Pete Markey admits he has a challenge on his hands breathing some life back into the Post Office brand. Five weeks into his new role as chief marketing officer, moving from RSA, he is already looking to bolster his ranks in order to harness the mountains of data that organisation acquires on a daily basis.
“It needs modernisation,” he states plainly in his first interview since taking the role. “There’s a lot of latent love for it. It’s continually voted in the most trusted brands in the UK and as a business and brand people want it to succeed which is a nice place to be.”
Over £1bn is set to be invested in the Post Office to not only improve what it offers in-store but also how people experience the brand away from their local branches.
Citing retailers like John Lewis and Apple as those he admires, Markey explains that he is similarly looking to create a “red thread” across the brand and its 11,000-plus branches in a bid to bring a sense of cohesion to the on and offline offering.
“We want to really harness the power of technology. I admire brands that allow you to order online and pick up in store, or lockers in stations [referring to the 24/7 click and collect parcel locker delivery service offered by InPost.] We want to create something brilliant online and continue it branch. So there will be more use of tablet devices and different interaction points in-store.”
One aspect of the business that will help Markey establish what he describes as a "red thread” is data – of which the Post Office has plenty.
Markey already has job specifications out for a number of key roles, including head of brand strategy and head of marketing communications, but one role he seems particularly enthusiastic about filling is head of data analytics.
Discussing how the Post Office harnesses its data currently, Markey continues to reveal that “having kicked the tyres” his priority is now to connect the different data points within the organisation.
“As we’re looking to build more customers relationships; how we use customer data to build stronger customer relationships in the long term is important,” he continued. “That’s one of the first focus areas for me and data is at its heart. It’s a really important one for me – where we take our data and analytics capability. I want to sweat our data harder”
When asked by The Drum how much investment he’ll be ploughing into this part of the business, Markey responds to say it is too soon to know exactly what size the data and analytics team will be.
He adds: “I know very few people who look at their analytics teams and say 'let’s make it smaller.' It’s all about having great analytics in place.”
Commenting on the biggest challenge ahead of him, Markey believes that engaging with a new generation of customers, while trying not to alienate those who have been with the brand for decades, will be tough.
“We’re going through great change so it’s about making sure we communicate that in a way for people that use the Post Office regularly, infrequently, or don’t use it at all. We need to help people revaluate the Post Office but not alienate the people who use it regularly."
Social and mobile are two areas that will engage with this younger customer, and Markey admits that both areas are in need of attention.
“There’s a lot more we can do on digital. We have a good social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, we have a dedicated social media manager who is running regular programmes that are working well,” he says, adding that on mobile, although not “in the dark ages”, there are still a number of conversations going on about how it can be improved.
“The opportunity goes back to data and how we connect up those channels to create an integrated customers experience.”
Looking ahead to a big brand campaign – The Drum understands the Post Office is currently looking for a creative agency although Markey didn’t comment on what stage the process was at – only adding there there was an “exciting proposition at the moment” which would come to fruition later this year.