Soundview Executive Book Summaries

The Difference a Day Makes

I received an e-mail from my son yesterday, and the subject line read: “Epic Fail for U.S. Mail.” After an opening paragraph that defined the term “epic fail” (he obviously remembered to whom he was writing), he asked if I would honestly care if we stopped getting mail delivered on Saturdays. He pointed out the fact that he and I commonly communicate over e-mail and that he’s never paid a bill using a check. “What difference can a day make when we’re used to getting info in a matter of seconds?” he asked.

This Wall Street Journal article about the possible changes requested by the United States Postal Service (USPS) echoes a thought that I had while considering my son’s question. Your business may be among the thousands that reaches its customers via direct marketing. While companies of all sizes concern themselves with search engine optimization and coupon codes, there is still a large percentage of companies that send advertising via postal mail each week.

Here’s a simple example of how the postal service’s decision could impact businesses. Last Saturday afternoon I trudged down the driveway to the mailbox and found inside the weekly “coupon clipper” magazine that blankets our area. On the back cover of the magazine was a coupon for a deeply discounted car wash located all of four miles from my house. As I walked back up the driveway, I looked at the magazine, then at my car, a salt-battered survivor of the worst winter in Philadelphia’s history. When I arrived at the car wash a little later that day, it was obvious that the coupon had worked its magic for the company. The line for the car wash backed out onto the street.

If the coupon magazine had arrived on Friday, I might have been too busy to use it or, more likely, I would have forgotten about it entirely. If I had to search for the coupon online and print it myself, I would not have bothered. The lobbyist for the Direct Marketers Association quoted in the Wall Street Journal article points out that direct marketing relies on its timeliness. This where one day can make a difference to businesses.

The USPS projects its losses over the next decade to total $238 billion if action is not taken. While the organization is exploring many preventive measures, including (of course) raising postage rates, the issue of stopping Saturday delivery is one that could impact more businesses than originally thought.

The stroll to the mailbox is a part of a consumer’s daily life. It’s as much a part of the everyday routine as locking your door or switching off the lights at night. I’m reminded of the book The Heart of Change by John Kotter and Dan Cohen. They suggest that creating change requires people to feel differently, rather than think differently. If the USPS can convince people to feel comfortable with Monday-through-Friday delivery, they may achieve the change they seek.

What about you? Will your business suffer if Saturday mail service stops? Send me a comment and let me know your thoughts.


1 Comment so far
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Good topic. I could handle once a week mail delivery–anything interesting arrives via private parcel or electronically.

Comment by Slamdunk

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