The Psychology of Selling Courier Services

These days it’s not easy going when trying to sell courier services. Okay, if you work in sales and marketing then you probably know that it isn’t easy to sell anything at the moment. Times are tough and customers are keeping their money in their pockets.

It also doesn’t help, though, that courier services don’t exactly have a super sexy or photogenic image to help them. If you’re trying to sell sports cars, holidays, luxury brand goods, jewellery, or watches then it is pretty easy to take some very attractive photos to contribute towards advertisements and sales campaigns etc. However, is a lot more difficult when the only material you have to work with is a rusting and ‘seen better days’ forklift truck that wouldn’t look out of place as an exhibit in a science museum. The shot of that van that looks as if it could have been used in an episode of “Dad’s Army” isn’t going to be of much help either – however high-tech looking the logo is that you sprayed on the side of it.

The psychology used to try and address the problem is sometimes also counter-productive. Take one of the classic approaches. This involves starting with a 12m box trailer and tractor unit, getting them virtually steam cleaned from top to bottom, polishing them to a shine level that is dangerous for the retina, then parking them outside of your main depot. That depot which sits in the background may also have been subject to a major cleaning and overhaul just for the photo shoot. Then, hire some extremely attractive models of both sexes, and dress them in something that pretends to be your uniform. At that stage, you are ready for the pose. This is usually very sexist and shows the male driver looking down from the cab benignly, with the female (in an improbably short skirt for someone working in the courier industry) looking up at them adoringly whilst holding a clipboard. As an aside, when did you last see anyone in an office using a clipboard?

The intention is presumably to create an image of courier services that looks slick and sexy. It’s usually accompanied by an inspired slogan along the lines of “we can transport you to new heights”. Job done. Marketing and sales sit back contentedly and wait for the orders to start pouring in.

However, one wonders if they really question what sort of response this sort of advertising imagery may generate in the minds of potential customers? It just may be:

• “I have never seen such a spotless vehicle – they obviously don’t get to use it much”

• “if those two are that clean and shiny then they obviously don’t like mucking in and getting the job done”

• “there is no way I’m going to pay for a vehicle of that size to ship my tiny parcel”

• “how much extra am I having to pay so that they can create these beautiful advertising photos?”

• “that guy couldn’t lift his own paperwork out of the cab let alone handle our crates”

• “is that clipboard the best technology they have available?”

So, the courier industry perhaps needs to think of an image that manages to communicate what it is about and be sexy at the same time – but without drifting into the surrealism that is sometimes seen in the present-day advertising materials!

Any suggestions?