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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Matter box’s physical failings

Matter is a joint venture between the Royal Mail and Artomatic. In an increasingly digital world, it is designed to promote the physical through sending people packages of “brands you can hold”.

It is a great example of both permission marketing (click through to a page where you can get the first 4 chapters of Seth Godin’s classic book) and marketing as a service.

Everyone can benefit. Consumers get free gifts. Brands create awareness in a positive, non-intrusive manner. And the Royal Mail reminds people of the simple joy of receiving a mystery package.

One trick I felt the participant brands missed this time was creating something unique of ongoing value – a social object, if you will. This package was primarily free samples, whereas the pilot Matter box contained branded items such as crayons, a keyring and a sweatband. Free samples are obviously a proven method of promotion, but it doesn’t feel like a gift in the way that a specially commissioned item does.

That is a minor gripe. My major gripe is unfortunately with the Royal Mail’s service.

As a society, we appear to be increasingly intolerant of inconvenience. We expect things to work. Because if it doesn’t in this age of choice, we can go elsewhere. Witness the furore of Twitter‘s downtime, and the Fail Whale. Yet according to Royal Pingdom, Twitter still had 98.72% uptime.

The Royal Mail may claim 99.93% reliability, but that is going to vary by package type. I seem to have no trouble receiving bills or junk mail. Packages on the other hand are a different matter.

My local sorting office has a reputation for incompetence, and in my experience that is perfectly justified. Packages have been left outside my flat, recorded delivery mail has been posted through the door, and “Sorry we missed you” messages have both shown up when I’ve had nothing to collect, and not arrived when I have.

So, of course my Matter box didn’t arrive last week. And I wasn’t alone.

I  commend Tim Milne at Artomatic for swiftly despatching replacement boxes. My second box did arrive safe and sound.

Matter is supposed to promote the benefits of physical products. But it is also highlighting the drawbacks. I may not be able to hold digital products, but I can at least be reassured by the reliability, accountability and transparency of transactions.

sk

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/

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