There always seems to be a bit of a battle between “Old School” and “New School” when it comes to direct marketing. Direct Mail definitely falls into the “Old School” camp. It takes longer to create. It takes longer to deliver. It’s generally more expensive (you have paper, printing, mailing, and postage charges). And the response isn’t instantaneous.
And yet, there’s a marked resurgence of direct mail in today’s marketing mix. Why?
For some recipients, what was old is now new. For a lot of digital natives, getting physical mail is a bit of a novelty. They are used to ignoring marketing messages on digital devices—but a card or a letter grabs their attention.
Physical mailings have staying power. It’s amazing how long a piece of mail (with a compelling offer, of course) can stick around. People leave them on a desk top, tack them to a bulletin board, or stick them on the refrigerator as a reminder that they probably want to act on the offer. That’s hard to duplicate in the digital realm. Sending the same email offer or running the same online ad over and over is irritating. But seeing a card on the refrigerator isn’t—because the recipient made the decision to keep it.
Smart marketers know that what often works best is a combination of “something old” and “something new.” I mentioned above that one of the potential downsides of “old school” mailing is that response isn’t instantaneous. But if you include a URL that takes recipients to a specific website (ideally, a landing page dedicated specifically to the offer you’re making) you can make it easy for interesting prospects to respond immediately—when they decide it’s time.
Even if the initial response to your mailing isn’t a purchase (let’s say someone requests more information in the form of an ebook or an online catalog), you can use newer technologies to follow up. Email for instance—which some consider to be stuck somewhere between “old” and “new” technologies—is an extremely effective way to keep the conversation going with prospects who have reached out to you. Your emails won’t get trashed or ignored—because these prospects asked you for more information.
Old school or new school? Which works best? Sometimes the answer is a combination of “something old, something new!”