DM has come out of the recession stronger than ever

It’s early days but, whisper it, the UK appears to be at the start of an actual economic recovery. News real wages are to rise, which means average wages are set to increase by more than inflation, will resonate more than abstract talk of growth forecasts. 

Russell Parsons

I mention this in the context of a column about direct marketing because the channel has had a good recession that has cemented its place in the marketing mix.

Cast your mind back to the dark days of 2008/09, post Lehman Brothers, when jobs were being axed in their thousands, shutters were being put up on high streets nationwide and companies were having a long hard look at their operating expenses and concluding marketing budgets have to be trimmed.

Under such circumstances, direct marketing seemed a lot more attractive than it had done when the sun was always shining, financially speaking. In the months following, spend on channels widely acknowledged as direct marketing increased as companies looked to achieve more with less. 

This did not prove sustainable and spend on many, particularly physical direct mail has since yo-yoed with the main trend downward.

What has and will prove sustainable are the principles of direct marketing and their pervasive influence on marketing. If we are to take the definition of direct marketing at its broadest – data driven, personal communications – it could be argued that the majority of media is now direct.

Technology and tools that make sense of data have, of course, helped this but it is also testament to the inherent qualities of direct marketing.

It is not all about direct sales either. Direct channels such as email and mail are also being used for engagement and brand building. Elsewhere, video on demand television services are employing data to target in a more precise way than they have ever done before. 

Direct marketing is everywhere now. It might not be called DM and the people behind campaigns using TV, social, print et al might not admit to it but it is.

Traditional DM might be in decline but the economy has made DM a fact of life for all.