June 13, 2010

Dear Catalog CEOs: Postage Increase

Dear Catalog CEOs:

We're now being told that a postage increase is looming ... maybe 5%, maybe 10%, who knows?

Embrace the increase.

Honestly, I don't understand why so many of us view this as yet another crippling blow to the catalog marketing model. We rally around each other, we mobilize (to some extent, though most of us won't join the ACMA and actually put a few thousand dollars behind the effort, so do we truly care about this issue?), we get ready to fight.

Most of all, though, we complain, we fret, and we worry.

Here's the thing, folks. There is this thing called "the internet". Odds are that the internet is most of the way through the process of crippling the existing system of delivering information through the mail.

The internet gives us an out. We have other ways to sell merchandise. Instead of fighting tooth and nail to preserve the old, why not truly scare those who appear to be persecuting us with a five percent increase?

Tell the postal service and the vendor community that supports the postal service that unless they make this form of delivery viable, we will move our businesses online, and as a consequence, they will get nothing from us.

Nothing.

Instead of clinging to the past, why not demonstrate to the postal service and the vendor community that supports the postal service that we have a vision for the future? Isn't that our job, as business leaders, to have a vision? Negotiating about whether an increase should be 3% or 5% or 7% is not visionary, folks.

Show them that your business, while smaller, will still be viable without print. Show them that you will use other delivery channels, radio, cable television, e-mail, YouTube, social media, mobile, paid search, re-targeting, affiliates, word-of-mouth. Acknowledge that none of those channels, when added together, are as effective as print is today, but demonstrate that you will learn and you will grow, and the insight you will gain will allow you to eliminate your print program altogether.

And when you eliminate your print program altogether, the USPS and the vendor community that supports the USPS gets nothing. Their cost increases won't increase revenue, their cost increases will result in a situation that hastens their demise.

Challenge the USPS and the vendor community that supports the USPS to make their delivery channel relevant and competitive in an era where digital delivery of information is far more efficient than print and is virtually free. Don't operate out of a position of fear. Be confident.

Of course, I am here to help you through this transition. Contact me now for assistance.

Thanks,
Kevin