Known for her passion, optimism and tenacious attitude, Sarah Sandoval, General Manager of Consumer Marketing and Brand at NZ Post, has been named Marketer of the Year at the 2022 TVNZ- NZ Marketing Awards.
Delivering a total brand transformation
At NZ Post, Sarah Sandoval was tasked with the challenge of shifting the brand perceptions of NZ Post as ‘ailing,’ ‘old-fashioned,’ ‘government department,’ and ‘snail mail’ to innovative delivery company and e-commerce partner.
During her first months she convened a large brand workshop where a hot topic was whether ‘brand’ was of any use to a business like NZ Post.
Drawing on her broad experience and skill base, Sarah has driven outstanding business results for the company, despite internal and external difficulties.
She also instigated large-scale insight programmes where two issues were identified.
Firstly there was brand confusion between NZ Post, Courier Post and NZ couriers, and secondly New Zealand’s largest parcel business was primarily associated only with mail.
To rectify these issues, Sarah developed a bold single-brand strategy from NZ Post, Courier Post and Pace to simply NZ Post.
Although board sign-off for this process was challenging and lengthy, Sarah remained persistent and once she had approval, she led multiple work-streams engaging key stakeholders.
One of the challenges she faced here was the perceptions around government businesses spending money on brand, however the ’Delivering More’ campaign balanced emotional connection with benefits and reasons for this change.
In June 2021, the NZ Post brand was relaunched at a massive live-streamed event to an audience of 7000+ employees with Sarah presenting the approach.
A rebranded van was unveiled with employees rushing to take selfies with it and new advertising was shared with similar results.
Sarah says this brand transformation is without a doubt her most significant achievement to date.
Despite being still early days the results are impressive, ultimately leading product and pricing changes in parallel to and supported by the rebrand. Consumer domestic sending prices were significantly increased without losing share and in nine months this added $4 million in revenue.
“The scale and complexity of the change was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” she says.
“It was a transformation that spanned visual identity, internal engagement, communication and pricing and product changes. We are still on the journey, but the results so far have surpassed our expectations.”
Bryan Dobson, Chief Customer Officer at NZ Post, says Sarah transformed the way marketing is seen.
“They’re now our go-to team, and proven major growth contributor.”
The relaunch of NZ Post’s consumer sending service last year was another standout achievement. Here Sarah and the team simplified their product offering, introduced tracking on all parcels sent within New Zealand, increased the price significantly and invested in marketing communication to tell customers about this new benefit.
“We were able to maintain market share and increase our revenue by 10 percent, delivering an additional $5 million revenue for the same volume in the first year. I think it was successful because it came from clear insight and we leveraged the full marketing [stack] to deliver the result.”
Upon hearing she had been nominated for the Marketer of the Year Award Sarah says she felt “a genuine sense of pride”.
“It’s so nice to be acknowledged externally for your work,” she says.
Prior to NZ Post, her career has crossed industries from FMCG, telecommunications and airlines and taken her to Australia, the UK, and even Central America.
Here she refreshed and relaunched the TACA Airlines (Americas) brand including internal engagement, customer experience and visual identity. This boosted internal culture and customer satisfaction, and delivered double digit revenue growth for three years.
In another previous role at Pernod Ricard, Sarah led a restructuring and unified trade and marketing teams around a singular vision and purpose. This included the iconic ‘Swim like a fish’ TVC. This work boosted brand metrics and revenue grew. The campaign is still airing today – a testament to its popularity.
Now, however, she is enjoying the challenge of working in a transforming industry with mail volumes declining and parcel volumes growing significantly which makes her work “incredibly interesting”.
Working in a complex industry in the midst of this transformation means there is often a lot more to do than they can cope with Sarah says when asked about the biggest challenges she faces.
“Being clear about the biggest areas of impact and staying consistently focused on those areas is a challenge. It is also a large organisation to navigate and has been very operationally focused, so managing stakeholders and elevating the role of marketing and the benefits that can be delivered is a consistent challenge. And finally, the data and technology challenge is also tricky at the moment as we struggle for resource and it is so key to delivering the future customer experience we are working towards.
“It is also an organisation with a huge heart that balances commercial results with doing the right thing for our people, our communities and the environment. It’s genuinely a great place to work,” she says.
A career in marketing is the perfect blend of creative, customer and commercial, she adds.
“I enjoy working across the full marketing mix and leveraging all those aspects together to drive growth for an organisation. When you have a clear strategy and can get product, price, channel dynamics and communication working together that’s when the magic happens.”
As for what makes an award-winning marketer, Sarah believes that although there is a lot of work out there with great insight and strategy at the heart of it, the award winners tend to also be role models within the industry.
“They elevate marketing as a discipline with their organisation and support the marketing community by sharing their learnings and experiences.”
Looking towards the future, there’s still a lot more Sarah would like to achieve at NZ Post and she says she see can see herself being there for quite some time as the business looks to transform and modernise the customer experience.
“Beyond that, I’d like to develop my skills as a director on a Board and perhaps even contribute to the marketing discipline as a speaker or educator.”
Marketer of the Year
“A unanimous choice.The outcome was genuinely transformative.”
Angela Blair; Angela Irwin; Melodie Vickars; Sean Wiggans
This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.