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SAPO answering the call with Response Mail

With some minor changes to its product portfolio, the South African Post Office has made a big difference to its Direct Mail offerings. However, in order to see how these changes work, you must first understand what Direct Mail is and what the services are that the Post Office offers.

Direct Mail – how is this different to any other sort of mail, surely all mail is direct as it all makes its way through the postal system? This is not actually the case, Direct Mail is aimed at the corporate market as a means of allowing companies to make ‘direct’ contact with customers and potential customers. Normal mail is for the average customer in the street sending letters to his granny or for birthday cards and the like.

Direct mail is often seen as a function of the myriad companies which make up business in any given country. This is not entirely true, as direct mail would not be possible without the postal service, but the postal service in return, would not be able to provide the service without business, so it really is a truly synergistic relationship.

However, it runs much deeper than that. The South African Post Office has a dedicated Direct Mail unit which is based on the understanding of this very important form of communication with customers. The need to communicate personally with the customer, in a targeted, measurable and affordable way has become the number one challenge for businesses worldwide and South Africa is no different. To this end, direct mail is becoming increasingly important as it is the one medium which faces the challenge of individualised communication head-on.

While there is an entire industry dedicated to this form of communication and whose careers have been built around the reasons why it is such an effective communication channel, it all comes down to one factor. Simply put- DM WORKS. It is personal, responsive, measurable and it is cost-effective.

Each of these points requires a bit more explanation.

You can talk to an individual on a one-to-one level, giving you more time to persuade, convince and engage your customers.

Of all the many forms of communication the one which attracts the great level of response from customers is Mail. This is because there is often a response form included, it is easy to complete as it does not require multi-tasking and – reading while typing – and it speaks to your customers on an emotional level because they will only consider it at their own time thus making them more receptive to the message contained therein.

This is almost self-explanatory because every response is counted and the cost of the mail and the resultant response can be measured. It is also a continual process as data collection and analysis allows a better understanding of customers. The information garnered can allow you to refine your marketing and your next campaign.

Mail, and in particular direct mail with its lower costs for bulk-mailing, provides an affordable way to sell to people who want to buy. Targeting, profiling and market segmentation maximise ROI and minimise waste.

Through its Direct Mail unit, which is a specialist division, the SA Post Office strives to serve as a resource to the direct marketing industry. This unit provides an advice and training service for the industry in planning, development and implementation of direct mail campaigns.

In order to improve its product offering, the Direct Mail division, with the approval of ICASA, has realigned many of its products. The purpose of this was to make them more relevant to clients and also to remove many of the restrictions which were placed on them. While the main benefit of this realignment will be to make the divisions product accessible to more companies in the lower end of the market, it is believed that it will have the added benefit of increasing the growth of the division from two per cent up to ten per cent.

The Direct Mail division’s products were, until now, Magmail, Admail, Promomail and Informail. The consolidation of some of these products has resulted in Admail and Promomail being combined into the new product called Response Mail. In addition to this, some of the restrictions on this have been removed. Firstly, customers are no longer required to insert a response element, such as Business Reply Services envelopes, (although the response element gives clients a means of measuring the success of a campaign). Secondly, the minimum restriction of 1000 items has been removed thereby targeting the Small Enterprise market.

The consolidation of the product range, as well as the removal of some of the inhibiting factors means that the South African Post Office is able to offer a more streamlined approach for its direct mail clients. The aim of these changes has been to help clients grow their client base, and still reaping rewards within their businesses. Hence, there’s a mutual benefit between the client and the post office. Although these changes have only been introduced recently, they have already been positively received by many clients.

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