You Ask, I Answer: Is Direct Mail Dead?

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You Ask, I Answer: Is Direct Mail Dead?

Maria asks, “Researching direct mail and my boss says it’s a waste of time, it’s dead. Is direct mail dead?”

Yes and no. Direct mail to people who didn’t ask for it is dead. It’s an enormous waste of money and is flat out pollution. I’d rather you send a billion pieces of electronic spam than cut down even one tree. But direct mail to people who ask for it is not dead. This is the fundamental rule for every marketing tactic: nothing is dead to people who really want it.

You Ask, I Answer: Is Direct Mail Dead?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode Maria asks, I’m researching direct mail.

My boss says the waste of time it’s dead is direct mail dead.

So this is an interesting question yes and no direct mail.

And by that we mean literal pieces of paper that are sent to people in the postal system is that were used to be one of the most popular tactics from marketers back in the pre internet days.

But obviously, as people have moved online, electronic communications have become ubiquitous, right? You have these lovely devices that let us communicate and be online.

24 seven, direct mail.

And by that we mean that mailing of paper to people who did not ask for it is dead.

And the reason it’s dead is the cost right? It costs almost nothing to send an email, even for the most elaborate and expensive marketing automation software, it costs almost nothing to send an email.

It costs sometimes pennies, maybe as much as 25 cents us to send a piece of direct mail to consumers, and that’s a lot of money, right? You send mail to four people.

That’s 1.

I cost you1.

The reason why we’re saying direct mail is sort of dead is because it’s dead to people who didn’t ask for it.

And if you’re cold email, cold postal mailing people, that is an enormous, enormous waste of money.

It is 10s of thousands of dollars.

That is just literally being thrown away.

And more importantly, today, it’s flat out pollution.

It’s Pollution it’s double pollution because a you’ve got the mail pieces being thrown away into garbage dumps maybe compost heaps if you’re lucky and be you had to cut down the tree and make the paper that the the direct mail is printed on doubly so it’s even worse at the paper happens to be was looking for chocolate coated in plastic to make it weather resistant or or sealed Bennett takes even longer for it to break down.

And so there are substantial negative climate impacts to direct mail to people who didn’t ask for I would rather you send a billion pieces of electronic spam.

Then cut down even one tree to send marketing materials to people who didn’t ask for it right if you’re gonna if you’re going to do spam, please do it electronically public service message.

Here’s the flipside.

Direct mail to people who ask for people who want it from you is not dead if you send out a a real paper newsletter.

If you send out a magazine, if you send out a mailer, to people who have specifically raised their hand said, I want you to send this to me via the postal mail, and maybe even they’re willing to pay for it.

But it’s not dead.

Right magazines, people still do receive magazines in the mail people still do.

Read, read and receive paper newspapers, not many, not as many as it used to.

People still do want to get things in the mail, there are entire subscription services where you get something in the mail, right? So if people ask for it, then it’s not dead.

The question is, how do you know that somebody wants it? Well, the way to do that is to use electronic communications first, and then ask people Hey, would you like to receive our marketing in printed form? If so, it will cost this much.

Now, out of a 10 Thousand person mailing list, you know, five people may opt for that but as long as those five people are the ones that are valuable potential customers then it would make sense to do is like any form of marketing it doesn’t make sense to do it is that the right people? This is the fundamental rule of all outbound marketing, right? Nothing is dead to people who really want it.

certainly nothing is dead to people who are willing to pay for it.

And the gold standard that we all strive for in marketing is have a marketing be so good people would actually pay for it and direct mail is an example of of that of is your marketing good enough that somebody would want to at least pay the costs of the direct mail to receive a newsletter from you? That is worth them shelling out 25 cents.

If you’re at that point, you are a an outstanding marketer.

I’m not even sure I would pay 25 cents to print doubt my newsletter, and I like my newsletter.

So that’s the short answer.

The longer answer to the question is it’s worth a try for outreach, as long as you are extremely segmented in your mail.

If you have a list of you know, 10,000 people who are the 10, the 10 people on that list who are the most valuable? Send your direct mail to just those tech keep your costs super low.

But if you if you know for sure, like these 10 people are going to be lifetime customers, you know this from your data, you know, this from your analytics.

These 10 people are the people that we have to get out of this list.

That’s a great case for very limited outbound direct postal mail to people, especially if you can make the mail are super compelling, which is not a postcard.

Right? It has to be something that when people get it in the mail they’re like wow, this is actually really kind of cool like this is I’m kind of glad I actually opened this thing.

So these are not going to be a postcard or a letter or something like that it’s going to be something unique.

It’s going to be something that they were not expecting.

That is valuable to them.

That is important to them.

I’m trying to think of some mailers that I’ve seen in the past done and usually piles of stuff laying around.

There are certain types of like really elaborate folding origami mail is the kind of spring open and talk a little house or something I’ve seen realtors use that which is very clever like a cardboard mailer which is kind of cute.

Back in the day, we actually did got burner phones, inexpensive phones that were had a the contact number of the the Chief Technology Officer hardcoded into the phone.

We’ve actually mailed that to report And we only did 10 of them, right? This was very expensive to do.

People have mailed out things like AirPods, right? war or iPods back in the day with messages pre pre burned into them.

And so those are highly segmented highly targeted, incredibly expensive pieces, but if the return justifies it, and you do it, right, that’s that is the way to handle direct mail.

So is it dead? Anything to someone who doesn’t want it to dead? Anything to somebody who does want it, not debt, just do it well, and be aware of the cost the impact of it? Great question.

Please have your follow up questions in the comments box below.

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