What To Do With Postage Costs Increases

In January, the US Postal Service increased the cost of a first class stamp from 44 to 45 cents. In a message to US Congress last week, they also suggested the possibility of raising the cost of a stamp to 50 cents. Packages and heavier pieces will also see a noticeable increase.

In light of these increases, the average marketer recoils in fear and economic victimization and declares that direct mail isn’t a viable option for them anymore. Conversely, the veteran marketer responds in celebration – and prepares to mail more – with more elaborate packages and pieces.

When postage prices increase, it is a great time to ramp up direct mail campaigns, because at that point there is less clutter in the mailbox and less competition for the recipient’s attention. When the herd thins, rush in! Remember, this is not about buying stamps. It’s about buying your prospective customers’ attention.

The cost of a 1 cent bump (or an impending 5 cent bump in the near future) can – at least temporarily – buy you a greater share of those who are willing to open your mail as fewer pieces arrive each day saying “read me.” The retreat of many makes it easier to aggressively grab up territory and dominate a marketplace.

This perspective on postage increases is a way of thinking about a concept in business that is often overlooked. That concept is this: What most people perceive as bad, you should examine carefully for opportunity. And the bigger the perception (that something is bad or annoying or wrong), the greater the overlooked, hidden opportunity may actually be.
Human beings as social creatures are hard wired and conditioned to conform. Most people take comfort in being with the majority, and being accepted by the majority. In fact, many seem to take comfort in knowing that, even if they are wrong, at least they are wrong with a bunch of other people. Not wanting to “raise eyebrows” limits and inhibits what many people do. Many things get accepted, believed as gospel or “right” or “smart” just because everyone else is doing it.

It happens in marketing all the time. We tend to conform to what is seen as normal. We do the type of stuff that is pretty, pleasing and perfect because it’s viewed as professional – not because it works. We jump on bandwagons because everyone else is on them. At the same time we ignore the types of marketing tactics that could create enormous opportunity because we fear what others might say.

I encourage you to ask yourself some hard questions – that may require significant thought:

  1. What are you doing in your marketing that conforms to perceived industry or professional standards?
  2. What are you doing because everyone else is doing it?
  3. What are you doing, or more importantly, what are you failing to do because of fear of criticism, disapproval or ridicule?

Careful consideration of your answers to these questions is essential.

Choosing to boldly go against the grain and do the opposite of what others are doing might feel odd at first, but it will provide significant business advantage. I suggest you try and see what happens.

My encouragement is to be counter-cultural and buy stamps. Stick them on big, bold and daring direct mail pieces that get opened and read by your prospects.

And for the record: no one else is doing it.