There are a number of new marketing minds today who claim that traditional marketing methods, like direct mail, are dead.  Conversely, I’ve seen just as many distinguished “dinosaurs” who disregard the value of building relationships through online media and rely on old-school tactics to drive new business.  You can see an example of the debate in this “Direct Marketing News” article.

Personally, I think both sides of the argument present a close-minded approach because these old and new world marketing tactics should work hand in hand.  If used strategically, online platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can enhance the response rate of your traditional marketing efforts because, if your prospects are active users, they are effective forums through which to communicate in a fresh manner.

Regardless, direct mail campaigns, cold calling and networking are a long way from their deathbeds because some prospects prefer those forms of communication.

In fact, direct mail proved to be particularly valuable for us at 919 Marketing in 2010.  Our most recent campaigns have seen a 10-15 % response rate – considerably higher than the industry standard of 2.6%.

So, here are a few good reasons we believe direct mail still has a heartbeat:

  1. Direct mail can’t be sent to the “junk” folder. If your email lands in a junk folder, chances are, it will never even be seen much less remembered. According to the 2010 DMA Statistical Fact Book, 79% of households either read or skim junk mail advertising sent to their home.   Additionally, 73% of consumers prefer traditional mail for new product announcements as compared to 18% for email.
  2. There’s less competition in the mailbox these days.  More and more brands have adopted email marketing (as they should), but instead of supplementing, they are replacing direct mail with email marketing. Mailboxes are less full these days so your direct mail piece, if presented well, is more likely to get some attention.
  3. Nothing beats a handwritten message. We almost always include some handwritten note on our pieces.  Even if there are thousands of them.  It makes our pieces memorable – and our response rates are proof of that.  Nothing will ever replace the personal touch.
  4. More time to consider your message. Recipients are more likely to consider the direct mail in their hands a little longer than the one second they take to skim your email’s subject line.
  5. It’s tangible. There is something to be said about something you can touch and feel as opposed to an email, blog post or conversation online.  People are more likely to remember your brand when you have taken the time to send them something they can hold in their hands.  Case in point:  A study this year showed that although online coupon access increased 92%, the internet still accounted for only 1.5% of coupons redeemed.   On the other hand, print coupons still accounted for 89% of coupons distributed and more than half of coupon redemption.

Now of course, the old rules of direct mail still apply. Your presentation, content, offer, frequency and quality of your list are all important ingredients to your campaign.

Don’t get us wrong. We certainly aren’t against email marketing or other new media marketing tools but we aren’t disregarding the older methods yet.  We still follow up using the good old-fashioned phone – and a healthy mix of new media tools like LinkedIn and Twitter.

All of these tactics are tools in your toolbox. Just be smart about how and when you use each one.

Have you launched a direct mail campaign this year?   How effective was it?   Would you add anything else to support, or refute, the argument that direct mail isn’t dead?