Getting around the postal strike

Colin SneathQ: The postal strike looks like it may drag on for some time. How do I avoid losing touch with my customers?

A: Ok so good old Royal Mail is having some issues. But should this mean the end of customer communication until the postie gets on his or her bike again? Maybe once, but no longer can consumers and businesses be held to communications ransom, as they might have been just a decade ago.

For companies that rely heavily on physical distribution this is going to be a difficult time – but for the rest of us there really is no excuse. Maybe this is just the opportunity we should all seize to stand back and look at how we communicate effectively with our customers and perhaps force us out of our comfort zones. With so many channels of communication at our finger tips, surely we should all be creative enough to get our message through – and whatever happened to the good old traditional methods such as telephone, and dare I say it face to face?

We have the ability to do so much more with our communication these days – but do we really explore its full potential?

In a formal sense, an effective communications plan should consist of many methods of contact. An email, followed with a telephone call, followed with subliminal marketing communications through social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

The internet is the communication medium of choice over snail mail for many already and E Newsletters are growing in popularity thanks in no small part to their cost effectiveness over traditional print and post. Recent studies established beyond all reasonable doubt that Internet advertising spend is now unassailably greater than TV advertising, demonstrating that traditional methods no longer dominate the communications landscape.

So let’s get creative; pick up the telephone, go out and see your customers, email them a newsletter, and if you’re not already there – get networking socially. Keep your website up to date, arrange your own event to get face-to face with customers and prospects in large numbers (invite them via email), hold a video conference/skype call, exchange documents online using one of the many sharing sites, pay your clients online – ask them to pay you online – come on – this is the 21st century!

Snail mail is still incredibly important to us, but no longer should we put our heads in our hands when nothing drops onto the proverbial mat or someone tapes up the post box. The Postal strike is no excuse to stop communicating – but it could be the best reason you’ll ever have for embracing new communication channels, and once you’re there you’ll never look back.

Colin Sneath, Director of Stage9 Marketing and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing