Key Notes Vol. 02 No. 02

USPS Proposes $900m Rate Increase for Monopoly Products – The Postal Service told customers this week that the 1.966% rate increase, restricted by its annual price cap to the rate of inflation, would bring in about $900m in additional revenue including $400m in the 2015 financial year. The federal agency generated $67.8bn total revenue in 2014. The rate rise does include the surcharge USPS has been applying to counter the financial impacts of the 2008-09 recession on its services, as permitted by the Postal Regulatory Commission. Rate changes among the five major service classes include a 1.949% increase for First-Class Mail, 1.886% increase for Standard Mail, 1.965% increase for Periodicals, 1.964% increase for Package Services and 0.234% increase for Special Services. If the regulator approves the price increase, it is scheduled to take effect from 26th April. Source: Postal & Parcel

CPI Increase Likely as Exigent Comes To an End – The U.S. Postal Service will have to give 45 days’ notice before it rolls back a year-old exigent surcharge and provide bi-weekly estimates in the final three months of the temporary 4.3-percent rate per a Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) order.   The Postal Service filed its plan for removing the exigent surcharge in June 2014, and while not definitive, it identified two options.  One involved filing a notice to remove the 4.3 percent surcharge.  A second option involved using its available rate adjustment authority to increase rates under the price cap tied to the CPI.  In other words, the exigent increase would be removed but some of it would be offset by the new CPI increase.  Sources: Save the Post Office &  The Nonprofit Times

Are Catalogs Still Relevant In a Digital Age? – It’s true, of course, that e-commerce has disrupted nearly every aspect of retail and how retailers conduct business and attract consumers. But there’s one thing e-commerce can’t re-create, the full-on visual experience that a consumer has when picking up the 50, 100 or 150 page, high-gloss store catalog. A print medium that has stood the test of time when other print mediums are collapsing right and left. Statistics from the Direct Marketing Association show that the number of catalogs delivered across the U.S. hit its peak of around 19 billion in 2007. After a few tough years of declining numbers, 2013 brought about another surge and catalog were delivered to nearly 12 billion U.S. addresses rebounding after a tough economic crisis that crippled the budgets of many retailers. Source: PYMNTS.Com

Tips for Postcard Mailing Success – Postcards can yield formidable results, even in the digital age. Direct mail’s average response rate is 4.4 percent, compared with email’s rate of 0.12 percent, according to the Direct Marketing Association. But it’s best not to think of postcards strictly as “traditional” marketing. An effective campaign links the mail to your online efforts. Here are several tips: 1.) A piece of direct mail gets only the briefest instant to connect with a potential customer. Consider splurging on an oversized card or on thicker or textured paper, especially if prestige or sophistication is part of your brand. 2.) When you bring in your mail, the address side faces up. The main text on a postcard is on the other side, where it risks never being seen. It’s an easily solved problem. Read other tips here. Source: Memphis Business Journal

Infrastructure or Business: What Takes Priority at the Postal Service? – Is the U.S. Postal Service a business or a public service organization? Well, it’s actually both, and those overlapping–and sometimes conflicting–obligations have created major challenges for the agency over the years. A new white paper, “The Postal Service’s Role as Infrastructure,” gives three broad options the Postal Service and its stakeholders could consider when deciding how to adapt the Postal Service’s role for the future. Source: Government Executive

Is Congress A Help or Hindrance for the Postal Service? – A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% favor allowing the Postal Service to make budget decisions without congressional approval. Thirty-two percent (32%) oppose letting the agency act without congressional oversight. Twenty-six percent (26%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.) Source: Rasmussen Reports

Hip To Be Square – QR Codes in Direct Mail – When used in direct mail, the average mobile response rate was 6.4% with a QR code. In comparison, an average 4.4% responded using a regular letter without QR. Therefore, using the QR code furthers the chance of actually selling your product. When employing QR codes, always there should be a clear plan in place and a clear purpose for the customer provided, when they use it. Nothing is more disappointing than using a QR code and then end up on a webpage with no clear purpose. Source: Asendia

Augmented Reality the Future is Here – Touted as the technology of the future, augmented reality is making its way into the market place as brands continue to realize its potential to engage consumers. In fact a recent report by MarketsandMarkets, the augmented reality market is expected to reach $659.98 million. Another 2013 study put together by Trigg-AR, estimates that 30% of mobile subscribers having data plans in mature market will use AR at least once a week. Simply put, augmented reality (AR) is the integration of digital information with live video and the user’s environment in real time. Augmented Reality recognizes a visual picture or film, blends new information, and displays the virtual result. Imagine a situation. Source: Pitch On Net

Woe Canada! Many U.S. Retailers Fail Up North – Canada and the United States are geographical neighbors with many things in common. But for big American retailers, the Great White North might as well be another planet. Target announced Thursday that it was closing its stores in Canada. New CEO Brian Cornell defended the decision by saying that Target (TGT) would not have been profitable in Canada until at least 2021. Source: CNN Money


2015 Marketing Budget Trends by Channel – In late November and early December of last year, StrongView Systems surveyed business leaders from a wide range of industries regarding marketing spending plans for 2015. The StrongView survey generated 377 responses, mostly from business leaders affiliated with North American companies. About 34% of the respondents were from companies with 1-50 employees, while 28% were from companies with more than 1,000 employees. The survey did not provide a breakdown of B2B vs. B2C respondents, but it appears that both were represented. The survey respondents were generally optimistic about their marketing budgets for 2015. Fifty-four percent expect their budgets to increase in 2015, and 40% expect their budgets to remain at 2014 levels. Of those respondents who believe their 2015 marketing budgets will grow, 47% expect the increase to be between 5% and 10%, while about a third of the respondents expect budget increases of more than 10%. Source: Customer Think