“Weird Al” Yankovic sings a song called “The Check’s in the Mail.” I can still remember my pre-teen self clumsily performing box steps, complete with jazz hands, with the rest of the ensemble during my first foray into performing arts. In the refrain, “Weird Al” sings “The check’s in the mail, would I lie to you?” It brings to mind how many times I’ve rushed home, eagerly anticipating finding something in my mailbox. When it arrives, there is an instant sense of gratification. When it does not, there is a sense of disappointment, and resignation over having to wait one more day.
During the annual directXchange conference by NEMOA held last week, we had the opportunity to hear from Steve Monteith, Vice President of Marketing for the United States Postal Service. He shared an exciting initiative called “Informed Delivery.” This service is currently being offered in certain areas of the country, and is expected to roll-out nationally in the near future.
Informed Delivery allows users to know what is waiting in their mailbox when they arrive home. In an article for NPR dated March 27, 2017, Cecelia Mazanek wrote “Users will have the option of getting an email with photos of the front of card- and letter-size mail pieces that are due to arrive that day, or a day or two later. The email is sent on days when mail is being processed and delivered. It shows up to 10 grayscale images in each email with a link at the bottom to see the rest.”
As this program grows, what could it mean for catalogers? We know that the most successful catalog companies form relationships with their customers. Their brands matter and their catalogs are eagerly received for a wide variety of reasons. Creating a sense of anticipation will cause greater engagement when a customer receives a catalog. If someone knows it is coming, they may set aside time once they arrive home, rather than putting it in a pile of mail to look at on the weekend (and may not get to). Informed Delivery may allow people to make items a priority that may once have only been an option.
Mr. Monteith spoke at length during his presentation about who “touches” the mail and how that can impact family engagement. I am not ashamed to admit that I hid the “American Girl” catalog from my daughter many times when she was younger. It was then leveraged as a reward for when chores were done. We spent many wonderful evenings looking through the catalog and playing with her dolls. At that time, I was the only one in my home who dealt with the mail. I chose what was important and I also chose what to discard. I chose my family’s engagement.
Today, my teen daughter’s tastes run more towards fashion catalogs. She runs to the mailbox to see what she has received that day. She often shows me pieces she loves. I am no longer the sole decision maker about which mail pieces engage with my family. With Informed Delivery, I will see ahead of time when I am due to receive bills or have a notice from school. I can make sure that important items are not missed if I am not the first to engage with my mail that day.
For more information on Informed Delivery, please see this article from NPR. Sign up is required to participate. Please bookmark this link to “sign on the dotted line” to see when Informed Delivery becomes available in your area. Also, please continue to visit our blog as we continue to learn and explore how postal promotions and initiatives can have a positive impact on your catalog business.