The death of direct mail – or at least of the organization that delivers it
Georg [sic] Jensen has written an insightful article for the American Interest Online about the grave problems of the United States Postal Service. With all due respect to the longstanding incompetence of Chrysler and General Motors, if ever there was an organization that has been begging to go out of business through half-assed management and non-existent strategy, it’s the Post Office. Here’s a taste of what Jensen has to say about their future:
“By rightsizing the infrastructure and implementing secure and legal ‘electronic postal mail delivery’ like other countries have, the USPS could become profitable and sustainable within two years, preserving far more jobs than if it continues to operate as if the Internet has not changed the world forever. Darwin, Deming and Schumpeter are all looking down on the USPS to see if it becomes a victim of natural selection, or a beneficiary of it. As things stand today, its survival prospects don’t look so good.”
Of course, if the USPS tanks, the private sector will rush in–or perhaps in this economy, it may be more accurate to say “limp in”–to fill the void and deliver the time-share real estate offers on which so many direct marketing careers depend. Certain though that is, it is equally certain that mail will only continue to become less important. Electronic communication eliminates another reason for it with every passing day.
On a final note, am I the only one who finds it astonishing that Postmaster General used to be a cabinet position? Does anyone need another indication of how far snail mail has fallen? Today the head of the Post Office no more deserves a seat in cabinet meetings than the president of Quizno’s does. But a cabinet-level position overseeing electronic communication–that, friends, may be worth discussing.