By Chris Arnold
After the financial industry we are one of the biggest users of direct mail. Unlike banks, few charities can afford to waste their money, yet as an industry we accept 95% wastage, or more, on direct marketing. That’s a lot of paper, pens and slippers going straight into the bin. This seems insane with modern research techniques, better data strategy and media planning. Add to that good engaging creative and there’s no reason we cannot reduce the wastage.
Here’s a simple thought that could change the way you spend your money. If you had to sell your direct marketing, would anyone actually buy it? I doubt it.
The publication ‘Change the World for a fiver’ has sold over 600,000 copies. Why? – Because it’s a lovely bit of engaging creativity with a valuable message.
When you have to put a price tag on something, you suddenly have to think about what the customer really wants and what will really motivate them to part with their cash.
Anyone who read Michele Hanson’s recent column in the Guardian lamenting the number of wasted gifts from charities at Christmas could hardly deny she had a valid point.
Her friends were inundated with gifts of umbrellas, slippers, fluffy cat blankets and of course pens. You can’t blame them for seeing this as “a ghastly waste of money, postage and packaging.”
She believes donors want to see their money going to help the cause not spent on novelties. It’s hard to disagree.
There is little doubt that 2007 will be the year of ethics as more corporations and the Government embrace ethical values from environmentalism to recycling and of course, reducing waste.
I hear a lot of whining along the lines of: “Why don’t the old formulas work any more?” Maybe the question should be: “Did they ever?” The danger is to think that just because you get more back than you spend then that’s ok. If Alan Sugar, founder of Amstrad and the star of The Apprentice, was running a charity, he’d expect a better rate of return than many charities do presently. He’d demand we be more challenging and rewrite the rules.
Here’s another thought. How about instead of reflecting on why 5% responded, ask why the other 95% didn’t?
Understanding the consumer mindset isn’t rocket science. Why would anyone gamble £100,000 on assumptions, when a little budget spent on research would give you more factual guidance and insight that could reduce wastage?
Can you afford it? Can you afford not to?