18 People in Marketing You May Not Know...but Should

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Not all influencers are well-known; that doesn't make their impact any less potent.

Direct Mail's Woman in Washington

When the European Union demanded in a free trade deal with the U.S. that the words bratwurst, parmesan, and Oktoberfest be reserved for European-made products only, Tammy Baldwin responded with fighting words. “I consider this an attack on our proud traditions and I am standing up for Wisconsin cheese, brats, and beer,” scolded the Democrat senator from Wisconsin as she gathered bipartisan support to deny the request.

Baldwin's Wisconsin-first mentality is one reason she's become the champion of direct mailers and catalogers. At this year's meeting of the American Catalog Mailers Association, Baldwin won praise for her willingness to stand up to Senate stalwarts like Carper and Coburn, but the Madison native's concern for the interests of her state's businesses—and, in turn, their employees—was present throughout her seven terms in the House of Representatives. It's just that her scope widened when she entered the Senate. “We're home to many companies in the printing and graphics industries and have a vibrant mailing business,” Baldwin says. “Over the past several years I've come to appreciate the extent of these businesses as major employers. They employ about 200,000 Wisconsinites.”

Baldwin won the hearts and minds of direct mailers in January when—with the 4.3% exigent rate increase freshly installed—she battled against a clause in postal reform legislation that would make the hike permanent and add 1% to the annual CPI cap rate adjustment. Offered a compromise from Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee leaders Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Coburn (R-OK), the freshman senator refused to cave. “I've been offering compromise language for months and it's been rejected every time,” Baldwin told her colleagues in rebuffing their deal.

Through her work on Carper's committee, which oversees postal operations, Baldwin has come to a greater appreciation of the role of direct mail in the economy and in marketing. “I think we have to tell the story [in Washington] about why it's so impactful to the Postal Service,” she says. “Catalogs and direct mail pieces produce sales, and even if the viewing of digital marketing produces the sale of a product, it's the mail that gets the product to the home.”

Baldwin remains optimistic that postal reform can be passed this year. “The situation with the Postal Service is urgent. Reforms absolutely have to be enacted,” she says. “The odds increase if stakeholders can find some consensus. I'm in contact with many stakeholders, and I encourage them to get together at every chance I get.”

The word is that union leaders, postal officials, and mailers are indeed talking. If they're able to compose a compromise proposal, you can be sure Tammy Baldwin will be there to deliver for mailers.

–Al Urbanski

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