Postal Service pitches local direct mail service to small businesses

There is no shortage of stories on this website about marketers trying to compile as much information about consumers as possible, then reaching out to those prospective customers with their offers. In a twist, the US Postal Service is letting small businesses know that they can reach neighborhoods or ZIP codes without putting consumers' names on the front of the envelope.

The USPS recently expanded the “Every Door Direct Mail Retail” service from only rural areas to include urban neighborhoods. The organization is courting small businesses to let them know that they can use the service to reach consumers without buying lists. The Postal Service has also developed a website to help small companies identify advertising target areas by city, neighborhood or distance from a business.

“It is difficult to do mail for small businesses when you have to print an address on every piece, so we wanted to build a product that is easy for small businesses to use and then we can get them into the mail stream,” said David Mastervich, manager of marketing mail at the Postal Service.

He cited pizza-shop owners and lawn-care professionals as two groups of small-business owners who were quick to respond to the program.

Of course, the USPS' goal is additional revenue – an understatement considering that the organization could run out of money next month without Congressional intervention or structural changes. The Postal Service has also held seminars around the country to instruct small businesses on how to grow their use of the mail. It also saw a 5% response rate on a direct mail piece sent to printers about the service.

“Once we get [businesses] in the mail, we can work with them to make sure they understand the lists of customers, so they do retention mailings and cross-sell mailings, then move them upstream to the different applications of mail,” said Mastervich. “It's more revenue and it helps the whole supply chain. The more we bring in, the more the mail-service providers and everyone else starts feeling the benefits of it because they want to do more.”

Of course, the USPS will have to go far beyond this program to balance its books. But it's good that the organization has its eye on converting small businesses into local advertisers while it's lobbying Congress for permission to restructure and cut delivery days.

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