Forget the Hype: Direct Mail Is Not Dead

Business.com / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

There's a common misconception that direct mail is a thing of the past. Don't believe in the hype; direct mail is still very much alive.

Would you like to know a proven way to reach more customers, communicate directly with your most ideal target market and communicate in a vacuum, isolating you and your target market away from your competition?

What if I told you that you could do all of this in a way that your competitors most certainly are not and in a way, they dismiss as “old generation” and past it? Well you can. Not with Facebook, not by tweeting, not by sending emails, not by pinning on Pinterest or using any fancy whizz-bang software. How can you do it? You can do it all with direct mail.

First and foremost, forget about the hype; direct mail is not dead. Social media gurus, web designers and online marketing companies would like you to think that direct mail is dead, but the facts don’t lie.  According to TargetMarketing.com, $45 Billion was spent on direct mail in 2013 which is an increase from spending in 2012. Google, one of the largest online advertising platforms, uses direct mail consistently to promote their online advertising services. The bottom line is, anyone who dismisses direct mail as being dead is naive, has never used it the way it should be used or is an online-only advocate that needs to grow up.

Related Article: How to Integrate Direct Mail Marketing in the Digital Era

 The beauty and power of direct mail is that it’s scalable, contacts and lists are readily available, your prospects are more vetted to your products or services and it lets you communicate one-on-one with your ideal prospects. Essentially, when done right it can be like having an army of salesmen or saleswomen working hard for you 24/7, 365 days of the year.

With the explosion of online marketing there is a temptation to set aside direct-mail as a means of reducing spending. That temptation is even more persuasive when a false comparison is used, such as direct-mail vs. e-mail, without looking at the numbers. Nobody downloads an e-mail and puts it up on the refrigerator with a little magnet, and sees it 20 times a day until they call. That might happen with a well-designed letter or postcard received in the mail though. What advertisements are on your fridge?  Any emails there? Probably not.

So how do you use direct mail successfully in your business?

I want to clear up a misconception because at this point in time you may be thinking, “I’ve tried direct-mail before…” So before you completely write off the article as ancient, take a look at how I approach direct mail.

1. Make it different

No matter what method of media you use (direct mail, online, speaking, social, etc.), you have to be different. You have to show up like nobody else does or you’ll be painted with the same brush as everybody else. With direct mail you have so many options to make it different; you could send personalized mail, bulky mail, oversized postcards, monthly newsletters (like I do) or shock-and-awe packages. The sky’s the limit.

Related Article: The Anatomy of a Successful Direct Mail Campaign 

2. Make it interesting

Similar to making it different, you have to make it interesting. Not interesting to you, but to your target client. Remember the abbreviation “WIIFM”, which stands for “what’s in it for me”. When your prospects are reading your direct mail pieces, they are thinking – “what’s in it for me, why should I read this and why should I pay attention?” Also, use some imagination with your direct mail piece and interject your personality into the copy.

3. Give them a reason to respond

One of the biggest mistakes I see time after time with advertising and marketing pieces is no clear call to action or a clear reason for responding. We are a fickle bunch and unless we are given a valid clear reason for responding, we will put things off (more often than not). And if your prospects put off responding to your direct mail piece, they may forget altogether.

Reassess what you think or know about direct mail. Stop the derisive term "snail mail". Stop judging results simplistically by response. You must go deeper into comparing the value of customers brought in by different means. Stop knee-jerk cost-cutting. No business can cost-cut its way to prosperity; sooner or later, you run out of costs to cut. You don't save on food bills by giving away the cows if you're in the dairy business! You should emulate how all the successful companies use direct mail. They are all increasing their usage, not reducing it. Use the three steps above to start rolling out your own successful direct mail campaigns.

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