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To whom it may concern…

January 17, 2011
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Direct mail? Not if you don't personalise it! (image courtesy Wikipedia)

Don’t you get fed up receiving worthless direct mail junk delivered through your door? I know I do. Cue the latest effort from Virgin Media which turned up today addressed “to the occupier”.

So, let’s get this straight. They don’t know who I am. They don’t know my age, my buying habits, my preferences. They are trying to attract a new customer without having the grace to work out who I am and why I should be interested in them.

This is not an uncommon practice. Far from it. Yet I am surprised that someone with the power of Virgin Media choose to waste (probably) hundreds and thousands of pounds in ineffective direct mail.

I mean, direct mail is called “direct” for a reason. It’s meant to go “direct” to the customer. But in this case it is going direct to the bin. Here we are in the 21st Century, able to communicate by social media, mobile phones, emails, websites and, when it comes to the post, we (or at least Virgin) adopt marketing on a wing and a prayer…

If you have a direct marketing function in your business then data is crucial. Data = relationships. Personalisation is all. Put my name on an envelope and I may (just may) deign to open it. But just call me “the occupier”, like I am some sort of squatter, and you can go hang. From a gibbet on a hill side.

In marketing, the most important part of any mailing is data. It is four times more relevant than any other area of the pack in terms of delivering effectiveness. Alas, some jumped-up marketer prancing around in Virgin HQ seems to put roll-out ahead of efficiency, new customers, response rate and ROI.

They’re probably paid a fortune to make decisions like that but for the rest of us, delivering marketing which at least has a chance of working is what we’re aiming to do. Because if what we do doesn’t work then we’re likely to be shown the door…

Call me old-fashioned, better still, call me by my name, and I might just respond to your marketing. But call me nothing at all and expect me to like you and, like millions more up and down this kingdom, I will ignore you completely.

Luckily, this sort of nonsense doesn’t happen in cash-strapped businesses like publishing… Or does it????

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