Direct Marketing A-Z

By The Drum | Administrator

October 15, 2002 | 8 min read


American Marketing Association – great for relevant articles on the direct marketing game –


Bird, Drayton – wrote “Commonsense Direct Marketing”. Read it and weep.

Blouses – the new term for “Suits”, as more and more account handling is done by women. Some agencies believe there are no good male account handlers left!

Brief – what may be the single most ignored part of any job (please read my forthcoming book “Why Most Direct Mail is Bad” and the follow-up “Why Does My Agency Hate Me” for more details).

Budget – the most common thing missing from a brief, get one – fast.


CRM – buzzword, standing for Customer Relationship Marketing. Lots of hype surrounds what any competent company should do. Treat your customer as you like to be treated yourself. Used to be called database marketing. (association for the advancement in relationship marketing).

Close date – vital when trying to beat the enemy of DM – inertia.

Creative – the fundamental building block of any campaign. Without this no media can work.


Data – the raw material of all focused marketing. Do not confuse with information.

Data Protection Registrar – register and comply with the Act, there is absolutely no excuse. See or e-mail or the website

Direct Marketing Association (DMA) – the industry’s trade body,

Database Marketing – using the data you have, to understand your customers, to segment them and to provide the right product at the right time to the right people. The old name for CRM! If you need help, Neil Stevens at Nebstone is good, email or visit website

Door-to-door distribution – cost effective and scaleable, should be considered in any campaign, usually better where there is a good customer profile for the product.


Envelope – you will probably need one for direct mail. Call Encore near York, ask for a man called Tony (the boss) or email or visit website


FEDMA – the European version of the DMA, as far as I can see with two remits to represent the industry at a European level and to raise our professional standards.


Guard Book – keep a copy of all activity, with a summary – most importantly, how well it worked. Known as marketing with a memory.


Henderson – Neil, a creative genius and boss at DMS. Follow his train of thought if you can at

Home Delivery Service (HDS) – door-to-door distribution has some advantages over other distribution methods, but works better in well defined target groups.


Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM) – the for-profit institute for the direct marketing business.

Incentives, powerful, useful and they still work well.

Ison – Jane, God’s very own account handler, now available freelance on 01535 658830.

Internet – far too much to say in a simple A-Z. The revenge of direct marketing. Always use a credible, reliable supplier, start simple and get better.

Inserts – rather like Reader’s Digest competitions, everyone claims not to respond, but somebody must do. Very measurable and great for split tests, get the print costs right and buy the media well and inserts will work for many direct products and services.


JDA – the agency, and Judith Donovan, the woman, left big skirts for Carl Hopkins to fill. Mind you, he is filling them very well!

Johnson box – small, highlighted section on a letter, named after the distinguished diarist Samuel Johnson. He used to put small boxes at the edge of letters to highlight the salient points without the reader having to bother to read it all. OK, so no, he didn’t, but you get the point.


Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – set these in your objectives. They should really be all about money. But cost per response, cost per lead, cost per sale and ratio of cost to revenue or profit generated are all pretty common and very useful.


Lists - another massive subject. In most cases use in-house lists first, then speak to an expert list broker to select cold lists. They make money from providing the right lists to companies and sell millions of names so they should know what works and what doesn’t. Call Windsor at Go Direct on 0113 250 0008.

Loyalty – consumer, that is. Alive and well and living...where? Typically, Loyalty Card Marketing. Some people (including the CEO of Tesco) don’t believe it works by itself.


Mailing Preference Service (MPS) – a list of people who do not want to receive direct mail.

Mail shot – the words used by inexperienced direct marketing people when describing direct mail.


NABS, plus some other ideas.


Objective – what you want to achieve from any activity. I advise you set some early on.


Postal Preference Service (PPS) – a natty idea to get requested mail in the hands of willing prospects. Not everyone likes the idea because of Post Office involvement, but it has worked for me, so I like it.

Pitch – someone, somewhere, came up with a unique form of torture to put all marketing services agencies through sheer hell. Try asking your plumber or builder to pitch to see if it’s a good way of selecting someone to work with. OK, we do them all the time. See the code of practice set out by the IPA –


Questionnaire marketing – how will you ever know what your customers want from you if you don’t ask them? There are two sorts, really, those that are absolutely straight and conform to the Market Research Society code of practice and those that are really gathering information to help sell direct.


Reader’s Digest – brilliant, successful and totally derided. If I could do 100th as well as they do for my clients I would be a happy man.

Return on investment (ROI) – what you get back for what you spent. Simple really.

Reactivation – good, old customers always make better prospects than people who have never bought from you before. They can be reactivated, given the right message, and so long as you have not done something to alienate them they should buy again.


Suppression file – a list of people who should not be mailed or contacted. Also a commercially available list of dead people, people who have gone away and others not wanting to receive your promotional piece.

Short Messaging Service (SMS) – the very best responding media at this moment in time. Be careful with it and it will work brilliantly for you, but watch out – it bites!

Scorecard – system of balanced weightings, generally used to determine if a prospect is credit worthy, but it can be used for other consumer behaviour. Experion and Equifax are market leaders, but why not try CallCredit, they are up and coming and internet-savvy.


Targeting – the single most important thing to do in direct marketing after getting the creative and offer right!

Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – all out-bound telephone numbers should be screened against this list of numbers, where members of the public have requested not to be called.


Unique Reference Number (URN) – unique code assigned to individuals to help track prospects and customers.


Verisimilitude – the essential truth that should pervade all promotional activity.


Watson, John – The founder and original driving force of WWAV.

WWAV Rapp Collins – the biggest direct marketing agency in the UK (whatever the tables say.) No client ever got fired for hiring WWAV. If they can’t get it to work, then it just won’t work.


Xerox – lasing machine for personalising lots and lots of letters. Do they still make ‘em?


Yentob – Alan. Nothing whatsoever to do with direct marketing (that I know of).


Zap – the moment of brilliance when the idea happens.

Please note: this is a highly personalised view, representing nearly 20 years of poor training and rumour. Please don’t bother to write in to correct the author, who is now probably so set in his ways that it won’t help!

Ashley Bolser

Managing Director

The Ashley Bolser Agency


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +