What's your take on the dreaded 'J' word?

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I want to talk about junk mail. In fact, I think we should all talk a bit more about junk mail in order to outline exactly what it is; and what it isn't.

This weekend, Saturday Night Live featured segment that may have made some in the DM industry cringe - a parody ad from the "Alliance of Direct Mail Marketers." It starred Jason Sudeikis walking through pine trees saying that as a direct mailer he valued credit card offers and catalogs over forests.

It featured a number of other outdated myths and stereotypes that the direct mail industry is trying to combat.

Myth No. 1: Mail is only costing taxpayers money and mailers themselves don't worry about the cost of sending it.

Myth No. 2: Mailers and list brokers take no steps to validate or audit the sources they buy or sell names to.

Myth No. 3: The information marketers need and collect is personally identifiable and financially sensitive not based on past buying behavior or supplied by customers to share with other companies.

Having spoke to a number of marketers that send mail and knowing how concerned the industry is about the environment, data quality, data sourcing and most importantly the way customers feel about receiving mail -  the parody ad was laughable.

It also seemed to be a good starting point for a conversation on the progress that industry leaders are fighting to make and the technology that is available to help mailers be more relevant and determine when mail is wanted. That conversation should be had with your customers and that conversation has to include and address the phrase 'junk mail' head on.

The same conversation could be had around many a direct marketing solicitation - e-mail, DRTV spot, SMS message or targeted online display ad/widget. Each has its dirty word consumers may use in frustration (spam, scam infomercial, pop-up ads). A search of some of these terms on social media and blog sites can give you a quick picture at some best practice advice from the people you most seek to win over: the end customer. So if you want them to speak to you, you have to start my speaking their language.
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