Five Marketing Ideas for the U.S. Postal Service

I fancy myself a person that is full of ideas. Now, I am not going to claim that they are GOOD ideas, but I have lots of ‘em, and I’m pretty sure the law of averages would say that at least a few of them don’t SUCK. In high school, I came up with an ad campaign for The Gap using a Thompson Twins song (shut up—it was 1986!)

And I have a rockin’ idea about people being able to talk to each other while driving, specifically to tell each other how bad they are driving, called COMMUT-ICATE. Get it?

Anyhoo—here are five ideas for how the USPS could increase revenue, reinvent, rejuvenate and thrive today:

  1. Create a worldwide campaign whereby we revive penpals, the old fashioned way—with WRITING and MAILING LETTERS. When I was a kid I used to write to a kid from England and one from France, and the days that those letters came in the mail were thrilling to my 11-year-old self. Kids in France had a totally different style of penmanship. And the stamps? Different and beautiful. You can’t get that with an e-mail relationship. And today, we sponsor a child from Ecuador, and when I get letters from him, well, it sets my heart to racing.
  2. Design and release a series of stamps aimed at hipsters, with images of Pabst Blue Ribbon, ironic T shirts, porkpie hats and typewriters.
  3. Try like hell to get a letter delivered 50 miles in less than five days. OUCH. But in all seriousness, when ANY organization is trying to justify its existence to shareholders, taxpayers, or owners, the goal should always be an outstanding performance and an eye on quality customer service. I am not suggesting that this is not true for the Postal Service. I am just saying that there is always room for improvement.
  4. Try smiling. Have you been in a post office lately? Not the most cheery of establishments. As I said above, when your entire existence is being threatened, perhaps the best line of defense would be to kill it every day and act as if your job was the best thing that ever happened to you. My letter carrier smokes a big fat cigar every day and waves at me every time I see him, and that makes me happy. In fact, for Christmas we buy him cigars. Don’t make him the exception. Create a welcoming environment, treat your customers with care and grace, and love what you do. That goes for everyone. Even YOU!
  5. Hire Jack Bauer to create an elaborate plan to wipe out the Internet. Chloe can run comm. for him and the Russians surely will get involved. You can call it 24/Mail Another Day.

So there you go. Someone print out this blog, put it in an envelope, and mail it to the Postmaster General. It’ll sound better coming from you.

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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  • Steven

    Love ideas 1 & 2, agree somewhat to item 3 although I think they do a pretty reasonable job 90% of the time, if not more, fully agree with item 4 although as an owner of a lettershop, our BMEU is great in my opinion and the bigger problem is with the local branches. I know that item 5 is tongue in cheek but even the USPS uses the internet extensively; the rest of us simply cannot go back to the Stone Age and send every message through the mail. But as you wrote, not ALL of your ideas suck, and I did get a chuckle out of the column.

  • Barbara Walter

    Okay I am with you on two things- the Mobile Suggestion Device. Mine is a red button on the steering wheel that you Speak-to-Text- a rolling digital display across the top of you back window (or a mirror image across the top of your front windshield, so it could be easily red from the rear view mirror).
    It would clearly point what kind of idiot they were and dangerous they were to the general public. Enough on that rant!
    The post office clearly has become exceedingly more difficult to work with and less service oriented since they are in financial despair. Don’t you think that in order to save themselves they would hire some marketing people with ideas that would make them the” Go to” people to get something from here to there in the most efficient manner.

  • Melissa Sienicki

    I love all of these ideas, but have you thought about combining the 3rd and the 5th? I think Jack Bauer would be an excellent mail carrier and, of course, he can deliver anything anywhere in 24 hours :)

  • jeff

    Imagine how much more First Class mail there’d be if every Facebook birthday wish was mailed. No need for a $3 card. Just a short note – like on Facebook – with special stamp. So much more personal. I think I’ll start doing that.

  • Sue

    Was at my least favorite post office yesterday. Didn’t expect a hello, a smile or even a thank you and didn’t get one. The lady in front of me needed to make a copy of a document. Clerk told her to go to library about 3 blocks away. Ding, ding! Hey put in a copier and charge 15 cents like the library does!!! Won’t go far in reducing the red ink but think of the customer service.

  • Kristen Quinn

    Absolutely brilliant!!!