Magazine article Marketing

When the Direct Mail Nightmare Becomes Reality

Magazine article Marketing

When the Direct Mail Nightmare Becomes Reality

Article excerpt

Picture the following nightmare. You invest millions in a national advertising campaign. It is very successful, and customers pour into the shops. Sadly, however, retailers either ignore them when they come in, or takes so long to serve them that they walk out.

Worse still, you don't know this because, uncharacteristically, you haven't checked what's happening. Should you be fired? Well, something just as dumb happens every day, but I doubt if anyone suffers -- except customers and advertisers.

In 1993, reputable company brands such as Oil of Ulay, Fujitsu, Tampax, Dunlopillo, Stena Sealink, Bisto, Southern Comfort, Infolink, Buitoni and Jeep were happily running ads offering free information and failing to reply to enquiries at all.

This is revealed in Dear Sir or Madam, a splendid new book by Tom Rayfield, which analyses what happened when he and his wife replied to ads throughout 1993.

Of the advertisers 8.5% never replied at all. A further 15.5% took more than 12 days to reply --rather like a shop assistant gossiping on the phone while you're waiting to be served. Advertisers expecting customers to pay for phone calls totalled 48%; 37% expect them to pay the postage -- rather like charging people to come into your shop.

There is more. Those getting the name and address wrong made up 22%; while 6% really did employ the androgynous "Sir or Madam" -- including brands such as Femidom, Cathiodermie and Starflower Oil. Only two out of 13 who promised to follow up "shortly" ever did at all; and only 65% had the sense to follow up again after the initial enquiry. …

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