The difficulty for direct mail is that it is always being judged on what action people take (and at the very least you have to pick the envelope up off the floor.) I therefore doubt very much if the results of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) survey would have been that different 20 years ago (Alan Mitchell, MW March 17).

As Lord Leverhulme said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted,” so it isn’t just direct mail that suffers from wastage (and how much paper is wasted on ads that aren’t working?). What direct mail does attempt to do is limit the wastage by accurately targeting the right people in the first place.

Sure a lot of direct mail gets put in the bin along with the majority of all communications that are assigned to the proverbial bin. But just like any communication, some direct mail gets read. It may still go in the bin but if it’s good then at least the customer gets a brand message. And that’s what the DMA needs to measure – perception of brands. I can read charts of Adwatch or Posterwatch but where’s DMwatch?

The negative side of direct mail is where the client uses the media as a numbers game. They rely on two per cent responding to their message and don’t care what the other 98 per cent think. It’s no wonder that some credit card companies (and you know who you are) get up people’s noses. Fifteen years ago we were trying to get clients to care about the 98 per cent – it seems some still aren’t listening.

Instead of trying to put spin on figures that will always look negative, the DMA should look at the positive role that direct mail has on brand preference. And, Alan, I suggest you look at the wastage in other areas of our business.

David Hodson



London W1

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