The results are in… but do you agree?

by Graham Dodd on 19/09/2012

The DMA has released the door drop industry volume and expenditure statistics for 2011 and the top line data could be summarised as:

  • An 11.8% drop in volume in comparison to 2010 to 6.97 billion items
  • Expenditure on door drops decreased by 1.4% in the same period to £256m (door drop delivery costs only)
  • The average number of weekly items per household fell to 5 (but can vary by area)

Click here for the full report.

To qualify those findings, the DMA made a number of comments, but we don’t wholly agree with the DMA’s view on falling volumes.

We do agree that improved targeting opportunities (such as SMART-Drop) may reduce volume, but conversely, if they also introduce new users into the medium, how much of the “historical” volume is really lost?

And we do not agree that the average number of items received by households is just 5.

Yes, it will vary by area and yes, urban areas are likely to receive more items than rural areas.

But our poll earlier this year showed marketers conclusively believe they regularly receive more than 6 items per week and our ongoing monitoring of letterboxes across the UK, suggests that is still the case.

TLC believes that the DMA statistics probably accurately reflect the “national” door drop market, but grossly under estimated the size of the “local” market.

On a straw poll of one in Cheshunt, it is a rare week that we receive less than 5 items just through Royal Mail door to door and the two free newspapers we receive – not counting the newspapers themselves (as the survey does not).

But there is never a day goes by, even at weekends, when at least one solus item will flutter to the doormat.

Yes they are predominantly local businesses.

Yes, as a result, they are likely to be small volumes.

But they do contribute to an overall industry statistic and TLC do not believe that volume is truly represented in these statistics.

But that’s just our opinion.

What’s yours?

If we assume volume did fall by 11.8% but expenditure only fell by 1.4%, why was that?

With free newspaper national coverage slowly dwindling on a weekly basis, some clients have moved volume out of free newspapers and into Royal Mail D2D, where the obvious increased cost per letterbox maintains spend to a large degree.

But that is not necessarily the full picture.

We have certainly experienced clients moving work out of Royal Mail D2D – often against our advice – because of price increases in the last couple of years and into cheaper options.

Particular business areas increasingly, in our opinion, appear to be buying on price more and more and perhaps are driving business “underground” into companies which are not on the survey’s radar? So the volume still exists, but at a cheaper cost?

Our own product portfolio sees a higher entry charge levied for SMART-Drop to facilitate the hugely improved quality of targeting sub sectors drops can provide in comparison to some whole sector drops and the very concept of SD is to drop a lower volume, but perhaps achieve the same end result in terms of response or redemption.

TLC have never been a door drop supplier driven by volume or spend.

We would much prefer to provide clients with an overall service which may reduce volume and spend (or maintain spend) but which vitally, also works!

Result?

A happy client whose marketing investment provides a measurable return and comes back for more – hopefully!

And we have clients who have maintained volume and increased spend as a result.

Sure its been tough in the last couple of years and there is no imminent sign of significant improvement (we think), but, it is also true to say that there are legions of clients out there who are enjoying success with their door drop campaigns.

Door drops are an intrusive, measurable, responsive and accountable medium sometimes ignored in the marketing mix.

The medium’s role in driving clients online is under estimated by many, yet online is where many clients are increasing their spend?

Integration is a word bandied about by many but practised by a smaller band of knowledgeable clients (and agencies).

And even then, because of limitations exercised over their buying policies, many industry users do not fully use the range of targeting and distribution tools available in the industry, so whilst they are gaining measurable return on investment (we assume!) could be it improved by opening their eyes (and options) a little further?

Which brings me back to the issue of testing again – but if you follow my blogs, you will know what my views on the lack of testing are already!

This article was written by...

– who has written 28 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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