Happy holidays

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We have almost come to the end of 2010 and I hope this year has been a prosperous one for your business. For those businesses caught up in the events in the South Island this year, our thoughts have been with you throughout and we wish everyone a successful 2011.

For many of you the work speeds up at this time of year but the redline team is going to take a short break. We will be back mid-January to post more articles online and to work on a new issue of the magazine (out at the end of March - subscribe today). But in our absence don’t stop commenting, each time you comment you’ll be entered into the draw to win a $1000 Prezzy Card, we will reply on our return.

Happy trading everyone and we hope that you have a very merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year.
Our friends at Kiwibank are busy helping their business customers succeed. They have teamed up with Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL Economics) to produce monthly economic updates relevant to independent businesses. We’d like to refer our friend to you, so you can benefit from the same information that Kiwibank’s business customers are getting.

This month they report that ‘job numbers look promising’, ‘export performance sending positive signals’ and discuss the domestic financial situation for businesses in an unsettled global climate.

You can sign up to receive their newsletter to ensure you don’t miss out on some valuable information for your business.

Supporting local businesses

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I think it's fair to say that although most things are available to us at a click of a mouse (from near or far) it is seen as more socially responsible to seek and use local produce. Whether it’s TV celeb Gordon Ramsey pointing out that local ingredients are the best, or kiwi companies advertising that products are kiwi made. ‘Local’ stands for quality, supporting your area’s economy and taking care of people, communities and businesses that you value.

But with an online global network it can sometimes be difficult to find smaller businesses and why should your customers search worldwide when you’re just down the road? What does Jo Blogs Ltd know about Mrs Smith around the corner that you don’t? You just need someone to tell Mrs Smith that you’re there and a recommendation has more merit if it’s from a local.

Whilst we love our neighbours there are more efficient ways of getting recommendations in this digital age than a chin-wag over the fence (although that’s always nice), after all we are a bunch of people that are used to researching online. We know that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising (read this article) and that to go ‘viral’ means great things. But where do you start?

Stuff reports that "Digital communications and social media has become a facilitator of word-of-mouth marketing, as it's now much easier to refer. Those conversations used to be exclusively around the water cooler in the office, or the barbecue on the weekend but they've now extended into social media tools”. But do you have the time and know-how?

Someone local (us) has realised this and is about to launch something that should get independent businesses, targeting local markets, quite excited. Localist will go to market next year, initially in the Auckland region, aggregating local business information online, building connections between communities and businesses, using social media.

For consumers it’s an opportunity to recommend ‘what’s good around here’ and a first port of call for finding relevant and current information on local businesses, activities and events in the community. For you it means a greater local presence and an opportunity to find customers nearby and expand local relationships.

So whilst this is a ‘heads up’ you can start getting involved now. Right now you can find out more and, crucially, register your business contact details for free. Then tell us here, on Facebook or Twitter (@localistnz) what you think of this service.

Web special!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You will have seen in your November issue of redline magazine that we intend to give special offers to our redline readers! You will only read about these offers here at redline online, so keep checking back for the latest deals!

First five comments win ParcelPost Postage Included Bags!

Tell us what web specials we could offer that would help your business and keep you coming back to redline online.

Simply comment on this post with your suggestion for a web special, remember to put your email address in the ‘email’ field and hit submit*. Then we will contact the first five individuals to arrange delivery of a pack of 10 C4 ParcelPost Postage Included Bags ($50.00 RRP). So helpful as Christmas is so near.

If you aren’t one of the first five then comment anyway as you can help shape future web specials. Plus, you’ll be entered into our Prezzy Card competition for your trouble. And if you’re bursting to get your hands on some ParcelPost Postage Included Bags then make use of the existing online discount (online discount ends 17 January 2011).

Remember, don’t delay sending your parcels if you want to get them there in time for Christmas.

*Terms and conditions apply.

If you'd like to receive regular copies, or you want an extra one for your office, you can subscribe for FREE.

Here's a taste of what's inside...

We talk about business growth and how, according to Creative HQ's business growth expert Steve O'Connor, planning is essential. You'll find really useful articles on how to prepare for growth and how to achieve it - as well as how to streamline your business and maximise efficiency.

And you can read how three innovative retailers - women's clothing store Goodness, quality toy provider Plush Toys and maternity lingerie company Womama - went about growing their businesses.

There are also some GREAT offers and giveaways. You could win:

PLUS you'll find lots of information about how New Zealand Post's products and services can help you along the road to creating a really successful company. Including:

Sending solutions for importing and exporting:

Tools to help you with direct mail campaigns:

Apps to help growing businesses be more efficient:

We'd love to hear your comments about redline. Perhaps there's an article you really like or a topic you'd like us to cover in the next issue? Maybe, if your company has an interesting experience to share with other readers, we could feature your business as a case study.

Remember, sending in feedback could win you a $1000 Prezzy Card* - and you'll go into the draw every time you submit a comment.

*Terms and conditions apply. Competitions close 11 February 2011.

Good luck and send us a postcard!

Monday, November 22, 2010

We would like to wish New Zealand Post customer, Stuart Fleming, the best of luck in his latest endeavour!

Stuart features as our Send a Card case study in the next issue of redline magazine (out at the end of this month). Through talking to Stuart we discovered that he is about to embark on a trek of Te Araroa ('the long pathway' of 3,000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff). Stuart is fulfilling a 10 year dream and tells us that he's doing this to promote SCOUTS New Zealand, as the senior-most volunteer for the adventurous organisation.

The majority of Te Araroa is mountain tracks and off-road trails. Stuart will have periods of up to a week without supply points, carrying everything he needs along the way and sending some of his items from point to point using ParcelPost.

You can check out Stuart's route and blog to keep up with his journey - we certainly will! Good luck Stuart and we hope to speak to you on your Return.

It's great to get to know our customers better and support them. We are always keen to hear from you, so tell us a bit about yourself by commenting on this article. Plus, if you are keen to feature as a case study in redline let us know!

Redline magazine competition winners

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Congratulations to our issue 9 competition winners, we hope you enjoy your prize!

Don't worry if you didn't win, we have some great competitions coming up in issue 10 of redline magazine and you can enter here at redline online. Issue 10 is due out at the end of this month so if you would like a copy in the post simply subscribe.

Good luck!

Are you still harbouring old technology?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In a previous issue of redline magazine we talked about navigating the new world of technology and we gave you some tips to help consider what is right for your business. We were certainly on your wave length because you sent through an abundance of messages telling us so!

We also told you about a customer that, until recently, was still using a typewriter to print consignment notes, before they were introduced to our RedClick online consignment tool. You couldn't believe that out of date technology was still finding a purpose in some businesses, but of course it is, take ASM (automatic stamping machine) franking technology for example.

Take a look around your office and see what you're holding on to and what’s holding you back; perhaps you're harbouring old technology that's in need of an upgrade. Keeping to what you know is good to a point but definitely explore opportunities if it will help your business operate more efficiently.

Old franking machines are still chugging away in some businesses despite being outdated and less smart than Digital Postage Meters (DPMs). But from 1 January 2011 this technology will be as obsolete as that typewriter, more so as New Zealand Post will no longer accept ASM franking as a payment method from you.

So go on, toss the franker and upgrade to a DPM (we've got some deals to help you part with it). You wouldn't swap your PC for a typewriter would you? A DPM may help you streamline your business, they are fast, efficient and are a great way to save time and control costs. Of course if you are not sure a DPM suits your needs or you are interested in other postage methods we'd love to discuss those with you too.

What technologies are you harbouring and why? Have you ditched something recently and found a great new alternative? Tell us.
As an independent business owner you may be involved in everything from sourcing an import agent to packing and sending box after box of your product. So where do you find the time to assess all of those marketing opportunities out there?

Two Wise Men, Steve O'Connor and Mark Robotham, talk to Stuff and have some advice to help you determine what to spend and where.

We have also been fortunate enough to chat to Wise Man Steve O'Connor, who has been on the forefront of growing businesses since the early 1990's, to talk about the nuts and bolts of independent business growth. You can read about it in the next issue of redline magazine (out at the end of November).

And if you need any help with imports or sending those boxes (internationally and within New Zealand), while you focus on your promotion plan, you can talk to us. We can talk to you about growing your business and targeting those customers too. Oh and it’s not Christmas yet, but it's not far away so have a quick look at the sending dates while you're here!

Are you losing your focus?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

'Have you lost your work mojo?' Stuff's Business Day reports that 'most of us at some stage in our careers or jobs lose that oomph'.

It's no coincidence that I came across this article while looking at the sun from our office window and contemplating getting a coffee (Mojo funnily enough) to boost my productivity!

As an independent business owner you drive your business and probably can't afford a lull in motivation, whether that's yourself or any employees you may have. So given the long hike through winter is over and the long awaited Labour Day holiday is around the corner it's time to dust yourself off, have a spring clean of your mind and regain focus.

Since the Happiness Institute is offering advice I thought I would refer back to a copy of redline magazine and add our ten cents worth to give your business brain a boost:

  • Remember why you started your business in the first place.
  • Remember how passionate you were when you first started your business.
  • Review your goals and tick off your achievements.
  • Think about the direction of your company, what it needs and go for it.

And if you have employees consider their current state of mind and invest some time in keeping them upbeat. Take 5 minutes a day to come together and talk about something other than work. We are in agreement here, in the Business Markets team at New Zealand Post House, that when we come together as a team for the 5 minute quiz we go away refreshed and work much harder afterwards.

What are your tips?

Thinking about e-tiquette

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Last night Fair Go reported that 'unsolicited mail or spam is the scourge of our email inboxes' following a consumer's frustration at being targeted without subscribing for information.

I have been wondering for some time whether businesses are becoming complacent about communicating by email, even with customers' permission. I know my inbox is starting to get out of hand and even when I have requested more information I don’t necessarily want to hear from companies as frequently as I do! I'm not the only one!

Email is instant which is tempting if you are an independent business with a number of jobs to get through each day, especially if you are the business and you personally have to do all of those jobs. But just because it's instant doesn't mean it's necessarily the right communication tool for your business or your customers. In the case reported by Fair Go, we can see that if you get it wrong, maybe through lack of time, your professionalism can be called into question.

When it comes to mail we've had decades to learn caution about what we put in a letter or direct mail piece to ensure we don’t come across as 'junk'. I know I rarely receive mail that's not addressed or of interest to me.

With this wake up call I think it's time to remind ourselves of netiquette guidelines and recap on the business and professional boundaries when it comes to email. Not forgetting the law of course, you shouldn't even be emailing customers without inferred consent (the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007). But even if you can email your customers think about whether you should. Are you emailing your customers because it's easy for you, did you give them a choice to hear from you any other way?

Most of all, whether it's a letter, a phone call, a tweet or an email, always be respectful of your customers' consent to contact them, they will soon revoke it if you don't. It's the age old - treat others as you'd like to be treated yourself. The success of your company depends on how your customers perceive your business.

On that note, let us know if you'd like to receive redline magazine in the post, you’d like to unsubscribe or even get email updates of the latest posts - it's your choice. Tell us your thoughts.

Have your say: help us to help you

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We'd like your views on our international services because we understand that to succeed we must listen to our customers and work with them.

In September we told you that every customer is unique. With the advice of management consultant and customer relations expert, Jeremy Moore of HGM Marketing, we gave you some tips to generate business and ensure customer loyalty.

We try to practice what we preach and want to make life easier for your business. We've reminded ourselves that it’s not about what we think; it's about you and what your business needs. We are investing the time, listening carefully and ready to take onboard your views.

So tell us, honestly, what you find difficult about sending items overseas. Perhaps you have some suggestions that can help us make it easier for you. We are listening.

Come back soon to see our response.

Not every company has a product to sell

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Service-led companies make up a significant chunk of the business world. But how does marketing and selling a service differ from selling a product?

Where there's a product, there's a clear selling advantage as there's a sensory experience on offer. Customers can see it. They can touch it, pick it up, examine it and experience it. They can bend it, shake it, twist it, smell it and try it out - or on.

Selling a service can be a challenge since you're selling something that doesn’t exist yet.

Without a physical 'thing' to put on display the business service industry has to take a different approach. Service companies have to actively demonstrate that they can do a great job. A product can speak for itself but a service needs someone to speak for it.

If that's you, here's what you can do:

  • Look good, first impressions count. You represent your service. If you're a sole trader you are your service. Reassure your potential clients by looking neat, tidy and professional. Look sloppy and that's what people will think your service will be like.

  • Offer a free trial. Allowing people to test your service free of charge and without obligation. It shows that you are genuine, have nothing to hide and are committed to working hard for their custom. Demonstrating your service means you can engage with your potential customers and build up a rapport with them.

  • Use customer testimonials. If you have received great feedback from your customers, use it. Include testimonials in your marketing pack, on flyers and in your advertisements. Endorsement of your service in this way is extremely valuable. It speaks volumes about your company and makes you all the more attractive to others.

  • Give exceptional customer service. Customers make the world go around so you need to be attentive to their needs. Remember, you are nothing without your customers. Treat each and every one of them with respect. Be polite, be courteous, smile and be friendly. Provide a service guarantee.

  • Do a great job. Doing your job might be easy. Doing a truly great job requires a bit more effort. Impress your customers with your skill and expertise, go the extra and add a polish and a shine to your service every time. Your customers will appreciate it and it'll keep your competitors at bay.

  • Communicate. Follow up. Don't forget about your customers when you've finished the job and your invoice has been paid. Send them a thank you note, a discount voucher for next time or news of other services you offer. Ask for their feedback so you can improve your service as well as add their testimonial to your marketing portfolio.

Tell us what your service is – and how you go about selling it.

Psst… have you seen this? Be the first

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spoiler alert! Sometimes it’s just too exciting to wait for the official release and you just want to know how it ends. So, without further ado, check this out!

Our team has been working flat out redesigning the New Zealand Post website. You told us that the existing one isn’t customer focused enough and we agreed. So the team has been working with you to make it easier to find and view information.

We’ve kept you in mind throughout the redesign and in May your comments helped us to create our new look site. Feedback was positive and you appreciated being asked which is why we think it’s only right that you be amongst the first to see the end result.

If you’ve got any feedback, leave a comment. Alternatively, if you want to be the first to review any developments on the New Zealand Post website and influence how the site works in the future, email redline@nzpost.co.nz. As a member of the Customer Feedback Group, an active New Zealand Post online community, you’ll be given the opportunity to have your say as we continue to add features to our site.

Spread the word, the new site launches on 16 September, tell everyone to come here and give us their views on it.

Every customer is unique

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What’s the key to generating new business and ensuring customer loyalty?

We asked management consultant and customer relations expert, Jeremy Moore, of HGM Marketing.

According to him, the answer (in a nutshell) is to recognise customers as individuals and treat each and every one as unique. He also gave this helpful advice:
  • Gain trust – always focus on the people first, then the business problem in hand before you offer your product or service as the solution.
  • Hold the sales pitch – you may be great at what you do but rattling off your star qualities before your customer has had time to blink will put people off.
  • Listen carefully - it’s not as simple as ‘they need what you have’. Different customers have different needs. Understanding these needs is the platform from which you can build good, solid relationships.
  • Invest time - you have to begin with a series of conversations and get to a level where you can both talk honestly and freely with each other.
  • Work together - when you reach the stage above you can visualise, together, how your product or service will help them achieve their business objectives.
  • Remember, it’s not about you - it’s all about your customers. It’s not about your competence; it’s about your approach. Until you really get to know your customers and learn what they want and need you have nothing to sell them.
  • Encourage referrals – happy clients are often more than happy to recommend you to others and these testimonials and referrals are your ticket to attaining more business.

In a snapshot, it’s all about:

  • Having business conversations vs delivering a competence pitch
  • Asking good questions vs giving your views and opinions
  • Talking with decision makers vs talking with users
  • Showing how your services can be applied vs spouting off the features and benefits
  • Being in a position to empower buying vs plain old selling

At redline™ we’re always on the hunt for good advice. Tell us what works for you in terms of getting new business and keeping your customers happy.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting some interesting blogs, including some specific to the business-to-business market. Make sure you don’t miss them - sign up for email alerts!

HELL-o again

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I've been reading your comments while I’ve been away and I’m really excited to be back and joining the conversation again.

I had no doubt that you would all be busy but playing catch up on my first day left me grabbing the phone and dialling for pizza! Lucky because HELL inadvertently delivered my first blog idea with my order!

HELL is running a clever promotion using a combination of a printed flyer and an eye-catching competition to direct their audience to their website.

What's great about the HELL promotion (besides the timely chance of winning free pizza for a year!) was the classic simplicity of it. I was targeted as an existing customer with a printed direct mail piece that pushed me to their website with a relevant incentive. Once there, I was pointed to their interactive video promo on YouTube.

I was on their website and YouTube page for ages and while I was there I saw all the other cool stuff that they are offering, and noticed that they have a Facebook page and a Twitter account too. Plus everything about the video reinforced the company's values of being fun and kind of wicked!

It just goes to show that a simple flyer to the right person can work to reinforce your business values, push traffic to your site and help update customers on your services. Without the flyer I wouldn't have visited their site that night or maybe anytime soon. This approach could be right for your business - we've said something similar before.

It seems I'm not the only one to appreciate the good job HELL did on this promotion, their customer comments speak for themselves, great feedback for HELL for future promotions.

Next Tuesday (free delivery!) I'll be ordering some of their new churros with my pizza. I can see a lot of pizza in my life over the next few weeks as I get back into the swing of things!
We’ve packed this issue full of useful information, advice and tips for business owners. In particular, we look at how you can power up your business and give your company a boost.

There are articles on how best to generate new business and what approach to take if you’re selling a service rather than a product. There’s practical know-how from our panel of service professionals as well as success stories from Fatso and Geeks on Wheels.

PLUS there are also some great offers and giveaways. Check them out!

And remember subscribing to redline™ is quick, easy and FREE!

Where's my parcel?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We’re always looking for ways to improve our customer service and one of our latest developments is the ability for you to track your parcels via Twitter. It’s very new and we’d love to hear any feedback on it, so please give it a go and let us know what you think.

All you have to do is follow nzposttracking on Twitter (which will follow you back automatically). Then you send a direct message including your parcel tracking number e.g. ‘Watch JB123456789NZ’. You’ll then get a confirmation message and an update when you’re parcel is delivered. You can even give your tracking number a name e.g. new shirt which will mean Twitter will refer to it as that each time you get an update. And when your parcel does arrive you simply direct message with ‘unwatch’ – it’s as easy as that!

So, rather than having to keep asking our website where your parcel is, Twitter will automatically update you each time its status changes. The service is available to anybody with access to Twitter including Twitter website, Twitter desktop and mobile apps, and via text message (free if you’re on the Vodafone network).

So, give it a go and let us know how you get on, we’d really appreciate it.

Yes, some of our prices are changing

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It goes without saying that no-one’s going to be overly happy when prices go up, after all who wants to pay more for something? But sometimes it just can’t be avoided and that’s the position we’re in at New Zealand Post right now. Every business person understands the very simple equation that you need to charge people enough for your product to cover the costs involved in producing and delivering it.

And those costs can not only change, but those changes are sometimes out of your control. That’s the economic reality that’s facing us at New Zealand Post. Not only have we seen a decline in the amount of mail being delivered, but we’re delivering it to more mailboxes than ever. That means we’re delivering 20% less mail per mailbox than three years ago. Add in increasing fuel costs and this position is just not sustainable. We’ve already managed to strip out $30million from our costs in the last year, but that still hasn’t been enough to prevent the need for these changes.

And so, we are having to increase some of our prices. For example, from 1 October the RRP for a Standard Post medium letter stamp will go from 50cents to 60 cents (this includes the increase in GST that will apply from then too). Not all our prices are going up, for example the RRP for ParcelPost Postage Included Bags will remain unchanged and the GST increase will be absorbed.

And remember, if you have KiwiStamp postage stamps or Postage Included Envelopes which you’ve bought at the current prices, they can still be used after the increases take place without the need for any additional postage to be added.

Leaflets detailing the changes are being sent to households and box holders next week and we’re writing to our business customers to explain the changes and also to remind people to check that they are using our most cost effective services for them.

You can check out full details of all the upcoming price changes here.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There is so much in the news at the moment about sick days and absenteeism and the cost it has on businesses. Today I came across a new word 'presenteeism' which apparently refers to the issues that occur when sick employees still turn up to work in the belief that they will either get into some sort of trouble for not being there, or that they are so vital to the running of the business that they cannot be absent.

It's all rather timely as I am currently sitting at home in my slippers, wrapped up warm and surrounded by tissue boxes and hot lemon drinks as I try to fight off flu like symptoms. I'm sure my colleagues are grateful I'm not in the office coughing and spluttering my germs at them!

And funnily enough I've got through just as much work, if not more, as I would have done had I been in the office. Granted, some meetings have had to be shifted around, but with access to my emails there is very little I haven't been able to make progress on.

Hopefully with one day at home, I'll be in a much better position to return to work tomorrow.

How does your business manage when you or your employees are sick - would you prefer people to come in or stay away? Let us know your thoughts and any tips or advice you have on how to handle this situation.

You can also check out this article on presenteeism.

The Global Game

Monday, July 12, 2010

What a game this morning! Granted there were a lot of yellow cards, but well done Spain in becoming World Champions for at least the next four years.

Amongst the on-field spectacle, South Africa 2010 has shown that football deserves its title as the global game. The World Cup brings people together from all over the world and this was a truly international event.

As you know New Zealand Post delivers all over the world and I wonder what items might be in the mail following the recent World Cup action.

I’m sure there’ll be a few Vuvuzelas flying around after their rise to international fame during the tournament. There’s also the inevitable letters of congratulations (and commiserations). You may like to congratulate the All White’s on their stellar group stage run, or console the English team after their early exit.

I’d personally like to send this week’s Lotto ticket to Paul the Octopus. The guy has an unbelievable record when it comes to picking winners and he even picked Spain for the final.

Thanks for all your comments on how to stay awake during the games. Hopefully, you can all now get some sleep. Although I’ve just been told it’s only six weeks until the English Premier League starts again.

You have to be in to win

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We all like to win things. Winning makes us smile. It makes us feel good. We don’t have to win big money on Lotto (although it would be nice) to feel happy – a box of chocs in a raffle or a book of stamps in a redline™ competition will do the trick.

We’ve now drawn the winners of all the competitions in the last issue of redline™ and we’re certain we’ve put a few smiles on faces this week.

Dhansukhlal Dayaram of Bayview Superette, as the lucky winner of our Apple iPhone competition, should be feeling super good. Congratulations!

So, too, should Julie Mackey of Dress for Success Inc. She wins a one-on-one business session with social media marketing expert, John Buckley.

Meanwhile, we hope the following will be pleased with their prizes. Copies of Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans go out to:
  • Szilvia Boda of Baby Breatheasy Ltd
  • Alice Baillie of SelectaDNA (NZ) Ltd
  • Patrick Yeung of Linkage Travel Ltd
  • Sarah Bate of Media Matters & Associates
  • Penny Millen of Naturally Enterprises Ltd

And we hope the winners of our ParcelPost™ competition will be chuffed with their pack of 10 ParcelPost™ Postage Included Bags (worth $50.00). Well done to:

  • Chris Melles of Telecom
  • Angela Torrie of Acreage Contracting
  • Debbie Kilmartin
  • Courtney Seymour
  • Renee Palmer of Bearing Wholesale

We’ve got some more GREAT giveaways in the next issue of redline™. It’s due out in August so make sure you enter our competitions. Remember, you can only win if you’re in!

The beautiful game

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The beautiful game it may be, and the results so far have been nothing short of spectacular, but it plays havoc with your sleeping patterns! I imagine sales of coffee and various other caffeine drinks have probably gone through the roof as we here in New Zealand support and cheer on our teams through the night. Imagine the problems next round - the 11.30pm games are all gone and it's 2am and 6.30am starts all the way.

Isn't it fantastic though to see the way that the rest of the world has embraced the achievements of the All Whites? And it's great to know that the next time I'm in the USA people may actually have realised that New Zealand is a country in its own right!

Aside from the All Whites and their success, the vuvuzela has to be the other big story of the World Cup. Love them or hate them, we're all talking about them and have learned a new word.

New Zealand Post is celebrating this spectacular event with a much quieter memento - a superb pure silver, New Zealand legal tender coin - released as part of an international programme to commemorate the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Check it out at nzpost.co.nz/fifa

It won't make the same noise as the vuvuzela, but it may be worth a little more after the tournament's over!

To be in to win one of these fantastic coins leave us a comment here with your best tip for staying awake for the key matches and keeping awake the next day! (Remember to complete the email address field so that we can get in touch with you if you win, it won't be displayed publicly).

Lost in transit?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In this day and age ordering over the phone and internet has become so common that we rarely think anything of it, except when something doesn’t turn up.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about how customers now often put ‘safe delivery’ and ‘speed of service’ up there with ‘cost’ and ‘quality’ and recommended that if you’re sending out products to customers that you offer them a tracking service.

Easier said than done I hear you say. But actually, it is easy – did you know we have a free API which allows customers to track their delivery directly from your website? It’s the same API that we use to power our iPhone app and Google Gadget, and it’s there for you to use on your website too. All you need to do is click here to go to the developer section of our website where you’ll find details of how to use it along with some useful case studies.

While you’re on the developer pages, why not submit your comments and ideas for more developments via the forum? Or feel free to drop us a comment here that we can pass on.

Revealing our secrets

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thank you for all your comments last week on the progress of our new website, it’s so good to hear all the opinions and to know we’re on the right track.

One of our key objectives with the re-design is to make the website more customer focussed so that it’s easier for you to find what you need.

We’ve also been busy working on how we present our product and service information offline so that it’s as relevant to you as possible. We know it can be confusing! We do have lots of products and services, many of which you’ve probably never even heard of. It can sometimes seem that they are our best kept secrets.

So we’ve grouped together all our products and services into four fold-out Solutions Guides – great for putting up on the wall, or just keeping to refer to. Each guide will give you an introduction to all the relevant offerings and tell you where to go to find out more on our website.

There’s a Solutions Guide on how we can help Kiwi business who are exporting, another for those of you who are distance selling, a third on finding and keeping good customers, and the fourth one covers how we can generally help make business life easier.

If you’d like a free copy of any or all of these Solution Guides simply call us during business hours on 0800 501 501 and select option 1 to talk to our Business Team.
A big thanks to everyone who volunteered for this week’s user testing – it was great to get all the feedback and insights – they are proving invaluable.

Now we thought it was time to share the developments to date with all our redline readers and ask you what you think.

We’re redesigning our website because customers told us our current website isn’t customer focused enough. So now we’re trying to make it easier for you to use by creating clearer pathways to information, and making sure the content is relevant, easy to understand and takes you on the right path to complete your transaction.

Click each of the images to the right of this article to enlarge and then tell us how we’re doing - what works for you, what you like, what doesn’t work and what you don’t like. We’d really love to include your comments and feedback in the next stage of development.

Send and deliver

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We all know that good customer service goes beyond the initial sale. But, this is particularly true if you run a mail order company or use the Internet to sell your goods.

When expecting purchases to arrive by post, customers often put ‘safe delivery’ and ‘speed of service’ up there with ‘cost’ and ‘quality’. So, it’s important that you choose the right delivery options for you – and your customers.

You want your buyers to be pleased with their goods and satisfied with the ‘shopping’ experience. You also want them to come back to you again. The last thing you need is for them to feel disgruntled because something hasn’t arrived when you said it would.

The key to this is in clear communication. Here’s how you can keep your customers happy and confident that you can deliver:

  • Manage customers’ expectations – be upfront and crystal clear about your delivery services on your website or in your catalogue. Be explicit about expected delivery times. Don’t promise a ‘tomorrow’ service if you can’t guarantee it, this will only disappoint people.

  • Specify postage costs – say whether shipping costs are included in your product prices or not. If not, state what the exact postage costs for different items and destinations are.

  • Find out what people want from your service – ask your customers what’s important to them. For example – speed, signing for items on arrival, good packaging, shipping costs. You can then offer a range of services (and prices) that will suit differing needs.

  • Offer a tracking service – either offer your customers a tracking facility via your website or do it for them by sending email updates on where their order is at. This way they’ll know when to expect their goods. And it’s always nice to receive a message saying your goods are on their way.

  • Say if there’s going to be a delay – if items are delayed for any reason you must let your customers know. They might be a little annoyed but they will appreciate you getting in touch with them. A quick email or short phone call is all it takes. Better that than leaving your customers to pace up and down at the garden gate.

  • Package up parcels properly – no one wants to receive a damaged item that’s poking out the packaging. Ensure your service team knows how to package and wrap parcels properly.

  • Depending on the type and amount of products you sell, you may need to use a range of delivery services to get your goods safely and securely from A to B.

Remember, some delivery companies specialise in delivering certain types of goods to certain locations. Others, like New Zealand Post, offer a wide range of sending options within New Zealand and overseas.

To find the right sending solution, take a look at our range of ParcelPost products.

Does your business provide outstanding customer service? Tell us what you do. Post your comments below.

Shape the future of our website

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Customer feedback has told us our website isn't that easy to use.
So, as we work to improve it, we're keen to engage with our users to test our ideas.

Next Tuesday, 11 May we will be running a user study in Wellington, and we'd love an hour of your time in return for a New Zealand Post Prezzy Card.

The sessions will be held during office hours, and whilst we do need you to be a current user of our website, there's no preparation required - just come along, try out some web pages, then tell us what you think (make sure to bring your glasses if you need them for computer work).

These sessions are one on one, and all feedback is confidential and anonymous.
If you think you can help, we'd love to hear from you, just click here to find out more.

The Internet, mobile phone technology and an ever-expanding array of media options has transformed the way we connect, communicate and do business.

The knock on effect is that people’s expectations of how, where, when and from whom they buy their products and services has changed significantly in the past few years.

Ask yourself, are you in tune with what your customers expect from you now?

Your customers are likely to want:

  • More choice. The Internet has opened up the world. We can buy books from England and t-shirts from America. We can connect with experts in any country. We can easily compare prices for any product or service. We can make more informed decisions because information is readily available.

    Do you know who your competitors are, what they offer and how they offer it? Do you present what you offer in a way that makes the benefits clear – price, service, quality, uniqueness, availability?

  • More control. We are no longer happy to passively take what we’re given. We want products and services tailored to suit, and delivered to us in the way we prefer.

    Are you offering one-size-fits-all products and services or do you tailor to meet specific needs and requirements? Do you offer a range of purchase and delivery options?

  • Fast, easy access. We are much less tolerant of ‘business hours’ these days. We want information quickly and we don’t want to work too hard to get it.

    Are you making it easy for people to do business with you? You don’t need to be ‘open all hours’, but you do need to ensure it’s easy for people to find out who you are, what you do, when you’re available and how to contact you.

  • Individual attention. We expect to be recognised and acknowledged. We expect our preferences to be noted and acted on.

    Do you know who your best customers are? Are in touch with them often with relevant information or offers? Do you reward them for their business?

Have you noticed that what your customers want has altered in recent years? And what have you done about it? Share your thoughts and ideas with other readers – post your comments below.

Wikipedia says the current population of China is over 1.3 billion. This is a staggering figure and shows that the potential market for your business is nothing short of enormous.

This makes the Chinese market well worth investigating – particularly as the Free Trade Agreement signed by New Zealand and China in 2008 aims to ease trade between the two countries.

China now has a strong and dynamic economy and it’s still growing. There is money in China and demand for overseas’ goods is increasing. In short, its import market is booming.

If you’re thinking about exporting your goods to China, make sure the chinese market is right for you before you take the plunge:

  • Find out if there’s demand for your goods. Conduct extensive market research. Find out about buyer behaviour in China, what the competition is like and think about where your products might fit in.

  • Go there. If you’re serious about exporting to China you need to visit the country. Spend time researching and planning your trip. Know where you want to go, what you want to find out and what you want to achieve.

  • Be seen. Time your trip to coincide with a trade fair. Here you can talk to potential buyers as well as other foreign importers. Use this as a networking opportunity. Hand out your business cards and follow up contacts when you return.

  • Think about distribution. Exporting your goods directly to China can be time-consuming and you will need to be familiar with China’s complex import customs, regulations and controls. Alternatively, you could establish a business partner or find a qualified agent or distributor with good sales contacts.

  • Employ a good translator. Having someone on hand who speaks the language fluently and understands the country’s culture will prove an invaluable investment.

  • Be cautious. When entering any new market it’s always wise to proceed with caution. Don’t rush into things and do carry out thorough checks on companies and their representatives before you enter into a contract with them.

  • Reduce your trade risk. If you manage the risks, you can reduce them. Speak to your bank. They’ll be able to advise you how best to secure payment for shipped goods and how to manage foreign currency volatility.

We’ll be posting more information about how you can reduce trade risk next week. Sign up for email alerts so you don’t miss it.

WIN the fastest iPhone yet
We have a brand new iPhone 3GS to give away to one lucky redline reader.

It’s ‘the fastest, most powerful iPhone yet’ and is twice as fast as the previous 3G model. This neat GSM cell phone features an iPod, video camera, mobile Internet with email and GPS maps.

To secure your chance to win*, you’ll need to tell us what you think about redline. You can comment on the magazine or the website in general or more specifically about any of the articles we publish.

To enter, complete the competition entry form.
*Terms and conditions apply.

WIN Dave Evans’ Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day
Get to grips with promoting your business online with this easy-to-understand guide to social media marketing.

This ‘how to’ book teaches you, step-by-step, the best way to develop a social media plan and make it work.

Dave Evans is a specialist in word-of-mouth marketing and bases this book on the premise that ‘if I couldn’t interrupt you, how would I reach you?’.

We have five copies to giveaway*. To enter the draw, complete the competition entry form.
*Terms and conditions apply.

WIN ParcelPost Postage Included Bags
Our last ParcelPost competition was so successful, we’ve decided to run it again.

For your chance to win* one of five packs of 10 ParcelPost Postage Included Bags – each worth $50.00 – fill out the competition entry form.
*Terms and conditions apply.

WIN a business session with TVNZ’s Inspector Gadget, John Buckley
Keen to find about more about social media marketing? We’re giving away the chance to win a two hour session – at your business premises – with technology and social media expert, John Buckley.

John, who regularly appears on TVNZ’s Breakfast programme as Inspector Gadget, will advise how you can take advantage of Facebook and Twitter to find new customers, keep in touch with the ones you already have and stay ahead of your competitors.

Your business will then feature as a case study in a future issue of redline.

To enter, complete the competition entry form.
*Terms and conditions apply.

Copies of The E-Myth Enterprise by Michael E. Gerber go out to – Michelle Kean of Kean Daniel Ltd, Helen Quekett of Quekett Consulting, Jonathan Persson of Independent IT, Issa Ilo-Cabiling of CMZ Properties Ltd and Annie Goh of MoneyShop.

Carolyn Cresswell of Canine Spirit wins a professionally designed ad to go on her company’s customer invoices. We’ll feature the ad in our next issue.

William Hastings of Office of Film and Literature Classification is the winner of our International Economy Courier competition. He gets to send a parcel anywhere in the world for FREE.

Mark Whitaker of ESR, Michael Nielsen of Computer Depot Corporation, Sandra Darlington of R&B Glass & Glazing Ltd, Mig Soo of SHD Trading Ltd, Vicki Reid of Nelson Netball, Rob Dowler of Red Owl Consulting Ltd, Michael Franklin of Gulf Projects Ltd, Gillian Cross of Cross Financial Services, Colin Geertson of Marlborough Pig Hunting Club Inc and Michelle Kean of Kean Daniel Ltd – will each receive a KiwiStamp first day cover.

A pack of 10 ParcelPost Postage Included Bags will soon be on its way to - Helen Filbry of Mad Hatter Books, Jude Behrens of Market Economics Ltd, CK Smith of ozki4sigs, Denys MacKay of United Pacific Corporation and Denise Glass of DG Consultants.

Is social media marketing right for you?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

There’s a frenzy of social networking going on. Never before has there been so much chitter chatter around the world 24/7 – and just imagine the noise if all this chit chat was audible!

Everyone is tapping away, hooking up with people they know, and sharing their news and views with family and friends…and friends of their friends…and friends of…you get the idea.

Social networking is all about word of mouth; using these forums to market and advertise your products could work well. But only you can decide if social media marketing is right for you, your products and your customers.

As long as your type of business is right for online marketing, taking your business promotion into the realms of social media marketing could prove beneficial.

Here’s why:

  • It’s expected of you
    It’s likely that your particular customers are proficient in using social networks; this is their world, their language, their way of communicating. If you want your customers to talk to and about you, you need to be where they are and actively participate in what they are doing.

  • Customers need you to
    Customers need to know you care. They believe you do if you talk to them, engage, listen, respond and interact. Social networking lets you do all of these easily - and quickly.

  • You need to stay visible to succeed
    To stay on your customers’ radar you need to make your presence felt. You may have an office, an order line and a website but if your customers are busy on Facebook or MySpace or Bebo…or Twitter, or LinkedIn…they might miss you.

  • Your competitors will be there
    You can guarantee that if you think social networking is right for your type of business, your competitors will be onto it too.

  • It’s cost effective
    Social media marketing is budget-friendly and measurable. Your major investment in social media will be time, but do remember that your time is money – so be sure you invest wisely.

  • You know it makes sense.
    And if you don’t know it now, you will. Remember, there were people who thought telephones, fax machines, mobile phones, computers, iPods…were unnecessary and wouldn’t catch on!

What’s your experience of using social media? Is it working well for your business? Are your customers engaging with you? We’d like to know. Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

There’ll be more on this topic over the coming weeks…how to get started as well as some essential Dos and Don’ts. Sign up now to our email alert service so you’ll know when the information goes live.

Issue 8 ready to go

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It’s been a baptism of fire over the last few months learning all about redline, but now I am pleased to say that Issue 8 is printed and ready to go!

Subscribers should be receiving their copy early next week and it’s packed full of great articles, and great competitions.

We take a look at some of the hot topics facing business today, including social media marketing – should you be doing it, how to do it - and exporting to China. Both of these subjects seem to be under the spotlight at the moment – the latest issue of unlimited has just landed on my desk with a special report on China, and there was a great social media marketing story recently on stuff about Giapo – a boutique ice-cream store in Auckland which has used Twitter and Facebook to great effect.

That’s not to say that social media is for everyone, so make sure you check out Issue 8 to work out if it’s something you should be looking at.

We’ve also got some great competitions coming up, including the chance to win an iPhone and a one-on-one session with a social media marketing expert.

I’d love to hear what you think about our latest issue, so once you’ve had the opportunity to look through, remember to post a comment, and we’ll use the feedback to help us plan future issues.

Never rest on your laurels

Thursday, March 25, 2010

One of the advantages of social media marketing is that it’s constantly improving our ‘connectedness’. For businesses, this can mean valuable input and feedback from customers on all manner of things – service, products, quality, new ideas - the list goes on.

Here at New Zealand Post we’re always interested to hear what customers have to say about our products and about how we could improve them. As a result of customer feedback we’ve recently removed the 70mm thickness restriction on our ParcelPost Postage Included Bags, improved the dedicated Trade Me page on our website so it’s easier to use, and introduced RedClick – an online lodgement tool for international parcel and courier items.

And just last week we changed the lodgement times for VolumePost 3 so that you can now lodge anytime from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

We’re constantly looking to improve our existing products and services so if you have any ideas on how they could be improved just let us know and we’ll look into it.
I read an article recently which highlighted the difficulty faced by many small businesses. A company in America was suffering somewhat due to the recent economic downturn and so in an effort to tighten their belts they ditched their annual direct mailing budget and replaced it with email.

However, a 25% drop in orders compared to the same time last year had them quickly reconsidering their decision. Whilst initially blaming the drop on the recession, the company was surprised to start hearing from customers they never got their ‘reminder’ in the mail. A postcard mailing soon recouped the loss and made the company think again about the role of direct mail and its importance to customers. In the future the company is planning to use e-marketing to complement the direct mail piece, not replace it.

And that really is the crux of the matter – when new communications methods come along there is a temptation to throw out the old, but we need to ensure we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. It’s about the mix, and the new choices simply give us more potential ingredients.
Have you ever been frustrated by a website? Got lost navigating around, not been able to find the information you want?

In a country where computer ownership and usage is so high, company websites are often the first point of contact for a potential customer. When we get there we have high expectations of being able to find out exactly what we want to know. And the experience we have on that site will immediately give us an impression of that company.

Here at New Zealand Post we are working to overhaul our website and improve the customer experience it delivers. As we progress we’d love your feedback and opinions on what does and doesn’t work.

We are currently evaluating three potential concepts for our site navigation and we’d love you tell us what you think.

The evaluation takes 5 - 10 minutes during which you will be given a series of tasks to complete, there are no right or wrong answers, and all information you provide will be kept confidential.

As a thank you, each participant will go in the draw to win a $100 Prezzy Card. Just click here and give it a go.

Of course, if you have any additional comments you can post them here at redline and we will add them to the feedback.

Tempted to Twitter?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I never thought the day would come when I would venture into the world known as Twitter. However, they’ve found my weak point, or rather Mojo coffee has. Talking to a friend the other day I found out that Mojo has been known to send out ‘Tweets’ offering cheap coffees during quiet times. Being someone who loves my coffee so much more when it comes in a disposable cup made by someone else, I decided the time had come to finally find out more.

It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped – it seemed to involve an awful lot of text messages to and fro, but finally I had my very own Twitter account! So far I’m only following Mojo, but if you have any suggestions of others I should check out, let me know.

Thanks for your comments about great things you’ve received in the mail following last week’s blog – lollies are winging their way out to the lucky commentator as I write!

Speaking of receiving lovely things through the mail, if you know any homesick Kiwis check out our latest competition ‘Love from New Zealand’ and you could win an overseas trip when you send them an international package from your local PostShop.

Anyone for lollies?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When you’re away from home it’s often the little things you miss, and nothing brought that home to me more this week than watching the story of Mei Barry unfold.

For those who don’t know, Mei Barry is the 17 year old New Zealander who was one of 64 people rescued from a Canadian ship full of high school and university students on an educational trip. The ship sank and the students spent nearly 40 hours in the life rafts waiting to be rescued.

Apparently Mei had never sailed before and was scared prior to going on the ship. Her father, Desmond, told 3News one of the hardest moments was to let her go on the boat knowing how afraid she was.

And what did she ask for when they finally managed to speak to her? Milk Bottle lollies! I would say she deserves a lifetime supply.

I guess that’s where mail can’t be beaten – when you need to send something physical – large or small - mail’s the only thing that can do the job. Fortunately it’s easy to pop a packet of lollies in a bag and post them off anywhere in the world.

I hope that Mei’s Milk Bottles are well on their way by now – and if you’d like to receive some lollies, leave a comment about the best thing you've received in the mail, and I will send a packet out for the best anecdote.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Now that I’m writing a blog I’m starting to notice how many there are out there, and even checking out one or two. Sometimes they pop up when I’m least expecting them, like Sarah Kate Lynch’s on the ASB banking site - it was very entertaining and I’ll check it out again, but I’m not sure what it had to do with banking. So then I got to thinking, does that matter? And I guess that’s the thing with social media – everything I read says it’s about creating valuable two way communication, and to do that you need to know what presses your customers’ buttons.

Looking back I see plenty of evidence of you interacting with redline - in December we asked how you would feel about some proposed changes to the ParcelPost range of products, and that certainly generated some comment! It was great to get all your feedback and we’ll be using it to help us in our planning for the development of this range of products going forward.

The number of comments received suggests there are quite a few of you out there using ParcelPost on a regular basis – so make sure you check out our current 15% off sale on ParcelPost postage included bags and pre-paid tickets, available exclusively online.

We’ve also had a couple of comments asking us to look in more detail at the Business Services industry in a future edition of redline. So, we’re planning this will be a key feature in Issue 9, due out in July. I’d love to hear more about what you’d like to see us include – we want to make sure redline is an engaging and relevant read, so let me know what you’d like covered. Maybe you have ideas on specific products we should be developing, or improving existing ones, or perhaps you’d like us to look at general trends in this area and how they are affecting businesses like yours.

Whatever your thoughts, we’d love to hear them – the good, the bad and the ugly!

How redline is settling into the New Year

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy New Year!

With most of us back at work, the kids back at school, and the sun finally now deciding to shine, our thoughts here at redline are focused once again on our next edition of our magazine.

Not only is it a New Year, it’s also a new decade and so what better time to take a fresh look at what you do and how you do it? That’s certainly what we’ll be doing here at redline - with the explosion of the internet and social media it sometimes feels it’s hard to keep up, or even work out, how and what we should be keeping up with and this is something we’re planning to look at in our next issue.

Personally I hardly ever look at my Facebook page, and I’ve never even tried Twitter, but increasingly it seems I’m in the minority - even my local cafe offered to ‘tweet’ me their latest news when I went in for my usual morning latte! And so, as I tentatively venture into the world of blogging, the time has come when I can no longer ignore what is increasingly becoming the norm. Having just read that there are now over a hundred million bloggers worldwide it’s clearly not something limited to the early adopters!

What I am really looking forward to is the opportunity blogging affords to communicate directly with our customers, so please continue to send us your thoughts on our magazine and blog so that we can continue to ensure it’s relevant and helpful to you. I’d love to hear any stories you have of how your business is embracing these new media choices, so post your comments and share your experiences with others in the redline community.

I shall be babysitting redline whilst your usual editor, Louisa, settles into life with her beautiful new baby son, and we wish her and her family all the best as they move into this new phase of their lives.

An excellent channel to find new customers is through other businesses.

  • Identify non-competing businesses that have the types of customers you want.
  • Then, set up a win-win situation.
  • Offer to cooperate with them – they talk to your customers and you talk to theirs.

Do this via:

  • Free rides – brochures and offers included in each other’s mailings.
  • Special mailings – mailings to each other’s customers with introductory offers.
  • Brochures or incentive coupons – posted out or distributed at point of sale.
  • Package inserts.
  • Joint promotions and events.

Make sure that whatever you agree to is a win for your customers too, and adds genuine value for them.

Have you done this? Comment and let us know how it worked for your business.

Direct mail letter toolkit

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We’ve put together three examples of how you can connect with your customers by mail.

Take a look at our letters, adapt them to your business and use them for your next customer mail-out.

Saying thank you

It’s always nice to say thank you and this kind of ‘getting in touch’ with customers rewards loyalty, keeps your business top of mind and encourages repeat business. So:

  • Send a card or a letter.
  • Keep it short but sincere.
  • Be personal but not over familiar.
  • Thank customers for their business.
  • Encourage customers to come back – make a special offer or just remind them of all the good reasons why they chose to do business with you.

Boosting sales from existing customers

If you want to boost sales there’s no better way than to sell to existing customers. Use your customer database to get in touch with everyone who has purchased from you:

  • Send a letter, offer card or leaflet, or invitation.
  • Encourage repeat business with a special customer-only offer and/or event – a sale preview, special seasonal discounts, limited time giveaways or add-ons, a new product launch or a friend-get-friend offer.
  • Make sure you are clear about when any special offers or promotions end. But don’t forget that some of your customers might be away – so while you want everyone to act quickly, allow an extension if you can to those on holiday.
  • Don’t focus only on price – remind customers of all the good reasons why they have done business with you.

Introducing your business to new customers

Using direct mail is a great way to find new customers, boost sales and get people talking about your business. Introduce your business:

  • Send a letter, offer card or leaflet, or invitation.
  • Emphasise all the good reasons why readers should choose you. Tell them about the value, service and quality your business offers – these are usually more important to people than price, and are the characteristics that build loyalty.
  • Invite potential customers into your store with a special new customer offer and/or event – buy one get one free offers, a sale preview, a new product launch, special seasonal discounts or limited time giveaways and add-ons.
  • Make sure you are clear about when any special offers or promotions end. But don’t forget that some of your new customers might be away – so be flexible.

Is there a template not featured in our resource list that could help your business? Comment here and let us know how we can help.

How to write a good direct mail letter

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A well-written direct mail letter should:
  • Attract – first attract your reader’s attention.
  • Interest – arouse your reader’s interest early.
  • Desire – create desire for what you’re selling.
  • Convince – convince readers that it’s in their interests to take up your offer, suggestion or invitation.
  • Action – make it clear how readers should act and what they need to do.

Follow these basic guidelines to help you write an effective, call-to-action letter for your customers:

Write for easy reading

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs.
  • Grab the reader’s attention early.
  • Spell out what the major benefit/offer is at the top of the first page. Repeat this on the second page towards the close of the letter.
  • Use legible typefaces.

Personalise your letter

  • Personalised direct mail is the strongest form of direct mail.
  • Make sure recipients’ names are spelt correctly.
  • Don’t be over familiar or too casual.
  • If, for any reason, you can’t fully personalise your letters, you can use a default greeting. For example – Dear Customer, Member, Reader, Gardener.

Involve the reader

  • Tell them exactly what they will get by accepting your offer. Explain what readers will miss if they don’t act.

Establish credibility

  • Whenever possible emphasise that what you say is true with relevant proof and customer testimonials.
  • Be scrupulously honest – too many companies and advertisers tell their customers the truth as they would like it to be.

Ask for action

  • Ask for action now, and explain clearly what readers need to do to take up your offer.
  • Make it easy for readers to respond. Show electronic and postal addresses clearly. Including a FreePost™ or an International Business Reply™ envelope makes it easy for customers to respond or send orders. And you only pay when it’s used.

P.S. Use a post script (p.s.)

  • A p.s. is often the first part of the actual letter to be read. Use it to reinforce key points such as the offer itself, any major benefits as well as time limits.

Did you find this article useful? Comment and tell us.

Direct mail is personal and targeted. It’s cost-effective and it works. People like it and it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Plus, it puts you in control of driving your customer relationships forward – steering them in the direction you want them to go.

You can use direct mail to:
  • Build relationships by sending out regular newsletters.
  • Maintain relationships with bounce-back offers and discount vouchers.
  • Send seasonal and special occasion messages.
  • Check customer satisfaction and gain feedback.
  • Update your address files – make it easy for customers to do this by including a FreePost™ envelope for their convenience.
  • Send eye-catching postcards about your new products.
  • Say ‘thank you’.
Need some help? Comment and tell us what direct mail advice would be helpful to your business. Plus, enter our competition to win free marketing advice*.

*Terms and conditions apply.