Growing use proves its worth

Alan Mitchell’s rant against direct mail itself resembled a poor piece of direct marketing – off-target and irritating.

Mitchell complains that “everything the industry does is based on guesswork”. But direct marketers – more than any other marketers – minimise the guesswork through market research, careful targeting, testing, measurement, refinement and learning. Surely Mitchell’s criticism is way off target here?

He adds that low response rates to direct marketing campaigns equal “criminal amounts of wasted time, effort and money”. If so, why are so many brands putting an increasing share of their budgets into direct marketing? Isn’t this precisely because DM is the most accountable and least-wasteful marketing methodology at their disposal?

Mitchell complains that “most DM communications are not relevant, not permission-based and not interesting or entertaining”. Compared with what? Direct marketing media are typically used in a far more targeted (and therefore relevant) way than broadcast media, and DM practitioners are leading the development of permission marketing. As one of the judges at last year’s Direct Marketing Association awards I can also testify that more and more DM campaigns entertain as well as deliver results.

Mitchell’s final broadside is that direct marketing is flawed because it doesn’t “attempt to unleash and make the most of volunteered data”.

Any direct marketers who don’t make the most of data volunteered by customers are just bad practitioners – don’t rubbish the whole discipline because of the failings of the few.

David Burrows






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