Friday, October 5, 2007

The Usual Suspects

I came across this list of The Top 50 Mailers, as compiled by "Target Marketing."

The top 50 direct mailers were designated by projected mail volume. "Target Marketing" used pretty sophisticated methodology to estimate this, as mail volumes are definitely proprietary info.

I really wasn't too surprised by the list. The heavy hitting direct marketers are all there. Some key findings:
  • Financial Services firms account for 14% of the Top 50
  • Publishing/Media comprise 38%
  • Fundraising consists of 34% of the Top 50
On the list were financial giants, including CitiGroup, Bank of America, American Express, Capital One and Washington Mutual.

Fundraisers included American Cancer Society, AARP, American Heart Association and UNICEF (among others).

What's also interesting is to think about the types of companies NOT on the list. There was not one high-tech firm (not even Dell). No packaged goods companies (unless Gevalia Kaffe counts). And, surprisingly only one telecom firm made the list (Sprint/Nextel).

It's funny, but I remember when I was a young sales rep (selling consumer data and processing services to large mailers). I used to use lists like this as my prospecting goldmine. If I could sell my stuff to these high-volume mailers, I'd be sure of a good year; I'd make lots of commission.

Now, I look at these types of lists with a different perspective. I wonder how (or if) they are using other channels. How are they managing channel conflict? Are they thinking about social marketing? How are they using interactive? How many trees are they killing with all this mail? Why are their mailing volumes so high--could they cut out some of the volume through more sophisticated targeting and segmentation?

So, today's question--is it a good thing or a bad thing to appear on this list of high-volume direct mailers?

P.S. If you have a hard time finding the download for the list on the link I supplied, just let me know and I'll e-mail you the PDF.


Chris said...

Hi, I work in interactive direct marketing at the US Fund for UNICEF. We're doing fundraising in both the mail and online. We use social networking, have our own blog, and email acquisition/fundraising program in addition to our direct mail work.

Suzanne Obermire said...

Chris, it certainly sounds like your life is busy :)

I think it's great that you are integrating so many channels/media. I would imagine that that gets challenging. And, I really admire your organization, too. Thanks for posting.

Ted Grigg said...

Having worked for some large fund raisers, most of them have been slow to adapt to the new media.

Of those who have, life is better BUT as you suggest, much more complicated.

For them, I suspect that direct mail will continue for some time as the core medium. Dare I say it? Their audience consists of older, conservative individuals who still prefer the personal touch inherent with well conceived direct mail.

The other large mailers generally do a mediocre job of list segmentation and disciplined testing in their acquisition direct mail efforts.

As for the cell phone providers, many of them mail millions of packages without bothering to test. They really send out mass mailings as “advertising in the mail” rather than direct marketing campaigns.

Most of this is caused by an inability to track results from their retail distribution channels. They also strapped with non-functional relational databases.