Imagine my surprise when I read the flyer in my mailbox from the US Postal Service that suggested I install a new mailbox, at my expense, at the end of the cul de sac so “we can serve you better.”

As far as I can tell, the only one who benefits from this is the USPS because they can batch process 10 houses (if my neighbors do this) in less time than it takes for them to drive to each house.

While I can see the benefit to the USPS – faster time, less travel and less gas, I fail to see how this helps me.

On the other hand, I can see several distinct disadvantages to me:

1 The cost of installing a new post box.

2. The long walk to the end of the cul de sac (It’s five minutes. I timed it today.)

3. The enhanced threat of ID theft since the box is out of my sight.

Mind you, I love the USPS. I’ve had great service from them for many years, in many locations and have interacted with many workers who are superb. But when they tell me that this is being done for MY convenience, well let’s be honest. It is for their convenience.

How many times have you received messages from companies that were doing things for “your convenience” when in reality it was for their convenience? I might not mind them doing it, but they should be honest.

Their message might have said:

“To help cut our massive expenses and to help try to keep postal prices low, may we suggest that you and your neighbors install a group mailbox at the entrance to your cul de sac? This will help us save gas and route the mail faster, so you could get your mail earlier in the day. We realize this might cause you to buy a new mailbox and walk a little bit, but you’d be doing your part to help keep our system of Democracy alive for everyone.”

Okay, that last line was a bit thick!

So, I ask you, as a marketer, are you forcing down a new directive to your customers in the name of helping them, when it really just helps you? I think of self-servicing teleseminars that sell rather than tell, of surveys that are really about capturing demographic information rather than adjusting services to fit their needs. The list goes on and on.

If so, reconsider. Customers aren’t dumb. And they vote with their pocketbooks and their feet.

Dan Janal is a very successful entrepreneur, professional speaker and marketing coach who helps clients build their businesses by improving their strategy for using publicity, marketing, Internet marketing, e-commerce and sales. For more information, go to

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