Strategy Session: Making Mail More Relevant
The Asteroid Effect
Today, we know that dinosaurs may have been destroyed by an outside force that had nothing to do with evolution or their ability to adapt. According to a 2004 research study, a giant asteroid hit the coast of Mexico 65 million years ago. Scientists believe it incinerated all of the large dinosaurs that were alive at the time in just a few hours.
For direct mail, of course, that asteroid has been the Internet. And while it hasn't destroyed us, yet, we do need to adjust and adapt to its impact.
Two years ago, the Direct Marketing Association predicted that online marketing would rise to the level of direct mail by the year 2011. The current economic crisis may have accelerated that timeline.
The challenge we have is to make direct mail work much harder for us. The only way to do that is by taking advantage of the unique strengths of the medium and using them to their best advantages.
So, what are the unique strengths of direct mail?
1. Most importantly, direct mail is the only medium that involves three dimensions. Rather than just viewing on a screen, or listening to it, we actually hold it in our hands.
That is an enormous advantage over other mediums. Back when I worked in an advertising agency, we presented to a major technology company. First, the general agency presented its campaigns, which the client seemed to like. Then came my turn.
I covered the conference room table with dimensional packages, comps of direct mail packages and brochures with unusual folds. The client was enchanted-and asked to keep all the work.
After the meeting, the creative director of the general agency groused to me: "You guys have an unfair advantage—you got stuff."
You don't have to use a dimensional package to take advantage of direct mail's tactile nature. You can choose unusual paper stocks, put different things in the envelope and get people to "play" with the work.