Direct mail – love it or hate it, it still has its place in the marketing mix

November 17, 2011

in News

We have recently been involved in working with one client on the creation and production of a door-drop leaflet, promoting the services of a private healthcare clinic.  Part of the planning process has meant the profiling of local prospective customers to the clinic and it made us think that this is probably worth spending some time talking about on our blog – both in terms of how it works generally and possible opportunities for your business. 


We have, for a number of years, provided B2B data lists to a number of our clients for local area marketing.  We have the in-house facility to map, filter and create business data lists on a wide range of criteria.

An example of a recent list build we supplied for one dental practice was based upon sourcing data for businesses within a 5, 10 and 15 mile radius, employing between 20 and 100 people, excluding retail and automotive businesses, including HR and/or senior decision-maker details, telephone numbers and email addresses where available.  We were able to create the mapping and supply the list within the hour of the original request with the added benefit of only charging for the exact number of records supplied.  Lots of data list suppliers charge on a ‘per thousand’ basis which very often means that you can end up paying for 1000 records when you only actually need 350, for example. 

In the case of the dental practice, the records were being used for telephone marketing but very often we also produce door-drop leaflets and manage the distribution – as well as supplying the original data.


The private healthcare clinic is using Xcaliba to supply the data based upon relatively complicated consumer profiling and whereas business data is based primarily on financial and credit reports, consumer data is based upon census information and allows a much greater degree of profiling.  For the sake of client confidentiality, we’ll call this client ‘Clinic G’. 

Clinic G offers private GP services and non-invasive cosmetic surgery treatments (Botox, laser treatment etc) so the first thing we need to do is to create an ideal consumer profile.  The quickest way to do this is to profile their existing patient database.  This does not create patient confidentiality issues as we just needed the postcodes; postcodes cover 15-18 households and so we were never aware of which households directly related to the list.  From this we were able to produce a relatively accurate profile of their existing patients.

We will avoid specifics for the blog but this can very often give surprising results.  Our client, understandably, thought that their ideal client would fall into the A01 category (wealthy and ambitious high flyers living in the very best urban flats).  However, on profiling, it became clear that this consumer group will already have very good levels of private healthcare cover and would be unlikely to require the services of a private GP service.  It is more likely that another category should be targeted for new business.

We can then use the (revised) ideal consumer to profile all of the households within a one mile radius of Clinic G.  The next stage is to analyse the data profile to work out which specific postcode areas give the highest chance of a response to the door-drop distribution.  From there we can provide full costings and on final budget approval, proceed.

It has been in the depth and availability of information available on consumer profiles that has been the most interesting part of the project.  It is, of course, based upon national averages and we all know that statistics have a degree of fallibility but let’s look at some of the levels of information that we can supply.

Postcode SW15 3.

There are 4645 households within this district, of which 45.3% fall within the consumer category O (Liberal Opinions – young, well-educated city dwellers enjoying the vibrancy and diversity of urban life). 

This probably isn’t too much of a surprise to anyone familiar with SW15 but did you know that the top 5 websites used by this group are, Wikipedia, Gmail, bbc/iplayer and  Well yes, if you had thought about it you probably could have worked that out.

What about religion?  Well this group has the highest index for Buddhism, the index is 327 (100 is the national average across all groups). 

Or that Group O consumers are the highest users of food & beverage online shopping sites?

So you can see that it’s possible to clearly identify the lifestyle and purchasing trends of your prospective customers.

Direct mail has a degree of stigma to it, there are the environmental concerns, but as discussed in our Two-Sides booklet (click here to order), print and paper is not necessarily as unhealthy for our environment as some would lead us to believe; and of course the junk mail stigma.  However, if used and targeted correctly it can be a very cost-efficient way to drive new business.

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