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Door-drops should get more recognition in DM

In an age of media-neutrality I find it somewhat bemusing that when it comes to booking a door drop campaign, we still only see about 15% of business coming through direct marketing agencies, with the vast majority coming direct from clients or through their media agencies, writes Mark Young, managing director of The Leaflet Company.

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So why is it that door drops can suffer from being pigeon-holed and at times overlooked by DM agencies, many of whom proclaim not to be biased against a particular medium? Of course, in their defence, those of us who specialise in this area know only too well that implementing a door-drop campaign can be time consuming and detailed. There is a lot of information to know in terms of distribution methods, creative and packaging specifications, household targeting and data sources and more.

In the main, DM agencies regard door-drop as the "ugly child" and a medium that is not sufficiently targeted to their needs. When used, they try to make door-drop into a cheaper version of DM, which it is definitely not because it is a mass marketing tool. The other issue is the lack of testing done, of the range of distribution methods available, targeting and creative. This is reflected when agencies book a campaign and then when they do not get the results immediately that they may have desired, the medium is again removed from the agenda. Core door-drop users have found that testing and indeed frequency can play a big part. It is these clients, such as the retailers, who use the medium routinely and consistently test, switch distribution methods, targeting and creative and evolve schedules to get the most effective campaign possible.

So how do we overcome this hesitation among DM agencies to recommend and book this medium direct for their clients? One solution is clearly the need for training, which individual companies like ourselves offer, to ensure agencies can understand and therefore utilise door-drops to their full potential. The DMA door-to-door council is also addressing this matter as it recognises that we must be able to get the message across to all groups, not just the clients themselves, that, with a 10% growth year on year, this medium offers significant benefits and an undisputed ROI for customer acquisition and retention.

We also need to demonstrate that you can not take the same creative approach to door-drops that you do with direct mail. Door-drops are a mass marketing medium, so churning out the same creative or packs used in a direct mail campaign will fail to engage or impress the consumer. They are unaddressed and allow for mass marketing reach, albeit with the added benefit of a sophisticated and targeted distribution channel, which some users seem to forget. When these fail to impress and the campaign results aren't up to scratch, it is the medium that gets the blame, rather than acknowledging that the creative may not have done its job.

Fortunately there are clients who realise what it takes to run a successful door drop campaign. In fact, I am noticing a big switch from press advertising to door drops, especially in the retail, leisure and even motor industries.

The retailers, in particular, have got it right and it is the likes of Sainsbury's, Tesco and Comet who are capitalising on this, as they understand fully that while door-drops may not be the sexiest medium, the ROI can not be disputed. This is because they have spent the time and investment on running their own focus groups and econometric modelling across all media, which proves to them that door drop is often the best medium for them.

If other groups were to measure their campaigns in such a way then we may well see a shift in perception about door drops. We may even see more of these DM agencies that proclaim to be media neutral, actually doing the figures and in fact living up to their word.

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