Creativity could make the green shoots blossom

Mark Thomson, media director at the Royal Mail, discusses how creative thinking could provide a boost to the green shoots of recovery

Mark Thomson
Mark Thomson

The use of price incentives to maintain and win market share is common across all competitive sectors of the UK economy, and often intensifies in times of downturn to stimulate a struggling economy.

You only have to look at the supermarket sector to see the cut and thrust of new approaches to pricing to draw in customers – from three-for-two promotions to dining in for £10, and now trials by Tesco of ‘buy one, get one free later’ incentives.

Similarly, media owners that enjoyed many years of stable or growing ad revenues have been forced to reassess the buying landscape and offer cuts of their own.

The latest IPA Bellwether Report gives signs for optimism but again underlines the difficult times faced by the many advertising channels, with traditional media such as TV, press and radio taking the biggest hit.

Digital advertising continues to grow but other media such as outdoor and direct marketing have not been faring so well.

When the advertising landscape is flat, and advertisers and agencies are under pressure to deliver more for less, pricing innovation is essential to breathe new life into, and protect the prosperity of, your particular medium. For example, several ‘distress sale’ services have sprung up online to offer advertisers cheaper rates on a range of last-minute media opportunities: a clever way of selling inventory that would otherwise be left empty, with the media owner losing revenue hand over fist.

The fall in direct mail volumes, as a result of improved targeting as well as greater competition for advertising spend, is well publicised. But as the largest postal operator in the UK and company that delivers the last mile, we have responded with a pricing solution designed to stimulate the market and demonstrate and remind advertisers of the valuable benefits of incorporating direct mail into their campaign activities.

The DM Sale, launched in the spring, offers discounts on new or additional mailing campaigns. The primary purpose is to persuade existing users of direct mail to try new campaign tactics and maximise the value of their data. But it also aims to help grow UK mail volumes as a whole by attracting big advertisers who are yet to discover the ROI benefits of using mail as part of an integrated campaign. A recent study we conducted with media group OMG demonstrated mail’s ability to improve the performance of other marketing activities, with digital campaigns in particular seeing a 62 per cent increase in payback when combined with mail.

Most media channels are being underpinned with incentives including short-term price deals, value-added offers and shared risk opportunities – and that has to be the sensible option, rather than sitting on our hands and doing nothing.

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