Why Direct Mail is… personal

It has your name on it, and a great campaign can really hit your sensory buttons. Here, seven business gurus give us an insight into why they love direct mail for its unique, personal touch.

‘People say direct mail is dead. Tell my son, whom I’ve been staying with for the last week in Brooklyn. Yesterday he got 17 pieces of direct mail. They only send it because it works.

‘Tell it to my client who got a £50,000 order from a six-page letter – the first day it landed – from a firm of lawyers they’d never written to before. (And please spare me that stuff about long letters not getting read).

‘It’s still awfully hard to ignore something that comes through your door with your name on it.’

Drayton Bird, founder, Drayton Bird Associates, and author of Commonsense Direct Marketing (Creative)

‘Think beyond a simple letter in an envelope – direct mail can be much more. If you want to make emotional brand connections, what better way than sending something relevant, tangible, real and tactile, something that the recipient can genuinely enjoy, something that they might actually want to hold onto?

‘Take our work with Glenlivet Scotch Whiskey as an example. We chose to send out beautifully packaged mini bottles of the Glenlivet for the recipient to enjoy at their leisure. A carefully crafted and personalised direct mail pack can have more impact than a thousand emails.

‘Moving beyond the visual and audio confines of email, direct mail can give the consumer the complete sensory experience
in the comfort of their own home. With eye-catching creative and a little imagination, direct mail can be the ultimate brand-building tool, creating brand connections that other channels simply struggle to match.’

Ameet Chandarana, head of direct & digital, Libertine (Creative agency)

‘Direct marketing covers e-marketing, telemarketing and mail marketing. The major difference between mail and the other two is that mail is tactile.

‘A mailing piece gives the recipient the feel of the product or service. It really can be personalised with an offer that should be hard to delete or disconnect. An excellent mailing piece will be remembered and kept for a long time, then referred back to when the recipient needs the offer.

‘There are no spam filters and no gatekeepers blocking calls to the target. A well presented, quality mailing can even find its way to the top of the pile if it impresses the secretary or P.A. Above all, a letter demonstrates the value in which you hold your customers.’

Rupert Suren, managing director, Blue Channel  (Data solutions provider)

‘We are in the midst of dramatic communication changes. Recent research suggests business is tired of receiving email. The phone is used infrequently as concerns still remain over silent calls.

‘The one remaining one-to-one direct communication with the exception of a face-to-face meeting is direct mail. Even in the digital world you still need effective and complementary direct communication. It’s proven, it’s cost-effective, it’s complementary to digital channels and it still works!’

David Robottom, director, D&S Consultants
(Consultancy covering postal affairs, direct marketing and the environment plus more and ex-DMA director of postal affairs and industry development)

‘It’s no coincidence that direct mail has built some of the world’s greatest brands and continues to do so. It is core to the £10 billion of donations raised from the public for charities. It has been the enabler of CRM, has driven data quality to the highest standards, and advertisers are now seeing the benefit of combining direct mail with other complementary communication channels to create powerful brand propositions.

‘It is again no coincidence that the death of direct mail is forecast whenever a new channel is established – commercial TV, commercial radio and the internet.

‘The forecasts are always wrong, direct mail continues to flourish and in many cases complements these new channels.’

Colin Lloyd, past CEO of the DMA

‘Direct mail that isn’t direct is junk mail. Fact. It usually involves a brand talking about itself, making broad assumptions that the audiences is interested in what they have to say.

‘But direct mail that is direct, that uses data and analytics, that is brilliantly timed, that understands the audience and talks about how their brand can be useful in the audience’s life can be highly effective and enjoyable to receive.

‘Brands are all shouting to be heard. But, done right, a direct mail allows a brand to whisper.’

Guy Bradbury, creative director, Touch DDB (through-the-line agency)

‘Direct mail is tremendous for delivering personal communications to consumers in their own homes. It is less invasive than some telemarketing and digital channels as it allows consumers to choose when and where they decide to expose themselves to the many marketing messages they’re sent.

‘The quality and cost of the creative in direct mail often results in greater planning in terms of relevant messages and targeting.  With volume being the key driver in telemarketing and digital due to the much lower conversion rate, direct mail has the advantage of avoiding the potential brand damage that poorly targeted, irrelevant messages can create.’

Alex Fovargue, planning director, Blueberry Wave (Market planning and CRM consultancy)

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