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Post mortem

It’s time to kill off all the unsolicited mail pouring through our letterboxes

Isuspect that most of the luminaries of our industry who bestow upon themselves the title “marketing director” assume that what they sow does not fall on stony ground. I suspect that most of them are wrong.

I guess it would do any of them a great deal of good to sit in our offices for a week and examine the literature churned out by all the manufacturers of investment, life insurance and pension products. They assume that their particular piece of literature actually gets read because it costs more, has some clever gimmick or is in a bigger envelope. But very few brokers read this bumf.

For a start, the mailing lists used by these product providers must be phenomenally out of date. We often receive literature for people who left our employ as long as 10 years ago.

We regularly ask product providers to take our names off their mailing lists. It is a pain in the neck just opening this literature. But what would we get if we did not fight hard against it? Recently, we received about 120 letters from Threadneedle and we have not got a clue where it acquired its list because most of it was sent to people who do not work here.

But investment groups are by no means the worst. Life companies’ inefficiency in this area surpasses all belief. If you are on one of their lists, you get informed that Joe McSmoggie, who has worked in the administration department of Scottish Death for the past 30 years, has been promoted to tea boy. I am sure Joe is a very good chap but I do not think we need to know his career progression to run our business.

They also send out their in-house staff newsletters, which are not interesting to most of their own staff. Do we really want to see a picture of the Dundee branch’s netball team?

It always galls me that whenever you want to get into a marketing exercise with any of these firms, they cry poverty. This is hardly surprising as they have wasted all their marketing budget on literature which remains widely unread. Could we as an industry inform all these investment groups and life companies that we really do not want this old tosh and could we suggest a couple of places where they might spend the money? If they still want to employ all these marketing gurus, would it not make a lot more sense to advertise in the national press to create a demand for investment products in general?

I applaud groups with constant presence in the national press. It does make our lives much easier when we have that type of marketing support.

Fidelity, Perpetual, Jupiter and New Star have constant presence in the national press but tend to be fairly frugal on what they send through our doors. That is not to say we should not keep up the pressure. Only no broker literature at all is acceptable.

I would put it to all these marketing directors that the one absolute guaranteed way you can have our undivided attention is if a client has seen your advertisement in the national press and rings up about it. You can guarantee that we will be on to you like a shot wanting the appropriate literature and to find out about the product.

I think the problem is that all these marketing directors assume theirs is the only piece of literature that is going to arrive on the broker’s desk. Well, I think we ought to make a new rule that these marketing directors can only send us literature from now on if they come to our offices and open the post one morning.

Although I am not the biggest name in the environmentally-friendly environment handbook, if I can stop all this unnecessary claptrap being sent through the post, I might just have done my little bit for ecology.

It will also save me a bit of money. I have worked out that if I can stop getting unsolicited mail, I can probably reduce the people in my post room. Or, just as important, we could have all the important post opened and ready for everyone to process half an hour sooner.

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