What happens next…?

By Don Fare

Many of us have a list of things we want to accomplish in our life. The list could include career advancement, education goals, family, and, in my case, skydiving. Inspired by George H.W. Bush, who went skydiving at the young age of 90, I decided to give it a go myself.

I was hooked after my first successful jump and wanted to perform as many as I possibly could. Over the course of two years, I executed many seemingly impeccable jumps by landing perfectly and flawlessly on my feet. I honed my expertise through countless hours of forethought and preparation before each jump – repetitively rehearsing everything from pre-jump training, practicing, and planning. I ran meticulously through every “what-if” scenario and mentally followed each one with a “I would then do _____” statement.

For two years I practiced, studied, and repeatedly rehearsed every scenario and outcome. I was confident in the task at hand; however, the results soon became predictable and, without realizing it, I became complacent. When presented with a similar, yet new and challenging obstacle, I allowed my past accomplishments to give me a false sense of security that nearly cost me my life.

Over time, I had decided that I wanted to move to the next level of skydiving that would allow me to jump from higher altitudes. On my twentieth independent jump, as I was being tested for the accelerate free fall certification, I was instructed to practice pulling the main line. But instead of the main line, in error, I pulled the reserve.

This action released the main chute from my harness and put me in a tail spin without my main chute and with my reserve chute failing to open. I was spinning uncontrollably and falling at terminal velocity for a few moments before I was able to gather my senses and manually pull the reserve open. However, because of the spinning, the chute wasn’t able to fully open, which meant my descent was faster than normal. At such a high velocity, I hit the ground extremely hard.

After this near-death experience, I realized I truly was not prepared for the new challenge. My skydive experience left me humbled and with a different perspective on planning and preparedness – not just in my personal life and accomplishments, but also in the business world.

When it comes to marketing, you can study current trends and anticipate market volatility. You can also, through practice and rehearsal, produce results that draw from your past successes. However, if we allow our strategies to become complacent based on these past successes, then we become less likely to anticipate future market changes.

In essence, our marketing plans can end up without a main parachute – and possibly without even a reserve.

For over 20 years, the United States Postal Service has underestimated the significance of electronic communication. And as a result, they have seen revenue fall and have only recently embraced a strategy to combat this multifaceted channel, which has overwhelmingly devoured much of the market share.

Harris Diamond is CEO of McCann, the Postal Service’s agency of record and, as such, is responsible in part for bringing the Postal Service back to the forefront. According to Diamond, who spoke at the 2016 National Postal Forum this past spring, there are five effective and creative marketing campaign principles that should be studied today.

Each of these principles can easily be adapted to help with your own marketing planning and effectiveness:

  • Go where customers are. Try to see the world as customers see it and don’t be bound by traditional approaches.
  • Maximize your media’s opportunities to engage with consumers. Explore the many ways mail can engage with consumers that digital means can’t. Most importantly, think creatively about how the two can work together.
  • Use new technologies to enhance engagement and brand value.
  • It’s all about reinventing the medium. “Technology gives us so many opportunities to reach people, to require them to take action. The time people spend in the mail moment is an enormous opportunity to use technology creatively.”
  • Focus on your relationship with consumers in a digital age. There are limits to how much information consumers want to give marketers. “When we send material to people, we have to know they’re interested in it.”

The key takeaway here: Don’t be afraid to take your marketing to new heights; prepare and embrace new and creative opportunities that await your current marketing strategy. Just be sure to be strategic throughout preparation – and avoid the temptation to get complacent.


Don Fare is an account executive with Extend Your Reach. A 24 year veteran, Don is a credentialed USPS Mailpiece Design Professional and has extensive knowledge of mailing standards and procedures. Since 2000, he has served as an executive board member on the USPS Postal Customer Council.


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