Positive Thinking Will Restore Trust in the Direct Marketing Industry

Trust within the direct marketing industry will be restored once those within the industry treat it with a more positive focus: That was the message behind Susan McNamara’s session at Direct Marketing Association’s Directo Days in New York earlier this month.

McNamara, vice president of Tarrytown, NY-based SK&A Information Services’ reseller division, said that instead of thinking negatively, “we need to create new ideas on how to contribute individually to restore trust within the industry.” For instance, the use of terms such as “junk mail” by those within the industry only adds to a negative consumer spin regarding direct marketing pieces.

McNamara said that list users, mailers, brokers, and resellers need to work together to polish direct marketing’s image. Among her suggestions:

As in any other potential business relationship, know whom you’re working with.
All sides involved need to be part of the initial thought process and understand what the client wants to accomplish and whom it wants to reach. If one side is uncertain of another’s history, it should contact the Better Business Bureau for credentials and any appropriate background information. And signed list rental agreements, McNamara says, are a must. One piece of bad publicity can cause an overnight change in legislative policies.

Know what to look for in a mail piece.
Does the piece provide more than one way for the consumer to respond? The more contact information provided –phone and fax numbers, e-mail contacts, postal addresses, individual contacts – the more legitimacy the piece portrays. Direct mail pieces should also provide a Website that will disclose the above information.

Know the responsibilities of the parties involved.
All should know what the purpose of each piece mailing is. Lists should not be copied or used to supplement an existing file, and duplicate copies of the lists should be reported to the DMA. Reasonable precautionary measures should be used to store the database to prevent misuse or theft. An internal staff person should be knowledgeable about the DMA guidelines and relevant law. If not, get a DMA staff member involved.

Have a system in place to review seeds.
Seeding your mailing—adding names of people within your company, for instance, to receive the mailing as the general public does—helps to ensure that what you agreed to have mailed is the actual piece that has been dropped, the offer did not change in any way, and that it was mailed as agreed in the list rental agreement. Seeding will also allow you to catch any errors in first campaign and work out a remailing plan.

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