‘Dame’ Donovan vows to fight for direct mail future

judith-donovan-2The “grande dame” of the direct marketing industry, Judith Donovan, has pledged to throw her weight behind a relaunched business group set up to strengthen the relationship between mailing houses and Royal Mail and promote direct mail to the client community.
The group was “soft launched” by Royal Mail in 2008 but it was not until 2010 that the Strategic Mailing Partnership (SMP) was officially launched, with backing from Royal Mail Retail.
At the time Royal Mail head of mailing house development Jim Bulmer said the postal company wanted to improve dialogue to give mailing houses “a voice in our operations, while also helping them to shape the future of the industry”.
Donovan – the former DMA chair and Postwatch vice-chair, who has been a leading figure in the DM industry since setting up her own agency JDA in 1982 – has spearheaded the group for the past 16 years. Over this time, it has attracted more than 150 members, including the likes of GI Solutions, Communisis and Adare.
It is steered by a board featuring 12 executives from a cross-section of mailing houses working alongside Donovan, as well as two Royal Mail representatives.
But now Donovan wants to crank up its operation by boosting membership as well as providing training and events. It is also rebranding Strategic Mailing Partnership: The Mailmakers and will now be sponsored by Royal Mail Wholesale.
Donovan told Print Week: “This was set up by Royal Mail in 2008 so will be eight years old at the end of the year. The objective is to widen and deepen the relationship with Royal Mail and the mailing houses, which historically hasn’t been close.
“Wholesale as the new sponsor is a new part of Royal Mail that probably makes more sense because the majority of bulk direct mail is produced by my members and the majority goes through the downstream access operators. So our new sponsors take the opportunity to say ‘let’s give the brand a makeover’ and make us more visible in the marketplace.”
Royal Mail Wholesale director of network access Jenny Ledgar added: “I genuinely believe that those of us who work in the mail supply chain have a critical role to play in ensuring our customers get a great service and great value for money from their investment in mail.
“It’s my job, as the new sponsor, to really keep investing in this great relationship and giving our valued board members a reason to keep on representing mailing houses at the SMP board.”
The group’s efforts will go hand in hand with Royal Mail MarketReach’s strategy to convince brand owners to stop pouring their money solely into digital marketing and consider the benefits of direct mail.
The strategy, headed by MarketReach managing director Jonathan Harman, has resulted in a number of studies, including the Private Life of Mail and the Seven Life Stages of Mail, which aim to prove that, far from being an outdated medium, direct mail can achieve impressive cut-through – and results – when compared with digital campaigns.

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