Note: Denny Hatch personally replies to all e-mails.
Readers respond to “The Decline and Fall of Competent Direct Mail,” published Aug. 1, 2006.
I totally agree with your comments on the poor creative that now dominates the credit card business. They are also very poor on the list part of the equation. For most credit card companies, mailings are treated as independent events—they can’t tell you how many offers they have mailed to one individual in the past 2 years. And since they can’t reference previous communications, they create the impression that they don’t really know who you are and they don’t really care. Catalogers fall into the same trap—decisions about who to send each “book” are not made within the context of an annual contact strategy for a given customer, they are strictly made within the economic constraints of the mailing at hand. Both of these examples fall into the “tactically refined (can tell you what size type on the envelope works best) but strategically inept” camp of direct marketing that seems to be the norm rather than the exception. The craft of DM has been “operationalized” to death.
Thanks for a timely vindication of my position on financial direct mail. After years of battle with my management, I finally resigned my VP/marketing position in protest of the advertising and direct mail plans that were being shoved down my throat by our new business development guru. These plans included a newspaper blitz (with poorly designed ads), utilizing a big mail-house in California (with their standard format mail-pieces), and outdated mailing lists. The project was a total bomb, and I’m happy not to have been associated with it. It was a monumental waste of resources, especially to the branches required to foot the bill. Perhaps our senior management will one day understand that wonder-boy marketing will never take the place of experience and market understanding.