The Direct Effect team is comprised of advocates from the marketing industry, the mail industry, and educational institutions. The team’s passion is addressing the need for educating college students about new technologies that make integrating mail into digital campaigns more effective. Did you know 39% of consumers pay more attention to campaigns that integrate direct mail and digital then a single-media campaign?1 The average consumer wants to move seamlessly between the physical and digital worlds…
…And yet, traditional marketing channels like direct mail are not often taught at the college level anymore.
The Postal Service in association with industry experts and educators developed college level course content about direct mail and its role in providing seamless experiences for consumers through integrated marketing. Our mission is to help educators prepare marketing students with the direct marketing skills they will need to compete after graduation. This program is designed to be a framework and can be used by topic, module, or in its entirety of 14 weeks.
A group of experts came together in the summer of 2017 to develop the academic program. During that fall and spring the team created materials and tested the materials with three college programs. In the summer of 2018, the packaged materials and instructor guide were released for college professors’ use.
Since the release, we've received great excitement from the Postal Customer Council® community. PCC members nationwide have reached out to local colleges and universities to develop relationships with the school’s marketing departments. This has led to us successfully re-introducing mail as a key part of a multi-channel marketing strategy to the college community at large. Seven colleges have incorporated the content into a total of 15 courses. 22 Colleges have committed to adopting parts of the content into over 34 courses this fall, and we continue to pursue others.
One key driver of colleges’ excitement for this program is still the job opportunity for graduates. Thanks to your survey responses from last September, we were able to demonstrate hiring happens almost every day of the year, all across the country, in our industry. This is a critical proof point supporting use of the curriculum content. We know there are many more who we didn’t hear from – and that means this hiring number is likely even higher. We will be sending out a new survey in the months to come. Please respond and encourage your colleagues to respond as well. These response are crucial to sparking interest, and encouraging colleges, deans and professors to adopt parts or all of the curriculum.
Not surprisingly, we’ve learned that personal connections work the best in connecting with the professors/department chairs/deans. Without exception, when we connect with the people with these titles, we’ve been able to work with these schools to adopt the content. The challenge is getting to the right folks – so keep those leads coming, but try to leverage your PCC community’s personal relationships with people in the academic areas/titles that we’re targeting. Don’t have a relationship? It’s ok to build one!
We continue to receive a lot of feedback and are learning from different outreach efforts. The program is growing fast and we need help. We developed a PCC Handbook for direct mail advocates who want to help and bring this program to colleges in their local community. Let us know if you have any great new leads or need support – by emailing us at: DirectEffect@usps.gov. Let’s continue to plant the seeds that will produce an ever-growing mail industry of tomorrow.
1 Canada Post/Ipsos. (September 2016). Connecting for Action. What Gets People to Buy What they Buy?
So why engage the PCCs with the Academic Outreach initiative? As an industry, we are all affected by the larger decisions that marketers everywhere are making, about how they allocate their budgets and how they choose which marketing channels to use. If marketers and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) aren’t aware of the power of mail and the importance of its role in effective multi- and omni-channel communications, they are less likely to choose mail as a channel, or seek out employees and resources who have this expertise.
By improving our outreach to Academic Institutions, and facilitating the inclusion of direct mail in higher-level curriculum, we can help facilitate the understanding of its value, and sustain long-term usage of mail. These decisions benefit everyone in the industry – from the marketer/mailer and ad agencies, to printers, technology providers, list brokers, data professionals, etc. – and to support the long-term stability of the Postal Service as well.
In order for Academic Outreach to work, it needs support from YOU! The PCCs are a vital link in this process. Here is how our PCC can benefit from supporting Academic Outreach:
By engaging and supporting the academic institutions within our PCC, we can build new relationships and help to not only engage our existing members, but to connect with new potential members, and grow our local PCC membership and engagement.
By encouraging our PCC members to support speaking engagements or live client projects, we can help support industry opportunities and relationships. Most universities and academic institutions have robust marketing efforts, so this is a great way to create connections and explore how our industry can support the needs of these institutions – both in the classroom and beyond!
By helping to support the educational opportunities of students in these disciplines, we all enrich the caliber of the graduating students – and help support the development pipeline for our new hires! This will help reduce the learning curve of new employees, and help expand the knowledge of the power of direct mail, where ever these students go to work!
The following materials are part of this package:
- USPS Academic Outreach Handbook -- A guide that shows how organizations like the Postal Customer Council can help scale up USPS's outreach to colleges and universities. This collaboration will benefit more students by taking a local approach at a national scale.
- Preparing Students for Modern Integrated Marketing -- A document that can be shared with professors prior to their call with the HQ team. This helps lay the foundation of the program and highlights the benefits of brining direct mail into the curriculum.
- What Creates a Direct Effect -- An infographic that depicts how direct mail fits into today's digital landscape.
- Direct Effect Curriculum Modules -- Highlights the 5 curriculum modules and the topics contained within each module.
- Syllabus -- Our mission is to help educators prepare marketing students with the direct marketing skills they need to compete after graduation. This program is designed to be a framework and can be used by topic, modules, or in its entirety of 14 weeks.
Hear Professor Wendy Zajack from Georgetown University talk about the Direct Effect that the Postal Service’s Academic Outreach has on students, and our approach to bringing this to the classroom. “The Postal Service is taking a very progressive and edgy approach to helping a younger audience think of [direct mail] as a tactic that deserves consideration.”
Coursework has been developed through a relationship with Bentley University to help teach students the skills that enable them to integrate direct mail in an integrated omnichannel marketing campaign.
In 2018 a trial student contest was initiated at Clemson with graphic communication students.
An outline of how the provided content was taught over a semester (14 weeks) class.
Watch our first-ever Direct Effect Innovation Challenge.
During the first year of working with colleges, universities and academic professionals, we've learned a great deal about how to find the right connections that lead to curriculum adoption. Because the PCC and industry partnership provides a vital connection for these efforts, we have developed a handbook and brief set of tools that any PCC can use to better understand the process and help to develop very targeted leads to further expand adoption.
This two-page PDF covers basic information about the Direct Effect curriculum and the goals, purpose, and history of the program.
Direct Marketing: Creating Integrated Campaigns with Mail (Brochure) Including
PCCs can enter industry expert contact information here or forward a link to subject matter experts who are interested in speaking to marketing and graphics communications classes.