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Things you didn’t know about the USPS and direct mail marketing

It’s the third of July, and we’re about ready to begin the festivities—setting off fireworks, eating hotdogs, and celebrating all things American.

As direct marketers, there is one piece of Americana that we often rely upon to help clients meet their business objectives—the United States Postal Service. Its quite an impressive system. According to the USPS, it is “the only organization in the country that has the resources, network infrastructure and logistical capability to deliver to every residential and business address in the nation.”


The USPS had its beginnings in 1775 when Benjamin Franklin was named the first postmaster general. Since then it has evolved to serve the world’s economy day in and day out, handling over 160 billion pieces of mail in a year, or 40% of the world’s mail. Between assisting in delivery of some of the $4 million American flag imports and millions of Fourth of July BBQ invitations, the USPS provides universal (and unmatched) opportunities for users to access their services with over 31,000 physical locations (about double the locations that McDonald’s has in the US).

A percentage of the nation’s largest businesses also rely on the Postal Service. Amazon, for example, trusts the USPS to deliver small goods to their customers at a cheap price, and the two million sellers on eBay can agree. The United States Postal Service secures the livelihood of over twenty-one million self-employed Americans that regularly ship goods across the country.

From a marketing perspective, the USPS is vital. We know how wonderful digital tactics can be for clients looking to reach their audience, and we use them often, but we also understand that they can be deleted or ignored quite easily. A physical communication, on the other hand, is real, you can touch it, it takes up space, its intriguing, and forces you to take an action when it lands in your hands. It’s exciting and can convey a message with might.

According to a Millward Brown case study, tangible mailing materials make a deeper impression in the brain and produce more brain responses connected with internal feelings. When receiving a piece of direct mail, more emotional processing takes place, allowing for greater memory and brand associations.

We’re glad that we’ve got a framework in place to facilitate such a powerful communication channel.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Oh, and by the way – here are a few USPS *fun* facts:

  • The easiest ZIP Code to remember is 12345, a unique ZIP Code for General Electric in Schenectady, NY.

  • The post office in most need of a bridge is the Point Roberts, WA location. It can be only be reached by car driving through British Columbia, Canada.; only a boat or float plane can travel directly there.

  • The most unusual delivery method is mule train delivery in AZ. Each mule carries about 130 pounds of mail, food, supplies and furniture down the 8-mile trail to the Havasupai Indians at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, averaging 4,000 pounds per day.

In one day:

  • 4 million miles are driven by letter carriers and truck drivers

  • 6,050 mail pieces are processed each second

  • 17,492 passport applications are accepted

More facts about the USPS can be found here and here.

 Photo Credit: Steve Korchynsky