SOI--Direct Mail Finds Better Direction
Intelligent databases provide more focus and desirable results
Many distributors agree that direct mail is an ever-popular tool. Customers want to get their messages—whether through ads, surveys or benefit fulfillment pieces—into the hands of potential end-users, and mass-mailing directly
to homes and businesses is an effective way to do so. But a mailer is only as effective, and as profitable, as the suitability of its recipients. In other words, significant profits can be lost on wasteful mailings.
As a result, distributors are finding ways to better target their customers' markets with the help of new technology. "Anyone can take an item and mail it anywhere. But, successful companies use the intelligence of databases," said Chris Iafelice, direct mail sales representative, The Shamrock Companies, Westlake, Ohio.
Bob Cronin, president, Mac Graphics Group, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., concurred. "We are seeing smaller, more targeted mailings," he said. "And customers who want to reach the right consumers will utilize our expertise in the consumer market."
So how is this affecting profits on direct mail print jobs? Iafelice reported that the product's relative margin is dependent on the size of the mailing and type of services offered. "If all a distributor does is put paper in the mail, there is not much of a margin," explained Iafelice, "but if distributors utilize intelligent services, the margin is higher."
Cronin, on the other hand, believes the relative margin of this product is ever declining. "I just think there is an overcapacity of production in the market for direct mail," he said. "Because of that it is awfully cut-throat."
This is where thorough sales training can make a difference. According to Cronin, if a distributor makes a good investment in sales force education, everyone will benefit greatly. In his opinion, hands-on training is one of the better methods. "We've found that this is the most effective way to train," he said. "This allows direct mail representatives to experience every facet of the process while gaining the knowledge needed to get the job done right."