For the past 15 years I have heard the strained whispers of: Direct Mail is positioned for a mighty down turn -- it will be dead in 5 years.
That begs the question: how disruptive is digital to other methods of marketing? One organization just dropped their direct mail strategy because it didn't work anymore...the marketing group determined that no one responds to direct mail today. They walked away from a $6 million revenue source. Another organization still uses the courier font from the 60's, believing that the font increases response. That idea may have had validity in the early days of direct response, but it's really not as effective in today's marketplace. Two extremes.
Every day I hear the whispers dreading the day direct mail dies.
But it continues to live.
I wonder if we are not a little naive in our understanding of marketing.
Perhaps our penchant to "scientifically" segment donors has challenged our marketing minds. Too often we assume that people only respond to one level of marketing. Yet we move with fluidity between our computers our TV's and our favourite magazines. Our intrigue and love of new media drives much of this.
Social media is, without a question, a strong influence in many people. But, with the exception of a few industries, social media has not been the revenue stream most people hoped it would be. The web, while certainly growing, is still often fed through traditional channels. Print, TV, radio, word of mouth nudges us towards the web site. We can stir the pot a bit by SEM, SEO, web banners and social media -- but growing revenue still requires an intelligent mix of media.
Digital is one of the most challenging marketing tools. First of all, it requires rich content. For the first time you can show off your entire product line, corporate vision and staff in one place. While amazing and often effective, it requires a new determination to maintain brand integrity. Secondly, it requires an organizational focus on purpose. The web can, and often does, become a dumping ground of information that is left without active positioning. Thirdly, in many organization the web is developed by multiple stakeholders. Too that sends mixed messages. Finally, the web requires a constant flow of new information. Today's digital savvy web users are not content with week old information. If you want your site well used, invest in content.
The web, while it does not require printing or placement, is not free. The cost of the web is the human resource -- the mind that makes it an amazing source of information, sales and revenue.
Direct mail is far from dead.... but it does require a smart marketing mix and creative approach.