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Your New Internet Advertiser - The United Sates Postal Service

July 22, 2004

Todd Butler

Microsoft announced that it was going to launch an advertising program to promote on line marketing and advertising. Ads will be placed on the MSN network with Microsoft providing the technical support. Eric Hadley, director of marketing at MSN, stated that “of all the media options available to marketers today, on line offers the richest palette for reaching consumers with sight, sound, motion and interactivity, combined with high-end demographics...”

Bill Gates, Eric Hadley, and the folks at MSN are wrong! When it comes to reaching targeted customers with sight, sound, motion and interactivity, it’s the Postal Service that does it best.

There is only one media option available that can truly target specific customers, the United States Postal Service. There is only one media option that can track customers and stay in touch with them as they move across the country, the United States Postal Service. There is only one media option that can deliver targeted advertising messages to any household or any business location in the country, the United States Postal Service. And the advertising that the Postal Service delivers has little competition in the mailbox, unlike its on line counterpart. My postal mailbox may contain six to twelve pieces of mail on an average day; my on line in box is currently overwhelmed with 150 daily emails and growing.

All marketers know that the Postal Service can target. They also know that in our web centric society, the advertising buzz is about multimedia, interactivity and on line advertising. The sights, sounds, motion, video, animation, connectivity and interactivity of the Internet are what the wired generation demands and the rest of us enjoy. The problem with on line advertising is that even though it introduced us to multimedia marketing, it is still blind as to who is receiving the message. The problem with targeted direct mail is that even though we know to whom we are sending our message, a paper-based advertisement cannot be interactive nor will it ever compete with the sights and sounds of multimedia. Not even cardboard puppies or yellow post-it notes can compete with multimedia and the interactivity of the web.

Unfortunately the Postal Service and many of its biggest partners are buzzing around like moths searching the darker reaches of customers’ mailboxes, looking for a glimmer of hope for the future of direct mail and the Postal Service. They bemoan the apparent setting of the sun on this once great industry and venerable institution, thankful retirement is at hand. And Ben Franklin is rolling over in his grave! This prestigious group of industry leaders will remain in the dark as long as they see the mailbox as a dead-end, one-way street to nowhere. It’s time for our industry to find new leadership that is able to think outside of the box.

Actually…  it’s time for our industry to start thinking through the box!

Our on line competitors are correct in their claims that paper-based direct mail just doesn't’t have the horsepower necessary to deliver an interactive multimedia marketing message. What the direct mail industry needs to do is supercharge our marketing pieces in a way that transform the dead-end mailbox into an on ramp to the Internet. How do you supercharge direct mail and unlock its full potential? By turning direct mail into Multimedia Mail. Multimedia Mail is the use of enhanced CD/DVDs containing multimedia programming and hot links to the Internet, sent through the Postal Service to targeted mailboxes anywhere in the world. It’s digital data delivered by Ben Franklin’s delivery service and it’s a better delivery system than any of its on line competitors.

Multimedia Mail is the only advertising medium that can target specific customers and provide one click access to the Internet. It can deliver video better than broadcast TV or the Internet, sound that is clearer than radio, re-sizable print, and pictures (coupled with sound and motion) that overwhelm magazines. It can provide video and out of this world animation without the speed limitations imposed by customers’ Internet connections. Best of all Multimedia Mail can act like a search engine where I am alone at the top of the search list and my 500 nearest competitors are nowhere in site. Multimedia Mail extends the precious “mail moment” into the “Internet Hour” and provides interactivity, once the sole domain of on line marketers.  By using enhanced CD/DVDs, the Postal Service can deliver a unique multimedia experience and your specific slice of the Internet to a targeted audience. What makes the Postal Service the best on the net?  It does everything on line advertising does only better. It even delivers your multimedia marketing message when your customer is not on line, not connected, not wired, and not wanting to be interactive.

The big question for marketers is whether the Postal Service can still deliver? Not can it deliver the mail, but can it deliver value? It was reported in the DM News (June 10, 2004) that 21 CD Inc. produced a mini CD for a NC coastal resort area. The CD was mailed for half the postage of the traditional 64-page catalog and they produced it at a lower cost. The results were a 300% increase in reservation inquires over the three months previous to the CD mailing. The Multimedia Mailer had a 16% booking rate. If the marketers converted 50% of their inquiries into bookings, the mini CD generated a 32% response rate. If they converted 33% of their inquiries, they had a response rate of 48%. What’s your conversion rate, do the math. With the 2003 CD still drawing responses the resort did a second CD mailing, they were that pleased. When was the last time you heard of a cardboard donut producing results this sweet?

National advertisers have announced plans to reduce their TV ad spending when DVRs (TiVos) reach 30 million households. It has been reported that 93% of these advertisers are interested in TV ads targeted at individual households. Unfortunately cable cannot deliver individual households; neither can traditional on line advertisers. Can the Postal Service deliver… you bet! If advertisers put their ads on enhanced CDs and used the Postal Service for distribution instead of broadcast TV or cable, they could be using the addressable medium they desire, reaching individually targeted households… NOW! And when those households wanted to respond to a marketing offer, they would be but a click away. What a growth opportunity Internet advertising is for the direct mail industry and the Postal Service.

Created centuries ago but years ahead of its digital competition, the best organization to deliver your Internet advertising is the United Sates Postal Service.

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