Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marketing Mail in a Competitive Market

Third Sector reported the results of a TNT Post announced the results of a survey that it conducted in Great Britain on the effectiveness of mail for gaining contributions by mail.   The results illustrate not only why mail is an effective marketing tool for non-profits but also how postal operators in competitive markets work to expand sales.

Findings of the TNT sponsored study
  • One-third of people who make donations to charity are prompted to do so by receiving direct mail from the organization.
  • 57% of those who respond to mail appeals respond by mail.
  • 87% of those who want more information get that information on-line.  Only 10% use the mail to get more information.
The results illustrate that even in an environment where potential donors use the web to seek information on a charity, mail plays a major role in getting donations.   In the article, both spokespersons for the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy and TNT Post about the importance of charitable organizations to use a multi-media strategy to solicit contributions.

What is unique about the survey is that it was conducted for TNT Post and and not the national post, Royal Mail, or for a trade association for direct marketers.  TNT is trying to differentiate itself from Royal Mail and a survey of the public is an inexpensive way to gain publicity for their service.

TNT Post's survey is particularly interesting once one looks at the websites of both the website of TNT Post's United Kingdom operations and Royal Mail.  Both firms provide nearly one-stop-shopping of all components of a direct mail campaign from design and printing, to delivery is done by Royal Mail, TNT Post or other delivery means, and analytics evaluating the effectiveness of the advertising campaign.

Based on what is happening in Great Britain, competition in the mail business in the United States could make it easier for advertisers that are hesitant to use mail or other forms of delivery of printed advertising to manage the process.  Clearly having multiple delivery companies marketing services could help expand the market.  The largest mailers will likely not need the services similar to those that TNT Post and Royal Mail are offering and continue to use the large printers to manage their needs

The United States market is not nearly as competitive as markets in Europe.   Restrictions exist as to what services the Postal Service can offer that would integrate delivery with all of the other activities associated with producing mail.   No company in the United States offers an alternative delivery network comparable to what TNT Post and other firms offer either.    Given that print fits well in a multimedia marketing strategy but is often shunned due to the production and delivery costs, it is worth posing two questions:
  • Would print be better off in a competitive postal market? 
  • How would the impact on economic growth if all aspects of printed advertising were sold in competitive markets?

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