Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stamping the Test of Time

The United States Postal Service has made a decision to abandon their condition that an individual must be deceased in order to appear on a stamp. So it's open season for all those great living stars and starlets, kind of. The USPS is taking suggestions via FaceBook, Twitter, and of course their own website. All of the information supplied up to this point is perfectly agreeable.

I found a poll on cbsnews.com [which they also tweeted] where they extended a virtual ear to the public to hear our thoughts on which national figure should be chosen. The candidates included people like Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Neil Armstrong - which you probably saw if you clicked the link - all of which i think are in line for a lion's share of recognition. The results of the poll however show the runaway leader as Lady Gaga with 76% of the votes, the current silver medalist is Bob Dylan with 8%. To bring this into a more concentrated focus, there are 19 people to choose from. This got me thinking about who voyages across the internet and whether polls like this are effective in identifying what Americans want.

It's paradoxical because it's hard to match similarities between Lady Gaga and stamp collectors/users. Much of the younger demographic uses stamps scarcely, and I'm operating off the premise that this is the demographic that thwarted Lady Gaga so far up this poll. I've seen two stamp club meetings in my life so I'll admit i lack a sufficient reserve to pull from, but each time every single participant was - or looked - older than the age of 40. Also when it comes to sending "snail mail" it appears a person's visits to the Post Office is almost a direct correlation with their age. So if you're the USPS, do you need to become relevant with a younger, well-traveled internet audience? Or do you need to find ways to actually reach the possible buyers who could benefit from this new opportunity?

I think this scenario expressly identifies the problem that faces so many long-standing businesses and organizations. Without gross adaptation and massive overhaul, the only way they can succeed [not survive] is if their patrons advance technologically and evolve their ways of operating and absorbing information. For instance if a newspaper has lost a significant chunk of it's subscriptions, they would suffer very little if all of those subscriptions started consuming the paper online; they would still have an advertising draw significant enough to sustain and grow the company. They would have the capital to attract and retain mavens in that field of work, and also expand with innovative practices.

This small adjustment by the USPS could turn out to be a pivotal move for them, I'm curious to see how it shakes out and what answers we can learn from them.