It seems to me that the UK is desperate to talk itself into recession. Newspapers know that bad news sells papers and so placards scream at us that profits are down, the credit crunch is here, High Street spending is down and so on. The more the media talks about it the more the public gets cold feet and we enter into a downward spiral. A classic example of how bad news is picked up by the public and so exaggerates the situation was a stunt pulled by former US talk show host, Johnny Carson. To illustrate just how easily we are talked into panic he announced on his show that there was going to be a shortage of toilet rolls. Within a couple of days supermarket shelves in the US were empty as people rushed out in a panic buying spree to ensure that they wouldn’t get caught short.
And here we are – doing it to ourselves as a nation. It’s incredible but it is unfortunately what we do in this country. I believe that we are naturally pessimistic – and guess what – that gets me down!
UK businesses start to look closely at their budgets and immediately assume that they can’t make money by increasing sales so they better start to make savings instead. By savings, I mean cuts.
Finance Directors start to operate on a basis of “safety first” at these times and will issue directives throughout the company for other directors and managers to suggest where savings can be made. The first area to be hit is quite often the budget which the finance directors find hardest to embrace – the advertising and marketing budget. The cuts will continue through training and customer services until eventually it comes down to staffing levels and “downsizing”, an expression from the late eighties has once again reared its ugly head – even though the man who invented the whole concept eventually admitted that he got the whole thing wrong.
This is not something that this article can change. It has always happened before, it will happen now and it will happen again. There is such a high degree of inevitability about it that you wouldn’t get odds at the bookies!
However, it is at times such as these, when the media and professional pessimists are determined to have their day that people in charge of steering the markets should try harder with whatever budgets they are left with. It becomes doubly important to make advertising and marketing efforts count for something and to make sure that sales messages hit home and work for the benefit of the company.
Even now, when times are supposedly getting harder, I am still inundated on a daily basis with the same instantly forgettable direct mail as I was when things were apparently booming. Whilst I agree that it is absolutely imperative to go out and get whatever business is out there but surely the way forward is to move towards better targeting and more persuasive direct mail. The emphasis must be changed from a system where sending loads of dross generates a trickle of business to one where a considered move towards better targeting and choosing interactive advertising and marketing pieces will generate improved response.
Having searched the internet for specific figures on typical response rates for direct mail I find that published figures vary from site to site but I can quote very specific examples from one particular company who supply interactive direct mail pieces. Here are snippets from its impressive list of testimonials:-
“We found Whitney Woods really extremely responsive and easy to deal with. Whilst working on one of our largest client accounts we were required to manage a direct mail campaign. Our client was so pleased with the success they sent the following feedback.”
“Thanks guys – just to let you know the feedback on the cube mailing is extremely good. We had anticipated a 1% response on customers signing up online. Our objective was to strive for 1.5 – 3 %, however, I think my faith in creative design is restored as we have current figures showing a 9.6% uptake on the offer with new accounts opened and being used on a regular basis.”
Gemma Garrad, Account Manager, Be Creative, Brighton
“The pop-up box produced by Whitney Woods is indeed a surprise. It has that certain factor that all companies strive for when trying to find the hook that keeps a name in someone’s memory. I know for a fact that customers old and new keep our boxes close at hand because of its uniqueness. Anything that stays on someone’s desk for longer than a day is indeed a marketing tool to be proud of.”
Andrew Bown-Copley, Director, Eagle Design Studio, Rotherham
“Pop up solutions are always well received and generally produce a much higher response from the recipient than other marketing mailers”
David Antrobus, Managing Director, David Antrobus Marketing Ltd, Altrincham
“I found Whitney Woods staff professional, friendly and responsive and most importantly they delivered to a very tight deadline. Their Pop-up cube and Zippalope was used as the invitation to the launch of the new Ramada Ireland hotel group in Dublin and Belfast. The invitation worked very well and received a lot of positive feedback from the invitees. Ramada International for the US were so impressed with the invitations they demonstrated them at a European conference in Germany.”
Stephen Broad, Account Director, Anderson Spratt Group, Belfast
“We were absolutely delighted with the customer reaction to the Cinderella designed ‘Jumpinjax’. They fulfilled all of the criteria of an excellent direct marketing tool – attention-grabbing and a fun way of conveying a very clear selling message that wouldn’t just simply end up in the bin. It’s major appeal was that we were confident that recipients would show the item to friends or work colleagues which immediately multiplied the number of people seeing the information about our show. The Box Office went crazy after the mailing and it increased our sales by 20% on the previous year.”
Tracey Shaw, Head of Sales & Marketing, Theatre Royal, Brighton
These are only a handful of examples but I think that they illustrate perfectly just how important it is in today’s economic climate that your advertising and marketing budget is made to work at its most successful level and for direct mail campaigns I believe that dimensional, interactive marketing is the way forward. Whitney Woods as a supplier of a very large range of interactive marketing products and pop up mailers and is very well placed to help to achieve the improvements in response rates.