Today’s announcement from Royal Mail that they would be looking to run a Sunday delivery service to cope with the extra demand for parcel deliveries struck me as a fascinating piece of business and a great marketing lesson.
In some ways, it seems blatantly obvious. Royal Mail need to be able to compete directly with other parcel delivery services, and this move is probably a direct response to that key issue ‘how can we differentiate ourselves from other courier services?’ It’s also likely to be examining the amount of times people have to collect parcels from their depots!
However, perhaps naively, I’d like to look at this as an example of what great marketing is about. Now I appreciate this isn’t marketing as such, but what I think Royal Mail are doing here is understanding their customers. On the corporate side, they want to appear more flexible, more agile and more able to deliver when it gets busy. To you and I, we want to receive parcels at times that suit us, strangely enough this isn’t during the week so a Sunday delivery makes sense.
When I talk to clients about their communications, in whatever format that takes, the key question I ask is ‘where do your customers want to be communicated with by your business?’
The key issue this question drives at, is that a customer who is being approached in a way that they are comfortable with is much more likely to engage with the message we’re trying to communicate, and in more practical terms, they are more likely to be present to actually respond to it.
This premise is one of the core strengths of ‘old style’ PR, we know that the potential customer is engaged with a particular newspaper/magazine/website/radio or TV show and therefore by being able to communicate through this channel we will reach them, and the fact that the message is coming through this route adds credibility to our product or business.
It’s also vital in social media; when choosing which social media channels our business needs to communicate through we not only need to decide on where our customers are, but also, and this depends on our type of business, where our customers want to interact with us. We may see our audience on Facebook for example, but during ‘Facebook time’ our audience may not want to interact with us.
This same lesson could be applied to any form of marketing we’re doing.
So the marketing lesson, it’s a timeless one – think customer first, and specifically think about where the customer will be when they receive your message, and then communicate.