Direct Mail Marketing

Direct-mail marketing involves mailings of letters, ads, samples, fold-outs and other 'salespeople on wings' sent to prospects on mailing lists. The mailing lists direct-mail marketing Direct marketing through single mailings that include letters, ads, samples, fold-outs, and other 'sales-people on •cozies' sent to prospects on mailing lists.

Door-to-door retailing: selling door to door, office to office, or at /tome-safes parties.

are developed from eustomer lists or obtained from mailing-list houses that provide names of people fitting almost any description - the supcrweallhy, mobile-home owners, veterinarians, pet owners, the typieal catalogue purchaser and many, many others.

Direct mail is well suited to direct, one-on-one communication. It permits high larget-market selectivity, can be personalized, is flexible and allows easy measurement of results (the firm can count the responses it gets and the value of those responses to the business). Whereas the cost per thousand people reached is higher than with mass media such as television or magazines, the people who are reached are much better prospects, since direct-mail marketers target individuals according to their personal suitability to receive particular offerings and promotions. Direct mail has proved very successful in promoting and selling books, magazine subscriptions, insurance and financial products. Increasingly, it is being used to sell novelty and gift items, clothing, gourmet foods, consumer packaged goods and industrial products. Direct mail is also used heavily by charities, such as Oxfam and Action Aid, which rely on correspondence selling to persuade individuals to donate to their charity.

Within the EU, direct mail is worth over ecu!2 billion. Direct mail in Europe represents around d(J per cent of Europe's total spend on direct marketing. Over the past decade, expenditure on direct mail has grown faster than expenditure by organizations on other advertising media. However, a number of barriers must be overcome to assure direct mail's future. These include: EU legislation that prejudices its use; differences in postal standards, systems and prices; and 'cowboy' operators, whose indiscriminate mass mailings earn direct mail the 'junl< mail' tag. In the case of junk mail, the cowboys' efforts can effectively be strangled through compulsory observation of industry standards or a code of practice, and linkages with national and international regulatory- authorities to expose these operators. Users of direct mail and the direct-mail industry, in general, agree that the way forward must be to seek balanced consumer protection with a mixture of statutory and self-regulatory controls."

The direct-mail industry constantly seeks new methods and approaches. For example, videocasscttes have become one of the fastest-growing direct-mail media. Some direct marketers even mail out computer diskettes. For example, Ford sends a computer diskette called 'Disk Drive Test Drive' to consumers responding to its ads in computer publications. The diskette's menu provides technical specifications and attractive graphics about Ford cars, and answers frequently asked questions.

Royal Mail offers a unique direct marketing service for its customers.

Open your mind to direct mail, and you'll find above-the-llne values work just as well below eke line- Keen use direct mail gets results - and boosts awareness. Isn't it time you thought about using direct mail to get your message home?

Until recently, all direct mail was paper-based and handled by postal and telegraphic services and other mail carriers. Recently, however, three new forms of mail delivery have become popular:

• Fax mail. Fax machines allow delivery of paper-based messages over telephone lines. Fax mail has one major advantage over regular mail: the message can be sent and received almost instantaneously. Marketers now routinely send fax mail announcing offers, sales and other events to prospects and customers with fax machines. Fax numbers of companies and individuals are now available through published directories. However, some pro.speets and customers resent receiving unsolicited fax mail, which clutters their machines and consumes their paper.

• E-mail. E-mail (i.e. electronic mail) allows users to send messages or files directly from one computer to another. Messages arrive almost instantly and are stored until the receiving person retrieves them. Many marketers now send sales announcements, offers, product information and other messages to e-mail addresses - sometimes to a few individuals, sometimes to large groups. As people begin to receive more e-mail messages, including unimportant ones, they may look for an 'agent' software programme to sort out the more important messages from those than can be ignored or discarded.

• Voice mail. Voice mail is a system for receiving and storing oral messages at a telephone address. Telephone companies sell this service as a substitute for answering machines. The person with a voice mail account can check messages by dialling into the voice mail system and punching in a personal code. Some marketers have set up programmes that will dial a large number of telephone numbers and leave the selling messages in the recipients' voice mailboxes.

These new forms deliver direct mai] at incredible speeds, compared to the post office's 'snail mail' puce. Yet, much like mail delivered through traditional channels, they may he resented as 'junk mail' it' sent to people who have no interest in them. For this reason, marketers must carefully identify appropriate targets to avoid wasting their money and recipients' time.

Catalog-ue Marketing

Catalogue marketing involves selling through catalogues mailed to a select list of customers or made available in stores. Examples of mail-order catalogue operators are Frcemans, GUS. Index, Otto Versand. La Redoute and Trois Suisses. Buying from a mail-order catalogue used to be popular among isolated populations or less affluent, older married women. The image of catalogue marketing, however, has been transformed by some retailers. Consider the following example:

Trois Suisses, the French mail-order giant, has distanced itself from the old-fashioned catalogue image. One of its recent catalogues featured nothing less than a pair of sensuous lips. Its catalogues now feature a range of products by the leading textiles designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Elizabeth de Senneville, as well as household articles designed by Starck and Andre Ptitman. The new style is a far cry from the first catalogue sent out when.jthe company was founded in 1932. It was the first major catalogue to aim for the glossy high-fashion market when, back in 1992, it featured the American model Cindy Crawford on a catalogue cover.

Trois Suisses stresses that the traditional rural clientele is giving way to young working women who are busy and under pressure. The catalogue's up-market repositioning reflects these changes. The company's market research suggests that over a quarter of the regular clients who place orders six or more times a year are women under the age of 24; new catalogues must be a fashion and media event. Trois Suisses is described as an aggressive direct marketer, sending out more than 8 million catalogues a year and keeping its best clients in touch with follow-up literature every two weeks, Trois Suisses also operates in Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Austria. Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal. To support its up-market repositioning, the firm has streamlined operations and improved performance (staff spend on average not more than three and a half minutes on each order). It offers a 24-hour delivery service on most items. Sales are processed in one large three-storey depot. There is one vast room dedicated to express sales, where each regular client is allotted a location within the section earmarked for his or her town. Over a kilometre of conveyor belts carry the items round the complex and out to the delivery vans.

Trois Suisses' recent repositioning strategy has paid off, and it has turned a lack-lustre catalogue business into a profitable venture during the 1990s.12

Catalogues are increasingly used by store retailers, which see them as mi additional medium for cultivating sales.

Most consumers enjoy receiving catalogues and will sometimes even pay to get them. Many catalogue marketers arc now even selling their catalogues at book stores and magazine stands. Advances in technology are enabling retailers and catalogue marketing Direct marketing through catalogues that are mailed to a select lint qf customers or made available in stores.

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