A bill is too valuable an opportunity to be left with anyone but a marketer

Direct marketers should be responsible for overseeing the creation of a piece of regular physical customer contact that is guaranteed to be read by millions – the bill.

Russell Parsons

Imagine if you were offered the opportunity to create advertising mail that will be read by millions of consumers every month. Well, that opportunity is not too far from your reach.

For many householders, their monthly telephone, mobile, broadband, utility, bank statement or bill is – if not eagerly awaited – is reluctantly opened, assessed, kept and filed.

Amid usage information and details of charges, brands occasionally and rather apologetically slip in information of a new service, product, money saving tip or commitment. Such information, however, is rarely presented with a great deal of élan. Instead information is presented in prosaic manner, seemingly designed to have the bare minimum of impact.

Last week, news emerged British Gas is to introduce “billing for dummies”, essentially a creatively presented, easy on the eye bill designed to make it easier for customers to penetrate their statements and once that is achieved, choose to switch.

The impact of receiving a bill that looks to have input from the creatively bent, that is pleasing to glance at is two-fold. It will both leave the consumer with a more favourable view of the sender and make them more likely to dwell and react to any marketing message included.

Bills and statements in their entirety should be seen as a piece of DM and not just a place to tag an ad on. This, of course, means for those brands that do not already, the responsibility for bills and statements should be handed over to the direct marketing team.

There is a canvas available that is being criminally under utilised. The same care and attention – tone, creativity and message – needs to adopted for all communication opportunities and not just those that are traditionally labelled marketing.

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