Direct mail is driving me mad

Lucy Handley is a key member of the Marketing Week features team and has also worked in advertising agencies so can bring a unique perspective to client-agency relationships when writing on this topic.

Since recently writing or editing a couple of features about direct mail and email and its growing popularity, several pieces of unwanted DM have dropped through my letterbox.

The brands include Volkswagen, Visit Scotland, children’s retailer Great Little Trading Company, the League Managers’ Association and gifts website Not on the High Street.
 
I don’t have children, I‘ve never been a football fan and I don’t need a car. Scotland I am interested in, but I’m already convinced that it’s a lovely place without having to ‘surprise’ myself and open the envelope.
 
Unwanted emails I can easily delete, send to junk mail or unsubscribe to. But post, especially if it is totally irrelevant, is so much more intrusive and much more of a waste. This time however, I’m not chucking it away, I’m emailing these brands to get them to take me off their mailing lists.
 
The League Managers’ Association replied to my email straight away as the letter they sent me had a direct contact. Great Little Trading Co replied within a day asking me to confirm my address so they could delete it from the system.
 
Not on the High Street hasn’t replied yet – I did buy a gift from it in the summer so I guess it’s natural it’d send me a catalogue – but I am usually vigilant in ticking the ‘no mailings’ box.
 
Visit Scotland has only had the weekend to get back to me so it’s unfair to expect a reply so soon.

So a reasonable response so far, even though some of them were initially those impersonal ‘thank you for your query, we are dealing with it’ replies.
 
However, the highest profile of those brands, VW, performs much less well. But I must come clean: its dealership mailing was an MOT offer and was actually sent to my late father rather than me.
 
This is surprising, given that two years ago, I had to go into the dealership to tell them, in person, that he had passed away.
 
So I found the dealership online and emailed the relevant contact. Whose email then bounced back. So I emailed the manager, who has not replied. I also emailed via the VW brand website and have had no acknowledgement.
 
Unfortunately, VW is the brand that has caused me the most pain already and has made it worse by not responding to my emails.
 
While it might do brilliant, creative advertising (and the DM piece did look pretty) the reality is that I am now dealing with a garage which is ignoring me and I’m not feeling great about the brand. When I do buy a car, a VW model is on my wish list, but I’m afraid my impression of the marque has been dented.
 
I appreciate that there are database-cleaning services which take into account those who’ve moved or passed away and that tidying up data lists can take a while, but two years?  
 
Yes, marketers and customer services people will see my comments and add them to the other verbatim feedback they get. But I, like all those other people brands target, am a real, flesh and blood consumer, who just wants a bit of respect.
 
While I’m pleased for the marketing industry that DM seems to be doing a better job overall, according to research, I still think some brands need to clean up their databases and their acts.

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