Junk mail may be an annoyance to some people, but to the U.S. Postal Service, it could be a billion-dollar shot in the arm.

That’s the thinking behind the Postal Service’s year-old “Every Door Direct Mail,” campaign. The marketing effort is aimed largely at small companies, who can use the online tool to choose customers for direct mail offers by neighborhood or zip code. Names and addresses aren’t necessary for this service, which makes it an easy marketing program for a small company interested in targeting the nearby neighborhood.

Small businesses pay only 14.5 cents for each piece of mail, while the cost to make the plan available on the part of the Post Office was minimal, according to Paul Vogel, president and chief marking office for the U.S. Postal Service.

“We believe it could be a billion-dollar product for the Postal Service by 2016, Vogel said.

The money could certainly come in handy. In the 12-month period ending on Sept. 30, the Postal Service record a loss of $5.1 billion. The problem, according to experts, is that the Internet – nicknamed “snail mail” by online users – has cut precipitously into the amount of first-class mail delivered by mail carriers.

In the first nine months since the junk mail service was unveiled last April, officials report bringing in $153 million in revenue. The estimates for 2012 range between $750 and $800 million.

Postal Service officials have already announced a widespread plan to cut costs by closing more than 200 postal plants, trimming up to 32,000 jobs, eliminating Saturday service and increasing the cost of a first-class stamp by 5 cents to 50 cents.

So far, the proposal to close plants is on hold until mid-May with the hope that Congress can come up with a way to prevent the job losses.

The amount of advertising mail now outnumbers first-class mail, according to Postal Service statistics. In 2011, there were 84.7 million pieces of direct mail and only 73.5 billion of first-class mail.

The junk mail program will be featured in a trio of new national TV commercials, officials said. The commercials will air on CNN, local news, the “60 Minutes” show on CBS and during some sporting events.



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