State of the Industry-1999 (2,293 words)
Although postage costs are higher in many foreign countries, the refinement of database-driven techniques and the application of lessons learned in the U.S. market is making mailings more profitable overseas. Greene says that Devon Direct, which also operates in the United Kingdom, has found that the lesser volume of direct mail received in the U.K. allows his company's mailings to stand out.
Clive D. MacLean, president of CM Partners, a creative direct marketing agency located in Rolling Meadows, IL, warns that U.S. direct marketers would do well to enter foreign markets only with an understanding of the limitations there.
"The lack of data in Europe means that creative positions and offers must be used more effectively," MacLean advises. "I think it's a very different approach. Also the numbers have an impact—the United States has such a large volume of data that there are huge economies of scale in terms of packaging and printing. The numbers are a lot smaller in the rest of the world, which means your cost per package is higher and it needs to work that much harder at the end of the day. That means much more work at the front end to be sure that you can pay for the package."
While turmoil in the global economy may be pulling in the reins on new entry into foreign markets, direct marketers shouldn't halt their efforts.
"If you look around the world there are still huge opportunities," says MacLean, who began direct marketing in his native South Africa and who has worked in Europe, South America and Australasia. "You just have to approach it knowing what the variables could be, what the economics are in that country, what the rules and regulations are. For example, Japan has some fairly onerous database and privacy laws that you can fall foul of very, very quickly."