A Welcome to the 74th Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan

Happy President’s Day, and a warm welcome to the new USPS Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Megan Brennan. In a recent letter to USPS employees, upon her term of service beginning February 1, Brennan shared these statements, which I thought would be noteworthy enough to share here.

Happy President’s Day, and a warm welcome to the new USPS Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Megan Brennan.

In a recent letter to USPS employees, upon her term of service beginning February 1, Brennan shared these statements, which I thought noteworthy to share here:

  • We will invest in the future of the Postal Service. Investing in our future means creating the best opportunities for long-term growth and profitability.
  • We will speed the pace of innovation. The coming years will see greater focus on innovation, with pilot projects designed to test new delivery offerings, new tools to better meet the digital and mobile expectations of our customers, and new offerings designed for America’s small businesses.
  • We will develop strategies to better engage and empower employees.
  • We will also build the most efficient and productive network to support our growth products.
  • We have made tremendous progress streamlining our operation footprint in recent years—allowing us to keep our products and services affordable.

Updates to the USPS five-year business plan and strategic initiatives are certain to follow.

From a USPS customer perspective, it’s hard to argue about any one of these objectives, and it’s tempting to say she has put emphases exactly where they need to be: innovation, investment, productivity, affordability, engagement and infrastructure.

While Postal Service customers are not called out directly here in this excerpt—all of these goals speak to keeping the Postal Service attractive, accessible and responsive to marketplace needs and realities. The PMG also stated in her letter, “Your commitment to our public service mission and to delivering for our customers defines who we are as an organization and is the bedrock of all of our successes.”

There are certainly challenges ahead: Marketing organizations are well aware of the difficulty of working with a quasi-independent governmental entity that does not have total control over its finances, and taps the business sector unpredictably as a result. The whole rationale of past postal reforms was to instill predictability, manageability, cost controls and some semblance of logic. We can say with certainty that that most recent postal reform law fell short, and created huge liabilities in funding that clearly were not sustainable, nor grounded in logic, which brought on USPS default and financial uncertainty. And I’m not talking about the crown jewel in that law, from mailers’ perspective: the CPI-indexed annual rate cap. But rather Congressional mandates for pre-funding certain civil service and retiree benefits, and we’re still awaiting the collective political will to fix these mandates.

Thankfully, the PMG is inheriting a growing US economy which helps USPS financials, but the fix-its still need to happen on The Hill. Let’s make sure some of this needed emphasis and impetus can find its way into the Postal Service’s working more closely with the business community, engaging USPS employees too, for these legislative changes to happen very soon.

I’d love to hear some positive developments here by the time the PMG addresses the National Postal Forum in May.

Get Ready for 2013: Customer Acquisition Emails

Acquiring long-term platinum customers is much harder today than it was even a decade ago. The globalization of the marketplace created an environment where people have access to multiple choices for every product or service they want to buy. This availability has created an environment where long-term customer loyalty has been replaced by hit-and-run shoppers. The only way to offset this to create a relationship with your customers that makes them want to stay with your company even when the competition offers lower prices and faster service.

Acquiring long-term platinum customers is much harder today than it was even a decade ago. The globalization of the marketplace created an environment where people have access to multiple choices for every product or service they want to buy; a simple search on Google for any item or service will reveal a multitude of choices at a variety of prices.

This availability has created an environment where long-term customer loyalty has been replaced by hit-and-run shoppers. The only way to offset this to create a relationship with your customers that makes them want to stay with your company even when the competition offers lower prices and faster service.

Relationships begin at the first contact point. Prospects who sign up for your email list have different expectations than your customers. Sending them the same promotional emails may convert a few, but it will not create the foundation for a long-term lasting relationship. People need to know they’re valued. The best way to communicate that is by creating customized emails designed to woo prospects into becoming customers. The same technological advances that increased your competition also make it easier and more economical to connect with people.

Every email marketing strategy needs a triggered systematic campaign designed to convert prospects into customers. Most companies have a welcome email automatically triggers when someone subscribes to their email list but very few businesses follow-up with additional emails that communicate information about the company products and services. It’s as if they presume that everyone knows everything there is to know about their company.

People subscribe to email lists for a variety of reasons. Some are simply looking for discount offers, others want to learn more about the products and services. Failure to take advantage of the opportunity to share information with people who have indicated they want to know more is a waste. The cost is minimal. The potential return is huge. If you do not have a customized prospect conversion strategy, you are squandering an opportunity to build a foundation for long-term customer loyalty.

It’s almost impossible to identify the prospects with long-term customer potential. The only information you have available is the original source and what people choose to share. Requiring additional information to better qualify subscribers is counterproductive—long sign-up forms yield fewer subscribers. The objective of your sign-up form is to gain permission to email prospects. The trigger emails following subscription can be used together additional information as well as convert the subscribers.

Start with a welcome email that thanks people for subscribing. Ask if they will share their preferences so you only send relevant emails. Be very careful with this. Do not ask what the subscribers want if you are not going to honor their wishes, it will alienate your prospects. If you choose to ask the questions, limit them to five. Keep them on one page above the fold with the save button in clear view. People’s eyes start to glazing over when they see a long list of questions.

The emails following the welcome letter need to build trust, provide relevant information and match the preferences indicated earlier. Don’t presume your prospects know about your top-notch service, liberal return policy or special promotions. If they do, the emails will serve as a reminder. If they don’t, providing the information is a service. Including customer testimonials and product reviews provide social proof and help establish trust.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for creating a triggered welcome email campaign:

  • Do include an added bonus in every email. This can be as simple as providing tips. For example, a B-to-C business selling cookware could offer recipes and cooking tips. A B-to-B company selling office supplies could offer productivity tips.
  • Don’t overwhelm new subscribers by bombarding them with emails. Test different delivery times and spacing to find the best strategy.
  • Do provide links to your website and additional information in every email. Always gives people a place to go and easy way to get there if they want more.
  • Don’t include icons for social media sites without providing a call to action. Give people a reason to connect with you on the other channels.
  • Do test everything. What works for your competitor may fail for you and vice versa.
  • Don’t think of your welcome email campaign as “set it and forget it” marketing. Strive for continuous improvement to maximize your return.