UPU sponsors Russian workshop

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ST PETERSBURG, Russia - Some 250 people from 20 countries gathered here late last month for a direct marketing workshop designed to help postal authorities in Russia and Eastern Europe develop DM skills.

The Universal Postal Union sponsored the workshop that featured leading direct marketers from the US and western Europe in an effort to "identify actions and partnerships necessary to grow the DM business, and develop a common vision of direct mail in 2005 in Eastern Europe."

Participants agreed that the region had a long way to go. Advertising expenditures for the five major countries in the region - Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic -- account for 90 percent of the regional total -- $2.6 billion.

Direct mail as a percentage of total advertising is miniscule - 4.3 percent compared to 14.9 percent for the world, a UPU analysis said. Russia's slice is the largest - 5.9 percent with Hungary and the Czech Republic coming in at about 5 percent each. Poland's total is 2 percent.

The UPU estimates that direct mail in Russia and Eastern Europe will grow 14 percent a year Vs 10 percent for overall advertising. By 2005, the UPU predicted direct mail spending will reach $400 million.

Faster growth will depend on the speed with which these emerging markets master direct marketing skills.

Marie Jottrand, a Brussels list broker who works in the Sopres Group, suggested that regional postal authorities had to take the initiative in pushing direct marketing and would have to think more commercially than they do now.

They should also keep postal delivery prices within reason, make the necessary infrastructure investments, clean and modernize lists, and make package delivery safe, quick and uniform.

Richard Miller, president of MA-based Market Response International, discussed function and construction of direct marketing, while Chris Stevens of Readers' Digest and Wendy Lee of Arthur D. Little discussed seven steps needed to conquer new markets.

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