10 years since we changed the door drop channel forever

by Graham Dodd on 21/05/2020

Pre 2010, door drop targeting was almost inextricably linked to postcode sectors, meaning units of c. 3,000 households on average.

Door drop planners would measure their clients’ target market density against sector household counts and activity would be booked on that basis.

The majority with Royal Mail door to door, although free newspapers still offered a credible alternative at that time.

Planners would recommend cut off points in ranking reports and deciles. Some would base plans on target market percentage penetration, others alongside index levels in comparison to GB average statistics.

I became fascinated by different planning models and clients’ reactions to door drop proposals, with ‘wastage’ a common question.

I’ve always felt the prioritisation of index values in the sector selection process to be flawed and have only ever recommended that occasionally and only ever to clients with a very niche brand or service.

I never have and still don’t see the logic of covering every household in a postal sector, when perhaps only 35/40% are a direct match to a target market, so technically 65/60% of the door drop is wastage? Is that why some clients claim door drop does not work for them?

But the real fascination lay in the untapped market available to advertisers to be found in postal sectors below the cut off point, wherever and however that was made.

How could the door drop industry offer advertisers an enhanced service, perhaps engaging with potential customers in those areas for the very first time?

I consulted trusted industry peers and respected suppliers at team distribution companies and one of the largest free newspaper publishers and after some prolonged testing, SMART-Drop was born in May 2010.

So, Happy Birthday to SMART-Drop.

Launched at a seminar at RIBA in central London to a packed house of advertisers and final mile suppliers, SMART-Drop took off and has never really looked back.

10 years on its still the option that separates us from our competitors and has over that period of time, won numerous new business pitches for us.

It continues to be a service that provides advertisers with a targeted door drop service in units of hundreds of households rather than thousands and the final mile distribution has not changed.

Solus distribution (your leaflet dropped on its own) through reliable, trusted suppliers underpins the service.

Distribution alongside free newspapers, albeit to greatly reduced volumes is still available in some areas.

But the holy grail is still to convert Royal Mail’s sector postal walk system to SMART-Drop, as I truly believe there is an immense opportunity there. Its been looked at but shelved for the time being, but I am going to keep banging on that door!

Some clients with really bespoke planning needs use SMART-Drop as a standalone service, but many, led by our planning expertise, will use Royal Mail D2D sector solutions to an agreed level, and then enhance the plan with SMART-Drop below that cut off point.

Who has used SMART-Drop since its launch in 2010?

Airports, art galleries, building societies, bus companies, car dealerships, care homes, charities (acquisition and legacy), children’s nurseries, cleaning services, coach companies, collectibles, colleges, dance schools, decorator centres, department stores, DIY warehouses, dog grooming services, fishmongers, fmcg couponing and product sampling, food delivery companies, funeral directors, furniture retailers, garden centres, gas suppliers, gyms, hearing aid specialists, leisure centres, local and regional councils, money transfer companies, property developers, public houses, restaurants, theatres, train companies, travel agencies, vets, water authorities, wildlife parks, zoos.

So really a question of; who hasn’t?!

Direct response advertisers can pinpoint response from address data and it’s a proven winner for them.

For retailers – whether independent or with hundreds of locations – the service can reach potential customer, in key areas around their store(s), perhaps for the very first time. And again track success.

I’m very proud of SMART-Drop and what it has achieved. Change in the door drop market is very rare and this change is now 10 years old and still achieving its objectives.

Apologies if it seems a best kept secret to you, but we would be delighted at any opportunity of demonstrating its potential to you at any time.

This article was written by...

– who has written 86 posts on Letterbox Consultancy for Door Drop Marketing.

Graham Dodd is the founder of The Letterbox Consultancy - he has over 40 years of experience in the door drop industry and remains at the forefront of innovation in the business.

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