DM passport gives lay of the land

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The U.S. Postal Service and its Royal Mail counterpart in Britain have to be commended for the number and quality of their print and online publications to educate marketers on how to use the mail channel. Swiss Post International and its partner, Direct Success GmbH of Stuttgart, Germany, deserve praise as well, for the new European Direct Marketing Passport.

This 200-page pocket-sized digest is a valuable aid to mail-order companies seeking information on Germany, Austria, France, Britain, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands - the key DM markets in Europe and among the largest outside of the United States.

Contrary to popular opinion, Europe is not a homogenous market despite the 27-nation European Union. Laws differ in each market. Languages are different, as are sensibilities and customs. For instance, the Dutch don't need to be addressed as formally in direct mail as the Germans do. Checks play a small role in the German mail-order market, but are the most popular method of payment in France. The Italians pay a lot of attention to personal contact. But the Italian mail-order market is way behind its peers, so there is potential. You can't mail anything related to lotteries in Belgium, as that is the state's bailiwick.

The European Direct Marketing Passport sheds light on how to conduct cross-border DM in major Western European markets. It is good for the Europeans, but equally useful for U.S. marketers with existing or planned operations in those countries.

The book offers an overview of how to develop a cross-border mailing campaign, detailed data on each market and the role direct marketing plays there. Also included is information on how to get address data, how addresses should be formatted, mailings design, legal regulations, order and payment methods, tools for sales promotion, media for customer acquisition, pointers on customer service and coverage of data protection issues. Tips, key addresses and Web links also are offered.

"We're targeting other Europeans who want to know something about direct marketing there or people in the United States or Eastern European countries," said Melanie Reichert, project manager at Direct Success, the company that produced the guide for Swiss Post International. "It can be important for people in those countries to know these things if they want to do business in Europe."

Swiss Post International is the global arm of Swiss Post, Switzerland's postal service. Direct Success has previously produced the content for Swiss Post International's International Address Guide.

This new compendium can be ordered for free from www.swisspost.com/eu-dm-pass or by writing Ms. Reichert at mreichert@directsuccess.de. It is available in English, German and French. It's worth ordering, given the increase in global trade and the growth of direct marketing in Western Europe. Perhaps you will pick up a tip or two that can be applied here, or even consider using the information to strengthen your European operation, if you have one.

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