Direct Mail Outlook : Rolling with the PunchesDecember 2009 By Erik Cagle
WANT TO know the state of direct mail volume in the United States? Just ask the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which recently announced a net loss of $3.8 billion for 2009 amid a volume reduction of 28 billion pieces.
How badly was the USPS impacted? About 375 retail stations and branches remain under consideration for consolidation. Six district offices were closed, roughly 150,000 employees were offered early retirement and another 1,400-plus mail processing, supervisory and managerial positions were lopped off.
Those were just the symptoms of what is wrong with the patient, namely advertising mail. The economy has devastated two of the nation's top direct mail marketers, namely the financial and automotive industries, resulting in fewer mailings for Chase credit cards, Toyota Tundra ads, home refinancing loans and the like.
Snail Mail vs. e-Mail
Indeed, it has become fashionable to view hard-copy communications as an antiquated method of doing business. Many people now turn to the Internet for business formerly conducted by mail. The Bay Area, meanwhile, sprouted a pair of Do Not Mail initiatives as the general public—in the name of "going green"—remains ignorant of the connection between advertising mail and its impact on the ongoing viability of neighborhood post offices.
Mail volume reduction and the movement of marketing dollars toward digital media—two key elements that threaten to send the USPS into a so-called "death spiral"—have prompted Montreal-based Worldcolor to focus on developing new products and services for marketers. According to Barry Bogle, vice president of business development for Worldcolor, it has prompted the company to seek out market segments where growth is occurring.
To leverage that movement toward digital media, Worldcolor formed Integrated Multichannel Solutions (IMCS) in 2008. It enables customers to integrate marketing messages across multiple channels, including print, according to Bogle.
"The creation of IMCS has led to new revenue streams and enhanced relationships with both current clients and prospects," he remarks. "Worldcolor's ability to integrate marketing messages across multiple channels into cohesive programs has not only built new print opportunities, but also provided new income streams. The IMCS program has introduced new products to the marketplace at a rapid pace, including such popular solutions as net.driver and store.driver."
Worldcolor has worked closely with its clients to optimize postage savings, as well as maximize the relevance and return on investment for each marketing campaign. Bogle notes Worldcolor's ability to track the results of each campaign as a core value.