As well as tightening the purse strings, direct marketers have their own corporate social responsibilities to meet, namely managing resources to ensure minimum waste.
Add these already considerable challenges with the weight of negative perception direct mail has been historically saddled with, and it is understandable that brands should be more careful on how they utilise their resources.
This week Nationwide Building Society has made its play to improve the efficiency of its direct marketing efforts by exploiting what it is already sending, and indeed what some customers expect to be sent as standard.
The Society is set to include “relevant, timely” marketing messages on customer bank statements as part of a drive to reduce the amount of direct mail it sends out and make its statements “work harder as communication tool”.
The catalyst for the move? The Nationwide acquisition trail, which has taken in the Portman and Derbyshire Building Societies in the last three years and led to increased volumes of print and mail.
Richard Marshall, chief marketing officer at digital and direct marketing agency Tullo Marshall Warren, says despite offering clear benefits, “surprisingly” few firms that issue statements have followed suit.
“Items such as statements, be they from financial services companies, or the utility sector for example, can provide an engaging and highly personalised format to drive home different marketing messages,” he says.
For Robert Keitch, the Direct Marketing Association’s chief of membership and brand, Nationwide’s move is indicative of an increasing focus on cutting waste and a better use of resources, a change which the recession has only accelerated.
In this age of austerity and corporate social responsibility, any direct marketing strategy that ticks the efficiency, effectiveness, environmentally friendly and engaging boxes, can only be applauded.