Deciphering Dutch Direct Mail - Rembrandt. Raymond Van… | ...Gasp!

Deciphering Dutch Direct Mail

Rembrandt. Raymond Van Barneveld. Marco Van Kemzurbasten (the great Volleyist and Wit)

I wrote my first pun in Dutch this week, and as you can see from my opening line I got well too carried away, leading me to hire a Dutch publisher and translator off the back of one, average pun.

Look, the Dutch love to throw things from moving vehicles. So rather than trying to prohibit this act by passing stricter highway laws, lets accommodate it by erecting these blikvanger babieshh ya.

(Context, please Mark). Ah yes. So, this week I have been given an interesting pitch to work on, a phase two direct mail, specifically targeting The Netherlands. As we did not do phase one to start the campaign, it is tough to build on other people’s imaginations and concepts, so suffice to say it’s an intriguing challenge. We do know that, crucially, the campaign worked, as there was a significant increase in response rate compared to previous campaigns.

I thoroughly enjoy getting stuck into things that I don’t know much/anything about, as you can discover interesting new nuggets of info. Having a love of words and language, and also loving to go off on a tangent, led me to discovering the quite amazing Dutch word “blikvanger,” meaning eye-catcher, and this in turn led me to finding these uniquely Dutch inventions.

Basically they are a kind of roadside Quidditch goal-bin. I love that, at some level of authority, someone concluded:

Look, the Dutch love to throw things from moving vehicles. So rather than trying to prohibit this act by passing stricter highway laws, lets accommodate it by erecting these blikvanger babieshh ya.

Although I have basically bent this blog into a shape that would allow a blikvanger to protrude out of it, here we actually have a key point. The Dutch have a very unique sense of humour. The Dutch people I have met have all been good natured, a bit eccentric and fun, so a leftfield DM campaign makes sense in this context, with this target audience.

Our pitch is still in flux and the large office melting pot is bubbling and in danger of spillage, but I can offer you some Gasp tips on what makes good direct mail. All for gratis, like:

Interrogate the question/problem and find answers.
• Context is key.
• Know your target audience inside out. Go through their blikvangers, see what they consume.
• Challenge the conventional. Can be termed Disruptive Marketing (although we don’t like this term. Probably because, being inquisitive, creative types, we’ve often been told off for being disruptive).
• Simply be different. To be different is to have identity. A reaction of, “what the hell is this?!” is better than: “I know exactly what this is, and it’s going straight in the bin.”

Unique, spontaneous ideas often work great, but these have to be tempered with analysis. As Professor Jef L. Richards said: “Creativity without strategy is called Art. Creativity with strategy is called Advertising.” There is a great article in the Guardian this week, talking about Mathletes (another good word) in marketing.

Although I think they diverge away from the importance of the creative spark too much, maths, data and analysis are certainly important in creating your campaign and working out how much it will cost to run successfully.

We at Gasp created a DM campaign that had a fundamental similarity to the Dutch DM campaign; the concept of sending something that, on the face of it, was a little perplexing, but encouraged your curiosity to look closer. In our case, it was a crumpled up ball of waste paper.

Yet such was the effectiveness of this campaign that it has resulted in us becoming a B2B Marketing Awards finalist for Best Direct Mail. It would be lovely to win, but rumours that Gasp has arrogantly pre-planned the route for an open-top bus victory parade through the streets of Wokingham are well wide of the mark. Those leaked plans are just Gemma, our Account Manager, planning another pub crawl.

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