Waste not want notDavid Patrick
Interesting post from Hugh Bessant on his Brand Republic blog, on the undue level of criticism that the direct marketing industry receives:
“Once again, we are getting castigated over waste, because everything we mail is junk, isn’t it? Yet again, the DMA are on the defensive, and everyone is nodding and agreeing that we have to do more about waste.
Why? No one else is. One trip to the local supermarket produces more useless packaging than comes through my letter box in a week. Each local free paper that flops through my letter box unsolicited gets no more than a cursory glance on the way to the re-cycling box. Plastic shopping bags, 4×4 the size of my old school bus, the sections in the Sunday papers that no one ever reads, the fact that you can only recycle certain bits of plastic…I could go on.
So why turn all the ire on us? The reason businesses use direct marketing terchniques is that they work. People buy from the comfort of their homes or offices every day. Does anyone really think they open an unsolicited envelope, curse the damage to our blessed planet, rail against the vile satans of marketing and then fill out that application form for a new credit card?
Yes, we should all target better. We all want to target better, actually. No one wants waste. Suppression is a ‘good thing’, like eating your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, or flossing your teeth. No one wants to mail dead people. No one wants to mail people who definitely are not going to buy their products. But for goodness sake, let’s keep things in proportion.”
I couldn’t agree more. As direct marketers we have a vested interest in boosting response rates. While John Watson taught me that testing is king I find it’s often a battle with clients to encourage them to test new and innovative creative ideas. It’s also true that it’s often cheaper to mail without suppressing goneaways because of the initial cost of flagging those records as ‘movers’. The accountability of direct marketing is a double edged sword because it’s too easy to focus on the 90% who don’t respond and not the financial and economic benefits of the minority that do.