Busting Daily Mail myth of door drop apocalypse now

neal doddFar be it from me to act as a spokesperson for the door drop industry, but I do feel we have a right to reply to Will Anthes’ recent article, siding with a sensationalist, outdated and inaccurate Daily Mail piece about ‘junk mail’.
I sit on the DMA Print Council, and GDPR has of course been a hot topic for a while now. There’s a desire to work together – cross-industry – to consider how we can take the positives from GDPR in a responsible and client friendly manner, as well as helping clients to understand the changes.
GDPR will mean, for many, a loss in opportunity to reach prospective customers via addressed mail. That means that clients will be looking at alternative options in order to even maintain their income – take charities, as an example. Those alternatives will include (but are by no means exclusive to) other forms of print media. I think we should give clients and agencies some credit here and suggest that they’re capable of considering the merits of each channel before they dive head first into door drops.
It’s not about circumventing anything. It’s about the best use of your marketing budget with the tools available and door drop will be on the menu for some and not for others. The removal of addressed mail without permission has been taken off the extensive UK media menu – that’s all that has changed.
Of course Royal Mail will be promoting its door to door service as part of communications around GDPR. It has a business to run just like anybody else. The fact it is pointing to door to door as another option for clients looking to allocate this previously spent budget is surely just common sense from its perspective.
So, let’s consider door drop as a potential alternative and consider some of Will’s claims:
– He believes door drops can be ‘powerful for small businesses and organisations with a location-based audience’. Indeed. But door drops are also a valuable part of the marketing mix for charities, utility and telecom clients already – just to name a few. We’re not talking about door drops as a second cousin to direct mail here – it’s being used by big, national brands and being used well, as a standalone media option.
– Will is worried about marketers ‘bombarding’ consumers with unwanted marketing collateral. Recent DMA statistics put door drop frequency at just 4.03 leaflets received per household, per week. Is this likely to increase if door drop companies see a boost in revenue from clients with post-GDPR budgets? Possibly. But volumes per household per week, according to the DMA statistics, haven’t been above 5 items in five years – so I hardly think an increase is going to see residents across the UK struggling to open their doors for all the unaddressed material behind them anytime soon. ‘Bombardment’ is scaremongering, plain and simple.
– Finally, he tells us about how all the good work of the direct marketing industry can be undone if clients switch to the ‘unregulated’ door drop option. I think you’ll find, Will, that great work has happened behind the scenes in both our industries – resulting in improved targeting and reduced wastage across print as a whole. The fact that door drop companies don’t use individuals’ data to plan does not make the industry unregulated anymore than it does for inserts, radio and TV.
I wholly resent the outdated implication that door drops are just thrown out into the marketplace with no regulation and no thought.
If Will wishes to spend 15 minutes with me learning about innovation in the door drop industry, he’ll discover that companies like mine are now working with sophisticated software that allows us to plan and implement door drops at postcode unit/street level. He is correct to say that consumers actively welcome information from organisations if it is relevant to them – but that is true for any media, and we work hard to ensure that is the case for our client’s door drop campaigns.
Door drop is a national media that can be bought at a granular level, at a relatively low cost. It has a valuable part to play in the marketing plans for many UK businesses and is not, in anyway, some sort of bad relation to direct mail, only used because of new GDPR legislation.
Perhaps it would be better for Will to consider the benefits of another print medium and the role that door drops can play alongside mailshots and print media in general, rather than concerning himself with the unrealistic apocalypse scenario that the Daily Mail is keen to present.

Neal Dodd is a director of the Letterbox Consultancy

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