Innovation the handmaiden of progress

We’re all up for innovation in the marketplace. After all innovation is the handmaiden of progress. And Royal Mail is doing all it can to increase the popularity and effectiveness of direct mail. The last few months have seen more direct mail initiatives from the postal operator than the last few years combined, such as its critically acclaimed Mail Men campaign.

Another huge initiative is Royal Mail’s transition to Mailmark, which is part of the drive to modernise its processes. Mailmark is the new barcode and optical technology for handling bulk mailings. It will replace its OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and CBC (customer barcoding) options. Mailmark will create more transparency in the mailing system enabling organisations to more easily integrate advertising mail into wider marketing campaign.

As part of Mailmark, this week Royal Mail has announced that it will be trialling the use of new digital stamps for direct mail, which basically emulate a traditional stick on stamp. The trial is using two designs of ‘stamp’ - the traditional Queen’s profile and an Alice in Wonderland design from Royal Mail’s Special Stamps collection. However, you have to wonder whether this could be a step too far in the innovation stakes.

Firstly, will direct mailers that use digital stamps be considered to be hoodwinking consumers into thinking that advertising mail is actually personal mail? – Something the Daily Mail would be delighted to report on.

Secondly, if successful and more designs of stamps are released for use on advertising mail, could the stamp image fall foul of the content of the mail pack or even its targeting? For example imagine if Royal Mail’s Stamp of Remembrance was used on a piece of direct mail that was accidentally sent to someone that had recently passed away.

We’ll watch with interest to see how the trial progresses.