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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Postcards and Voodoo Dolls

Memo to the Marketing Department:

Stop sticking pins in your Direct Mail doll. However the post office may have offended you--What, did it take one of the stripes from Old Glory? Did it say "I love George W. Bush?" Misspell your Twitter update?--surely you've punished the greatest promotional vehicle enough. It's time to remove your hex.

And, don't act as if you don't know what I am talking about. The last 24 months have been brutal for the often-maligned junk mail and not once in your recent trip to the outer rims of the world have you thought to connect to your neighbors with a pretty landscape postcard. When you put the finishing touches on your second quarter marketing budgets where was the love for paper, ink and postage? I bet you there was love for banner ads, Facebook ads and the lot.

I mean, really, who's going to keep my bills company in the mailbox? My associates at other firms have seen it coming while others say "it's plain weird."

It's more than weird; it borders on the catastrophic. Direct mail spending will decline 39 percent during the next five years from $49 billion in 2008 to $29 billion in 2013! Are you kidding me? Disastrous! It is just a streak of rotten luck. A tried and true medium being pushed back by the new kids in town? No, a dry spell like this can only be the work of the Deities of the Online Wonderland. Internet is King. Long live the Internet.

Is it really too much to ask to drop some intelligent print media at the post office? Is e-mail instead of direct mail really the end-all-be-all answer? Judging by what advertisers spent on e-mail marketing in 2008, $12 billion, and what it will spend in each of the next five (over $16 billion), it seems so.

Here's the catch though: the Direct Marketing Association studies show that when snail mail is added to eDirect marketing, the effectiveness of the total campaign rises three-fold. That's a 300% increase.

So why do all of the promotional experts torture the direct mail piece by leaving it on the shelf while less worthy targets enjoy the marketing spotlight? The telemarketer is a pain in the posterior for decades, yet spending there was UP 5% in 2009. Remarkable!

Beware the marketer that tells you to abandon the direct mail world. Although the changes in spending are systemic, not cyclical, in nature, there is a place for this medium. It does create the greatest value for marketers when it is used as one component of sophisticated, data-driven, multichannel marketing programs.

On second thought, all you haters out there keep sticking those pins in your dolls. Don't worry about lifting your hex. Direct Mail is strong enough to break it on its own.