• on Jul 29th, 2013 in Products & Services | 9 comments

    The U.S. Postal Service uses a variety of strategies and media – including direct mail, television, radio, and sponsorships – to advertise, market, and promote its products and services. These efforts also help to build brand awareness for the Postal Service. Some campaigns have succeeded, such as the Priority Mail Flat Rate box campaign, “If it fits, it ships®.” Other efforts have been less successful.

    Over the years, the Postal Service has faced an advertising conundrum. Some have complained that a government monopoly shouldn’t be spending money to advertise. Others have grumbled that the Postal Service isn’t doing enough to promote its products and services, particularly compared to its competitors. Certainly, the Postal Service’s current financial condition restricts its advertising budget. Then, there have been concerns about how well the Postal Service has managed and monitored advertising contracts, which one of our audit reports documented earlier this year. The Postal Service took corrective actions and has new contracts in place.

    Undoubtedly, we live in an age of competitive advertising. Every product the Postal Service has faces competition, even the monopoly products. The Postal Service needs to use advertising to promote its products, services, and the brand itself. The question might be: What is the most effective way for the Postal Service to advertise? Should campaigns focus on traditional media, or focus on new media, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube?

    The Postal Service’s upcoming launch of an ad campaign might provide insights on the best possible strategy. It plans to kick off a nationwide multi-channel advertising campaign in August to promote its Priority Mail changes, which include a “simplification” of Priority Mail services and a name change for Express Mail. For some customers, the new longer name of Priority Mail Express, and the revised Priority Mail service offerings of 1-, 2- or 3-days might actually seem more complicated than simplified. A successful advertising campaign would reduce that confusion.

    Share your thoughts on the Postal Service’s advertising strategy and its recent campaigns. How effective have they been? What changes would you like to see?

  • on Feb 27th, 2012 in Five Elements of a Postal Solution | 5 comments

    The Postal Service is one of America’s great institutions. It connects 150 million households and businesses and is the bedrock infrastructure of the American economy and society. Yet the Postal Service faces powerful and unpredictable forces. These forces – the economic downturn, the Digital Age, globalization, and statutory and regulatory demands – are fundamentally changing its outlook for the future. Actions are needed by postal management and Congress to assure that all Americans have universal access and the opportunity to take part in the emerging new world. But, what are those actions?

    The OIG is pleased to announce that, beginning in March, we will host a series of five week-long blogs discussing the elements of a postal solution. The five elements will ask questions on the Postal Service’s mission, infrastructure, role in the Digital Age, and federal mandates. We will invite guest commentators with a wide range of views inside and outside the postal community to contribute to the series.

    On the Monday of each week, the OIG will introduce the element of a postal solution and three guest commentators. On the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, one guest commentator will contribute an opening post. During the week’s exchange, the guest commentators will submit comments and replies. On the Friday, the OIG will summarize and conclude the discussion. Of course, we invite your comments on each topic at any time.

    The Five Elements of a Postal Solution

    • March 5 – March 9: Should the Postal Service be a competitive business, an enabling infrastructure, or something in–between?
    • March 12 – March 16: What would an optimized Postal Service infrastructure look like in the 21st century and beyond?
    • March 19 – March 23: What opportunities exist for the Postal Service to integrate its traditional role in the digital world?
    • March 26 – March 30: How should Postal Service pricing be redefined in support of a lean and simple national infrastructure with a right-sized workforce in the 21st century and beyond?
    • April 2 – April 6: What should be done about the overfunding, overpayment, and other unfunded federal mandates?

    Scheduled Guest Contributors

    • John Callan, Managing Director, Ursa Major Associates, LLC
    • James Campbell, Attorney and Consultant
    • Jeff Colvin, Director Economist, OIG
    • Dan Combs, CEO, eCitizen Foundation
    • Steve Hutkins, Editor and Administrator, Save the Post Office
    • Richard Kielbowicz, Associate Professor, Communication Networks
    • Roger Kodat, former Official, Department of the Treasury
    • Jessica Lowrance, Executive Vice President, Association for Postal Commerce
    • John Payne, CEO, Zumbox
    • Alan Robinson, Courier, Express, and Postal Observer
    • John Waller, former Director of Office of Accountability and Compliance, Postal Regulatory Commission

    Please join us and invite others to participate. We look forward to hearing from you.

    This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.

  • on Jan 17th, 2011 in Strategy & Public Policy, Uncategorized | 10 comments
    Coopetition, is a buzzword cropping up in many business publications these days. Basically, it means that competing firms look for ways to cooperate with each other, rather than compete head-to-head for business. Working in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service, the United Parcel Service (UPS) now has a program that allows customers of participating retailers to return merchandise by dropping it in any U.S. Postal Service mailbox, or at any post office. The program features a special label that makes the service possible. After a return package is dropped off at a Postal Service location, a UPS driver picks it up and the UPS ground network transports it back to the retailer. UPS, which has its main air hub in Louisville, KY, began testing the service last year with a few retailers and is expanding it because of “positive response.” Some say this is an example of successful coopetition. There are a number of other current partnership programs with competitors. The Postal Service acts as a “last mile” partner for both UPS and FedEx, handling thousands of deliveries. Federal Express performs similar duties for the Postal Service providing air service for Postal Service parcels domestically as well as providing international logistics for the Postal Service’s Global Express Guaranteed service. In certain conditions, coopetition can be a “win-win-win”; helping not only the two businesses, but also the consumer. Do you think these partnerships benefit the public through greater efficiencies or hurt the competitive level? Let us know what you think! This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).