Three straight answers to direct questions

Alan Mitchell (MW October 6) is right to suggest that the problem with permission marketing is its current “all-or-nothing” nature. At present, consumers can only mark their frustration at receiving poorly targeted communications by registering a blanket refusal with one or more of the channel preference services. Sadly, many who register with the Mailing Preference Service, for instance, do so after receiving one too many house mailings from their bank, or door-drops from their local pizza company – without knowing that registering will not bring this to an end.

Contrary to popular belief, the public like direct marketing. They like the choice, convenience and cost- savings that purchasing through direct channels offers. They like timely and relevant communications about issues, services or products that are of interest to them. They do not like to be bombarded, interrupted or overwhelmed by poorly targeted, irrelevant messages. They do not like this to the point where they are teetering on the edge of refusing any communications at all. We should all be concerned about this, both as marketers and as consumers. What shall we do?

The solution is threefold. The public needs to be educated on the facts about direct marketing so that they can make informed choices. The DMA has launched an initiative designed to do just this. It is crucial that it works. Secondly, any initiative that allows for sophistry in self-selection for direct communications should receive more than just a warm welcome from the entire direct marketing industry. Thirdly, marketers must start behaving more responsibly and operating within the guidelines of good industry practice.

It is inconceivable that we as an industry will behave our way out of business. It is impossible to contemplate that the erosion of direct channels will be a good thing for either consumers or businesses. We have three platforms in place on which we can now allow our industry to evolve. Despite the current doom and gloom, there is every reason to be positive about the future.

Gerry Scott

Chief operating officer

WWAV Rapp Collins Media

London W6

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