Email Can Compliment But Not Entirely Replace Real Mail

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how promotional marketing is benefiting greatly from advances in digital media. Now, thanks to this The Wall Street Journal piece, I can see the same might be true for direct mail.

“The introduction of new media has forced [business owners] to go back and revisit the whole playbook on what’s the best way to communicate with customers,” says Eric Anderson, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
The idea is to send something that’s more appealing than “junk” mail and potentially more noticeable than an email message, That allows business owners “to offer a personal touch the larger firms may not be able to have,” he says.

One of the things I do to create a personal touch is send hand written postcards and notecards. An email may or may not grab one’s attention, but a letter that arrives from a real person, that’s hard to toss. Of course, I don’t think of these cards as DM, but perhaps that’s the point. The age of mass marketing has morphed into age of mass personalization.
Speaking of mass, U.S. consumers received about 5.2 billion pieces of direct mail in the third quarter of 2009, a 27% decline compared with 7.1 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to Mintel Comperemedia, a research firm that tracks direct-mail marketing.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.