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Direct Mail is Your Friend (and Mine!)

Having spent 25 years in the printing business I have done my fair share of defending direct mail.

For years I listened to complaints about the onslaught of direct mail filling up everyone’s mailboxes. Some folks told me that they had their own strategy on how to rid themselves of the mail, bragging about sorting their mail while standing next to a trash bin, or immediately discarding anything postmarked Bulk Mail. Rarely did I hear that direct mail was welcomed. Clearly it was frustrating and became even more so when email became the de facto communication tool.

Nowadays and after many failed campaigns, most marketing professionals understand that emails should not be used for every type of sales and marketing endeavor. Direct mail is back—although it was always tops on my list!

Here are the top 3 reasons why direct mail is far from dead:

Direct mail is more personal.

There is no doubt direct mail is far more personal than email. Think about how email and direct mail arrive at our desks. Emails are constant and come in throughout the day and night. Most people keep their inbox open along with many other documents, spreadsheets, and websites, and they read or respond to email while busy doing many other things. Direct mail provides just the opposite experience. USPS mail is delivered once a day and is hardly considered to be intrusive. There is no alert or vibration to announce a new direct mailer, so people are free to react at their convenience. My own strategy is to pour a cup of coffee and take a few minutes to look through the mail. These days the “pile” isn’t so large and I make it a point to look at everything. Opening the mail is akin to taking a short break from the computer, and you won’t find anyone complaining about that!

Direct mail doesn’t come with cyber attacks.

These days there are some very sophisticated email phishing scams. These fraudulent emails appear as if they are coming from legitimate sources (e.g., your bank, PayPal, a retail store, etc.), yet they are often from unsecure sources. Many people get duped and reveal information that should be kept confidential. I know you’re probably saying, “I would never be so gullible,” but the truth is most of us don’t know what is real and what isn’t. With all of the bad press going on about this cyber fraud and phishing emails incidents, is it any wonder that people are more confident and comfortable with old-fashioned direct mail?

Direct mail allows for creativity, texture, and dimension

There’s nothing quite like a beautiful, thoughtfully created, well-designed piece of direct mail. It’s like a work of art, with wonderful images, colors, and texture, and a message. I know that digital marketers can get creative with email, however in my opinion there is no way that you can compare the two. Direct mail has staying power, and an especially creative piece may find its way to a bulletin board or stay perched on a desk for all to see. It can be tactile, lush, and almost sensual, or it can be crisp, sleek, and controlled. The key is the recognition the mailing will generate.

Of course I’m not saying to dispense with email – there’s a time and place for that, too! – but don’t for a moment think that direct mail is phasing out. Just the opposite: it’s being reborn.

Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white.