Royal Mail is upping its bulk delivery costs by 7%, according to an article on Brand Republic. The immediate impact (well, immediate being April-onwards 2011) is that it’ll be more costly for businesses to post large volumes of direct mail to clients. We don’t think that’s a bad thing, actually, because it encourages you to do three things.

Realign your promotional mix with the channels your customers use

As we posted in an article on advertising, print has a disproportionate amount of budget compared to buyer attention. We expect the same is true for direct mail: inertia, habit, is keeping the presses going, even though non-print methods of outbound marketing offer better ROI. Print still has a role to play, but in mature markets like the UK, electronic communication offers a much more interactive mode of connecting with your customers.

Be more selective about who you target

The price hike may also encourage businesses to change how they manage their customer bases in general, and their lists in particular. We still see marketers believing that “bigger is better”that if you send more mailers you’ll get a better result. We’re advocates for a much leaner way of contacting clients and prospects: target more precisely, approach more personally, and you’ll get a better result for the same, or even less, cost. If every DM costs 7% more to send, you’ll not only be incentivised to keep your lists clean, you’ll also have to think about whether you’re targeting the right people, at the right time, with the right message.

Reconsider the value of ‘shots’ of anything

Mailshots encourage a periodic explosion of activity, peaks and troughs. But that’s not how customersyou and Ibuy. The chance of your mailshot hitting a prospect at just the right time is slim. Instead (or at least, in addition) we might all be better off providing a steady trickle of outbound content to suit all stages of the buying cycle, and allocate more resources to engaging with inbound enquiries from customers, to nurture them. Social media has shown that dialogue marketing is at least as viable as broadcast marketing.

Posted by John on 22 December 2010