Postal Service must find market opportunities: PostalVision 2020

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Jeff Jarvis
Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis, author and associate professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, said the US Postal Service must look for consumer needs that the private sector does not meet in order to survive. The author of What Would Google Do? told attendees of the PostalVision 2020 conference in Arlington, Va. on June 15 that the USPS must adopt an entrepreneurial attitude as personal letters, business mail and First Class volume fade away in coming years.

The Postal Service's attitude towards embracing digital communications should be “what the market does not do, that is what I have to make sure gets done,” he said.

Jarvis said social media networks such as Facebook have made personal letters irrelevant to younger generations. He added that businesses will continue to adopt digital communications methods, such as email or a future platform that has yet to be invented, because they are easier to use and less expensive than the mail.

“Digital is always going to be faster, cheaper and more efficient. If it can be digital, it will be digital,” he said. “For businesses, paper is an inferior form of communication.”

However, the Postal Service has made numerous moves in recent months to attract businesses to direct mail advertising. It launched a “postage-back guarantee” to appeal to large advertisers last month, and Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the USPS will debut an advertising campaign later this year showing off the advantages of direct mail marketing.

Jarvis, though, contended that Google and Facebook are the dominant marketing platforms of the future, because they give marketers a platform for reaching consumers that is more relevant than push advertising.

“This is all about relevance, not mass messages,” he said. “Relationships and data are going to win over bulk.”

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