Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stamp it Out

Canada Post wants people to accept junk mail again. They claim that people will benefit by being closer to their community if they accept junk mail, when this is a pitiful last-ditch attempt to make paper mail relevant again to an online and paperless society. While it's understandable that Canada Post has to do something to keep it alive and kicking, this is definitely a step in the wrong direction.

The organization is delusional if they think that anyone in their right mind believes that junk mail will link them into their community. Saving 50 cents on soup doesn't make you an engaged citizen. Junk mail is just that: junk. It's stuff that nobody wants to know that they couldn't figure out on their own if they just searched on Google. It's a tired medium that people have no time for and just adds to the recycling bins at the end of the week.

It also perpetuates the notion that Canada Post exists so that grandma can send you a birthday card once a year with a $5 bill in it. The image of people eagerly awaiting and sifting through junk mail belongs to another era.

If Canada Post wants to stay relevant, they need to do it in a way that is actually relevant. They had the right idea when they thought that people want to be linked in to their community- that bit is true. So they should be innovating off this idea that you can engage meaningfully through the mail.

The future of Canada Post is not going to be in delivering letters, it will be through delivery. With more and more people online, more of us order online and those things need to get to us somehow. While FedEx and UPS lead the pack, let's be realistic: how many of us are home Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm? It's far more reasonable to think that we can get to a Canada Post outlet and pick things up ourselves or that smaller things will show in our boxes.

The best innovation by far that Canada Post has had in recent years was their Christmas Turtles promotion, where you could send a pack of Turtles chocolates anywhere in Canada. The idea was sweet, cute and easy. It tapped into that idea of engaging with others through the mail and sending a thought, a treat, a surprise. More ideas like this year round would make more of us willing to head to a post office.

Canada Post should also aggressively recruit local Canadian-based businesses in order to be their exclusive carrier. We shop online a lot more now and the appetite to support local is there. This organization is going to have to compete and that would not be a bad thing for Canadians. But junk mail? Recycle that idea.

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