Direct Mail Marketing Can Be a Pleasure, Not Just a Workhorse

Most marketers look at direct mail marketing as a must-do in their marketing mix; but really, direct mail can be fabulous with the right strategy. If you have been using direct mail for a long time, you may have reached the point where you continue to recycle the same strategy over and over again. This becomes less effective each time. So how can you rethink your strategy to get better results?

direct mail marketing
Credit: Pixabay by ElisaRiva

Most marketers look at direct mail marketing as a must-do in their marketing mix; but really, direct mail can be fabulous with the right strategy. If you have been using direct mail for a long time, you may have reached the point where you continue to recycle the same strategy over and over again. This becomes less effective each time. So how can you rethink your strategy to get better results?

Check out  these five creative direct mail strategies:

Turn a Standard Holiday Card Into an Adventure

SS+K changed from a traditional flat holiday card to offering a 360-degree virtual reality bobsled ride. Here is how it works: The folds will turn the 2D card into 3D VR glasses. With the cardboard glasses, the recipients get to take their seats in the bobsled. After sliding through banked turns, jumps, an upside-down loop and more jumps, the bobsledder will bash through a bank of snow at the finish line, where they are greeted by cheering polar creatures that they’ve encountered along the way.

Create a Memorable Experience With a Pop-up Cube Mailer

Schemmer, an architectural firm, wanted to reach out in a creative and memorable way to potential clients. The mailer arrived flat and, when opened, popped into a cube shape, highlighting images and messaging to get a response. How can you use a pop-up to grab attention an increase response?

Unique Invitations Are Fun

Enogarage created an invitation with a cutout wine glass sleeve. As you start to remove the invitation from the sleeve, the wine glass fills up. It is a great way to showcase the invitation in a fun and unique way. This is also a very cost-effective way to do something different.

Include Other Senses to Increase Engagement

Voyanga, a travel company, created a mailer that includes sound. You can listen to the sound of the sea coming from an image of a conch shell. This is a great way to get people to interact with your mail piece and share it with others. They tied in the message of travel well with the call for them to respond to the sea. Check out the piece at No. 10 on this list.

Playful and Interesting

For World Water Day in Belgium, a letter was sent out that could only be read when in water. It highlighted the importance of water and built more awareness.

One more marketing example to showcase having fun with direct mail marketing: Planet Kids created a hand puppet invitation that was a hit with both parents and kids. How can you incorporate fun into your mail pieces?

Conclusion

As you can see with the five creative examples, direct mail can be more than you have ever thought of before. Don’t limit yourself to what you have done historically, because that limits your response. One thing to keep in mind as you get creative is to make sure that you are tying the marketing creative to your message. Doing something fun while not incorporating it with your call to action and message is a waste of money, because it does not work. Well-crafted messaging with creative that supports it drives response. Your strategic mailing plan should address all the usual requirements, as well as how a more creative approach can increase response.

Not sure it will work for you? Try a test. Grab a segment of your list and send the new creative to them then check your results. Are you ready to get started?

In Praise of a ‘Workhorse’ — by Identifying One

The real workhorse of data-driven marketing — and perhaps soon all of advertising (or branded storytelling, some industry folks now eschew the term “advertising”) — is neither digital display, television or direct mail at all … it is data itself, as in data-driven.

workhorse
Painting: Working Horse, Hauling, 1994 | Credit: Kate Javens

What’s a workhorse?

I found this reference in a 2016 article on tech startups and private finance:

“Workhorses are smart, tough, sturdy, dependable, docile and patient. They are strong, even in the presence of a storm. Workhorses are durable and adaptable. Oh, and workhorses aren’t mythical.

Think of the workhorse as an evolved unicorn. The unicorn is of mythical value. The horn was useless and the magic isn’t real. Workhorses are evolved in that they are producers of fundamental value. They do real work and solve real problems.”

In aviation, for example, the “workhorse” of global and transcontinental passenger travel just had its U.S. retirement:  the only Boeing 747 still at work with a U.S. carrier is Air Force One. As much as I love 777s and Dreamliners, I’m actually going to miss the iconic jet. Check out this experiential marketing event in December from Delta, that’s quite a sendoff.

Jump to advertising — and we’re quick to see last night’s televised Super Bowl and this month’s Olympics as workhorses for mass marketing … even as they have their more targeted digital and social brand extensions.

Then there’s data-driven marketing.

According to eMarketer, digital overtook television in total media spending for the first time in 2017 — with digital capturing $4 of every $10 spent on all media … and what’s the “new” workhorse within digital?

Well, if measured by total spend, the answer is display advertising — which overtook search spending as the largest digital format last year. Both display and search are data-driven, with behavioral and contextual data providing the targeting parameters, but video display has come on the scene fast and is three-fourths as large as banner display.  Mobile is also a significant driver — mobile spend is twice as high as desktop/laptop, says eMarketer. Programmatic drives the bulk of digital display purchasing.

Media spend on digital display also will overtake total direct mail spending this year, says Winterberry Group — with $42.3 billion to be spent on mail advertising, and $47.2 billion to be spent on digital display. Debates are welcome on which of these categories produce greater response, greater ROI and more efficient cost-per-action.These metrics matter — so test, test and test.

My take-away from all this media-this-and-that is that the real workhorse of data-driven marketing — and perhaps soon all of advertising (or branded storytelling, some industry folks now eschew the term “advertising”) — is neither digital display, television or direct mail at all … it is data itself, as in data-driven.

Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. Media preferences may come and go, ebb and flow, but a reverence for data keeps the whole industry flying high, getting brands and customers from Point A to Point B, together, and creating value and experiences in the process. Like a Boeing 747.

Yes, data is today’s — and tomorrow’s — workhorse. And workhorses demand recognition and respect. The entire advertising ecosystem must embrace this concept, protect and preserve how and why data serves the customer, build and protect consumer trust, and prevent artificial barriers that impugn on the brand-customer value exchange.

Let workhorses work.