Why Direct Mail Isn’t Dead: It’s Sticky

direct-mail-isn't -dead-honeyGuest Post, Mike Smith

There is no getting around it. There is less direct mail in your mailbox these days. Many (but not all!) businesses and organizations have cut the amount of money they spend on traditional direct mail because of increased costs and a lack of effectiveness. Does that mean you should abandon it?

Before you make that decision, remember that direct mail can be really sticky. And that can be a very good thing for your business or organization,

A few years ago online experts talked about “sticky” websites. What they meant by that was that visitors didn’t just pop in and then leave immediately. They would stick around for a while. There was something on the site that made them stay and spend more time.

Direct mail that arrives in your mailbox is sticky as well—but in a different way.

A while ago I received an appeal in the mail from a charity that I’ve supported for years. There aren’t a lot of other things in my mailbox these days, so that letter from a trusted source kind of grabbed my attention. It was (big surprise!) an appeal to help this organization. The thing is, it caught me at a moment that I wasn’t really ready to respond. But I couldn’t throw it out, either. It was a legitimate appeal from an organization that was engaged in something I felt strongly about.

It was sticky. If it had been an email, I very well may have deleted it. But there was something about a physical letter describing a need that wouldn’t let me throw it away—at least not right away. So I kept it.

As a matter of fact, I kept it for weeks. I’d forget about it, but every now and then it would show up on my desk as I shuffled papers. After about a month and a half, I responded with a gift. It wasn’t guilt that made me respond. I’d wanted to, but the time just hadn’t been right. I didn’t send in the return envelope. I didn’t write a check. I responded online—but the stimulus came from that physical letter.

What does that mean for your business or organization? While you’d be foolish to ignore social media and online tools in getting your message out, you may not want to completely abandon the impact of a well-executed direct mail approach. If you have the kind of product, service, or offering that has staying power, a “sticky” message may generate surprising results.