Yes, I Love Junk Mail! How About You?

It’s funny how direct mail pops up in my life in the most unexpected ways. When some people hear what I do, the typical comment is, “Direct mail … you mean, junk mail? Huh.” But I don’t bristle too much at the term. As Newman said on “Seinfeld,” “There really is no junk mail.”

It’s funny how direct mail pops up in my life in the most unexpected ways.

NMailMuch of my job involves reading through stacks and stacks of it and putting that analysis into our Who’s Mailing What! database. I’ve been doing it for more than a few years now, and I’m used to the reaction I sometimes get when I talk about it.

“Direct mail … you mean, junk mail? Huh.”

I don’t bristle much at the term “junk mail.” Denny Hatch, founder of Who’s Mailing What! has pointed out, “Junk is a very positive word. If you collect antiques, you love junk shops. If you collect old cars, you love junkyards.”

As Newman said on “Seinfeld,” “There really is no junk mail.”

True enough.

Junk mail is in the eye of the beholder, right?  What works for you, either as a consumer or marketer, may be good only for the recycling bin for others. I like finding that out.

What gave me pause and sparked this post was a news story about the results of the latest presidential survey by the firm Public Policy Polling (PPP). It was conducted on Aug. 26-28 and questioned 881 likely voters.

Among PPP’s findings were that Donald Trump’s unfavorability ratings were higher or lower versus assorted “unpleasant/unpopular” things like mosquitoes, Ryan Lochte, Bubonic Plague, and middle seats on airplanes.

And “junk mail.”

So, it turns out that Trump is viewed more favorably than junk mail 47/43, with 10% as “not sure.” Much of that is heavily skewed by Trump supporters; 92% chose him over mail. On the other hand, 67% of respondents in the 18-29 age group had a higher opinion of junk mail.

Tom Jensen of PPP told me that the mail question was one of many suggestions from social media, and yeah, they’re pretty funny. I get it, I think.

But I do love junk mail.

It’s a $50 billion industry that is far from dead. I see a bright future as it becomes more relevant, more programmatic, and more engaging thanks to technology and print. All of that helps many of you marketers and fundraisers be more successful in your work.

So, if you get a lot of junk mail at home, or at work, but you just don’t want to deal any more, you have a couple of choices.

For anyone who’s had enough, take a look at DMAchoice. Our friends at the DMA have a great service that provides flexibility about the types of mail you get.

Or, you can box it up and send it to me.


What’s in it for you? I’ll pay for your postage, as well as work out some incentives for your help. Just reach out to me via email.

I’d love to hear from you!

2 thoughts on “Yes, I Love Junk Mail! How About You?”

  1. The positive or negative reaction to the appellation ‘junk’ depends on your accumulated experience.

    What Frank Johnson, arguably the greatest direct mail copy writer of all time, used to argue is that mail is ‘junk’ if it is perceived by the recipient as junk and it is a wonderful invitation if it immediately touches a desire in the recipient that can be fulfilled by the offer.

    ‘Junk’ mail is not junk if enough recipients respond to make it a profitable event – for the sender and the recipient.

  2. Paul, Peter and Denny — well said! Now if I could just get my email box to love me as much as my direct mail box! (Not sure when THAT will happen, but I will love the day when online marketing has all the rich tools that offline marketing does — and professionals have the discipline and incentive to use them.)

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