Direct Mail Trends of 2001
A Round-up of What's Working in the Mail Right Now
By Hallie Mummert
This year has been no bed of roses for many direct marketers. A stagnant economy paired with increases in postage and other fixed operations costs have dealt marketers a double whammy in budgeting for direct mail programs.
A mature market offers another challenge to direct marketers looking for a creative approach that's going to get the job done in the mail. The result is a good deal of uncertainty about what might work best. In years past, you could identify clear trends in format and offer strategy—such as when the double postcard made its debut.
While the current trends might not be as definitive as they were in the 1980s or 1990s, there are a few major patterns, both ongoing and emerging, that will guide direct marketers to successful campaigns.
Here is a round-up of those trends, and what's driving them.
This trend started to develop in 2000, and hit full stride in 2001. The prevalent theory seems to be that if you are going to put something extra inside the package, display it with an extra window or even just a bigger address window.
What's on display? The usual sticker tokens, plastic cards (membership and gift)and pennies. But there were also freemiums, such as a dashboard emblem from Sacred Heart Auto League and a lapel pin from the U.S. Olympic Committee.
An interesting freemium from Forbes magazine is a First-Class postage stamp that accompanies last-ditch renewal efforts to encourage response. Postage-paid business reply envelopes are the norm in the publishing industry, but the stamp is a more tangible reminder that Forbes is paying the tab for responses.
Beyond showing off these tchotchkes, marketers use windows to emphasize important messages, such as response deadlines, free gifts, personalization of offers and fake registration numbers that give the mailing an official appearance.