Government endorsement of DM a fillip for the sector

When in opposition, the then shadow cabinet minister Francis Maude responded to a bit of hyperbole in The Sun over Labour “spending £100m on junk mail” by lambasting the government’s profligacy and “incompetence”.

Russell Parsons

What Maude didn’t deem it fit to comment on, or indeed the article to point out, was that the procurement notice the story was lifted from stated that the £25m over four years would also be spent on data mining, profiling and targeting to ensure the campaign was better planned and not, as Maude decried “stuffing junk through letter boxes”.

Two years on and Maude is cabinet minister proper. Earlier this week, his office unveiled details of the channels the Government’s marketing budget will be spent on over the next four years. Turns out that a healthy chunk, upwards of £160m, will be spent on, you guessed it: direct marketing.

In opposition, of course, it is the right of those in waiting to label everything the incumbents do as an inefficient waste of taxpayers money. However, even accepting this as the default position, it does appear that Maude has become somewhat of a convert.

Aside from a cheap need on my part to point out the said and done (I have exercised that need now), Maude’s department should be congratulated for investing in a media that will offer it everything it requires.

Ever since taking office, the coalition ‘s mantra has been about cutting marketing spending. Not only by taking the sieve to the budget that had ballooned under Labour but by spending what was left more efficiently.

By investing so much money (almost a third of the maximum £500m+ available) and faith in data-driven, one-to-one direct marketing, the Government is making a powerful statement about the channel and one that its practitioners should take heart from.

The naysayers will argue that the decision is entirely based on economics, the actions of a cost-cutting government looking to do everything on the cheap. Direct marketing is cost efficient, yes, it is also a results-driven, targeted channel that can extract more by paying less.

Even Maude has realised that DM is a lot more than “stuffing junk through letterboxes”.

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