“Lay off 220,000 postal workers? What could go wrong with that?”

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe appearing before Congress on September 6, 2011 proposing massive layoffs of postal workers.

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart says that we should not fear a sudden USPS shutdown because, “All it takes is major and fast congressional action.” Stewart goes on to say that PMG Donahoe, “Went before Congress yesterday, and I think we know what’s going to happen. He is going to ask for a big old government bailout and a short term stop-gap measure.”

But unlike the Wall Street banks and Detroit car manufactures we have seen in recent years, Donahoe lays out cost cutting measures allowing the USPS to restructure its healthcare system independent of federal programs and an accelerated work force reduction by as many as 220,000 employees. Jon Stewart replied, “Oh, you’re just going to lay off 220,000 postal workers? What could go wrong with that? After all, the phrase ‘going postal’ is virtually synonymous with reacting well to bad news.”

Fear not, Congress is full of folks who can think fast on their feet. Maybe the PMG should simply lead a brainstorming session on ways the USPS can turn the tide. Near the end of the Daily Show’s segment, Stewart highlighted an idea proposed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. “I’m not sure that there has been a marketing campaign about the value of a written letter. … I really believe that if somebody began to market the value of sending a written letter to someone you love, you might be surprised on how you could stabilize some first-class mail.”

Clearly, McCaskill was likely catching up on her text messaging while the PMG was explaining that the USPS problems lie in lofty labor and healthcare commitments. What do you think? Aside from McCaskill’s off the mark brilliance to increasing letter volume by winding back the technology clock a few decades, can marketing save the USPS?

-Bob Makofsky at bmakofsky@conformer.com

About Bob Makofsky

Bob runs operations and marketing and is Conformer’s resident postal expert. Bob has over a dozen years of entrepreneurial experience in the technology industry, in both marketing and business development roles ranging from negotiating $100 million-plus contracts nationally and abroad to developing marketing campaigns. He is regularly featured in print and packaging trade magazines on innovation. Bob is a competitive cyclist and longtime member of the Century Road Club Association in Central Park, competing in the Empire State Games (2007, 2008). Bob graduated from the University of Denver.
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