Direct marketing has had a good week. Evidence suggests marketers are shifting larger chunks of their budget to direct channels. Now that more eyes are on DM the pressure is on to make sure that it is not seen as a temporary go to when a cheap option is needed but a creative, as well as good value, alternative.
The Bellwether report, which assesses the mood of senior marketers each quarter, found budgets were set higher in the third quarter. The increase was fuelled by increased spending on direct response channels such as sales promotion and direct marketing as companies in sectors such as retail launched activity aimed at maintaining footfall and sales volumes.
Despite rising budgets, the report found that marketers’ confidence in the prospects for their own industry slumped to a two-and half year low.
This is not as much of a contradiction as it first appears. Despite having the purse strings loosened, money is not been lavished on traditional media, it is being targeted at the quick return on investment that DM provides.
Herein lays the challenge for direct marketers. DM is often seen as a short-term fix in straitened times and not a channel to build long-term brand value. Its use can paint a picture that companies have dispensed with the long-game and are battening down the hatches in preparation for the gathering economic storm.
There are still too many DM packs, inserts, door drops and unaddressed envelopes out there that are devoid of personality, creativity, warmth and colour.
The very essence of DM requires a call to action, of course, but that shouldn’t be the only content of any communication sent.
Brave, imaginative work with tone and colour is required to create tools for long-term brand engagement. Many, many shining examples exist, of course, last year’s Marketing Week Engage winner Land Rover, for example.
But for DM to be seen as long-term brand building tool, and not a quick fix to be used until the economy strengthens and marketers’ purse strings are loosened, more effort is required. The UK’s economic woes are an opportunity to remind the wider community that DM is both accountable and creative.