Special Report: Driving Innovation
Direct mail is marketing’s workhorse for a reason. It’s resolute and reliable, even in the face of challenge. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) “2006 Response Rate Trends Report,” the medium produces the second highest response rates (behind catalogs) for marketers seeking to solicit direct-order sales or motivate customers to make a charitable contribution.
So how does one of the oldest marketing mediums stay effective and relevant despite intense competition? For this special report on production and paper, we asked some of the best and brightest minds in the direct mail business to share their opinions on the trends driving innovation in the field. Here’s what they told us:
The Postal Increase
The No. 1 topic on most mailers’ minds is the recent postal rate increase—a bit of déjà vu from years past. Mary Ann Kleinfelter, director of marketing at L-com, a distributor of connectivity products, says most mailers don’t want to reduce mail volumes. As such, the pressure is on to counteract increased postal expenses with reductions in other areas.
Some classes of mail have been more affected than others. “Rates are shifted in favor of letter-shaped mail,” Jerry Cerasale, DMA senior vice president of government affairs, explains. “Marketers should test, test, test differing formats to see what the response is.”
Kleinfelter says pairing postcards with special landing pages may be one way to deliver customized content while keeping costs down. “It’s hard to sell on a postcard, but now that we all have very good Web sites, getting people to go to the Web on a postcard is a doable thing,” she explains.
Realizing cost savings in other areas, such as paper or production, can also help ease mailers’ pain. Meredith Corporation Vice President of Creative Services Ellen de Lathouder shares one tip: “We traditionally had a notch on order cards—a die cut that suggests customers need to tear it out. Someone suggested just inking out where a notch would be ... And guess what? That works and saves us money on die cutting.”