Direct Marketing talks to customers with relevance

By picking his fight with direct mail Jim Davies fails to recognise that it is only one aspect of what direct marketing is all about (Private View, DW 19 February). Without giving a lecture on the subject, DM is a route to market in the same way as press, radio or posters are. Normally, we wouldn’t single out agencies by the channel they operate within – how confusing for clients that would be – so why do this with direct mail? It would be like picking on literature as the primary driver of design. This would be neither fair nor true.

He also assumes all DM agencies have broken rank and rebadged themselves as relationship marketers, principally due to the fact DM has an ‘image’ problem. Not so to the former, although some have jumped on this fashionable bandwagon, but as I later confess our image remains an issue for us.

It’s naive that Davies looks to what DM you may want to keep for future reference as testimony to its creativity, appeal and effectiveness. I see two aspects in judging what makes good DM. First, there is the commercial one. The inexorable rise of DM has not happened by accident. Its ability to talk to both prospective and existing customers with real relevance has seen it deliver results which make clients’ eyes water (with delight). Second, customer reaction: letters I have seen from customers about the communications they receive would change Davies’ views.

Davies also alluded to another vital point: that our job – no matter which channel we use – is often to persuade someone to do something they haven’t thought of doing before. This needs a lot of thought, and our industry’s approach is not as technique-driven as some not directly exposed to DM may suspect. It relies on how a client integrates all aspects of their marketing too. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, direct marketers don’t develop their DM strategies in a vacuum.

But in fairness, I realise DM must still do more to promote itself and readjust people’s perceptions in the communications world.

Jonathan Clark

Co-founder and chairman

Clark McKay and Walpole

London W1G

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