Bellwether banishes Monday blues

Last Monday (18 January) was, according to some news outlets, the “most depressing day of the year”.

“Blue Monday”, it was said, was the day all the financial excesses of December came back to haunt a consumer nation still two weeks away from pay day.

The perfect day, then, for the IPA/BDO to unveil the fillip that proved to be the latest Bellwether report. Marketers nationwide rejoiced in the news that although marketing budgets were still being cut, the ferocity of the axe wielding is slowing.

For direct marketers came particular cause for celebration. Direct marketing budgets increased by 2.2%, the first rise since 2007 and one of just two channels, the other being digital, to see an upturn in the last three months of 2009.

This sunny start to the week was compounded by news from UK Mail.

The postal service and rival to Royal Mail partly attributed the 4% increase in quarterly revenues to the increase in direct or “discretionary” mail sent in the build up to Christmas an area that had “suffered as a result of the economic downturn” but was now driving its improved performance.

Proof positive that direct marketing is at the forefront of the marketing communication recovery? It certainly seems, if Bellwether is to be believed, to be one of the first to turn the corner.

At a time when marketers and, perhaps more importantly, the “bean counters” in the boardroom, are demanding efficiency, the tried and trusted will be turned to.

It may not offer the glamour of television, or the glitz of digital, but it does offer accountability at a time when, as DMA chief of membership and brand Robert Keitch puts it, “companies are pushing their marketing budgets to deliver more bang for their buck”.

So let us rejoice in the faith shown in this often maligned channel and toast its continued growth in 2010.

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