Why leaflets hit the target

Russell Parsons

In my first missive of 2011, I confidently predicted that this year’s dominant themes would be data use, partnership marketing and austerity. If it’s not late then I would like to add one more – unaddressed marketing or leaflets as they are more colloquially known.

The ugly runt of the marketing litter, derided as “junk” by some consumers and the groups that represent them and dismissed by uncharitable marketers as an outdated channel devoid of creativity, was one of the success stories of 2010.

Nielsen Company data shows that top ten biggest unaddressed advertisers spent £38.8m last year, a whopping 43% increase on the £27.2m spent in 2009. This compared with about 7% growth forecast for the advertising market overall.

And it is not just the usual leafleting suspects – supermarkets and broadband providers et al – but a cross section of some of Britain’s biggest companies in some of the most widely populated consumer facing sectors.

So how exactly did such a traditional marketing method see such improving fortunes in the wake of an industry-wide clamber towards sexier digital marketing methods?

The answer lies in two of my other predictions for 2011 -an economic climate that demands caution, which leads to the increasing importance of data collection to demonstrate accountability.

Marketing that can almost literally be placed in the hands of consumers, even if they afford just a cursory glance before deciding to bin the communication (responsibly in a recycle bin it is hoped) has immense worth.

Geo-targeting tools that can plan campaigns to postcode level help ensure than the person or persons picking up the leaflet are more likely to be interested, helping boost response rates – already the highest of all marketing channels, according to British Marketing Survey data.

A priceless combination in these, still, straitened times. Issues still remain with unscrupulous companies blanket bombing areas with little regard for the consumer and or the environment, but these instances are less apparent, which in turn improves response rates.

All of which adds up to the likelihood that the rise and rise of unaddressed will continue for some time yet.

Look out for an in-depth look at brands’ use of unaddressed in the 10 February issue of Marketing Week.

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