Royal Mail’s “delivered by…” plans fail to hit the mark

Russell Parsons

A clumsy internal marketing move aimed at repairing the brittle relationship Royal Mail has with its staff will not only fail in its primary objective but will damage the long-term relationship it has with another of its core stakeholders- direct marketers.

From September, Royal Mail will add the mark “Delivered by Royal Mail” to all addressed machine sorted mail, which includes DM packs. The move, Royal Mail claims, is in recognition of the “dedication” demonstrated by postmen and women nationwide.

Now, I have no doubt that postal workers are committed, hard working individuals providing a service worthy of recognition, but there are surely better ways Royal Mail could have chosen to declare its appreciation than a mark that will take valuable space on the creative canvas available to direct mailers.

Marketing Week received a relative avalanche of ire from direct marketers keen to vent their disgust with the move. Key polemics include accusations that Royal Mail is “hijacking communications to promote its own services and brand”, while others are concerned that the move will “reduce the effectiveness of DM”.

Respondents were so quick to demonstrate their apoplexy that it is safe to assume that they are representative of the majority position, especially as the DMA, nominal voice of the industry, declared itself “disappointed” with the move while threatening to take the matter to the regulator.

Royal Mail can ill afford to upset business customers at a time when personal mail volumes are in inexorable decline. The beleaguered postal operator needs to boost business to business revenue streams to offset losses elsewhere.

All companies need to give equal weight to both internal and external marketing. A public facing company that every consumer and their dog feels like they have a stake in, needs to have happy, motivated brand ambassadors.

This is especially the case for a company that will probably opt to accelerate modernisation plans – likely leading to unpopular changes in working practices – ahead of privatisation.

Demonstrating this by a logo on letters, I wager, is not a move that will put a smile on the faces, and a spring in the step, of posties nationwide.

A well thought out staff engagement plan that involves staff in the necessary changes to come is the only way to do that, and one that does not alienate constituents likely to become increasingly important to the very future of the company.

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