When people find out my father was a mail carrier, they often assume that’s how I ended up in direct mail. Actually, when I told him my job required me to have a thorough understanding and to stay abreast of postal rules and regulations required to send direct mail he couldn’t understand why I chose this career path. But then again, he knew I loved a challenge.
The United States Post Office apparently has no official creed or motto, however, an inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City reads: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
As a mail carrier for 30 years, my father took this unofficial creed to heart. I remember him waving a car down in the snow for a ride to work because the mail absolutely, positively needs to be delivered. People were waiting for holiday cards from family and friends with the latest photo of the kids and grandkids along with a detailed letter on what they’ve been up to this past year and where they spent their summer vacation. Bills needed to be received, payments made. Advertisers needed to get their information out to consumers. Or their favorite magazine delivered so they could sit back, relax and read it after a long morning of shoveling snow.
I am also of the generation of having sent hand written letters to pen pals, friends and family (email hadn’t yet been invented) imagine that? And my father made sure I had correctly addressed my mail to the recipient and my return address was prominently displayed in the upper left corner of the envelope so my letter would be delivered in a timely and efficient manner and wouldn’t slow down the processing at the post office.
Sending mail through the post office was the only way to communicate to people and businesses back then (other than the telephone) – because email and the internet didn’t exist. I still send some of my bills through the mail because I get annoyed when I have to pay a $3.50 convenience fee for paying my bills either on line or over the phone – which I have to do occasionally just because I haven’t planned accordingly and I don’t have time for my bill to reach the recipient before the due date.
As in my personal life in my business life I have to plan accordingly to be sure the mail DMW sends for our clients reaches their intended recipient in a timely and efficient manner. We want to hit our scheduled in-home date and we don’t want any issues when our mail travels through the various steps of the postal processing system. We do this through careful time line planning knowing how long it takes for a letter to travel through the system and keeping up to date on the changing postal regulations and requirements for creative.
The mail is still a viable way of reaching your audience. People want a tangible asset and direct mail offers that. The results are measurable. And now we track the mail we send and see it moving through the system using the IMB – pretty cool stuff. This is helpful in sending out email campaigns as we move into integrated marketing – being able to more accurately know when a consumer would have received their direct mail package and scheduling the follow up email campaign accordingly.
My father would be proud that after 17 years in print production and producing and mailing millions of direct mail packages for our clients I continue to strive for all DMW direct mail to reach the intended recipient in a timely and efficient manner and never slow down the processing at the post office – because the mail absolutely, positively needs to be delivered.