Often overlooked in direct marketers' concerns with everything from list segmentation techniques to response tracking technologies is the fact that the best direct mail piece is a personal, emotional, heartfelt communication from one human being to another. It always has been. For consumer and B-to-B offers alike, powerful, persuasive letter writing remains the ultimate foundation of all effective direct marketing.
In an age of email, instant messages, blogging and texting, it's facetiously been said that the art of letter writing survives principally in one place in society: direct marketing. And that fact alone justifies the continued proliferation of direct mail advertising!
Kidding aside, the following are a series of random principles, warnings and frankly subjective, if closely held, beliefs that illuminate why "the art of letter writing" not only must not be allowed to wane, but why it remains — in this copywriter's opinion — the whole point of direct mail. Here are 7 reasons why the letter must remain paramount in the package:
1. The goal of direct marketing is personal, human-to-human communication.
Unlike other forms of mass advertising and promotion, with direct mail you're not addressing an audience, you're addressing an individual. A person. And if you're doing direct marketing right, it's not sales - it's a conversation. And that implies a "Dear Friend" letter, written human to human.
2. Images are powerful.
But so are words. Life in a "post-literate" society can be graphically exciting and exhilaratingly visual. But the loss of literacy implies a loss of subtlety, elegance and logic. When language falls out of favor, we all lose. And nowhere is language more effectively and inspiringly employed in direct marketing than in the traditional personal letter.