Weird and Unique Post Office Locations

The US Postal Service has been in the news a lot lately, because it wants to close a bunch of its locations. People are upset because they don't want their neighborhood Post Office to be too out of the way. That got me thinking. What qualifies as "out of the way"? Here's what I found:

Vanuatu's underwater Post Office
1. The next time you're diving in Vanuatu, be sure to stop by the world's first underwater Post Office. Situated within a marine sanctuary near Port Vila, the PO is about 165 feet offshore, and nearly 10 feet deep. It's staffed for one hour a day by one employee, and the waterproof cards mailed there are hand-cancelled underwater with an embossed frank.
Source: Vanuatu Post

2. In Antarctica, visitors can assure friends they're having a great time by mailing a card at Port Lockroy. Founded in 1902, Port Lockroy has been  used for whaling, British military operations, and research. Today Port Lockroy is a combination Post Office and museum.

3. China opened a new Post Office Nov. 3, 2011 with a street address that is 213 miles above the earth. The "China Post Space Office" opened for business on the ground in Beijing Aerospace City and virtually on board the newly established Tiangong-1 space lab module. The office will process letters and emails, making it possible for the public to write Chinese astronauts on the ground and in space.
Source: CollectSpace
You can mail a card from base camp on Mt. Everest

4. The world's highest post office that is still on land is located in a tent at the North Everest Base Camp, Tibet, China. It's at 17,090 feet.

5. Michigan is the only place in the world with a floating Post Office - the J.W. Westcott II. It delivers mail to ships while they are still underway, and has been operating for 125 years.

The Galapagos Post Office
6. In the brush on Galapagos, just a few yards off the beach, is perhaps the world's strangest Post Office. It's a collection of boxes, crates and barrels filled with postcards. Visitors (mostly tourists on eco-cruises) sort through the stacks, looking for addresses within delivery distance of their homes. They also drop their own messages into the receptacle, adding another link to the chain of mail.
Source: Multiple Travel Websites

7. The first underwater mail box was opened August 16, 1939 in the Bahamas by US photographer John Ernest Williamson. "Sea Floor" closed some two years later.
8. The deepest underwater mailbox is off the coast of Susami, Japan. It's 32.8 feet deep, and gets up to 200 pieces of mail per day.

Mail is still delivered to the bottom of the
Grand Canyon by mule train
9. Mail is still delivered to Supai, AZ (at the bottom of the Grand Canyon) by mule train. Supai is one of the Post Offices slated for closure.
Source: USPS

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Direct Mail Trends from the USPS 2010 Household Diary Study

The 2010 Household Diary Study Report, conducted by the US Postal Service, was recently released. The study measures the mail sent and received by U.S. households and  tracks household mail trends over time. Here are the 2010 highlights that relate to direct mail:

Dollars Spent on Direct Mail

According to Magna Advertising Group, American businesses spent about $171 billion in advertising in 2010, an increase of 4.3 percent from 2009. Of this total spending, 12 percent went to direct mail postage only. This amount has remained fairly constant for most of the 20 years the study has taken place, even with the introduction of new and fast-growing ad markets such as the internet.

The next table shows that direct mail also remained one of the most popular advertising choices of 2010 advertisers. The weak economic recovery following the 2008-2009 recession stimulated only a 2.1% increase in direct mail spending over the previous year, but that number was still higher than most forms of advertising. Advertisers continued to count on direct mail’s targetability and measurability to get their message out.

Direct Marketing and its Relation to Income, Age and Education

The amount of advertising mail received by a household is closely tied to income, age and education. Households with less than $35,000 income receive less than half as much advertising mail as households with $100,000 or more income.

Among higher-earning households (more than $100,000), the amount of advertising mail received per week increases as the educational status of the head of household increases, from 12.4 pieces per week for households headed by someone who did not graduate high school, to 21.6 pieces per week for households headed by a college graduate.

Why is this? Direct mail is a written type of advertising, and education may play some role in its effectiveness, compared to TV or radio ads. Second, education is also tied to future household income. A recent college grad may start out earning a relatively low income, but is fairly certain to earn more in a few years.

But is it Read?

According to this study, 81% of households read or at least scan their direct mail. Broken down, 54 percent of people read their advertising mail, while an additional 27 percent scan it. Which leaves only 19 percent who say they don’t read their advertising mail at all.

This is an increase from the 9% who did not read advertising mail in 1987. Plus, given the large increase in direct mail volumes since then, U.S. households are definitely reading more direct mail now than in the past.

What’s interesting is what is being read. Catalogs are read by 51% of people, with an additional 13% setting them aside to read later. Only 17% of recipients reported that they discard them without reading.

Credit card direct mail, on the other hand, while having a 50% read-rate, has a 25% discard rate, and only 5% of people save it to read later.

Finally, the 2010 study shows that behavior toward direct mail is independent of the quantity the household receives. For example, of households receiving 0-7 pieces of direct mail per week, 82% read or scan their mail. But in households receiving more than 18 pieces per week, 81% read or scan their mail.

You can read the complete 2010 Household Diary Study here. (Warning: it’s 399 pages!)

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USPS Wants to Accelerate Cuts

Sorry for the postal-speak in this, but I wanted to pass it on quickly.

This comes from a memo from a local Postal Customer Council:

The US Postal Service today asked the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to expedite consideration of the Postal Service's plan to make its operations more efficient, reduce costs and ensure the long-term affordability of mail.

The request filed with the PRC asks it to issue a non-binding advisory opinion on planned Postal Service network and service standard changes by mid-April 2012. The current moratorium on the closing of any Post Office expires on May 15, 2012. The USPS voluntarily agreed to the moratorium in response to congressional requests in the hope it would help to create comprehensive postal legislation.

The Postal Service had laid out a plan to return to profitability while meeting the changing needs of its customers. The plan includes reducing the number of mail processing facilities from 460 today to less than 200 by 2013, and revising mail delivery service standards. This would provide more predictable and reliable service, and is part of a broader effort to stabilize Postal Service finances, and continue to provide affordable, universal service for generations to come.

The PRC issued a schedule last week that guarantees it will not issue its non-binding advisory opinion until July 10, 2012, at the earliest. The Postal Service would like to move forward with its planned network and service standard changes with the benefit of the advisory opinion, which it would need to have well before May 15.

The Postal Service believes that more than four months, from Dec. 5, 2011 to mid-April 2012, is adequate time for the PRC to evaluate and comment on these proposed operational changes.

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USPS 2012 Rate Hike is Kind to Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations can breathe a little easier concerning the 2012 postage rate increase.

An early look at the rates, scheduled to take effect January 22, 2012, show that nonprofit postage is going up only a fraction of a cent, and in several cases, will actually decrease.

Of course, the key to claiming the lowest rate is to ensure your mailpiece is machine-compatible. Just download this handy guide on our website before designing your mailpiece. Confused? Just send us a PDF and we'll be happy to do the checking for you.

Here are a few examples of the upcoming January 2012 postage rates:

Auto Letters
Current Rates (non SCF)
New 2012 Rates
Mixed AADC

And although flat-sized automation postage went up, the increase is negligible:

Auto Flats
Current Rates (non SCF)
New 2012 Rates
Mixed AADC

If your organization takes advantage of carrier route rates, the new rates will be .001 - .003 per piece higher than our current prices.

Carrier Route Letters
Current Rates (non SCF)
New 2012 Rates
High Density

Carrier Route Flats
Current Rates (non SCF)
New 2012 Rates
High Density

To see or download all the new postage rates and fees, click here.

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