5 Ways to Get Out of Direct Mail’s Catch-22
1. Weigh Postcard Potential
“One trend that has been building for quite some time is the use of postcards. Used appropriately (they aren’t very private and have space limitations), postcards can keep you in the mail and be effective,” says Friesen, who does warn that so many postcards are landing in the average mailbox now that standing out is becoming an issue.
Julia Thomas, president and creative director of Comma, based in Lansdowne, Va., and former corporate communications manager at National Public Radio, agrees that postcards are the postal choice du jour, but also issues some advice. “I tell clients that postcards are fine for lead generation and brand awareness. Not so good for making a sale directly from that mailing,” she relates.
2. Maximize the Minimal
The voucher. Love it or hate it, it still works and doesn’t show any sign of stopping, claims Paul Goldberg, a direct marketing consultant and owner of New York–based P-J Promotions Inc. However, while the voucher by itself was minimization begun many years ago, the so-called “hybrid voucher” certainly represents the opposite of the minimization trend. “We are beginning to see more and more ‘fancy’ vouchers and ‘hybrid’ vouchers, which shows a trend to adding more pieces to voucher packages, once again because they work,” says Goldberg.
3. Nonprofits: Coming Back Into the Flat?
Perhaps because the letter-size mailers have damaged response rates, Conway states that it’s undecided whether or not nonprofits will come back to the flat mailing. “Historically in the postal service, when a postage rate would increase and if a particular class or type of mail got a substantially larger increase than others, the volume for that product line drops out immediately. But then over time, it tends to regain itself,” he explains.
4. Ultimate, but Often Ineffective, Minimization: E-mail
“Honestly, the biggest minimization trend I’m seeing is a shift to more e-mail campaigns, particularly among B-to-B clients. E-mail can be cheaper, of course, but few companies are truly expert in e-mail marketing best practices and the online integration needed to really make it work,” asserts Thomas, who says that having an effective e-mail marketing program is not as easy as the technology makes it seem.