The Current State of Snail Mail
By Denny Hatch
I despise the term "snail mail." It is a pejorative that denigrates all hand-carried mail—Standard, First Class and Parcel Post—as well as the dedicated men and women who deliver it. It is a far more offensive term than "junk mail."
My entire reputation was built on direct mail, the result of my wife and I starting WHO'S MAILING WHAT!—a newsletter (now called Inside Direct Mail) based on my archive of tens of thousands of direct mail samples.
In the Oct. 26, 2004 Wall Street Journal, staff reporter Avery Johnson wrote a story titled, "Cheap-Tickets Sites Try New Tactics." From the story:
"In addition, the big agencies—Sabre Holding Corp.'s Travelocity, InterActive Corp.'s Expedia and Orbitz—say they have sent or are planning to send letters to some or all of the leading search engines asking them to …"
Hey! The world of pure-play, dot-com companies does not trust e-mail when it has something important to say. They send letters—physical letters with live stamps!
When Peggy and I ran WHO'S MAILING WHAT! out of our home in Connecticut, I used to carry bundles of renewal efforts to the post office and stuff them into the mail slot. More than once, I stood aside to invite the person in line behind me—who had a single envelope in hand—to go first. Every time the person would say, "No, that's okay. I don't want my letter mixed in with all of yours." No kidding. People care about mail!
Who can forget the quadruple whammy Floridians suffered under Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne? Sitting amidst the wreckage of their lives, what did these victims want most? Ice, drinking water, electricity, food and the sight of a mail truck—the only conduit to their insurance companies and money from families.
Many years ago, the legendary copywriter Bill Jayme and designer Heikki Ratalahti created a mailing on behalf of the Direct Marketing Association that was sent to every member of Congress to point out the need for various legislation. Inside the large envelope was a giant die-cut mailbox. On opening the mailbox, a personally addressed letter to the congressman or senator flopped out. The headline: "Nobody likes an empty mailbox."