Depending on who you talk to these days, some people seem to think that direct mail is as dead as the dodo. Rising postage rates coupled with a struggling U.S. Postal Service, shrinking mail volume, and rising paper costs have all led many businesses to abandon mail and turn to email or online marketing instead to acquire and retain customers.
But think twice before you abandon traditional mail. For some, using old-fashioned mail remains the best marketing strategy.
Direct Mail as Marketing Strategy
Many people believe that direct mail should be considered a marketing tactic, a method to reach customers. Direct mail can also be considered a strategy.
Consider these attributes:
It’s stealthy. It flies under the radar. Competitors cannot easily track and monitor mailing activities. They can peruse your website, sign up for your email lists, and monitor your online activities much more easily than they can see your direct mail efforts.
It gets attention. Because the volume of mail has declined, new catalogs, offers and well-crafted direct mail stand out from the crowd.
It’s tangible. Many people like to hold a mail piece in their hands.
It gets past the gatekeeper or the spam filter. True, people still read their unsolicited mail over the trash can, and you still have only a few seconds to grab their attention. But compared to automated spam filters and blocks on the major email list serves, you’ve got a better chance of getting a mail piece in front of a customer than you do an email if you have no prior relationship with the customer.
It’s measurable. It’s accountable. With every dollar spent on mail, you can directly attribute sales, customer acquisition, and over time, the lifetime value of a customer.
Many consumers still prefer mail to email. With the prevalence of malicious computer viruses and spam emails bordering on pornography, the control, immediacy and tangible pleasure of receiving a new direct mail catalog or offer through the mail remains a draw for many people.
Many companies remain skeptical, especially given the costs of sending a large-scale mail piece. There are several ways to reduce the costs.
Use postcard mailings instead of packages. Postcards are inexpensive, get attention quickly, and can be equally effective.
Review U.S. Postal Service guidelines for mail pieces and be sure to structure pieces for maximum discounts. This includes size, format, and weight requirements.
Look for opportunities to group your mailing with others to achieve postal discounts.
Use lighter papers to save postage.
Keep your lists scrupulously clean.
Combine mail with email for a one-two punch and higher response rates.
Direct mail isn’t dead. It’s fallen a bit in popularity, but for companies who really want to keep their marketing activities under the radar, it remains the best strategy to promote products and services without announcing their marketing efforts.
Jeanne Grunert is president of Seven Oaks Consulting, offering direct and online marketing services and unique freelance writing. After a successful 20 year career in direct and online marketing where she led marketing efforts for major global firms, Ms. Grunert opened Seven Oaks Consulting and focuses on direct and online marketing strategies for her clients. Ms. Grunert holds a Master of Science degree (with distinction) in Direct and Online Marketing from New York University and has won many awards for her business, direct marketing, and writing projects. For more information about Seven Oaks Consulting and Jeanne Grunert, visit http://www.sevenoaksconsulting.com