Is there still a place for direct mail marketing?

mailbox-1056324_640By Henry Brown

Once upon a time, if you wanted to promote your business, you had a few basic options. You could run print advertising, though it was expensive. You could hire a billboard, though this wasn’t ideal for small businesses without a huge budget. Or you could use direct mail.

There’s no doubt that direct mail has got something of a bad reputation over the years. It’s become synonymous with “junk” mail, as if there is not a strong distinction between the two. True junk mail is mail that is of little value, provides no information, and is basically a waste of a good tree. Good direct mail, however, can give customers essential bits of information and help them discover a business that could be genuinely beneficial.

Given that there are now so many ways to advertise and market a business, direct mail has rather fallen out of favor. Perhaps this is a good thing – but perhaps modern businesses are missing a trick. This form of marketing became popular and was used because it was successful – could it be the missing link from your promotional strategy?

YES – Direct mail works due to touch

It has been proven in multiple studies such as that if a potential customer touches a product or item, then they are more likely to buy it. The moment we pick something up and hold it, it creates a stronger pathway in our mind that makes us want to possess it.

The same could be true of why direct mail is so effective. It works because it is tactile. The business being promoted is not just an idea or words on a screen; it has a physical presence that has to be dealt with. You can’t just skim past a piece of mail or ignore it the way you do an ad that dances on the side of the webpage; instead, you have to take action to handle it.

This could be the secret to direct mail and why it’s worth contemplating.

NO – People don’t like it

While it’s true that some people insist they despise mailshots with a fiery passion, it can’t be true of everyone. If it was, then it wouldn’t work – yet it does work, time and again, bringing new business into an enterprise.

So while you may anger the occasional person, most will either ignore it or find it interesting. If you keep your mailings infrequent, then the annoyance level is likely to be controlled.

YES – You can use it for continued marketing

It might seem strange to spend some of your promotional budget on products such as, pens with the logo of your business on, or cute little postcards. Yet thousands of businesses do it, sometimes even going so far as to send free address labels to potential customers.

Why include a promotional item in your direct mailer? Because it’s continual marketing that lives on long after they have thrown away your mailer. Every time they use a sticker, write with that pen, or make use of the address label, they are subliminally reminded that your company exists.

Plus there’s the simple fact that people like free stuff! If you give them something for nothing, then they’re more likely to see your direct mail as a benefit rather than something to be annoyed by.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.


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