You would think, the way customers are acting, the Postmaster General had declared the elimination of all work share discounts. Instead he made a minor, reasonable change in addressing standards for saturation mail. The mailing industry has been able to mail to rural routes using the simplified address format for years. It has been possible to use simplified addressing for all routes, including city routes, if you mailed for a government entity such as a school. The massive postal change that has everyone up in arms, now allows customers to use simplified addressing for flats and parcels when mailing to city routes.

Simplified addressing means pieces are bundled together with a cover sheet indicating the zip code, carrier route number and number of pieces in the bundle. Individual pieces do not have an address and enough pieces must be provided to cover all delivery stops on a route. This type of mailing is mailed at saturation rates, which provides the lowest postage cost for customers and some of the most profitable mail the USPS delivers. Simplified addressed mailings are not sorted by man, woman or machine. While the SOP for carriers is not to case several addressed saturation mailings together they can deliver one addressed mailing with a second, simplified mailing. Therefore simplified addressed mailings will potentially be delivered faster than if they carried an address.

The great sin committed by the new, supposedly inexperienced Postmaster General, is that he has allowed all mailers to use simplified addressing. Oh and he forgot to ask permission of our industry's leaders. This change in rules was necessary for the new Marketing Mail Made Easy program recently introduced. I believe MMME is a legitimate attempt by the Postal Service to increase the number of customers and volume of mail in the mailstream. All USPS efforts to increase mail volume over the last several years targeted a select few very large, old customers. Maybe these industry leaders feel left out or threatened by the new PMG's line of attack to improve postal finances. His approach, to increase revenues and new mail volume by targeting smaller customers, is insightful.

I don't believe anyone in our industry (including the USPS) sells mail, we sell mailing services to people that already use direct mail. Our "new" customers are someone else's "old" customers. The two biggest success stories over the last ten years of new customers entering mail into the mailstream are AOL and Netflix. Both are/were disc based mailers; both generated significant volumes of new mail for the USPS, both were from outside the direct mail industry looking for an innovative way to distribute their product and market their services. Our moribund industry did not find them, these innovators found us!

To its credit, the Postal Service has entered a brave new world by attempting to sell direct mail to businesses that are not already using mail for their advertising. The Postal Service has to broaden its base of customers if it is going to survive! MMME was designed by postal management to reduce the barriers that they believe make it difficult for small businesses to effectively utilize the mail stream. The barriers eliminated, according to the PRC filing for this program, are addressing constraints (therefore the need to change the simplified addressing standards), list costs, and permit fees.

Postal management still does not understand the complexities of the direct mail industry, our customers, or why most rate payers hire mail service providers (MSP) to process and enter their mail. The Postal Service is incapable of understanding how complex and difficult it is for customers to deal with the postal bureaucracy, its rules and regulations. And they don't grasp that the biggest barriers to small businesses coming back in to the mail stream is the belief that postage is too costly, postal rules are too complex and the medium too old fashioned for business people to take seriously.

But hey, I'm looking forward to a big ad campaign touting MMME and the postal delivery of advertising messages. It will be a pleasure to watch the Postal Service as it finally pushes direct mail as a viable alternative to other forms of advertising. If they do it right, and their sales force gets behind the program, they will cultivate new customers for the direct mail industry. When those new customers find marketing success but are unable to deal with the USPS, its rules, regulations, and employees Butler Mailing Services will be there to help.

Like the rest of the direct mail industry, I don't know how to sell mail. I sell mailing services, and wonder why my business isn't growing.

P.S. I just received my copy of Deliver. MMME is now called Every Door Direct Mail. I assume the postal acronym will be ED direct.

Todd Butler, Butler Mailing Services, eKEY® Technologies can be reached at 513-870-5060,, or