WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Postal Service (USPS) is promoting new direct mail services through its ‘Grow Your Business Day’ (GYBD) seminars that are being hosted by local post offices throughout the United States.

The GYBD program was launched in the third quarter of 2011 and events will be conducted in an effort to raise revenue by introducing small and midsize businesses to using direct mail in their advertising campaigns who may not use it very often or who may never have considered using it at all.

One of the services spotlighted by the GYBD seminars allows small businesses to take advantage of direct mail even if it doesn’t have a mailing list (see Every Door Direct Mail below).

The USPS has published a Postal Bulletin (PB 22312, June 2, 2011) which describes the GYBD program, which reveals that businesses sometimes perceive direct mail to be “burdensome, expensive and not worth the trouble.” The USPS wants to tap into these under-tapped markets by showing business owners how to can grow their business with Postal Service products and services.

In addition to the GYBD seminars, the USPS has introduced two new direct mail services to help small to midsize business get started with direct mail – Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) and The Direct Mail Hub. These services are intended to offer simple, low-cost solutions for local businesses to be able to target a specific audience or to be able to reach every address in a specific neighborhood.

The Direct Mail Hub

The Direct Mail Hub is an online portal that offers easy solutions for creating Direct Mail. One solution is a do-it-yourself tool that allows users to create their own direct mail piece. The tool offers a step-by-step guide through the process of creating a direct mail campaign from an assortment of preformatted templates.

Users can select a design from a variety of product sizes, formats and styles and can choose from a selection of images or upload your own images. The tool offers access to mailing list tools that allow businesses to target the right audience. Plus there is a means to manage mailing list campaigns. Technical support and customer assistance is available.

For those who are not inclined to create a direct mail piece on their own, the Direct Mail Hub also offers an alternate solution. Businesses can get competitive price quotes from a number of a mail service providers within the USPS supplier network.

Services offered among the suppliers in the USPS network are full-Service design, data entry and processing as well as printing, packaging, mailing and distribution.

Every Door Direct Mail

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is a service that allows businesses to be able to reach targeted groups in specific geographic areas without using exact names and addresses. This service uses mail delivery route information instead of names and addresses and essentially allows business to be able to use direct mail to reach customers without a mailing list.

Previously, this kind of service was only available to large mailing houses, but now, through the EDDM service, the USPS is offering it to small businesses as well. The tool helps users identify the right neighborhoods, calculate the number of households, prepare mailing documentation and determine the amount of postage.

Industry Criticism

The Direct Mail Hub has drawn some criticism from one major industry group. An article appearing in the Post & Parcel website reports on some concerns raised by one industry group.

Printing Industries of America, which describes itself as the world’s largest trade association for printing companies, said the US Postal Service was leading the nation’s small businesses to make use of only a “very narrow” selection of direct mail suppliers.

The Pittsburgh-based industry group represents 10,000 members and supports the USPS’s intention to simplify the direct mail process for small businesses but wrote a letter to the US Postmaster General, Patrick Donahoe, complaining of the situation.

The article goes on to say that “There are fine printing companies in every city in the country ready to assist direct mail advertisers” and urged the Postmaster General “not to exclude other printer/mailers that could also provide such capabilities” and that the Postmaster General should not exclude these.

The article goes on to say that “The companies providing services through the Hub were selected via a competitive process.”