Despite my love/hate relationship with the US Post Office I still get quoted from time to time. Check out this quote about how I built The Fresh Diet’s direct mail program.
I’m not a big fan of naysayers. Your typical naysayer has a particular agenda that drives the “nay” that they’re “saying.” For instance, pure-play internet marketers do a great job of casting a shadow of impending doom on the direct mail industry.
Why? Simple: They don’t benefit from the competition!
In recent years, direct mail has been positioned as old-school, obsolete, “doesn’t work” and just plain bad. When asked, direct and non direct mailers will tell you direct mail is dead. but, It’s when non mailers get into the act that I get really worried because they are buying into the philosophy sight unseen.
I get it. Direct mailers already have a reputation as junk mailers. So while catalogers haven’t been hit as hard by the junk mail tag, in large part due to their value to shoppers as name brands, the mailing industry as a whole is threatened.
Can’t we all just get along?
Every time I turn around, there’s a new name and/or affront to direct mail. First it was called push marketing. (We were being too pushy!) Then it was outbound marketing. (“They” coined the phrase “inbound marketing.”) The term I hear all the time these days that makes my blood boil is “intrusion” marketing.
Who creates these monikers? Answer: marketers!
And while referring to direct marketers as intrusion marketers, they’ve named themselves “attraction” marketers. Let’s attract; let’s start a conversation; let’s communicate. Oh please!
Setting the record straight…
So I’d like to take this opportunity to clear things up for those who put forth the garbage that direct mail intrudes and/or is dead. Consider the following:
1. Direct mail isn’t going to die anytime soon. Direct marketers will evolve, survive and thrive. By taking advantage of personalization, variable data printing, PURLS, and the multitude of tools online, direct mail will continue to find new ways to drive leads, sales, and increase their response rates.
2. Your goal is to be relevant. Direct marketers don’t want to mail to people who don’t want to receive their offers. And those consumers who don’t want to receive catalogs/direct mail can turn to suppression services such as Catalog Choice and the Direct Marketing Association’s mail preference service. All mailers should run those suppression files against their prospect lists, not their housefiles.
3. So-called “intrusion” marketers set the rules for direct marketing and internet marketing. We’ve created a medium that’s all about measurement and metrics. Direct marketers are responsible for the tools that differentiate themselves from those dot-bomb sock puppet marketers, so why are they dissing you?
4. You’d think there’s room for all types of media in today’s marketing mix. Direct marketers don’t bad-mouth pull marketing. They embrace it, use it, measure it — and if it works, roll out with it. They’re driven purely by return on investment. If it works, they love it.
5. Direct marketers have taken big hits on paper and postage rates, the economy, even anthrax in the last decade, but they continue to soldier on. The truth is, they still get response and ROI. If not, they’d stop mailing. Consumers still buy via the mail, and will continue to do so.
The bottom line: Don’t buy into the self-fulfilling prophesy that direct mail is a dead medium. It ain’t! My clients are seeing good to excellent results in the mail. Just follow the principles of direct marketing and you’ll succeed.
Filed under: direct marketing | Tagged: attraction marketing, catalog marketing, cataloging, direct mail, direct marketing, direct marketing consultant, Gilbert Direct Marketing, inbound marketing, intrusion marketing, Jim Gilbert, mail order, outbound marketing, push marketing | 13 Comments »
(update: even 5 year olds are getting into the act. Friday I was at Best Buy and overheard the following, “But Daddy, it’s Black Friday… Pleeeeeeeease get it for me before the price goes up!”)
Friends and readers: I hope you all had a happy and safe Thanksgiving. I also hope you had a great Black Friday and a killer Cyber Monday despite our current economic circumstances.
I seem to remember not too long ago when Black Friday was just a retail industry term for the one day of the year that could change a company’s P&L from red to black. Somehow the term has crept into our national lexicon and collective psyche. As I went through my e-mails on Thanksgiving morning, I had at couple of dozen sale-oriented e-mails pitching Black Friday sales. Some referenced Black Friday right in the subject line, just so I would know that somethingmore than special would be offered that day. I even got a Black Friday offer from a car dealership.
It certainly seems to me that the media turned this day into the biggest shopping event of the year — just like Presidents Day, Valentine’s Day and other major shopping days. Thanks to the Internet, we also have its sister event, Cyber Monday. Now we have even more competition, as shopping events become clashes worthy of sibling rivalry (or an opportunity for marketing channels to be in sync).
I chose to write this on Friday morning, Nov. 28, after Thanksgiving dinner, feeling mostly recovered from the sleep-inducing agent in my turkey. Others in my family were getting ready to shop, too. My wife was going to hit the mall extra early to beat the traffic, hopefully the crowds too, while scoring the best gifts at a discount. She’ll likely turn Black Friday into an all-day marathon, going in to many stores and spending as much time as possible perusing each rack, end cap and item until she has fully scratched the internal itch that will not let her miss one perfect fit for someone on her shopping list.
As for me, if I never set foot in a mall or retail store again, I’ll be happy. And even when I do go retail, I go with a goal in mind — find it, buy it and get out before some overzealous clerk sprays me with cologne!
Instead, I’ll spend time in the other marketing channels. I’ll shop catalog and Internet, and if I have questions, I’ll pick up a phone and call a toll-free number to clarify. The only exception I may make is for an item-return. To return an item, I may actually drop it off at a retail store, rather than send it back via the mail. I find this easier somehow.
And NO, this isn’t a sexist thing — as in man vs. woman. It’s purely about preference. Some people desire the tactile experience of seeing, feeling and touching. Some don’t. In my younger days, I actually enjoyed the mall shopping experience, but now I don’t. Simple as that.
Points to consider
So why am I telling you this? There’s a moral to my story and it’s quite simple. Know your customers and their shopping patterns. Satisfy their needs in any channel they choose. Also know that shopping preferences change over time. Today’s retail customer may be tomorrow’s Internet shopper and vice versa.
Speak to you next week.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert , or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed under: Customer Service, direct marketing, Mail order marketing | Tagged: black friday, cyber monday, direct marketing, Gilbert Direct Marketing, holiday shopping, Jim Gilbert, mail order, marketing strategies for holiday season, retail marketing holiday shopping | 2 Comments »