Mailers Go Multichannel, Or Else
To remain in your current line of work, imagine you had to move to New York City. It doesn’t matter if the move provokes mostly fear or excitement; similarly, it doesn’t make any difference whether you’ve got deep pockets or are low on funds. You don’t have a choice—you’re going to the Big Apple! Rents are high and competition is fierce, so you have to take on some roommates and find a way to make it work. But do you hope to simply survive, or succeed?
That’s life for direct marketers, including mailers, today. Most companies have at least tested multichannel campaigns by now—direct mail/e-mail/Web or direct mail/e-mail/telemarketing, etc.—and many have found that these channels are awkward “roommates” at best. Multichannel campaigns do invite more chaos and confusion into this diverse marketing mix, so increasingly, it’s the companies that learn to grapple and quickly adapt that come out on top.
The Current Multichannel Expectation
“You start with the customer, and the customer today expects a multichannel approach,” explains Mark Swedlund, senior vice president of Haggin Marketing, a multichannel agency based in San Francisco. He gives the example of major retailers that used to be able to survive on their stores alone, with help from the Sunday’s supplement media as advertising; now, no matter what the store, customers expect to be able to also check out the merchant’s Web site; similarly, she anticipates being contacted fairly regularly by direct response methods. Moreover, “[She] expects to be able to choose when and where [she] interacts with the company,” he says.
Today, anyone interested in their company’s welfare, from owners to stockholders to employees, has the same expectation. “At the beginning of this whole Internet era, there was a question, ‘Are we just adding to our expenses and not getting any additional sales?’ Most people concur now [that] they are getting more revenue and profit per customer because they have more ways for the customer to purchase with them, handle their customer service and, in general, do business with them,” comments Swedlund.