About Mark Dobson

Mark entered the DM business in 1986 at the Sudbury based Prolog. Since then Mark has worked for many companies including GWC, Olwen Direct Mail, Olwen International in Baltimore. In 2000 Mark took the role of Client Services Director at The Software Bureau helping users of Cygnus, SwiftSort and GeMMA make the most of the software.

Software Bureau’s Cygnus suite adds 125m records

By |2017-01-12T13:12:30+00:00June 7th, 2016|

The Software Bureau has added 125 million new records to its embedded suppression service within its Cygnus data processing suite. The update follows the REaD Group’s recent upgrade of its data hygiene suite – including the Bereavement Register, the Gone Away Supression File and GAS Reactive – to reach a claimed 100 million records. The refreshed data run through Cygnus provides 29 million new tracked address records and 96 million goneaways. This latest update makes Cygnus the most comprehensive data processing solution available for direct mailers, the company claims. Sitting within Cygnus is the company’s Lean DM workflow package which systematically addresses each of the five sources of waste and highlights opportunities to both optimise mailings and save money. The firm maintains [...]

Proposals for a Fundraising Preference Service

By |2017-01-12T14:09:25+00:00April 8th, 2016|

Response to discussion paper by Martin Rides, Managing Director, The Software Bureau Please find below our response to the Fundraising Preference Service discussion paper and questions raised within. We believe it is crucial that software providers, such as ourselves, are engaged early on in the design and development process to ensure that the FPS is fit for purpose and works effectively for consumers and fundraisers alike. It is for this reason that organisations such as Royal Mail consult with us and our peers when implementing initiatives such as Mailmark. Worst case scenario for FPS is to introduce a solution that fails to stop unwanted solicitations or stymies legitimate fundraising opportunities for charities that desperately need the donations.   Scope It [...]

Making Money From Data Processing

By |2017-01-12T14:13:23+00:00March 29th, 2016|

You might consider data processing to be a necessary evil. An unfortunate and expensive activity you have to undertake to sell direct mail. However as clients continue to search for increased response rates and look to limit the potential for bad press, it is time to start bringing data processing to the front line of your business. Forward thinking mail producers like Pepper Communications have made Lean DM a key differentiator. Jude Whitford, Managing Director of Pepper was quick to see the potential of Lean DM and it’s having a real impact on his bottom line. ‘We have won 2 sizable new clients recently by focusing on Lean DM and the data services we can offer with Cygnus. Once we [...]

The Writing is on the Wall for CBC

By |2017-01-12T14:12:51+00:00March 11th, 2016|

If you haven’t done so already, get on board with Mailmark! If you are a Mail Producer and you aren’t yet offering Mailmark then time is running out. On 4th December last year Royal Mail restated its commitment to phasing out CBC when they announced the findings of their Mailmark migration consultation. Not only did this document confirm the intention to fully withdraw CBC in less than 2 years but it also set the scene for further price increases in January 2017. 1 month after the final nail was hammered into the CBC coffin, Royal Mail announced not 1 but 2 price increases to their Access CBC barcode service. By the end of this month (March) the first increase will [...]

Protecting Our Industry Reputation

By |2017-01-12T14:15:11+00:00February 26th, 2016|

The government’s Fundraising Review should have served as a stark warning to the direct marketing community that the fundamental targeting issues that have been swept under the carpet for years needed to be addressed. Now that the recommended Fundraising Preference Service is almost here, it's worse than many of us could ever have imagined. The proposed ‘all or nothing’ approach will effectively put the kibosh on relationship marketing, the very thing that direct marketing excels at. Not to mention the potential mandatory FPS promotion in all charity direct mail. Whatever the eventual outcome, it is clear that it is going to limit consumer choice and cause mass confusion amongst charity supporters who are happy to hear from their favourite causes, [...]

A Blueprint for Direct Mail Quality – Lean DM

By |2017-01-12T14:18:41+00:00February 1st, 2016|

We have all heard the story of Henry Ford. He modeled the first assembly lines and pioneered mass production in the early part of the 20th century. Many of the concepts introduced by Ford were to become the precursors to lean manufacturing, one such concept was his focus on quality. Ford is famously quoted saying ‘Quality means doing it right when no one is looking’. Applying this mantra of ‘doing it right’ to direct mail raises a number of questions. For instance do you know of any mail producers or printers who claim to offer anything other than exceptional quality products and service? Can you genuinely articulate how the quality of your direct mail service is distinctively different to a [...]

Introducing Lean DM

By |2017-01-12T14:22:54+00:00January 21st, 2016|

In a study by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) it was found approximately 20 million mail pieces are incorrectly sent each month in the UK. The direct cost of this is said to be between £200 million and £300 million annually. However this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full cost of poorly executed direct mail campaigns. Incorrectly spelling a valued customer's name, sending the same mailing multiple times and missing recipients altogether when they move house is doing untold damage to brands and the perception of the direct mail industry. That is why The Software Bureau has launched Lean DM, an initiative to help mail producers adopt best practice and deliver superior campaign [...]

Mailmark drives increased interest in direct mail

By |2017-01-12T14:25:29+00:00December 21st, 2015|

Direct mail has experienced a significant spike in interest and take-up in the last three months. That’s according to market analysis, sales figures and incoming leads from data quality and hygiene firm The Software Bureau. The Software Bureau cites two main contributing factors for this growth: the cost reduction in postage offered by Mailmark and a reduction of client confidence in digital display advertising. Mailmark was introduced by Royal Mail 18 months ago with the aim of making advertising mail more accountable. It is also now the most cost effective way to send bulk mail. In January 2016 a new price differential for Mailmark will be introduced making it up to 5% cheaper than other postage solutions. The Software Bureau [...]

4 Reasons to get Mailmark Ready by 2016

By |2017-01-12T14:32:00+00:00November 24th, 2015|

What is Mailmark? If you are a mail producer or printer that provides direct mail, you will have likely heard of Mailmark. Royal Mail launched the scheme 18 months ago with the aim to put direct mail back on the marketing map. An innovative scanning process enables mail to be tracked and monitored in a comparable way to its digital rivals, while the price point makes Mailmark the most cost effective way to send bulk mail. 4 Reasons to get Mailmark Ready by 2016 As we approach the final weeks of 2015 The Software Bureau has summarised the 4 reasons to become Mailmark ready by 2016. 1.       Price Differential is Being Increased Mailmark is already priced around 1% cheaper than [...]

Lean DM for Fundraisers

By |2017-01-12T14:36:12+00:00November 11th, 2015|

It is certainly not an exaggeration to say that over the last few months charity fundraising has gone through the wringer. Sparked by the tragic suicide of Britain’s oldest poppy seller, Olive Cooke, who was reportedly extremely distressed by the amount of charity direct mail she received, the national media and in particular, The Daily Mail, called for a review of the way the third sector promotes itself. And it has succeeded with both the ICO and government launching investigations into the issue. Already, recommendations and changes are coming into effect, such as the proposed closure of the self-regulatory Fundraising Standards Board. However, with Christmas just around the corner, traditionally the most lucrative time of year for charity fundraisers, what impact [...]