Summit Offers Tips to Dive Into International DM

NEW YORK — International direct marketing is not as difficult and confusing to execute as is often perceived, a panelist said yesterday at the first Global Marketing Summit here.

The Direct Marketing Association's International Council and the U.S. Postal Service's New York Metro Sales Department International Team sponsored the summit.

“We tend to talk about how hard international direct marketing is and focus on all of the obstacles,” said May Katz, founder of Direct Media International, who spoke on a panel that discussed international mailing issues such as list maintenance, address consolidation and data hygiene. “But we don't focus on the fact that many of these obstacles are easy to overcome. Companies have been doing [international DM] for 40 or 50 years, and they are still doing it today.”

For direct marketing, Katz said, it's just a matter of doing a little homework, knowing the options and making educated business decisions.

Larry Chaido of TransGlobal Consultants gave a presentation involving the Universal Postal Union, terminal dues and customs issues. He also quoted data compiled by Pitney Bowes showing the amount of addressed direct mail per household in the United States and other countries in 2001.

Not surprisingly, the United States had the most (1,900 pieces per household), followed by Switzerland (1,765) and the Netherlands (1,035). The countries with the least addressed direct mail were Italy (295 pieces) and Spain (435).

Walter F. Terry IV, senior manager of international new business for National Geographic Society, gave an overview of his company's international direct mail techniques. In general, National Geographic does not send oversized packages internationally, instead relying on straightforward, four-color direct mail pieces.

“Everything in the direct mail package must accomplish something,” he said.

In terms of the offer, Terry said, National Geographic has less flexibility than with its domestic direct mail programs. For example, the company does not make hard offers, such as free magazines, because they are too expensive to mail.

Several panelists discussed privacy issues when mailing internationally. Most agreed that if companies follow solid practices and keep up with privacy rules and regulations, they will be OK.

“When mailing to a liberal European country, as long as you follow the DMA's [privacy] guidelines in the U.S., you will not get into trouble,” said Robert Howells, vice president of international at Harte-Hanks.

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