A famous DM copywriter – I think it might have been Steve Harrison – once said that direct marketing isn’t sending customers a folded press advertisement. Nor, I would add, is it a press ad with an email address attached.
When you communicate directly with an individual, it’s an opportunity to build a one-to-one relationship. If your researchers and data planners have done a good job, your copywriter should be supplied with lots of useful customer data. This information will help the writer communicate more effectively with your customers than they could with a “folded press ad”.
The most basic part of starting and continuing a one-to-one communication is personalisation. Addressing a customer by name and signing off from a named director is, I think, essential.
Yet over the past 10 years I’ve notice a lot of direct marketers being very sloppy about personalisation. Many acquisition emails are sent without any salutation or personal sign off.
I see an increasing number of DM pieces – both emails and traditional mail – signed by “The Brand Team”. Isn’t this terrible? It makes the communication look like it was composed by a computer, not a human being.
If you’re a customer, you want to be assured that someone in the firm is accountable, taking responsibility for the service that your company provides.
So my advice is to always sign off your DM with a director’s name. And include contact details. Of course that director won’t be able to personally deal with every customer enquiry. But your customers will feel confident that someone is supervising the people who are looking after them.