As business models go, it was never a very sustainable one. Still, after nearly 150 years in operation, it does come as a bit of a shock that Canada Post plans to axe individual home delivery entirely over the next five years, and shed 8,000 workers in the process. (The service will move everybody to a “community mailbox” system – presumably similar to the ones people who live in apartments have used forever.) And it will raise postage rates by at least 35% starting March 31.
Wine tastes, beer budgets
Considering the sheer size of the country (about 3.8 million square miles, much of it uninhabited) and its small population (more than 35 million), it’s amazing home delivery has lasted this long. As in the U.S. and throughout the Western world, electronic communications have whittled away mail volume in Canada. Is there any question that the days of every national postal service are numbered?
Perhaps more importantly, should we and our clients be taking a bit of responsibility for some of this?
It seems like in every piece we read about the fading fortunes of postal services, we see business and direct-mail associations grousing about every rate hike, large or small. And of course to a certain extent that is their job. But we seldom see anyone acknowledge that no matter how much we’re paying, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of actually delivering the piece. We’re in “grandpa thinks we should get a movie and a newsreel for a quarter” land here.
Smarter, not cheaper
More importantly, we haven’t seen much discussion about using direct mail smarter. It’s expensive because many of our clients don’t invest the money necessary to use it more efficiently.
Hands up those of you who throw at least one piece of mail in the recycling bin four times a week? Five? Six? If our clients used some basic marketing analytics to figure out which of those people will never buy their products, we could easily cut that down to three times a week, and use the difference to create some truly eye-catching pieces indeed.
In the meantime, see you around the ol’ community mailbox. You know it’s just a matter of time before we get them, too…