The Tidal Wave of Direct Mail

Article excerpt

A while ago, my old mate Nick Talamo of Printronic suddenly transformed himself into Nicholas di Talamo. I suspected something was afoot, and I was right: he was preparing a crusade against the proposed EC legislation on data protection -- and as you know, crusaders are traditionally of noble provenance.

There have been howls of dismay about this legislation, the thinking behind which derives largely from the most restrictive European state: Germany. In effect it says you can only mail people if they've specifically said they want you to; and firms cannot pass on thjeir information about customers to others.

Now those hordes of you out there who don't like direct mail might like to reflect on the following before dancing about with glee at the prospect which now unfolds. You may conclude that Nick di T's crusade is completely justified.

First of all, such legislation could inhibit your ability to deliver better service to your customers. For instance, British Airways will no longer be able to tell other airlines that I prefer a low cholesterol diet. It this actually an improvement?

Secondly, as one pundit -- Graeme McCorkell -- has suggested, it will increase the percentage of junk mail. Companies will not be allowed to use lists and data to target direct mail at their most likely prospects. The only direct mail acquisition allowed would be blanket direct mail -- junk. Only people with the most colossal margins -- selling things which are either of dubious utility, or little utility, or no utility whatsoever can afford blanket direct mail. …