Is Direct Mail Dead?

5 10 2009

I recently received an email (SPAM email to be specific) to attend a webinar direct mailfrom the US Postal Service about direct mail. Yep… A webinar about DM, what next a face book page for DM? As a marketer I found it a little ironical…but it made me think!

DM still plays an important, if somewhat shrinking role in the B2B marketing mix, but with the diminishing returns and the hype surrounding social media it’s easy to play down it’s importance and play up its death.

The B2B conference industry has been guilty of killing it’s fair share of trees. The argument often goes (sometimes supported by test data) that a customer associates a bigger, thicker DM marketing piece with a bigger better event, they are so overwhelmed with the quality of the piece that they book straight away or that the piece is so large it will be a “desk dominator” and interupt the recipient so they feel compelled to book lifting response rates.  The packaging also comes into question, plain envelopes, red ones, poly wrapped, window, non window… all tested and measured for the peak return. All of which won’t make a difference if the product is rubbish. But lets assume the product or service is worth cutting down the tree…

The keys to successful DM are more important than ever:

  • Personalised content – The piece is highly personalised, yes we get the name and salutation right, but also everything else. The content speaks to that person’s situation. Excellent copy that starts or continues the conversation, drawing the prospect in, highlighting the value proposition, telling a story that resonates with the audience.
  • Anticipated – They receive regular DM from us, and values the relationship or content.  Timing also comes into it.
  • Relevant – The content is not just highly relevant (& personalised), it also add’s value to the persons experience with the brand. Hopefully creating a more tactile and immersive association with the brand. A piece of content they we would want to pass to a colleague.
  • The database: Having good lists to mail is key, preferably with full permission, but at least with a relationship or nominated interest in the topic.

It should also form a part of your overall strategy and fit with the overall messaging or branding. Basic but worth remembering.

DM, like all channels, comes with it’s own challenges in the Middle East and other parts of the world, where delivery also comes into question. Ensuring the quality production of the materials from design to delivery can often be a significant challenge. A challenge that can also be expensive compared to the cost effectiveness of other channels.

But these simple keys to successful DM, look remarkably like the keys to any good marketing, online or off. It’s easy to get caught up in all the social media hype and forget the basic’s. DM is likely to play a role for a lot longer, but are it’s days numbered? When was the last time you wrote a friend a letter and posted it?




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s