USPS takes on assistance to boost SME direct mail sales

The US Postal Service is taking on extra help to find new direct mail customers among small and medium-sized businesses. Iowa-based telesales outsourcing specialist TMone has said it has been awarded a contract to provide assistance to USPS in expanding the customer base of its simplified direct mail service, Every Door Direct Mail.

As well as working directly to speed up new sales for the programme, TMone said it will be developing customer acquisition strategies for USPS and potentially refining the design of EDDM’s in-house sales unit to improve its performance and expand the coverage of the direct mail service.

TMone, which has its head office in Iowa City, has been providing call centre outsourcing, lead generation and direct marketing services since starting up in 2003.

The company said is deal with USPS has renewal options taking it potentially through to 2023.

Anthony Marlowe, the TMone president, said his company recognised the need for speeding up new sales for the US Postal Service and its Every Door Direct Mail programme.

“TMone’s substantial experience in small business customer acquisition, sales pipeline development, account management and technology customisation are essential for the Postal Service programme,” he said.

“The Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail product is a tremendous tool for entrepreneurs to build their business on an ongoing basis.”

EDDM


EDDM helps SMEs to easily pick a local area to saturate with direct mail, and set up each stage of a campaign

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a service that the Postal Service has been trialling since last year, and is currently in the process of making a permanent fixture of its portfolio.

Testing has so far generated revenues of more than $43m, with 32,000 businesses registered to use it. Earlier this year, postal executives suggested that along with a large mailer version of the programme, EDDM could eventually bring in a billion dollars a year to USPS in revenue.

The service aims to simplify the direct mail process for small businesses who might not have dedicated marketing or mailing staff. It allows SMEs to use online tools to create and run direct mail campaigns without having to get hold of address lists for neighbourhoods in which they want to send out mailings.

A saturation mail service based on the Standard Mail product, it requires small businesses to have sufficient mailpieces to send to every door on a selected mail delivery route. The SME customers do not have to pay any permit or mailing fee, and can hand in up to 5,000 mailpieces at a time to their local post office.

As well as simplifying the mailing process, the EDDM programme aims to help small businesses find local printers and creative partners to put together every phase of mailing campaigns for their local areas.

Competition

The regulatory process for EDDM to transfer to a permanent part of the USPS market dominant portfolio saw the deadline for comments passing this week.

The move for permanence has drawn fire from the newspaper industry, which is concerned at the competition against its own local advertising.

In its comments regarding the USPS proposals, the National Newspaper Association said the Postal Service had not provided sufficient data from trials to demonstrate the service was not pulling volumes away from other mail services – notably existing direct mail businesses and newspapers – rather than attracting new mailers.

The Association said local postmasters had “aggressively” courted advertisers using newspapers for their marketing to switch to the EDDM service. It also accused USPS, in recommending local printers to help with mailing campaigns, to actively avoid printing businesses owned by local newspapers in order to drive business away from competitors in the local advertising market.

The EDDM programme has received some support from Mail Boxes Etc., the UPS retail franchise business that oversees more than 4,000 franchises of The UPS Store around the United States.

The company told regulators this week that in its view, EDDM was a “win-win” for local mailers, printing companies and the US Postal Service.

It dismissed the view that USPS was interested in knocking out local printers from the local advertising market, and in fact said the Postal Service was giving local printers access to the direct mail market that was previously limited to larger printers servicing larger customers.

Don Higginson, the senior vice president of franchise services for MBE, stated in the company’s filing: “We believe this notion fundamentally contradicts the value proposition of EDDM, where local printers and mailers are given access to a mailing program previously enjoyed by only large saturation-density capable mailers. If anything, EDDM gives smaller mailers and print shops more business opportunities, not fewer.”

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