A Vine of the Times? Using Direct Mail to Break Through to Audiences Who Have Cut Themselves Off


I was out for a walk in the neighborhood the other day when the front door of one of the homes caught my eye. Vines covered the front door from the top almost to the bottom. The photo you see here is the very door that caught my eye.

You have to understand that this is a very respectable—even upscale—neighborhood. And if you could see the rest of the house and the yard, you’d notice that it is extremely well maintained. That’s partly why this doorway caught my eye. It seemed out of place—incongruous with its surroundings.

Then it dawned on me. It was fairly obvious that the homeowners never used their front door to go in or out. Like most suburbanites, they drive into their garage and enter the house through the interior garage door.

But most suburban homeowners don’t let vines completely obscure their front doors—especially not in nice neighborhoods with strict HOAs. And that’s when the other dime dropped. A few homes in the neighborhood had discreet signs on the front door that proclaimed: “No Solicitors.” This house didn’t need a sign. A solicitor wouldn’t even be able to find a doorbell. The unwritten message was clear: “If I don’t know you enough to open my garage door for you because I know you’re coming—I don’t want to interact with you!”

What’s the significance of this for those of us in marketing? Marketing has changed dramatically. For years, people have been “growing vines” on their front doors. People used to mute their televisions to avoid hearing unwanted ads. Now they go to Netflix or TiVo what they want to watch without ads. People used to list their phones on the national Do Not Call registry (and some still do). But more and more people have dumped their landlines for cell phones that allow them to block numbers. Internet service providers protect clients with spam blockers. And even when some sneak through, most of us are savvy enough not to open something from someone we don’t know.

It’s increasingly clear that there is only one way to “get behind the vines”:

You must be invited in.

That’s really the essence of modern-day marketing. It’s no longer enough to solely push a message toward your audience. Businesses must create an experience that pulls ideal clients toward them at the same time.

One of the ways marketers “get behind the vines” to reach their audiences these days is through direct mail. With a piece of technology in every moment of our day, it’s only natural that checking the mail has become a welcome invitation to take a break — and as an added benefit to marketers — once again pay attention to what arrived in the mail. By creating a helpful and compelling (if not surprising!) offer, you increase the likelihood that someone will open their door and invite you in to tell them more.

Why You Need Both Push and Pull Marketing