Not so long ago advertising – they called it ʻmainstream advertising then – was all powerful. TV spots, some as long as two minutes, broadsheet full pages in the press, often in full colour, ditto in magazines and 48 sheet outdoor posters ruled the roost. The rest, even including radio, were looked down upon by the cognoscenti as ʻfringeʼ media or even worse, ʻdirect mailʼ, the very pits. But in time, as economic pressures began to bite, the latter transformed into something just a little more exciting. They called it ʻDirect Marketingʼ and it grew like Topsy under its flash new name. Until, horror of horrors, its annual expenditure actually exceeded that on traditional media, TV and the like.
Itʼs not hard to understand. Much of direct marketing demanded a response from interested consumers. It was accountable. Suddenly awards lost their gloss. Too often they were just a way of showing off the talent of their creators, often with scant regard towards the public they were supposed to convince. More than that, direct mail for example, had the power to create the goose that laid the golden egg. The database, worth its weight in gold for smart operators.
Junk mail I hear you say. Sour grapes I say. What about junk TV, junk press, junk
Everything it seems, needs a title. And now that more and more manufacturers were hearing from their consumers, a new ʻscienceʼ emerged. It was called ʻRelationship Marketingʼ perhaps the most dynamic marketing tool today. It was a powerful case of Quality not Quantity. Which begs these questions. Do you have a database of your customers? Is it current today? Is it valid or are you just guessing? When did you last clean the list? Do you use it regularly? The smart marketers that do are reaping rich rewards. Technology has given them an extra edge with computers, Google and the internet. Finding new prospects to add to the database and getting rid of non-responders has become a lot more efficient. Results can be easily measured. But the ultimate test is not how many people responded, but how many people actually put money in your till.
Is mail dead? Itʼs strength, when used properly, is that mail is one to one, intensely personal and addressed to a selected audience most likely to be in the chosen market. It has sold millions of $ of expensive Mercedes-Benz cars, untold millions of Readers Digest and TimeLife books and magazines, who knows how many CDs, exercise devices, kitchen gadgets, cases of wine, clothes, credit cards, the list goes on and on. One of its unique advantages is the ability of a well designed mail piece to involve the recipient in some physical way. Remember those Readers Digest YES and No stamps? Where you did everything you could to make sure you used the YES one because of a suspicion that using the NO one made sure you would never win the Sweepstakes. Itʼs even possible to use simple chemical tests to prove your product is superior to the competition. Such mail packages can, on the surface, appear expensive. But the professionals continue to achieve profitable results in spite of this. The reason is abundantly clear. It works.
Today, it looks like email is shaping up to replace the letter. But like the letter, email needs to be personal and should be received as such. What potential customers donʼt need is ʻjunk emailʼ. And therein lies a dangerous trap.
Researchers have a name for it. Itʼs called ʻcognitive dissonance. It happens when people are exposed to so many different messages that their minds turn off. Itʼs the cyber equivalent of letterbox drops, householder mailings and unsolicited phone calls. The internet provides plenty of opportunities for shrewd marketers who are prepared to invest in the same qualities that made – and still makes good direct mail so effective. Today, because of the sheer number of messages on the net, it will require a whole new creative approach, a modest investment and some pinpoint selectivity to break through the clutter.
As always, faint heart never won fair lady. Fortune favors the brave.
Are you using EDM successfully, or do you still use the traditional ‘Direct Marketing’?
How do your conversions compare between traditional DM and EDM?