Direct Mail in the COVID Era

Direct mail in the COVID era requires a whole new level of details and timelines to manage.  Our clients and our colleagues in this field are now regularly seeing pre-sort standard mailers taking 7-10 days on average for delivery. That’s after entering the postal system! Snail mail has become sloth mail.

From building in longer turnaround times to monitoring supply chain issues with microscopic scrutiny, every campaign this year needs to be ready for a particularly difficult environment to get mail into mailboxes on time. Here’s why and what we’re doing about it at ColdSpark.

The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has upended life as we have known it across the globe. Restaurants are now set up in parking lots, hand sanitizer is now sold and consumed by the gallon, and – in more liberal parts of the country – if you aren’t wearing a mask in public these days you may as be blowing smoke into an infant’s face for the personal ridicule it can bring you… but I digress.

Granted it is an election year, but there’s been a stronger than usual storm of politically charged news surrounding everything Trump touches this year. Most notably, the US Postal Service. That’s due in large part to its growing importance in the election itself; securely and reliably carrying tens of millions of ballots for voters in all 50 states. Even without that higher pressure demand on the postal system, decades of poor management and exploding pension obligations have brought on severe budgetary deficits for the USPS. As Congress debates another postal service bailout, emergency measures for the virus and the ongoing budget crisis have already strained the postal system beyond its limits. Those emergency budget-cutting measures that – until recently – were being implemented by the postmaster general, mean that mail is simply moving more slowly than ever before – especially in deep-red rural areas around the country.

A slower postal service is only one problem to calculate for. You see after the political mailer is printed, a private freight company is required to get bulk mail into the postal system. These companies just like every other business in America are having issues with COVID outbreaks in warehouses and even with individual drivers. That means previously reliable supply chain setups are facing delays and major disruptions that can upend even the most well-oiled mail program. 

At ColdSpark, as soon as we became aware that these compounding delays were becoming a systemic issue, we implemented several new measures to ensure our clients’ mail remains an impactful communication channel for educating voters. They are (in no particular order):

  • Adjust every client’s mail calendar back 7 days to ensure final mailers in October arrive ahead of the election.
  • Growing our network of high capacity print vendors to reduce the physical distance for the final leg into the mail system.
  • Requiring every mail vendor have a dedicated staffer monitoring the movement of every project through freight daily and provide up to the minute updates on supply chain issues and delays.
  • Prior to the handing off a mailer to a freight carrier, the carrier must confirm in writing there are no current delays en route to the postal system.
  • Requiring every mail vendor to have multiply options for freight to ensure quick turnaround even if a carrier is seeing delays in their system.

In politics, as realities change on the ground whether it be from a global pandemic or the actions of the opposition, Coldspark moves quickly to help clients adjust and push ever harder toward victory. If you need help getting your message out, contact us. We’re ready to help you win.