Direct Mail in the Vacuum

[responsive]postalperson-dm[/responsive]Nature and marketers abhor a vacuum. Which is why now may be the right time for your company to take a fresh look at your direct mail program.

“Direct mail, in terms of volume, is in decline. This would usually be cause for people to steer well clear, which brand wants to be associated with a dying channel?” asks Russell Parsons in Marketing Week UK.

The answer, he believes, is pretty much anyone who wants to get noticed. Parsons was in attendance at a Marketing Week event recently and heard Lord Wolfson of Next speaking about the interesting paradox of direct mail in the current business climate.

“Next, one of the high street’s success stories with sales of late that rivals only dream of, said it had made a return to direct mail after pretty much side lining it for years,” writes Parsons.

“[Wolfson] said the retailer had switched off advertising mail over the past seven years because the huge quantity that consumers received made it ineffective. However, with the volumes sent out by brands much lower now Wolfson said Next has ‘turned it back on’ and found that it helped to increase sales in the UK,” Parsons continues.

Why? Parsons sees it as a case of less is more.

“…the fact is that addressed mail from major brands is not being sent at the same volume as it was,” writes Parsons. “This is partly because it is perceived as expensive when compared with email and other digital delivery methods and partly because campaigns are better targeted.”

This makes direct mail a bit of a novelty, especially when it is personalized and sent to highly targeted recipients. And for fashion brands like Next, “mail can offer an immersive experience that can’t compare to digital.”

Less volume overall may be a good thing for the direct mail industry. If marketers are getting better at targeting, and less willing to use the carpet bomb approach of yore, the mail that does get delivered will be more likely to be on target and boost sales.

Printing, addressing and mailing technology advances are also radically changing the way direct mail is produced. If your company hasn’t kept up on these changes it’s time to take a fresh look. Direct mail, in the right hands, is a powerful tool for growth.