DMA/ROYAL MAIL AWARDS: Delivering results together - DMA/Royal Mail/Supporting the DMA awards makes good business sense for Royal Mail and has helped boost direct marketing’s status

For a medium which delivers such impressive results for marketers, direct marketing spent a surprising amount of time in its formative years being sneered at by ’mainstream’ advertising professionals.

For a medium which delivers such impressive results for marketers,

direct marketing spent a surprising amount of time in its formative

years being sneered at by ’mainstream’ advertising professionals.



DM has long since won the battle to be accepted as a powerful

communications tool. Few people today would doubt that if response is

needed, DM delivers.



Yet in the darker corners of marketing there are still those who need to

be convinced that DM can do more than just elicit replies. At its best,

it can help turn good products into great brands.



Today direct marketing is a pounds 500m-a-year business, according to

Royal Mail, which delivered more than three billion items of direct mail

in 1996. Royal Mail aims to add pounds 300m to that total figure by

2001. Its long-term strategy is to position itself as the ’media owner’

of the direct marketing industry, boosting its business by encouraging

greater volumes. Part of that strategy is its sponsorship of the Direct

Marketing Association’s own awards scheme.



Last year Royal Mail spent more than pounds 100,000 on the awards and

associated activity. Its objective might seem straightforward: to

encourage the use of direct mail. But there is more than a quantity

argument for promoting the awards; better quality is also important if

the future growth of the medium is to be encouraged.



’Volume growth is obviously of huge importance, but to grow volume you

need credibility,’ says Barbara Cadd, Royal Mail Streamline’s director

of communications. ’We’re up against rival media with arguably more

cachet in part of our target market, especially traditional

above-the-line agencies.’



Advertising agencies have always been keen on awards - D&AD yellow

pencils, Campaign Press and Poster - and the direct-marketing sector is

no different.



The DMA/Royal Mail awards, now in their 19th year, offer direct

marketers the additional bonus of recognition by their peers to stand

alongside the proven effectiveness of their campaigns.



The first gold winner, when the awards were launched in 1980, was

Heritage Collection and BMP for Tjaereborg, and since then the awards

have notched up an impressive record of industry success stories.



Last year’s awards were no exception.



The Marketing Store won the best retail award for its work on Adams

Childrenswear.



Louise Milner, account director on the Adams business, says the award

made a real difference to the company. ’The client was ecstatic,’ she

says. ’It gave us the motivation to press ahead and try for another

award this year.’



The process of entering the awards also helped The Marketing Store to

understand more about how its own direct-marketing efforts worked as a

whole. ’It made me realise that what we’d done was very comprehensive,’

says Milner. ’Sometimes you’re doing bits and pieces and it’s only when

you’re putting together an awards entry that you realise how the whole

thing fits together.’



The result, for all the staff involved, was greater motivation and a

will to push the award-winning idea still further.



Today the rewards scheme which won last year is going from strength to

strength. From targeting mothers of young children, Adams has moved on

to talk directly to the kids themselves, addressing their wants as well

as their mums’ needs, as Milner puts it. The result has been the launch

of a children’s club called Jake & Co with its own quarterly comic.



’Feedback from store level is that it has been a great success, with

kids taking the comic into the playground and passing the word to

others,’ says Milner.



Other award winners too have been driven to greater efforts, and those

who enter and succeed once tend to keep coming back. The record so far

is held by Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, which has won 18

awards.



For Royal Mail, the investment in setting up and developing the awards

has so far paid off in way that might well qualify for an award of its

own for successful business-to-business marketing.



Marketing efforts around the awards - including advertising in the trade

press, a huge direct-mail campaign and public relations through Rosalyn

Palmer PR - help to develop Royal Mail’s own positioning as the media

owner for direct mail.



The real pay-off for Royal Mail’s investment comes on December 12, when

the great, the good and the simply hopeful of the DM industry gather at

the presentation ceremony on December 15 to find out who has won. As a

networking opportunity for Royal Mail to meet its customers it is

unparalleled.



With direct mail received per head in the UK still lagging behind the

rest of Europe, according to Royal Mail, there is still plenty of room

for growth - and, presumably, for another 18 years of awards.



The closing date for entries for the 1998 DMA/Royal Mail Direct

Marketing Awards is today (Thursday) so you will need to act fast if you

want to sneak a last-minute entry under the wire. Call Janet Attwater on

0171 766 4408 for more information.



This year’s judging panel is chaired, for the second year running, by

Judith Donovan of Judith Donovan Associates. The panel is split into

judging groups headed by Wanda Goldwag of Air Miles, Elizabeth Harraway

of Fashion Cafe, Laurin MacDonald of Sitel Corporation, Laura Jones of

IMP and Lin McCarthy of Stalwart Assurance. They and their teams - a

total of 100 judges - will spend a total of about 600 hours between them

poring over the entries between October 20 and 22.



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