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The government supported by leading brands has launched a new initiave to encourage new business start ups.

As further evidence of the importance of the small business sector to the UK economy and new start ups in particular, the government this week launched it's new StartUp Britain campaign.

StartUp Britain is designed to "make it easier for new companies and innovations to flourish and encourage people who aspire to start new businesses to work for themselves."

We know how important start ups are to UK Plc; our Startupsplus b2b lead service tracks over 70,000 new businesses each year. Let's see what impact the campaign can have, as we'll be able to track results through Startupsplus.



Looking at the two disciplines of PPC and direct marketing individually, what parallels, lessons or procedures can be applied from one to the other?

Whilst PPC and direct marketing have there obvious differences in being online and offline tools, they could be said to be cousins. In fact there is even an argument to say that PPC is just another incarnation of direct marketing. So what can each learn from the other?

What can PPC learn from direct marketing?

Testing – All serious direct marketing is tested first, simply because of the costs involved in getting it wrong. Because PPC is so easy and self service, sometimes good testing procedures can fall by the wayside. Major PPC campaigns should always be tested on a small scale first before being scaled up.

Measures of Success – Successful direct mail relies on three elements; the list (audience), the mailer (message) and the implementation (timing). Applied to PPC, a successful campaign therefore requires the right targeting of audience using keywords (and negative keywords), good advert creatives, and scheduling to make adverts appear at the right time of day and even on specific days.

What can direct marketing learn from PPC?

Immediacy – PPC can be implemented almost in real time, which places pressure on direct mail to improve it’s own speed of response to opportunities. In the past mailing campaigns could take months to plan and organize because of production times, but now with the advent of solutions like Hybrid Mail, direct mail can start to be come stealthier and faster, just like PPC.

User focus – PPC focuses your marketing onto what people want, what are they searching for, how do they express their searches? There’s always room to make mailings more focused on the needs of the recipient. After all you’ve if you’ve done your research you should be able to discuss what needs you are meeting with confidence.



Marketing agencies and consultants can research their client’s markets free of charge using Prospect Download, the online list portal from Selectabase.

Agencies and consultants are often called upon to research potential markets for their clients. Prospect Download from Selectabase can help you research markets down to an incredibly detailed level, completely free of charge.

Prospect Download is an online list portal with different versions for business or consumer data. It’s free of charge to register, and once registered users can carry out unlimited counts from the Selectabase databases of over 2 million UK businesses and 34 million UK addresses.

There are a huge range of different selection criteria available to choose from, which means that agencies can identify the numbers of prospects for an incredibly detailed selection of market segments.

For example you can find out how numbers of businesses in different locations or nationwide based on industry, size, turnover and so on.

Likewise, the numbers of consumers can be identified for specific criteria including lifestage, property ownership, lifestyle, age, income and many more factors.

Therefore Prospect Download Business and Consumer can be used to:

  • Test and identify potential markets for clients by lifestyle or type
  • Identify the size of a potential audience in a specific geographic area
  • Identify how many businesses or consumers are within a radius from a specific location
  • Identify market size to help identify your clients market share
You can also save your selections for future use, in case your client wants to purchase data for use in a direct marketing campaign.

Get started with free marketing research at Prospect Download.



The Direct Marketing industry is continuing to make efforts to improve its  environmental track record through more efficient operations, accurate data targeting and use of recycled materials.

Direct mail in particular still receives occasional negative media coverage of  the environmental impact of so called ‘junk mail’. Furthermore a recent survey by the Direct Marketing Association found that over a third of respondents believe that unpersonalised leaflets, coupons and direct mail were more harmful to the environment than newspapers and supplements.

Therefore a number of enviromental initiatives have been put in place by the DM industry.

ISBA, Acxiom, the DMA and Royal Mail have worked with BSI British Standards to develop a new environmental standard for direct marketing called PAS 2020, which was launched in January 2009. Advice to help businesses achieve PAS 2020 is provided through www.greendm.co.uk.

The DMA has also updated its DM Code of Practice which is a key component of the direct marketing industry’s self-regulatory framework. DMA members are required to adhere to the DM Code and for the first time the Code sets out guidelines concerning the use of data hygiene, making environmental claims in marketing materials, sourcing of sustainable paper, certification in environmental standards such as PAS 2020, adhering to a corporate environmental policy and using recycling messages on printed materials.

As yet it is unlikely that SME’s will have become motivated enough to adopt such practices as achieving PAS2020, yet they are likely to be receptive to simple and cost effective ways to make their activities more environmentally friendly such as improved data cleansing and Hybrid Mail solutions.



Whilst the small business sector has been the often overlooked Cinderella of the UK economy, government and PLC's are starting to realize the attractions of the sector, not least due to the it’s potential value in wealth and job creation.

The small business sector is sizeable but often under-estimated. For example the latest version of the Prospect Download marketing database from Selectabase contains almost 2.2 million UK businesses with a turnover of less than £5 million.

SME's account for 50% of UK business turnover, and are where the government hopes to see growth and job creation to compensate for public sector job cuts. The recent Government deal with banks, Project Merlin, had specific lending commitments for SMEs. The sector was also at the heart of the recent Trade White Paper and was in the spotlight again as the government opened up procurement to smaller businesses.

The Startupsplus b2b marketing service from Selectabase monitors start up business activity across the UK and regularly identifies in excess of 70,000 start ups each year. In the first half of 2010 Startupsplus data revealed a 19% increase in UK start up activity compared to the same period in 2009.

Large corporate's and Plc's are starting to wake up to this potential. Vodafone has launched a recent campaign targeted at the sector and has stated that SME 's are a key focus for the business. This has taken them head to head with O2 which is also defending its share of the SME pound.

All this renewed interest in SME's is of course flattering for companies like Selectabase which has been finding ways of making direct marketing accessible to SME's for the past 15 years.



The British spend an estimated £1.6 billion on celebrating birthdays according to research from Mint.

We recently came across some statistics about birthdays in the UK previously published by Mint credit cards which aptly demonstrate just why businesses should be targeting consumers on their birthday.

The birthday consumer statistics revealed that the average person spends almost £50 on their own birthdays but less on other people, at an average of just over £30 on close friends and relatives.

Almost a third of people said they used their birthday as an excuse to celebrate, which is good news for bars and restaurants. One in seven people plan their birthday party at least a month in advance. Almost a quarter of people buy a new outfit especially for their birthday.

All this adds up to great opportunities for businesses such as gift or fashion retailers, leisure businesses, bars and restaurants. And these sectors can reach local people about to celebrate a birthday using our Birthday Mailings monthly lead service.

Birthday Mailings data tells you who is about to celebrate a birthday locally at least a month in advance, just when the research shows they are planning their celebration. Also, the data puts you in contact with the person celebrating, which is the person who typically spends the most on their event!



One of the fastest growing areas of direct mail fulfillment and delivery is that of Hybrid Mail. This new technique allows senders to mail personalised mailers more efficiently and offers a number of benefits for small businesses..

Hybrid Mail senders upload their letter and address data to an external provider, often through an online interface. The letter is then mail merged and printed remotely with unique address data, sorted and delivered straight into the postal system often at a local level.

As mail is sent more efficiently and in bulk, the Hybrid Mail provider can achieve significant discounts on postage costs which it can pass on to its customers. Hybrid Mail therefore offers a range of benefits to users sending direct marketing campaigns:

  • Cost benefits; Outsourcing printing and fulfilment achieves cost savings in print and postage costs, even for smaller scale mailings.
  • Environmental benefits; Hybrid Mail reduces the carbon footprint of businesses at a time when direct marketing needs to be environmentally friendly.
  • Time benefits; Outsourcing to Hybrid Mail reduces the call on resources.
  • Marketing benefits; Hybrid Mail gives better production quality and allows better targeting down to a more granular level.
All the above can help organisations to create competitive advantage. In July 2010 Ian Davidson, vice president of Pitney Bowes DMT International, was quoted as saying “only through intelligent integration of print and mail can organisations truly be said to be achieving maximum efficiency, maximum quality and maximum return on investment with their customer communications.”

Hybrid Mail appears to provide a natural fit with the Selectabase range of direct marketing lists and direct mail packages, any of which are delivered monthly in smaller batches which are ideal for fulfilling through Hybrid Mail. Therefore we are ourselves researching hybrid mail solutions with the aim of offering a complete data and mailing services to our small business clients in the future.



Charities such as Cancer Research UK are pioneering campaigns designed to encourage potential supporters to ask for charitable donations on their birthday rather than gifts.

As reported on the Fundraising.co.uk website, the recent campaign by the cancer charity encourages people to mark their birthday celebrations by requesting charitable donations instead of gifts. Sarah Pickersgill, Senior Marketing Manager at Cancer Research UK, told Fundraising.co.uk that “Birthdays, weddings and anniversaries are times for celebration and for giving presents, but they also provide an opportunity to do something generous and thoughtful at the same time - contributing to the fight against cancer.”

The campaign is great example of how birthday related marketing data could be used to drive innovative campaigns which are creatively targeted. For example other charities could adopt a similar approach; Birthday Mailings consumer data from Selectabase can be purchased on a one off basis to target, for example, female consumers about to celebrate their 50th birthday.

It will be interesting to see how many other charities test the same principle of encouraging alternative gifts on birthdays.

If you are interested in supporting the Cancer Research UK campaign, visit http://giveincelebration.cancerresearchuk.org/.