Sunday, December 27, 2009


Is direct mail poised for a comeback?

Have you noticed the decrease in direct mail volume to your mailbox lately?  Fewer credit card offers, fewer Realtor “just listed” postcards, fewer cell phone and Internet access mailers.  Now that you think of it, mail volume is lower at work, too, isn’t it?

More and more marketers are cutting way back on "snail mail."  Some are doing it for cost reasons - email, social media and other channels feel cheaper.   Plus, they’re certainly faster to market for organizations that want results right now, and want to measure impact the same day.

But with the right audience, offer and context, direct mail can still be highly effective.  And with so many marketers pulling back from the postman, is 2010 a good time to strategically add some direct mail back to your marketing mix?

Here are four specific examples of where direct mail might make sense:

Consumers: Like you, most consumers are getting fewer marketing messages in their mailbox these days.  But, also like you, they’re sorting said mail after getting home from a busy day – with dinner, kids, and other domestic duties awaiting.  You have less than a second to get their attention.  With consumers you know are relevant prospects, I’d stick with postcards, oversized, with a simple message and call to action.  Consider testing a free and risk-free offer that doesn’t require a purchase – just a registration or other value-added offer that gets more of the right consumers to take the next step, and enter into a direct conversation with you. 

Small Businesses:  Small businesses still get and receive their mail directly – no mail rooms, no complicated mail-routing systems.  With small businesses, focus on simple but core messages – make money, save money, save time.  Be respectful of their time by keeping content tight and focused on benefits & outcomes, not features and details.

Enterprise Decision-Makers:  Overnight packages (the envelope type especially) are a great way to get through the gatekeepers that restrict access to your executive decision-maker prospects.  You don’t need it to be overnight either – send it 2-3 day for cheap and it’ll still get delivered in a special package and/or separately from the regular mail.  Make the message short and simple, and test a big offer depending on your acquisition economics (I’ve been successful recently with Kindle offers in exchange for meetings for some prospects).  Send the same package to others in the executive suite at the same company, and tell them so at the bottom of your letter.  Then follow up via phone after a few days.  

Ready-to-buy Prospects:  If you know a particular prospect (or group of prospects) are ready to make a purchase decision quickly, what would you spend to get their attention?  What would it be worth to get them to try your product, speak to your sales team, or take a demo?  Don’t ignore the impact of direct mail (letters, packages, etc.) as an effective, cut-through-the-clutter way to get their attention and drive action.



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