Merritt Engel

Some marketers are doing better than six months ago, but many are not. Hard times, of course, beg for change rather than standing pat. I spoke recently with some leading copywriters and direct marketers about new ways that companies can go to boost direct mail response levels.

Copywriting is the backbone of direct mail—just as screenwriting is the same for the movie business—but in this increasingly high-tech industry, that's been forgotten. With more multichannel campaigns, upgraded database marketing techniques and splashy self-mailers than ever before, the written word becomes an afterthought, literally ... and this is not good, for any direct marketer.

With the economic downturn, the green discussion seems to be somewhat muted. Not "Silent Spring"-like, but certainly palpable and, frankly, disturbing given the severity of global warming and other signs of environmental degradation. Similarly, just when so-called "green mail"—recycled envelopes, soy inks, green seals, environmental messaging, etc.—was building momentum, the economy tanked and seemingly took the green gang with it.

The common consensus is that the older the audience, the more direct mail-friendly it is. Thus, seniors and baby boomers are often considered better direct mail prospects than Gen Y and iGen (also called Gen Z), for example.

Amid the economic woes have been constant calls and predictions that mail will get smaller, slicker, cheaper. Frankly, it's a little depressing. Can you imagine the general advertising folks saying their billboards were going to be smaller, their TV ads only 10 seconds long and were opting for bus bumper stickers rather than the bus itself. In a word? No.

There's a common thread many nonprofit organizations share when it comes to direct mail fundraising appeals—they can fall into the trap of hyping up all the great things their organizations do instead of discussing all the ways the donors help.

More Blogs