This is a thought I have had stewing in my mind for a while now, and so here goes. Back in 2009, after the economy really took a dive – and right about the same time that all the new social media options sprang up, Direct Mail as an advertising medium really took a hit. Of course increasing postage rates did not help either, but all things considered, there were many other more exciting ways to reach out to clients and prospects alike than the rusty old mailbox!
Fast forward 5 years now, with a more established social media arena and even higher postal rates, an argument could be made that Direct Mail is starting to come back! Maybe not full mainstream, but more targeted and more creative campaigns are reaching us on a more regular basis. If you want to have some impact, try crafting an old-fashioned hand written note or even a traditional sales letter – you just might find a better response than what you would get from an e-mail blast. And if you are an online retailer, the competition to get a catalog driving people to your website is filling the mailbox like never before!
What is interesting and perhaps the greatest strength behind direct mail is the ability to target an audience.Obviously if you have your own in-house mail list for existing clients or donors, this becomes the starting point for all interaction. From this list though, you can then develop a profile of your most common and or profitable customers – then from this profile define the demographics of who you wish to target for any upcoming campaign. The glory of direct mail is the access to a wide variety of sources that can pinpoint the ideal consumers or businesses that fit these demographics. Another strength of direct mail is that often times the accuracy of the contact information is better than what you might find with e-mail sources too.
Of course while targeting a given audience is critical to the potential success of your marketing campaign, perhaps just as critical is the offer you provide and the number of times you look to interact with them. While you might hate to give something away for free, the truth is that over 70% of buyers respond to some type of coupon message! And as I have suggested many times in the past, an integrated campaign that includes multiple touches including other media formats as well as follow-up mailings will also help increase your response rates. The idea of adding creativityin the form of special effects or perhaps even a “lumpy mail” piece with an incentive included will also attract increased attention.
Perhaps the point I actually am trying to make today is that even with all the new media options available to us, and in fact especially with all of them, I think we are finding that many organizations are still in the process of determining which format really works best for them. As the saying goes, all that is old is NEW again!