The United States Postal Service Request For Information (RFI) SMEDM-03302010 has generated a lot of questions from marketing services providers and systems integrators. Over 100 questions and answers have already been posted as a pdf document on postcom.org.
After meeting with a few folks at the USPS Corporate Headquarters in Washington DC this afternoon, I thought it would be good timing to comment on the RFI that the USPS is using as a research tool to compile information from the direct mail marketplace. However, it's probably best to let the marketers share what they are thinking. Below are five questions and responses addressing RFI-SMEDM-03302010 that only begin to reveal the need for a closer relationship with the professional direct marketing community and the USPS.
Question: Will the offerings include promotional items? Response: Please define 'promotional items'.
Question: Who is providing the SME business objectives? Response: Business objectives will be provided once all market research is completed and all options are explored. The "who" will be a combination of the USPS and selected private parties.
Question: Can we be provided with a copy of this research/assessment, or at a minimum the associated executive summaries? Response: This information is considered proprietary and confidential.
Question: Of the existing DM providers on the USPS site, what has and hasn't worked with this relationship? Response: The Postal Service considers the information requested to be proprietary and confidential.
Question: What database would be available from the USPS to serve as one of the list providers? For example, would "movers/change of address databases be available for users"? Response: The Postal Service will not provide mailing lists. This capability must be provided by 3rd Party vendors. The Postal Service is obligated to protect the confidentiality of customer information. Any vendor would be required to abide by minimum privacy standards as well.
Our primary concern with this initiative is that it will neglect the most important factor for campaign success. With 40 percent of campaign success dependent on lists, shouldn't an open market approach to list and data acquisition be a core requirement? And why aren't there objectives for this project? Should the RFI process be used to create objectives or to evaluate options for meeting objectives? Who's leading who?
The due date for responding to the USPS Request for Information was Friday, April 23, 2010. However, if you would like to share your thoughts and/or recommendations for the USPS, then please feel free to comment below.