As everyone knows, there's less mail. The US. Postal Service projects a decline, from a high of 213 billion pieces of mail in 2006 all the way down to 170 billion for 2010. Financial services mail, of course, is the major reason for the big drop. Because of the global credit crunch, credit card companies are sending less mail, and same goes for banks and mortgage lenders. And it's not likely to change anytime soon, as a recent report from The Federal Reserve noted that nearly all major banks were not going to ease lending standards in the next year.
"Good things do come in small packages!" With that line at the top of its tiny 4" x 5-1/2" self-mailer, Chase Manhattan Bank announces an offer in big, attention-getting type that many prospects will respond to: "Get $100 on us"
When direct mailers discuss the youth market, often it's with a hint or more of frustration and confusion. Will teenagers and college students respond to direct mail? Do they only care about the electronic way of marketing?
Back in 1992, I received a phone call from the late Walter Schmidt, who was interested in having me present at the Montreux Symposium in Switzerland. Montreux was not only one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland, nestling on Lake Geneva and dwarfed by the magnificent Swiss Alps—it was also home to the world's leading direct marketing conference.
The obstacles were many for Microsoft and its business intelligence (BI) products. Not only were there many fellow BI products in the IT marketplace, many of those competitors had been on the market for considerable time, and Microsoft's set of BI solutions was more expensive than most of them-and adding to this were concerns about its ease of use among a wide range of workers.
Much like comedians tend to find the humorous side to any situation, creatives look for inspiration at every turn. Take, for instance, Carolyn Goodman, managing partner for San Rafael, Calif.-based direct marketing company Goodman Marketing Partners, who came up with an idea for a personalized T-shirt premium for her client, greater San Francisco/Bay area jazz radio station KCSM-FM, at her children's swim meet.
Everybody reads those quirky "What's In/What's Out" lists that reappear in the media each year. This got me thinking about direct mail. As you know, effective direct marketing is an ever-bubbling pursuit that continually erupts with new ideas and technologies. As direct marketers, we keep a close watch on what's working-and what's working even better-for nonprofit and for-profit clients in a range of industries. Some techniques that enjoyed IN status last year are definitely on their way OUT in 2009, simply because new approaches and new technologies are achieving better results. Here are a few examples:
One engaging and prevalent device commonly used to promote diet and weight-loss products is the before-and-after image. For example, not convinced that product X will trim inches off of your waistline? Just look at the "before" shot of a frowning, overweight customer and then the "after" picture of a slim, smiling customer.
The rise of social media and prevalence of online ratings and customer reviews on e-commerce sites tells us that today's consumer values the opinion of her peers over that of the marketer or company. This online phenomenon translates into direct mail in the form of customer testimonials, a direct mail fundamental.
Of the 220 categories in our Who's Mailing What! Archive, the world's greatest library of direct mail, 31 of them involve merchandise-and they all appear to be especially vulnerable categories when the economy slips. They include fashion, cosmetics, electronics, supplements, furniture, foods, wine clubs, pet supplies and sporting goods—all of which many Americans may be trying to cut down on since the U.S. recession began in December 2007.