Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Five Radical Ideas for Saving the U.S. Postal Service

The popular saying for the Post Office goes "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." However, it appears that changing consumer habits, poor management and a hesitancy over the years to close some of the now 32,000 postal facilities may doom the fabled institution
I am not going to discuss the politics, the structuring of the financing or any other of the more laborious and realistic next steps. 

Rather, I am going to look at a few ideas that could (or could have) been enacted within the retail and branding areas over the last few years to stem the tide of red ink and led to a more successful USPS for us and our children. 

1. The USPS should radically redesign itself and it's brand. No one has taken this issue to task better than FastCoDesign with their great summary last year on Radical Retro ReBrand


2. Rather than fighting to close existing Post Offices, the USPS should sign a long-term co-location deal with McDonald's. Move the vast majority of their retail outlets to cool new in-store kiosk facilities and even locate P.O. Boxes within McDonald's. The burger giant would always welcome the added traffic. Ideally they would have partnered with Blockbuster several years ago and also led in the mail order movie business that Netflix's move to streaming is now killing. Though that ship has sailed, it might not be too late for a radical retail overhaul.  
Your Neighborhood McPost Office

3. The USPS was once one of the most trusted brands globally. Why not trust your email security to the Post Office? Internet security is a real concern and a huge multi-billion dollar business. If you receive an email with an attachment that has been delivered and certified by the United States Postal Service you would trust it. A Norton-USPS partnership could generate a lot of revenue for both and embrace the one thing that is diverting the most mail.

4.  USPS Mail Carrier for rent. OK, so that is a bit much. However, with such a large employment base there are very few other employers that have that many feet on the ground in neighborhoods each day. Why not utilize them for services beyond letter delivery? 
Market them local to deliver door hangers. Generate revenue by selling limited sponsorship's on their uniforms and delivery vehicles. Local municipalities could save money by contracting with them for services such as meter reading. 

5. Don't get rid of Saturday delivery, but rather add Sunday delivery too. Make it weekend premium services and charge accordingly.

One more bonus idea:
6. Partner with Hallmark and others to create a unified campaign for special moment cards and deliveries. Demonstrate to people that while a Facebook Birthday is nice, people that really care about you will mail you a card. Make it a movement. Make it green and focus on the simpler more meaningful moments. 

So that is it. My thoughts on radically reshaping the USPS. Do I think any of these ideas will be adopted? No. Do I think we will see tens of thousands of employee layoffs and billions in loses? Sadly, yes. Should the Postmaster General think like a gutsy CEO of a new business start-up? Absolutely. 

Another great article that discusses the more mundane ideas:

1 comment:

  1. I would gladly pay $5 a month for my mail box as a rental. I don't trust the other carriers.

    Also they could sell access to mail box delivery to the other carriers for customers who don't like the $5 fee.