Viral Marketing Biggest Threat to USPS

 
on March 13 2012 10:38 AM

The United States Postal Service has experienced rough water over the past year (or more) and recently announced plans to consolidate or eliminate over 35,000 jobs in the United States.  This comes as revenue has continued to fall and the agency is on a 3-year plan to save $20 billion.

Looking back at the year-over-year struggles for the Postal Service, interesting trends are clearly present.  Notably, there is a well-defined parallel of when the Postal Service began losing money to when viral marketing initiatives including text messaging, email marketing, and social media marketing started gaining momentum.

The agency recently stated that the diminishing number of first-class mailings in addition to lower-volume shipments have led to less-than-expected revenue.

The rise in electronic communications has caused the average consumer to stop sending letters and instead correspond through email.  This supports the indication of a diminishing number of first-class mailings.  

The rise in viral marketing initiatives (including text messaging and email marketing) have allowed companies to shift their resources to more innovative marketing tactics that can be tracked with analytics to show greater return on investment.

During this past holiday shopping season, major retailers (including Best Buy, J.C. Penney, and Wal-Mart) invested more money into marketing on Facebook and Twitter versus mass-mailing promotional materials.  There was a tremendous spike in social media marketing promoting daily-deals at most retailers, and revealing up-to-the-minute updates about pricing and availability, details of which could not be reported in a time-efficient manner by a major postal carrier.

However, despite the challenges the agency has faced over the years, the Postal Service could actually capitalize on this emerging market.  For example, given their history and reputation, the Postal Service is in a strong position to adapt their products and begin hosting email services for personal and corporate use.  The agency could enter in to a partnership with a major tech company to begin hosting email services that would allow for electronic newsletters, social media integration, and more.

In addition, their available resources (dictated by the government sector) could put the agency in a strong position to reemerge and begin competing in online viral marketing services.

Kenneth C. Wisnefski is founder and chief executive of WebiMax, an online marketing firm in Mount Laurel, N.J., specializing in search engine optimization, search engine marketing, pay per click management and social media marketing.

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