Teaching role for go-ahead post offices
Half a dozen times in the last decade, I've enjoyed the opportunity to visit the beautiful islands of New Zealand. Several times on business ... doing seminars under the sponsorship of the New Zealand Direct Marketing Association, or New Zealand Post. These few words are about the Post.
In several parts of the world, including New Zealand, government operated monopolies are becoming privatized and now must operate at a profit. Heavens, a profit! New Zealand Post is now an independent service within the country, and provides its services and products at a profit.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, the Post did what any sound business has to do when they aren't making money: they make changes.
For starters, the Post closed several hundred of its outlets in locations that had never been, and probably never would be, profitable. They were careful making certain the businesses and households affected continued to get mail services .. . but not at a cost to the new Corporation.
Next, they established a Direct Marketing Center. One physical location each in Auckland, Wellington on the North island, and Christchurch in the South. They staffed each Center with competent direct marketing professional consultants. People who are knowledgeable about both the Post and direct response marketing.
Then they went to market. To tell the business community in New Zealand that the Post was here, ready, very willing and extremely able to help them with all their direct mail.
New Zealand Post is the key active member and on-going sponsor of the New Zealand Direct Marketing Association. I have been told by those who know that without the Post the Association could not function at near the level it does.
The annual "direct marketing days" (usually held toward the end of September) are successful in a large part because of the support of people, time and money from the Post.
The NZ Post educates its audience. They do it a number of ways. One is with a series of booklets. Available at a modest cost (in most cases for less than £3.50 each). These include Write Action Letters or How to Sell to Consumers by Mail Profitably and the ABC of Fund Raising. The booklets are available at each of the DM Centers, through the Post by mail order, offered at NZDMA events and other special activities throughout the country.
Another way they stay in touch with their customers, educating them in direct marketing, making suggestions to them about how to use mail marketing more effectively and encouraging them to use the Post, is with a newsletter.
The Opportunities Report is sent to a business list three or four times a year. Each package has a personalized cover letter (with a most interesting response mechanism: the letter is typed only on the left side of the page ... the response is the white space on the right half of that same page).
You can respond by fax, mail, and, of course, by telephone, or by walking into one of the Post's offices.
The Opportunity Report has articles such as Complaints Can Equal Opportunities, How Accountable Is Your Advertising? Innovation Creates Business Growth For Restaurant, and Revelations About Print Layout And Typefaces ... all ideas and tips that will help businesses do direct mail better and more often!
The newsletter also serves as an announcement for future special DM events scheduled through the Post. Such as the seminars I do as part of their total education program. Mini-articles are run letting the audience know I'm coming to town, and what they will learn to help them do direct mail more effectively.
These articles are supported by a major independent direct mail campaign. The most innovative was a carton a box, which really was a NZ Post product a shipping box product sold by the Post to customers who ship various "things" through the mail. The product is named HANDIBOX.
The box was wrapped with a clip of HANDIRANGE products. Inside was a personalized letter from Phil Slater, Manager of the Direct Marketing Centers for NZ Post, a program outline, a small bio about me, and, of course, a registration form and response postage-paid envelope.
All those that did not respond within the allotted time received a follow-up. A simulated telegram/mailgram ... this time called 'Rocket' Post. It, too, was personalized ... and set in a 'gram-like format. This one-two punch gained excellent attendance for my seminar series and does so for all their special events.
New Zealand Post is not ignorant of databases, what they are and what they can do for any business. Including theirs! So, they have, through their Consultants and the Direct Marketing Centers, established a database of their customers. Here is a quote from the Database Input Guide, used by all the DM Center Consultants: "The Direct Marketing Center Database is a tool designed to assist with a range of business tasks, and to enable business development activities from a strong and useable foundation of relevant, accurate and timely information. In short, the database helps us to plan and grow efficiently from a base of sound knowledge and organization rather than guesswork."
Wow! Not sure if this is an explanation of a sales pitch. But let me tell you everyone at the DM Center understands this charge, and they do it. A uniquely designed form confidential for every customer is used to gather all ... relevant, accurate and timely information. And it is kept up-to-date by the individual consultant assigned to each customer.
The knowledge gleaned from the customers and kept active in the database helps NZ Post find new customers sell products and service to current customers, plan promotional activities to fill client needs, and in many ways to assign a value to each customer and thus allocate the appropriate service, retention and development resources.
Database marketing is alive and and active like an animal ... it moves. In the case of NZ Post, they are moving ... right into the 21st Century of direct marketing.
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.