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Marketing 101 | 5 Lessons to Learn from Direct Mail

My father and I had a conversation recently about the rise of "maker culture" - this YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram fueled movement of artisans who are making crafting popular again. Artists, carpenters, builders, quilters and other DIY'ers - collectively called "makers" - are combining traditional crafting methods with modern tools like laser cutters, 3D Printing and digital technology to make artisanal craftsmanship more accessible than it ever has been.
In the 1990's, the burnout of mass marketing and the convenience, economy and accessibility of email meant that many businesses shifted their advertising strategy from direct mail to email. Now, our email inboxes are inundated daily with more junk mail than we ever received physically - but how much of that is actually getting through? If you're at all like me, not much. There is nothing satisfying about deleting the 50+ unread junk emails that amass during any given day.
A 2017 USPS study found that as many as 11 percent of Americans still lack internet access but can be reached by “old-fashioned” mail. Even among Millennial audiences, mail is still responsible for driving conversions. Thirty percent report that direct mail is effective in getting them to take action, while only 24 percent said the same for email.
The mass exodus from direct mail to digital has made direct mail an even more valid strategy than it was before. We have access to new technologies, paper and finishes as well as digital and multi-channel integration that can increase the reach and return of a marketing campaign to it's fullest potential. Direct mail still very much has a place in our marketing tool kit - and the rules and lessons learned from direct mail are applicable across many other channels as well.
Even if you're not building a direct mail campaign, these five lessons will help you craft an effective, impactful campaign:
1. Make an Offer they Can't Refuse - A limited-time offer will generate the most return because it prompts immediate response - but make sure the offer is genuine.  Don't just let people believe their getting the best deal - actually follow through with your promise.
2. Know Your Target Audience - The more you refine your prospective customer base, the more likely you are to reach the right people.  A narrower focus allows you to tailor your message to the right market.
3. Right Place, Right Time - If you're doing a seasonal or event-based offer, make sure you've set appropriate schedules for whatever marketing you're sending out, regardless of medium.  You don't want to miss a prospect because they got a piece too late, or too early to prompt a reaction.
4. Keep Refining Your Content - Don't get married to an idea before you've given it time and thought.  Brainstorm with others to make sure that you're saying everything you want in the best way possible, and keep evolving your brand message as you grow to reflect new ideas.
5. Have Fun With It - Change things up, whether it's part of the design or construction of a mailpiece itself, or the method in which it is received.  Push outside the envelope, box or postcard and come up with something unique and special that will have the maximum impact.
Adapted from this article on

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