Who Still Uses Direct Mail? (How About Apple?)

Who-still-uses-direct-mail-how-about-AppleDoes direct mail marketing still have a place in an online world? After all, who still uses direct mail today? The answer just might surprise you. One of the most innovative and forward-thinking companies in the high-tech world knows that sometimes the tactile appeal of a piece of mail delivers what a post or a tweet just can’t.

The online technology reporting site TechCrunch recently reported that the Cupertino computing giant mailed out a set of slick posters featuring outstanding images of their ultra-cool-looking new Mac Pro computers. Is Apple going “old school” with their marketing?

It’s not likely. However, Apple is pretty good at knowing how to make a statement and how to generate attention. Steve Jobs was a master at slipping in “one more thing” (usually a blockbuster announcement) whenever he would deliver keynote addresses about new product releases. Apple’s use of direct mail is reminiscent of that.

What can we learn from Apple about using direct mail in marketing efforts today? Here are three simple observations.

What Apple can teach about direct mail.

  1. Be selective. When Apple sent out their Mac Pro posters, they didn’t send them to everybody. They targeted a small, very select group of individuals: journalists. They targeted people who could influence others. Direct mail is too expensive to send out to a broad, ill-defined audience. But it can have a big impact if it hits the right people.
  2. Send something worth receiving. Apple didn’t send out a catalog. They didn’t send out a spec sheet or a sales sheet. They didn’t send out product descriptions or coupons. Why not? All of that information is available online—if someone is interested enough to read it. They sent an attention getter. And (see point one again) they sent it to people who would take the message to a larger audience.
  3. Do it well. The posters that Apple sent out were really well done. They looked cool! They fit Apple’s image. The marketing gurus at Apple didn’t try to cut corners and do this campaign as cheaply as possible. They thought it through and they executed it well. The look of the piece they sent out said more than any copy they could have written.

What does that mean for you?

When using direct mail to promote your business, you’ll want to be very selective when it comes to your list. Choose your audience carefully. Don’t waste money mailing to people who aren’t interested. Then make sure what you’re sending is worth receiving. Maybe “cool-looking” isn’t your thing. That’s okay. Maybe your offer is the thing that will make the piece worth looking at. Do it well. You don’t have to break the bank to create a great direct mail package, but don’t try to do it “on the cheap.” If you do, it will look like it and undermine the effectiveness.

Oh, and “One more thing!” (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist!). Get some help. We’ve been doing this direct mail thing for a long time and we’re pretty good at it. We can help you stand out in the mailbox.