Every direct marketer I know has spent the last few years navigating one of the biggest challenges facing our industry today: the continued shrinking of the direct mail universe. Mailers are cutting back, or shutting down, which results in decreased direct mail prospecting. Of course, less mailing means fewer responders available to turn around for list rental purposes, and … well, many of you are probably living this cycle in your own mail plans. The result, naturally, is that the available pool of direct mail responder names has contracted significantly.
Why can't we all play nicely together? During lunch with a friend who specializes in interactive placement, she and I began exploring ways to work together with one of her clients. "Who handles the e-mail or direct mail marketing for your client?" I asked. "No idea," she answered. "I'm not usually invited to those meetings."
Attend any direct marketing conference or chat with your peers, and you’ll undoubtedly encounter the double whammy of shrinking universes and list fatigue as a topic of conversation and concern. Logically, the decreasing responses that direct marketers are seeing across the board make sense. Combine less available universe, consumers who are more marketing-savvy, ever-widening options for purchase and the increasing cost of marketing; and the result is intense competition for the most likely consumer prospects. And those prospects are becoming more inured to the message every day. As mailing becomes more expensive on all fronts, there often is a tendency to cut back and focus on
In the not-so-distant past, a mailer had a relationship with its list broker, its insert broker and possibly an e-mail broker. These professionals knew each other, but likely never collaborated or saw each other’s plans. The mailer managed all communication streams, usually by channel-specific departments. In many cases, these department managers didn’t collaborate much either. So rarely did the mailer’s left hand know what its right hand was doing. The days of “silo” marketing are fading fast. Mailers don’t have the manpower to devote to separate channel management, and brokers know that multitasking across media increasingly is the rule, not the exception. In