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Does Direct Mail still work in a digital age?


Is direct mail still vaild? - image

You bet it does!

That must be because it is tied to a website, landing page or PURL campaign, right? Nope, just a standard letter mailer in an envelope.

You're probably wondering how this is possible or if I'm just talking about some old school theory.

The funny thing is this is an old school theory used for the mailer I reviewed this morning from yesterdays personal mail delivery. So you're probably wondering what this is all about, since everyone is saying direct mail is dead.

Well here is the deal. Direct mail can be interruption based marketing, meaning that you do not know the audience you are mailing to. In this case you probably know nothing about the audience because you just went out and bought a list for what you thought was your ideal customer demographic. Yes sometimes this works, but sometimes you miss the boat.

Do you know why direct mail doesn't work? It is because you really do not know the customer or anything about them.

Do you know why the mailer I got did work?
There are a few reasons:

  1. It came from Toyota - I own a Camry so they know something about me
  2. The offer was for the high mileage maintenance special - my Camry is pushing 180K miles, they know this from previous interactions, the age of my vehicle and they recorded my mileage from the last time they worked on my car
  3. Toyota stirred up emotions - of course I do not want to have problems with my car so I want to set up a service call to stay a head of the game

So what is the key marketing take away?

Know your target audience in all your marketing efforts. If you do this, even old school marketing tactics can still work and be very powerful. This dealer is going to make a few hundred dollars off of me to service my car and will follow up as I hit higher mileage and I need something else. This is all because they track my mileage and make appropriate offers tied to things that are going on in my life.

Knowing your audience, it is the best marketing tactic you can use. This is why and other CRM's (customer relationship management software) are doing big business. Knowing your customer is the key to marketing success.


Posted by: Dale Berkebile

Tags: ,


My question is would an email campaign worked just as well for a lower cost?  
I bought a new chevy in 09 and since have been in a sorta aww of their marketing. With on star I got emails that included my tire pressure monthly, and from the dealer I get reminders about big maintenance and even one that said congrats on 2 years of ownership.  
So bottom line is the cheaper alternative jus as good?

posted @ Tuesday, March 01, 2011 7:36 AM by Jenn

Thanks for your thoughts Jenn. Yes an email campaign would have worked just as well. I personally do not give out my email to just anyone so I'm pretty sure Toyota doesn't have my email address. Would this have worked equally well in email? Yes! 
Again the main reason is understanding your customers. What do they want and need? What is their personality like, how do they use your products? How can you service your clients better? 
These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself and your customers through surveys and conversations. The better your database is for your customers, the better relationship you are able to make. 
Cheaper is not always a better alternative, but can be equally as effective when done right. I hope that help Jenn.

posted @ Tuesday, March 01, 2011 8:17 AM by Dale Berkebile

Kudos for being brave enough to give merit to old school marketing methods, Dale! I teach an advertising workshop and always tell my small business owner class that traditional marketing methods are not as dead as hard-core, straight inbound or digital marketers would lead you to think. This is especially true in for a local business - knowing exactly who your customers are and how they get their information is more important than ever. Newspapers, radio, and tv still serve a purpose - knowing how to use them wisely in conjuction with inbound marketing is the challenge today. You don't need to convince 100% of the market 10% of the way; getting 10% of the market to come on board 100% will provide enough ROI to grow and make your marketing, even traditional, worthwhile.

posted @ Tuesday, March 01, 2011 9:25 AM by Audrey Sendrowski Breuer

Audrey, I am very much entrenched in all this new online inbound marketing, but I also have years and years of experience with offline stuff from the old days of brand building. 
It is great sharing both sides of the story with your small business class. One thing to keep in mind in small businesses, is that money is usually the deciding factor. That being said sometimes the inbound marketing method is much more cost effective than the advanced database Toyota has built for their direct mail campaign. This takes time and a hefty chuck of cash to set up, manage and implement.  
The real thing to remember though is KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. If you only do this, any marketing effort you choose will me very effective.

posted @ Tuesday, March 01, 2011 10:31 AM by Dale Berkebile

You're totally right. One of my current pet peevs is Macy's failure to target properly. I've never in my life bought a plus sized item from them, or even looked at a plus sized clothing, yet they continually send 20% off coupons for the plus sized department. 
Very annoying and if I want curious about the marketing techniques being used, I would have unsubscribed a while ago!

posted @ Wednesday, March 02, 2011 1:21 PM by Jenn

That is a perfect example of why it is so important to know your audience. Nothing is worse than getting a mailer that is insulting. I too have had some of this happen with personalized mailing. It is very frustrating. I hope you get some good marketing tips from these mailings, besides what not to do. 
Good luck!

posted @ Wednesday, March 02, 2011 3:23 PM by Dale Berkebile

Comments have been closed for this article.



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