Jim Cochrane Reveals Surprising Facts About the Mail, Millennials and Influencers

Jim Cochrane reports to the first female Postmaster General of the United States.

“There’s been 71 Postmaster Generals and the current one is the first woman Postmaster General, which is kind of cool from a gender equality issue,” the USPS CMO told WHOSAY President of Sales & Marketing Rob Gregory at the ANA Masters of Marketing during a conversation in which they discussed a range of topics from influencer marketing to the mail and millennials.

“I think the presentment of bills and people paying bills that’s where we felt the biggest loss,” he told Gregory when asked about some of the changes undergone by the mail stemming from consumer behavioral shifts. “Everybody pays bills electronically [though] a lot of people mail some of their bills, we do a little bit of both.”

Surprisingly, millennials might be the ones keeping the USPS alive. “Actually, millennials are the ones who have gotten themselves pretty mail-free on a bill presentment, receiving bills and payment,” he said. However, there’s a silver lining: direct mail. “Conversely, on the marketing side of mail, the direct mail, they’re pretty attracted to it, they spend some serious time with it.”

Cochrane told Gregory how research by the USPS on the subject caught the industry by surprise. “That was a bit of a surprise in some of the research that baby boomers are still connected to mail, millennials spend more time with mail than baby boomers, which is a group that everyone is trying to reach, including us as we talk about shipping solutions,” he said.

The encouraging finding gives the iconic agency some leverage to try to lure more members of this sought-after demographic by using some new marketing techniques such as influencer marketing. “On the creative side, this time of the year, the holidays [...] makers and creators are really attracted,” he told Gregory, adding that their experience working with makers such as Lilly Singh taught them about the power of influencer marketing.  

“What’s neat about the influencers is that people trust them,” he said. “They invite you into their house, into their studio, into their workshop to share what they’re doing, what they’re thinking about.” For Cochrane, it’s about building a community. “[This] is a good way for us to take advantage of their brand to maximize our own brand.”

And Cochrane sees influencer marketing as something “that’s gonna continue to evolve, in a good way” while keeping the mail’s essence. The USPS CMO talked about providing their consumers with the best of both worlds. “It’s [a] digital conversion [but] instead of doing an email, if you abandon a cart, now they come and knock on your door with the mail piece,” he told Gregory. “The difference is, you touch your mail. We all have that moment they call the ‘mail moment’ when you go through it, you ruffle through it. You see pieces and you say, ‘wow, I was just looking at this the other day.’ We’ve tested it, it’s real. And it’s good for mail. And, I think, mail will dip a little bit in volume but it’s gonna come out with a much stronger ROI. And that’s the good thing for marketers; we’re trying to help people grow their business. And that’s important.”