MTAC focus on measurement

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With Overallámail volume up a mere 0.2 percent from the third quarter of last year, the US Postal Service is stepping up its initiatives to improve performance.

Glen Walker, CFO of the USPS, announced the company's financial results Washington last week at the Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee meeting.

He reported that First-Class Mail was down 1.3 percent; Standard Mail up 1.8 percent; Periodicals down 2.7 percent; Express Mail down 1.3 percent; Priority Mail down 2.4 percent; and packages down 0.3 percent.

Walker attributes the lackluster results to the postal increase this spring.

"Our big challenge is to build awareness," said Anita Bizzotto, CMO and EVP at the USPS. "We are not the same USPS we were 10 years ago; we have services that we never offered before that promise efficiency, speed and automation."

The Postal Service has mailed about 1 billion direct mail pieces this year to educate small businesses, large commercial businesses and consumers on the importance and effectiveness of a direct mail piece. It's part of a multichannel marketing approach that uses direct mail, Internet and television ads. So far, online-shipping service awareness has risen to 55 percent this year, up from 25 percent in 2004. Awareness of free package pickup was at 10 percent in 2004 and is now at 45 percent. Awareness of non-retail window revenue was 25 percent this year, up from 16 percent the year before.

Since on-time delivery is big during the holiday season, the USPS sent out a holiday shipping and mailing guide, with 35 percent recalling getting the guide and 58 percent of those finding it helpful.

"Our goal is to position DM in the same competitive set as other media," Bizotto said. "We use single-page sell sheets listing facts and benefits and we put these into the hands of postmasters and local folks to go ahead and educate their customers. Research white papers are one sales material."

Tom Day, senior vice president of Intelligent Mail and address quality at the USPS, spoke about his plans in his new role.

"To better track mail, the USPS has a lot of automation in Intelligent Mail and address quality," he said. "It's important that data flows to the right places and that the right people get reports, since a lot of this information can tell what service improvements need to be made."

The need for the Intelligent Mail barcode has grown with the service standard requirements.

"We must provide service measures for all market-dominant categories," Day said. "The barcode is a critical aspect for how we do it."

Day is confident that the USPS can build an efficient mail-measurement system.

Speaking about the possibility of a no-mail law, he said sending targeted mail to the right people will prevent such a law from going into effect.

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