Potter: Mail Still a Viable Marketing Tool

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NEW YORK -- Mail remains a strong marketing vehicle, even in today's technology-driven society, said postmaster general John E. Potter, keynote speaker at DMD New York Marketing Conference at the Jacob K. Javits Center here yesterday.


"Not too long ago, I suspect some of you thought hard-copy mail would disappear and [there would be] a mass migration to the Internet," Potter said. "That's not going to happen. Mail has a bright future, especially when it comes to developing strong connections and sales opportunities with companies."


In a 15-minute speech, Potter told 250 attendees that many smart direct marketing organizations are moving to customer relationship management, and that "there is no more effective way to manage and maintain a customer relationship than through the mail."


He cited a report in USA Today that direct marketers will spend more than $46.5 billion on direct mail promotions this year.


"That puts us in the No. 2 spot after telemarketing, but ahead of television and newspapers combined," Potter said. "What's important to you, and to us, is that direct mail generated over $582 billion in sales. In terms of return on investment, that means that every dollar invested in direct mail earned $12.53 in revenue."


Potter said that as more customers use channel changers and Tivo to tune out television commercials, and as Internet service providers filet out mass broadcast e-mails because their subscribers find them intrusive, "mail becomes more valuable and more useful."


Potter urged attendees to consider the "mail mix," where mailers blend Standard Mail and First-Class Mail.


"Over 10 percent of First-Class Mail is advertising mail," he said. "See what kind of response you get. Yes, consumers know the difference between Standard Mail and First-Class Mail. First-Class Mail maintains a cachet that compels folks to open it."


Potter also said flat mail is becoming an "increasingly popular medium for reaching out to consumers," and that the USPS is working with industry groups to resolve design requirements such as the location of barcodes.


Potter, who didn't take questions, addressed the rate increase that takes effect at the end of the month. He said that this month's ratemaking summit along with the postal service's Transformation Plan as well as proposed postal reform legislation hopefully would limit such rate increases in the future.


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