Magazine article Marketing

Royal Mail

Magazine article Marketing

Royal Mail

Article excerpt

Strikes have undermined the postal service's attempts to get SMEs back onside.

Following last year's savaging of British Airways, Royal Mail is the latest British institution to come under the cosh.

Since 2007, the service has been crippled by a series of debilitating strikes, with the latest starting in the South East and slowly spreading nationwide.

Since 19 June, the Communication Workers Union has arranged local strikes somewhere in the country every other day, leading to more than 30 days of industrial action so far. The union is now gearing up to hold a ballot of its 120,000 members on whether to hold a pre-Christmas national strike.

Royal Mail admitted that as many as one in nine pieces of mail has been delayed, possibly terminally, in the strikes, with far-reaching consequences for small- to medium-sized businesses.

Dissatisfaction with Royal Mail is increasing as marketers are working hard to retain business customers. Last year, it ran a high-profile 'Partners for Growth' campaign, targeting the UK's 4.3m SMEs, but this hard work may have been undone.

Bosses must also contend with a long queue of politicians looking to put the boot in. Lord Mandelson drew up plans to privatise the organisation when he returned to government in 2008, but backed down to keep Labour left-wingers onside.

We asked Jackie Stevenson, founding partner at Brooklyn Brothers and a former managing director at Proximity, which handles Royal Mail's direct account, and Alex Batchelor, a former marketing director at Royal Mail, whether the brand can deliver a turnaround.

DIAGNOSIS

- Two industry experts suggest how Royal Mail can post an improvement

JACKIE STEVENSON, FOUNDING PARTNER, BROOKLYN BROTHERS

For a service that is often talked about as old-fashioned and outdated, the demand for what Royal Mail has to offer has never been greater - and it's only going to grow.

Only last week, I found out about a 60%-off sale, browsed it and bought two items online, all on the bus on my way to work. 24/7 shopping is here to stay, and businesses and consumers alike need a trusted carrier to deliver our finds.

So why isn't our national carrier fighting off the competition to claim the lion's share of this growing sector?

There are clearly operational issues that need to be addressed, and living under the shadow of a pounds 10bn pension deficit can't be easy.

Somewhere along the line, the Royal Mail has lost our hearts, as well as well as our minds. It is our national carrier, and provides an amazingly good-value service to the farthest-flung ends of our island. …

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