By Mike Spicer, Group MD, EHS Brann
The direct mail industry is one much maligned by the phrase ‘junk mail’. I doubt very much that anyone that works in the industry likes this tag, or even feels that it is relevant to what they do.
The point is that it is something that will continue to follow us around like a bad smell unless something dramatic happens to ensure that all marketing communications are relevant to all recipients.
We are now seeing much less junk mail delivered to consumers as businesses become more savvy and the direct mail industry takes more responsibility.
However, consumer trust is hard won and we are never going to get the opportunity to sit down with the consumer population at large and explain in detail the rules and regulations that those of us who operate in direct marketing adhere to.
Even less likely will we ever be able to describe the data management processes that are in place to ensure that we are sending these mailings to the right place without fanning the fire of concern over the amount of information companies hold on them. So what is the answer? How can we engender trust in the consumer?
In many ways, the answer is obvious: choice. Give consumers the choice to receive direct mail and you will gain their trust. No longer will they view direct mail suspiciously but as materials that they have requested to receive.
Giving consumers the choice to request or decline direct mail, be it online or offline means that they want it and I can’t believe that given the choice not to have it, consumers would turn away from it.
There is some education needed on this subject from the consumer’s perspective to ensure that they are aware of the difference between targeted direct mail and local takeaway menus shoved through a letter box. It is also certainly necessary to ensure that it is easy to opt to choose to receive direct mail.
If there is enough education on the subject, consumers will also see the benefits of allowing certain information to be made available in order to receive the most relevant communications.
This is a fantastic chance for us as an industry to be able to have all the information needed to produce our most effective communications yet. Indeed, the current economic climate presents a good opportunity to turn consumers on to the money saving benefits brought to them through the direct marketing that they receive.
To those that champion the choice of consumers to choose if they want direct mail, the most obvious benefit is the improved view of the direct marketing industry. The fact is that anyone who doesn’t work in our industry simply isn’t interested in the workings of it.
Only through welcoming choice can we truly demonstrate our desire to send the most relevant communications.
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