I have to admit, when my friend Rob Reed of Max Gladwell first told me about Zumbox, the “Paperless Postal System,” I didn’t get it. How was it different then, say, Earth Class Mail and other digitized mail services? How many of the many companies I get mail from would actually participate?
So when I again heard from Rob about some big Zumbox news this week, I remained skeptical. Then I watched a brief video on their site, and it all made sense: For every physical mailing address in the US, they’d created a digital Zumbox as well. When you sign up, they send one physical piece of mail that you use to verify your address. Then here’s where the difference is:
Most non personal mail sent to you typically starts as a file on a computer somewhere. It gets printed, put in an envelope, then shipped via the postal service to your mailbox. With Zumbox, that file goes directly to your Zumbox account, bypassing printing, scanning, and mailing it. All those resources, energy, and time are saved.
But who’s using it? As of this week, the Mayors of San Francisco and Newark New Jersey are.
Zumbox themselves puts it best when they say:
“The Zumbox platform represents a one-of-a-kind communications channel for municipal governments. For the first time, mayors can send secure, electronic correspondence (paperless mail) to their residents using delivery criteria such as neighborhoods, ZIP codes, entire cities, or a specific list of street addresses. This can include letters, utility bills, public notices, newsletters, permits, videos, and much more. Zumbox is making its service available to municipal and state governments free of charge. There is no cost for consumers to receive paperless mail via Zumbox.”
Clearly, this is beyond gimmicky PR stunt. With enough people signing up for this service, it could have an important impact, for government, businesses, and individuals, on both an environmental and financial front, its effect rippling out to other areas, due to cost savings and a cleaner environment.
But how to get a critical mass of people to sign up? How do you get them to trust the security of such a system? That’s where Rob Reed comes in. Having clearly demonstrated his ability to reach massive amounts of people simultaneously via his “10 Ways” posts, the new VP of Marketing and Government Relations at Zumbox knows how to get out a message.
Will you listen?
Readers: Do you think this (business) model has legs, so to speak? If not, what needs to change? Will you be signing up for this service? What other ways do you see saving business, government, and individuals money and resources while having a positive impact on the planet?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media.