The Future of Direct Mail
Friesen: One of the biggest changes in my copywriting assignments over the years is that they are no longer only for direct mail or catalogs. I've enjoyed learning to write for online media and am fascinated by social media and how it feeds into what I write for other direct response communications.
Right now—perhaps because of economic factors—I'm writing more direct mail copy for financial services than for other industry segments. Insurance of all types, loans, credit counseling, etc. People are concerned about preserving what they have-health, possessions, investments, etc. I'm fortunate to have solid background in writing about intangibles, so this has served me well during these economically uncertain times.
Goodman: I have taken much more of a consultative role with my clients. On the corporate side, many larger clients have cut significant portions of their marketing teams, leaving them shorthanded. They welcome the support and insight that my team is able to offer. On the smaller business side, we are the marketing people that they can't afford to hire and are open to new ideas and tactics.
Boldt: What are your predictions for the role direct mail will play for most organizations in the multichannel mix?
Grant Johnson: It will still be a driver to action but will have a dramatic shift toward use as a follow-up tool. It's much more effective than email from a prospecting aspect, and some of those companies who abandon mail will come back and use it to begin the dialogue. As the web grows more and more, mail will play a key part in driving new visitors. Email as a retention tool is very powerful, but too much email, spam blockers and overuse will make it less effective and some firms will go back to mail.
Gary Hennerberg, president of the direct marketing agency The Hennerberg Group: A contrarian view would be to say that direct mail will rebound significantly, mainly because fewer people are reading printed magazines and newspapers, and they aren't watching as much television. Online, there are only 10 firms who will ever be in the top 10 on certain keywords searched by prospective customers, and there is only so much room on a computer screen for advertising. So that puts direct mail in a unique position of being able to fill in the gaps left by declining readers and viewers of mass media.