Bo Blechert Welcomes You to a Trip through Scandinavia’s DM

STENUNGSUND, Sweden — Welcome to the Scandinavian countries. You’ll find a lot of opportunity here for using direct marketing in all its facets.

Remember that Scandinavia is a mature DM market. Direct response advertising has always been important in our countries, given our vast geography (except for Denmark) and scattered population.

Mail order was big business back at the beginning of the century and has grown robustly ever since to the point where today Scandinavians are among the world’s leading Internet buyers both in the consumer and btb sector.

The call center industry is well developed and the telemarketers who man them are skilled in their use. Both ease communication with consumers and business people. Sophisticated computer software allows you to build advanced systems that can meet all your marketing needs.

Scandinavians are computer literate and PC and Mac penetration of households is deep. Computer courses are compulsory in all the region’s schools. This makes generational marketing almost mandatory.

Your campaigns must appeal to the young, those up to 30 or 35, to the middle aged, generally between 35 and 60, and the still very active older generation.

Choice of media is critical in catching each generation’s attention. IT media are most likely to attract young people as well as the educated middle aged and older people. But don’t let yourself get trapped by clever IT-agencies claiming that IT is the one and only way to communicate today.

The old media still work extremely well in Scandinavia. My agency, Blechert & Blechert AB, and many of my colleagues, get the highest response rate using direct mail. People still like to send and receive mail, a fact that is sometimes forgotten by our postal authorities in their rush to offer e-mail and Internet services.

Your customer, of course, is the one who knows which media he likes best and responds to the most. So personally I’m often surprised at how little Scandinavian marketers know about their customers.

They all have sales volume, buying frequency and other statistical data at their fingertips, but very few know their customers’ interests and hobbies, which media they prefer and are most likely to respond to.

We have software programs for the most sophisticated databases but often the most basic information isn’t on them. Consumer-oriented companies, of course, are better at building relationship databases than their colleagues in the btb sector.

Very efficient systems exists here if you want to work through dealers or retailers, systems few Scandinavian chains and suppliers use. Most stick to traditional marketing communications, print advertisements, TV commercials, outdoor billboards or homepages on the Internet. Not many bother building customer or client databases for use in one-to-one communications.

We talk a lot about “one-to-one” in Scandinavia and attend many seminars on the subject but so far I haven’t seen much action. It’s very much the same thing with e-mail and the Internet where every week you can find two or three seminars on the subject.

My own view is that smarter marketers stay calm and check out what’s really happening before rushing out into the IT jungle.

Traditional advertising agencies remain the dominant marketing force in Scandinavia and tend to set the agenda. Few of them have DM subsidiaries or affiliates.

But independent DM agencies can be found on the market. Some cover both consumer affairs and btb, others are more specialized, and you should have little trouble finding some very good ones of both kinds.

When you look at Scandinavia, never forget that while you can look at the region as one market, you are actually dealing with four countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden – and all four of them are mature DM markets.

That demands some cultural sensitivity beginning with the need to talk to their people in their own language, all four of them. Try to communicate to a Dane in Swedish and he’d probably be quite insulted.

I look forward to hearing from you. With best DM regards from Scandinavia –

Bo Blechert

Bo Blechert is a DM consultant and principle of Blechert & Blechert AB, a member of the Interdirect Agency Network. He can be reached at Box 84, SE-441 21 Stenungsund, Sweden. Phone +46 303 699 50, Fax +46 303 884 71. E-mail: HYPERLINK mailto:[email protected] [email protected]

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