Time for DM to be creative


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.



Will Nokia speak the right language?

Mark Choueke

Nokia is changing its strategy to focus on young people. A brave move. A friend of mine, who teaches 11 to 18-year-olds at a north London comprehensive, has told me about the “different language” kids speak these days. It might sound like the pair of us were having the same sort of conversations that every […]

The three bitter pills you need to take to restore brand trust

Richard Madden

Regaining the trust of consumers poses a tough challenge, requiring major behavioural change and a leap of faith in your staff. Over the years, Marketing Week has raised many weighty issues, not least the boardroom status of marketing, the future of curated media in a de-channelled world, and why the byline picture of Wally Olins […]


Why have mobile operators failed to innovate for so long?

Lara O'Reilly

I breathed a sigh of relief when Matthew Key, CEO of Telefónica’s new Digital division admitted that mobile operators’ failure to innovate has seen them becoming “commoditised” and – perhaps mostly tellingly – “irrelevant”. Speaking at the Wired 2011 event in London, Key said the entire “ecosystem” for mobile has changed, with the catalyst for […]


    Leave a comment