Editor's Notes: Mail's Mix & Mingle
This month, Target Marketing publishes the results of our third listing of the foremost mailers by estimated volume-estimated because most companies tend not to disclose their annual mail volumes. Once again, we've joined forces with lists and data firm ALC to create this well-informed calculation of mailing quantity.
What makes this research venture even more exciting is we're now starting to build some history on this analysis, which allows us to derive more conclusions about what's happening-or not happening, as it was-in the direct mail channel. For example, who didn't make the list is just as intriguing as who did. On the "didn't" side are technology, telecommunications and education organizations. The "did" side includes the usual suspects of nonprofits, publishers, insurers, banks/investment firms, merchandise companies and business services firms. While a telecommunications company did make it onto the list one out of the three years, the former group clearly markets via a more diverse media mix.
So, what's going on with the direct mail stalwarts comprising our list? For one, they're struggling with the integration of online media in their offline-dominated marketing plans. But as evidenced in the profiles of Top 50 Mailers the Salvation Army and ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Hospital (stories start on page 26), they recognize the need to get there faster.
Comparing the leading sectors using mail to trends we've been tracking via our direct mail library, the Who's Mailing What! Archive, signals a return by publishers to more varied formats and creative approaches that apply charm and personality to sell the brand and offer. Vouchers have not been abandoned, but they're not a solo act either. On the merchandise and financial services front, marketers have been knee-deep in their data and VDP initiatives, putting out more targeted efforts that feature custom messaging, images, offers and even response options-all tactics that ALC's chief revenue strategist, Fran Green, points to as the future of successful direct mail.
So, looking ahead to 2009, I'll venture a guess that publishers and nonprofits will continue to dominate the direct mail field. But which publishers and nonprofits will be mixing it up with which banks, insurers and firms from other sectors will be the real change playing out in the Top 50.