Marketing and the U.S. Postal Service

us flag stampIt would be pretty cool to operate a business where, even though your service was failing, you could keep asking customers to pay you more and more money to keep you afloat?

Yesterday, the news hit that the USPS has suffered some major financial losses over the last fiscal year (story 1, story 2). I would encourage you to read these stories as they shed light on the situation in a straight forward manner.

But here’s the thing – the USPS is floundering. Instead of innovating, they are now in survival mode. Instead of looking for new ideas and opportunities, they are cutting service and raising rates. Does this make one bit of sense?

There will be many losers if this decision is approved. Netflix and direct mail marketing will be the chief among them. Undoubtedly there will be many others. However, the biggest loser will be the public.

Here we are paying for an archaic and failing business model. Instead of approving any rate hikes, the government should be stepping in and forcing the USPS to take a long, hard look at their business model. Let’s ask them to address the tough issues:

  • What are they doing to adapt to email and social media?
  • What should their short and long-term focuses be?
  • How can they become profitable?
  • How can their current business model be streamlined and improved?
  • Who can be called upon to help them make the changes they need to survive?
  • When will they address their real failures?
  • Where are they winning? Where are they losing? How can they capitalize on the wins and minimize the loses?
  • Who will be responsible?

We don’t seem to hesitate when it comes to placing blame on BP for their failures in the Gulf Coast, but when will we start addressing the many failures within our own systems and looking for ways to make our government accountable for their screw ups?

For me, this seems to be the perfect marketing nightmare. Some talented team of marketers is sitting at the USPS coming up with some great ways to “sell” the postal giant (I’ve seen their marketing campaigns and materials – they are good! – they just don’t have a great product or service to sell). This is truly a case where “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” How would you improve the USPS? What types of goods and services could they offer to stay relevant? Can anything save this ship from sinking?

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2 thoughts on “Marketing and the U.S. Postal Service

  1. I agree with your comments on the USPS. I first heard this on the radio yesterday and just rolled my eyes! It’s sad that good people lost their jobs in order to try and save the sinking ship. But even though they cut 40,000 jobs (if I remember correctly) it still didn’t help. I think it goes to show that you can’t just throw money (or cost cutting) at a problem and think that’s going to solve the whold thing. It’s a deeper issue, which you have highlighted.

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