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Staying Power?

In the printing and publishing industry we talk alot about whether magazines and the like will be sticking around, and if so, at what capacity? I truly believe the honest answer to this is that there are so many different mediums now days that the consumers can choose to interact with your publication/message, that  it is bound to shrink. With that said, I do believe that printing is not going anywhere, and in fact will become more specialized, meaning higher quality products will be a must in the near future in order to compete.

With that said, one printed product that I truly believe is not going anywhere, and in fact will grow, are marketing collateral products. (ie literature, brochures, catalogs, postcards, direct mailers, and the like).

“Yeah right Noah, I can create a Facebook page, LinkedIn page, Twitter Page, to market my business and not have to pay a thing!” Ok their guy, take a look at this years sales amount and compare it to last years when you abandoned printing all together..what did it cost you?

Here is why I believe this:

1.

I was watching a news cast the other night, I can’t remember if it was 60 Minutes or something else. They were doing a feature on people ordering products online, thinking it was the authentic product, but when the product came to their house, it was a fake. They were using Rosetta Stone as an example, and spot lighted several people that thought they were ordering the authentic Rosetta Stone software to only find out they were duped.

The news cast then went on to interview the CEO of Rosetta Stone, and he showed the news anchor 100’s of different websites using the Rosetta Stone name, and some even using his image on their website. How the heck would a consumer know the difference? They wouldn’t, even the CEO himself admitted that. So my point, where is the credibility and trust? Print is still the most credible marketing/advertising vehicle out there, and think about how that plays back to your brand……

2.

It has staying power. If I see something online that I like, the chances of me finding it next week when I am ready to purchase it seem to be slim. If I want to find out more about you next week I don’t want to jump on my computer to read about you, I want to lay on my couch and hold a physical printed product in my hands that allows me to see what you do. If I am interested, then I will jump on the internet and find out more about you! If I am not ready to partake in what you have to offer, I will hold on to it. Chances are, within the next several months, your catalog, brochure, etc will catch my eye as it sits on my counter top and I will be interested as I am now ready.

3.

People love to receive things. I have to admit this, and you can try to deny it all you want, but you know it’s true! When I receive a message in my email box trying to solicit me something, the first thing I do is “delete”. However, when I receive something in my mail box at home, I can’t get rid of it even if I wanted to!

My son Owyn (4 years old) loves to get the mail, in fact he calls it “his job”. The bills and letters come to me, the solicitations he waits patiently for as I hand them to him. He loves mail, doesn’t matter what it is, it makes him feel special like someone is writing to him. I found myself the other day going through his shoe box of stashed mail, and there were actually really great offers that I am now researching and willing to find out more about. I then realized, I too love to get mail!! (Trust me, this isn’t a shameless plug for the USPS, I don’t have alot of love for them, they need to get their act together, but the fact remains, everyone likes to receive something!

I chose the image I did of the baby, because it goes to show you how many businesses are out their fighting for your attention, and that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. The image has staying power, images in print have even more staying power, and credibility. Don’t take my word for it, just turn on the news!

February 26, 2012 Posted by | Books, Catalogs, Mailing, Printing, Publishing, Relationships, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We as mailers need a viable and effective postal service.

The exigent postal rate increase proposed back in July was denied by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on September 30. The news is a great relief to all mailers, especially periodical and catalog mailers. The proposed rate increase had many mailers scrambling to figure out how to absorb the latest financial burden in a sluggish economy.

 The USPS rate increases over the last three years were tied to the Consumer Price Index. This was one result of Postal Reform Act passed at the end of 2006. Since the CPI has only increased 0.6%, the USPS requested an exigent rate increase to help offset a looming financial crisis. The USPS is projecting nearly $240 billion in losses over the next decade. The denial is a serious blow to the USPS financial plan.

 The USPS has proposed a number of measures to meet the projected losses. Internal cost cutting focused on reducing the number of employees, and putting that number more in line with declining mail volume. Unfortunately, mail volume declined much quicker than they could reduce the workforce. USPS was able to cut $6 billion in costs, but it didn’t make up for the $7.7 billion in losses. The USPS is also looking to consolidate facilities, go to a 5 day a week delivery schedule, relief from (and refund of?) the overpayment to the employee pension plan and no longer be required to prefund employee heath benefits. The latter two require congressional approval and the first has been opposed by individual congress people not wanting to lose offices in their district. The USPS will now face a steeper uphill battle counteracting the proposed shortfall.

 Many believe (which apparently includes the PRC) that the USPS financial circumstances were at least partially of their own making. The PRC cited this saying they believed these financial difficulties would have happened regardless of the economy. The PRC did not feel the USPS met the criteria for an exigent increase. All of the following conditions must be met to approve an exigent increase request:

      1. Due to either extraordinary or exceptional circumstances;

      2. Reasonable, equitable, and necessary under best  practices of honest, efficient, and economical management; and,

      3. Necessary to maintain and continue the development of postal services of the kind and quality adapted to the needs of the United States. 

  New and more rigid regulations combined with the internet and the economic downturn helped to drive mail volume down. The new rate structure for periodicals three years ago (which added things like container charges), the huge increase in rates for standard flats a few years ago and more recently the change in preparation requirements for letter sized booklet mailers (coming soon for self mailers), the stricter droop test (poorly timed with many publications a fraction of the size they were years ago) have all combined to make mailing less attractive for mailers. Those that depend on mailing are forced to reduce the quantity or charge customers more to meet the increased processing costs.

  The latest proposal would have heaped a 5% increase on catalog mailers, an 8% increase on periodicals and a 23% increase on standard parcel mailers. This would have resulted in more job losses and possibly put some mailers out of business. The poor timing of this increase was sure to have had a serious if not disastrous effect on businesses.

 Hopefully this will force the USPS (and Congress) to take a hard look at their operations. The likely result will be conditions that will adversely affect the mailer and the USPS. Despite how we feel about USPS handling of these circumstances, we as mailers need a viable and effective postal service. 

-Guest Post by Bill Carter, Distribution Manager at J.B. Kenehan

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Mailing, Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Knowledge is Power….More Changes from the USPS

Over the last 4 years, the rate of change in the USPS has increased exponentially! As the USPS attempts to bring the revenue for each class of mail in lines with the cost (per the postal reform act of 2006) and institute accountability measures (Sarbanes/Oxley accountability act or SOX for short) many new rules and rates are being introduced. For the rest of the year, I will take a closer look at some new rules and or rates that are proposed or enacted. Of particular importance are the proposed rate increase for January 2011, the new deflectance rule for flats that went into effect in June (otherwise known as the “droop” test), and the relaxing of ride along and supplement requirements for periodicals (I need to give you some good news!).  Below are some links where you can get more information on these items. Your local PCC can be an excellent resource for postal information.

Federal register notice for periodical changes: http://pe.usps.gov/FRN/Periodicals_Content_final.pdf

Federal register notice for deflection (droop) rule change: http://pe.usps.gov/FRN/Deflection_final.pdf

Federal register notice for rate changes: http://pe.usps.gov/FRN/Domestic_Jan_2011_Exigent_proposed.pdf

Actual proposed rate table for Jan 2011: http://pe.usps.gov/prices/Prices_Jan2011.xls

September 11, 2010 Posted by | Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments