“Give Me Just a Little More Time”: One Reason Direct Mail Still Works


_Give-me-just-a-little-more-time_-one-reason-direct-mail-still-worksIf you could climb into your Time Machine and head back to 1970 there’s a good chance you’d hear The Chairmen of the Board crooning their hit song (it peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States) Give Me Just a Little More Time. This love song begins with the plaintive cry:

Give me just a little more time
And our love will surely grow . . .

Who knew that The Chairmen of the Board were direct mail marketing experts? I say that because “a little more time” is exactly what direct mail often gives you with your potential clients.

Why does that matter? In our “swipe-left, swipe-right” culture, it’s incredibly easy—and fast— to get rid of information we don’t want (or think we don’t want). Swipe or click and it’s gone—never to be seen again. That’s just a little harder to do with something that actually takes up physical space—particularly if you give someone a reason to keep it around.

What if you actually created your direct mail to stick around? What if you designed it so that people had a reason to hang on to it for a little longer? That’s partly what’s behind direct mail packages sent out by companies such as Publishers Clearinghouse. They engage people and get them to play with the stickers in the mailing. They know that the longer people hold onto the mailing piece, the more likely they are to respond.

Of course that kind of thing is pretty expensive.  Publishers Clearinghouse can take advantage of the economics of scale that most of us can’t. Are there other alternatives?

One option might be to have some kind of contest for a modest (but interesting and worthwhile) prize. If you’re doing a personalized mailing, you could include a specific password or winning number with each piece and tell recipients that the winner will be announced—on your website—in two weeks. People might be inclined to hang on to your mailer for two weeks. And the whole time, your message will be staring them in the face. Plus, you have the advantage of integrating your direct mail with your website.

Or maybe you could take a cue from National Public Radio (NPR). Every Sunday NPR gets thousands of people to participate in trying to solve a puzzle for a really dumb prize. People don’t do it for the prize (a celebrity voice on your answering machine? Who even has answering machines anymore?). They do it for the fun of solving the puzzle (and maybe for bragging rights). And it keeps other listeners tuned in to see who won.

Maybe you can come up with a better idea. The whole point is that direct mail already sticks around longer than many online messages. What if you could come up with a way to make it stick around a little longer? Maybe your clients “love” for you will grow.

Give me just a little more time
And our love will surely grow . . .

Direct Mail Best Practices