‘5 minutes with…’ is a series of short Q&A’s with our team, to help you get to know them better. Here is Steve Morton, Sales Director of KPM Group.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 50 (something) years old, Libran (so fairly balanced) and married to a smart and beautiful wife. A friend for life, hopefully one heck of an uncle and an enthusiastic rugby fan. I collect autographs and memorabilia whenever I can. A charity giver and supporter. I have travelled to many countries, won company and industry awards, a former member of the DMA council. And did I mention I love gardening…
2. How long have you worked in the print & mail industry?
I am a relative newbie at the KPM Group, joining them after been made redundant from Menzies Print & Mail, where I spent a large part of my working career. I joined as client services manager and left as head of business development.
Before dipping my toes in ‘below the line’ marketing with magazine mailing 20 years ago, I worked ‘above the line’ in outdoor advertising for British Transport Advertising. I started as a junior field sales executive/trainee moving up the ranks to Sales Manager London & South East.
I then began a two-decade career in sales selling direct marketing services. Data, design, print, mailing, postage and logistics services.
3. What changes have you seen in that time?
There are just too many things to list in one article; I have seen many changes over the years. The biggest ones, of course, can include competition rules allowing other providers to collect mail from producers and deliver to Royal Mail, PIP (pricing in proportion), GDPR, Mailmark, GDPR and boom of internet shopping and online activity.
4. What do you most enjoy about your role?
Throughout my 30 sales career from trainee field executive to sales director, I have been able to meet so many different people from all walks of life, each with their own, unique story. The long-term relationships and friendships that have developed as a direct result of my job have been a huge and rewarding benefit.
For me, selling has always been about continuous learning. Even now there is not a day that goes by where I don’t learn and pick up something new. When you’re in sales, the school of learning is always open. Let’s face it if you work in sales you should be a natural-born optimist. I considered myself an optimist long before I started this career; being rejected as often as you do in a sales role makes you become an even bigger optimist.
5. What type of challenges do you help clients to overcome?
Cost and value
Marketers and businesses often view direct mail as expensive, and comparing against digital and online advertising the costs associated can be higher. However, when you consider the higher and greater response rates achieved with direct mail campaigns and the effect it can have on driving online activity, these costs offer a much-greater ROI.
GDPR & Legitimate Interest
Another challenge is the misunderstanding of the precise rules governing direct mail and GDPR. In short, communicating to customers by mail – whether sending an account statement or a marketing promotion – is designated in law as being in the ‘legitimate interest’ of the company and customer. Surprisingly and despite 2 ½ years since its adoption, it remains an area of confusion.
Campaign timing from idea to implementation, execution and delivery also throws up challenges. That is why it is so important at the get-go stage to be open, honest and realistic with timeframes discussed and agreed. In my experience, it takes less time to deliver a campaign than it does to think about one.
Without a doubt, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a considerable drop in advertising spending. The pandemic is likely to shape the advertising industry in the long-term. Businesses are prioritizing survival for now, but in the future will have to find new ways of brand-building. The change in people’s media and consumption habits will force a rethink of how best to do so.
6. Following the pandemic, where do you see the future of direct mail?
The practice of direct mail marketing dates back to 1000 B.C. in Egypt! That shows the power and influence of direct marketing on people. With so much online, the influence of direct mail marketing is still powerful with the right strategies.
Many brands and organisations use direct mail as part of their communication plans, as it is considered a proven, safe, and trustworthy way to speak with their customers, even more so than ever whilst we have all been at home.
I don’t believe the method of mail production will change too drastically however the attitude towards receipt and receptiveness of the mail certainly has and will continue to.
As we leave a lockdown environment, businesses will want to talk to their customers and prospects as quickly and effectively as possible. There will be a drive towards both regional and national information with door drop marketing or promotional incentives to drive people in-store and online through the production of eye-catching mail campaigns.
This will help deliver an even bigger appreciation of direct mail and its value as more consumers suffer from online fatigue and turn off from digital communication.
For me, the future of direct mail can be summed up by the following “It is not the strongest that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”…
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