Is the door drop industry facing an increasing challenge in being able to validate its activity?

by Graham Dodd on 04/12/2012

For decades, the door drop industry has relied on face to face, doorstep checking, but that process is increasingly under pressure.

Frequently there are calls for more and more “no cold calling” zones to be established.

Just Google “no cold calling zones” and you will find pages of local and county council links about established zones, how to start a zone and even Amazon selling a sign for £1.89 to stop cold callers!

It would be reasonable to suggest the main thrust of these zones is to stop people selling on the doorstep, but their existence can also impact on distribution companies’ ability to validate their activity – as their clients expect them to.

And I can assure you from personal experience it can be a traumatic experience!

Be prepared to have abuse hurled at you, sometimes prompted by your apparent lack of reading skills if a sticker is displayed, the door simply slammed shut in your face, or just not answered despite the fact that you have seen the curtain twitch.

If you overcome that first hurdle and show the resident the leaflet you are checking on, if in any way your opening question is construed as the first stage of a sales pitch, the door can still slam shut, heads start to shake and “no” is a frequent answer just to “politely” close the interview, irrespective of whether they received the leaflet or not.

And clients sometimes wonder why only 2 or 3 interviews can be achieved in any one road.

These issues are not new to experienced practitioners and they have partly prompted a move in the last decade to telephone checking for some, although the cost of the process is another major consideration behind such switches.

But there are similar associated issues with that option.

The number of telephone numbers in the public domain is decreasing, a trend which is unlikely to be reversed.

This year’s fast.MAP Marketing Gap report identified that 37% of consumers would give up their home landline if they had to give up one communication channel completely (against only 14% who would give their letterbox up!).

And is a generation growing up with a reliance on smart phones which may negate the necessity of a landline for them?

The levels of instant rejection on the telephone can be just as high as doorstep interviewing.

Mention of a client name for some instantly triggers fear of a sales call and the line can go dead.

But clients still expect their door drop activity to be checked though ironically, Royal Mail door to door, the UK’s largest service provider does not provide any form of validation. Clients generally just seem to have a higher degree of trust that Royal Mail door drops will be delivered.

When a client has a complaint they expect it to be investigated, but sometimes gaining strong evidence of distribution can be a challenge given these issues and if the client also leaves it weeks before they raise their concerns about possible non delivery, the situation is just made harder because of memory decay.

Can you remember what came through your letterbox 3 weeks ago?

So what can the door drop industry do to satisfy clients and prove drops have been completed?

Some companies have created their own in-house leaflet schemes which operate to the mutual benefit of the supplier and the client, but they tend to be very localised and perhaps are not sustainable on larger, more widespread activity?

So how does the industry believe it can continue to provide clients with initial “proof of delivery”, perhaps even more important when a client subsequently complains?

Will we see a rise in the number of “observed” checks, where Area Managers watch teams working and record addresses they see the leaflet delivered to?

What role could technology play in the future?

And exactly what are clients are looking for?

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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