Brave New Mail
This article originally appeared in the February 2008 issue of Inside Direct Mail, a sister publication of Print Professional. For more information, visit www.insidedirectmail.com.)
For our 20th anniversary issue in 2004, the Inside Direct Mail editors revisited the industry’s biggest trends and evolution with direct mail experts. Remember when AOL mailed the first diskette in 1993, or when National Geographic Travel rolled out with a billboard postcard and a smaller postcard rode along in a plastic pouch? Since then, the direct mail industry has come a long way.
With the rapid increases in technology, new marketing platforms, retiring baby boomers leaving the work force and generations X and Y coming up through the ranks, the industry is adapting. Here, experts reflect on the changes they see in the industry, trends they believe will shape future control mailings and what the next generation of marketers needs to know to keep the industry thriving.
Reaching New Prospects
In the heyday of direct mail, there was less advertising clutter and consumers were more attentive to marketing messages. Now, consumers have shorter attention spans, expect faster turnarounds and are more discerning. The Internet has democratized consumers by offering product reviews and ratings and more corporate transparency. “I think marketers today are approaching probably the most intelligent or best-educated people … they know when they’re being sold and there’s so much skepticism,” said Ted Kikoler, president of Ontario-based Ted Kikoler Design Inc.
Today’s prospects want targeted and valuable messages they can respond to quickly and efficiently. Improved targeting heightens the message value to the customer. “I think what people want is relevance. It’s only junk mail if it’s not relevant to you,” shared Nancy Harhut, SVP and managing director of relationship marketing at Boston-based Hill Holiday Direct.
To make your mailer a keeper, you must hit your target and impart a valuable nugget of information to the recipient. For example, Kikoler suggested a moving company’s direct mail piece, featuring 10 handy tips for movers along with its offer, is more likely to wind up on the refrigerator than in the garbage. Adding online response options to direct mail also helps, as it encourages those prospects looking for a quick turnaround and makes it easier for marketers to collect e-mail addresses.