); and
• Changes to DDM-related staffing levels have been less volatile — holding steady at a very modest growth rate, which survey respondents predict is likely to continue through Q4.
About the Quarterly Business Review
DMA’s Quarterly Business Review (QBR) for the third quarter of 2012 is published by the Direct Marketing Association, with research and analysis provided by Winterberry Group. Its conclusions are based on results from an online survey of DMA members, deployed in October 2012 and focused respectively on marketers and the marketing service and technology solutions providers that work with them to develop, launch and optimize campaigns. Altogether, DMA received 322 usable survey replies, which included 156 marketer respondents and 166 providers of marketing services and technology solutions.
Winterberry Group is a unique, global strategic consulting firm that helps advertising and marketing companies grow shareholder value. Based in New York, it offers a combination of corporate strategy, market intelligence and merger and acquisition due diligence support services aimed at helping clients identify opportunities for growth and achieve transformative results.
The Direct Marketing Assn. is the world’s largest trade association dedicated to advancing and protecting responsible data-driven marketing. Founded in 1917, DMA represents thousands of companies and nonprofit organizations that use and support data-driven marketing practices and techniques.
Monday, November 19th, 2012
Regulators have demanded the US Postal Service go back and have another think about proposals for Standard Mail Flats prices next year.
But one member of the Postal Regulatory Commission broke ranks with his colleagues on Friday, saying all the USPS price proposals should have been approved.
Other than the Standard Mail Flats product, which covers flat-shaped items like catalogues, the Commission did approve USPS price proposals for its market-dominant (monopoly) products on Friday, with price changes to take affect from 27th January, 2013. The Commission decided separately on 8th November to approve proposed price changes for competitive products.
The market-dominant rates will average a 2.57% increase, as limited by the Postal Service’s inflation-linked annual price cap.
It includes a one-cent increase in single-piece First Class Mail rates up to 46 cents, a one-cent increase in postcard rates to 33c, and approval of some new products like a new flat-rate international letter rate of $1.10.
But controversially the regulators decided the Postal Service did not propose high enough prices for its loss-making Standard Mail Flats service.
USPS has now been given 10 days to make changes to the Standard Mail price proposals, although there is opportunity for the public to provide comments.
One of the five members of the Presidentially-appointed Commission objected to his colleagues’ demand to reject the Standard Mail Flats pricing proposal.
Robert Taub said the Commission was wrong to reject the USPS view that it could improve the economics of its Standard Mail Flats service by making its services more efficient and cutting costs rather than hiking prices.
“The Commission may reject a given rate as unlawful, but it should no longer recommend rates”
Under US postal law, monopoly postal products are supposed to bring in enough money to cover their costs, so that some USPS customers are not subsidizing other customers. However, the Standard Mail Flats service only raises enough income to fund 83% of its costs at present.
The Commission issued an order in late 2010 for USPS to move towards 100% cost coverage for the service.
But USPS has been reluctant to significantly raise the service’s prices for fear that it will further encourage catalogue publishers to final alternative distribution channels, and damage those customers sticking with the mail. With an increasing use of digital catalogues, Flats volumes have already been dropping by 7% a year over the past few years, a trend that “appears to be accelerating” according to USPS.
The struggling Postal Service said last month that above-average price increases would “have the inadvertent effect of sending the Flats product into a tailspin”.
On Friday a majority of the postal commissioners decided that by keeping Standard Mail Flats price rises to the average for all price rises, USPS was not moving toward full cost coverage. The Commission said its review had to take a “narrow scope” regarding the postal regulations.
However, Commissioner Taub said in a dissenting opinion that he believed the USPS plan to continue moving toward 100% cost coverage by cutting its costs, rather than significantly increasing prices, was complying with the 2010 order from the Commission.
“I find that the Postal Service has complied with the Commission’s most recent mandates in regard to Standard Mail Flats for the pending Notice of Market Dominant Price Adjustment, consistent with the current statute and associated regulations for establishing postal rates,” said the commissioner.
Taub, who was not yet on the Commission when it made its ruling back in 2010, warned that his fellow commissioners were trying to turn back the clock and take the kind of price-setting powers that had been the preserve of the old Postal Rate Commission.
He said commissioners should not pick postal rates from a range of lawful possibilities, the Commission should outline an approved range of prices and USPS should decide on the appropriate prices within the approved range.
“The Commission may reject a given rate or classification as unlawful, but it should no longer recommend rates and classifications except in the most extraordinary cases,” he said.
Last week the US Postal Service recorded a $15.9bn loss for its fiscal year ended 30th September, 2012, partly as the result of ongoing declines in mail volumes.