As an Etsy seller, and because I do 100% of my shopping online, mail is important to me. I don't want to put pressure on Terri, my rock star mail lady, especially at the advent of the holiday package delivery season, but she will be more likely, than not be, the person who will confer my diploma someday. Why not? She's my biggest fan and most important business and personal support system. My mail carrier as well as mailboxes locked far from porch-pirate-thieving-hands securely inside this building are reasons why I chose my current home. It was a sobering revelation, in the midst of celebrating the important Etsy milestone of 100 sales in my QualityJunk shop this week, to realize that meant Terri bent over 100 times to pick up those packages. Every single one of those packages was a United States Postal Service (USPS) Priority Mail package!
Priority Mail is a magnificent product that allows me to provide a superior customer experience as well as provides me with peace-of-mind that the package arrives at its destination safely and quickly. That is such a simple concept and one would think that simple concept would be simple to communicate and simple to understand. I was astounded, from the point of view as a long time user of Priority Mail, that the feedback about one of the earliest commercials for the Flat Rate variety of Priority Mail had mixed and mostly negative feedback. Apparently,"If it fits, it ships" is open to a wide range of interpretations (Audit Field Financial - West team, 2010). When thinking about that, I remembered spending significant time failing forward while learning how to use Priority Mail. When visiting the USPS web site, a user can't find one cached file of everything necessary to know about Priority Mail. I'll admit it. I get "warm fuzzies" from watching Priority Mail commercials because of my experience with the product, my wonderful mail lady, and how easy Priority Mail makes living the Etsy shop dream. However, when trying to visualize how someone who has never used Priority Mail might perceive it, the effectiveness of the message is quite different.
Currently, as I am pursuing an online education, I'm studying a marketing topic called Integrated Marketing Communications, which essentially involves creating uniform marketing messages to strengthen the impact of marketing campaigns (Clow & Baack, 2014). The first thing I notice about Priority Mail is that there is absolutely nothing to be integrated with those lovely commercials. If a viewer is inspired to explore the product, there is no next step to take except for trying to navigate the USPS website (USPS, 2016). I learned firsthand that will yield confusion more often than relevant information. I do believe research would help USPS understand this consumer dilemma. After all, important reasons that motivate marketing research include centering business on consumers and focusing on consumer needs. Additionally, research allows businesses understand target markets better and can help improve messaging and communications (Fletcher, 2013). At this point, any messaging and communications would be better than nothing. Spending the time to interview focus groups could help shape a plan for developing a Priority Mail resource that provides both information and support. Not everyone is willing to spend the time I did to learn how to use Priority Mail and not everyone learns in the same way. What would be the best marketing tool? Is it a dedicated web site or a social media site or a collection of how-to videos? Research can, and should, determine that. I do believe that improved marketing strategies would convert potential first time users into loyal customers, and it's my wish that the USPS will soon make their Priority Mail product easier for everyone to use.