Postal Service emphasizes value of catalogs to Internet retailers

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The US Postal Service is targeting e-commerce merchants with an integrated marketing campaign emphasizing the potential of print catalogs. The effort includes direct mail, webinars, instructional DVDs and web banner ads. The USPS created the campaign internally.

The “Getting Started in Catalogs” initiative emphasizes that companies can double online transactions and achieve revenue lifts of more than 100% by adding print extensions to their e-commerce operations. The DVDs feature testimonials from companies such as Zappos and Dell, which have translated online success to print catalogs.  

“The goal is to convince or persuade companies that have relied on the Internet to grow their businesses through catalogs. Many have gotten to a point where growth is limited,” said Tom Foti, manager of marketing mail at the US Postal Service. “And what we found was that many companies who went beyond the traditional online model, such as Zappos or Dell, when they expanded into print, their businesses grew in ways they had not thought of.”

The direct mail element of the campaign, launched last month, incorporates Business Reply Mail.

The three webinars were scheduled for July 20, July 28 and August 24. The Postal Service will follow up with companies that express interest, said Foti.

The organization also created an informational microsite for the initiative. Businesses can request more information from the USPS and order informational DVDs on the site. The USPS is also running Internet banner ads in online retail publications.

The US Postal Service, which saw a net loss of $3.8 billion last fiscal year, has asked the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to allow it to enact several rate increases for next year. It has also asked the PRC and Congress for permission to reduce home delivery to five days per week.

“We see catalogs as a valuable part of the mail stream and an important part of what consumers want in their mailboxes,” said Foti. “There is a growth opportunity there. Although a lot of people see momentum going the other way, there is value in the consumer getting the catalog in the mailbox.”

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