Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

 
Power Direct Marketing article INDEX

Two 4-letter words

You've probably already guessed the two 4-letter words -- "Junk Mail." I'm personally tired of getting beat up by the competition when we in direct marketing take far more care to direct our message than any other media.

Newspapers are horrid. They deliver page upon page that most of us never turn to. Television and radio give us an editorial vs. advertising ratio that is way out of proportion. Magazines, even vertical-market magazines, aren't much better.

Now, before somebody jumps, I'm not anti-everything. I get two newspapers delivered to my home every day. I listen to the radio from early in the morning (beginning with the news while I
jog), all the way through the day, ending at bedtime. Television gets me -- especially sports. And
I subscribe to 57 magazines and a variety of newsletters.

What I'm saying is that I'm offended that marketers -- and particularly the direct-mail part of direct marketing -- are taking so much flack. I was appalled that the Direct Marketing
Association would ask Denis Hayes to write for them about the environment. Sure, he's qualified. He writes a regular column for USA Weekend, has been involved with Earth Day, and is a leader of the Green Seal organization.

He tears us apart. He talks about what bad guys we are. How do I know this? Because I have heard and read about him. I've seen his articles. I didn't like what I saw, so I wrote personal
letters to Mr. Hayes, asking for some information on how I can do my part to save the planet.
In return, I received first-class postage, non-personalized "Junk Mail" asking for donations. To
date (and I've written twice, about four months apart) no reply from Mr. Hayes -- only
solicitations to support his organization, Green Seal. I will not send a donation.

Now, are we in direct mail without fault? Every week, if not every day. I receive "Junk Mail". It's mail that should never have been sent to me in the first place. Mail that asks me to buy roses for my garden, for example. I don't have a garden and never will.

Mail comes requesting me to a subscribe to a discount stock and bond newsletter. I don't
respond to this either because discount brokers offer little advice -- and I need lots of advice. I
get mail from list brokers offering their wares. These don't get my attention, as more than five
years ago I became a full-time speaker and consultant and no longer have the same list
information requirements as I did when I was part of a direct marketing agency.

By my definition, all this mail is "Junk Mail"! Why? Because it came to the wrong person. It isn't "bad" direct mail -- the quality is often outstanding. In most cases it is timely, often it's even
slightly interesting. (Probably because I am in the business, I find these things more interesting
than the "average" person would.

But in every case, it is still "Junk Mail"!

The marketplace is different than it was 2 or 3 decades ago. It is smaller. And it is larger. It is smaller because we now have the capability, with segmentation through computer analysis, to
more specifically select our audience. It is no longer necessary to reach everyone.

As Drayton Bird says: "Why talk to everybody when you only want to talk to somebody."
The market is larger, too. How so? Because we are no longer limited by geography to effectively
and efficiently service our customers. With 700 (conference call), 800 (toll-free) and 900 (pay as
you use) telephone lines, with fax and e-mail, with express delivery service worldwide, direct
response advertising has a much larger base of potential customers than ever before.

Technology allows us to do a better job of getting our message only to those most qualified to buy. The bad news is, with this same technology, we sometimes stretch common sense to the
breaking point. And today we're paying for that stretch we're being attacked with vigor by those
outside our industry.

This isn't all negative. In fact, there are some very positive action steps that have resulted because of the good news/bad news "Junk Mail" syndrome.

For instance, the Direct Marketing Association is a most active organization when it comes to educating others and urging the membership to conserve. It is doing a good job. (I've been trying to get the association to support and sponsor a National Arbor Day. It would offer unlimited PR value, as well as a direct and measurable way to get many of us involved. At the same time, it will serve the cause. So far no luck, but maybe you can help!)

"If it ain't broke, it soon will be." This is my version of that infamous saying. This is not being negative ... it is being realistic. If we in direct mail marketing don't stop the Denis Hayeses of the world from attacking us by attacking back with real information and action, we may soon be broke.

Change is inevitable. Direct mail has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. Fine. But let those of us in this business make the changes. Let's be in charge of our own destiny. Let's stop using 4-letter words.

Power Direct Marketing article INDEX

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