The 'Death' of Direct Mail and Catalogs
I’m not a big fan of naysayers. Your typical naysayer has a particular agenda that's contrary to the “nay” that they're “saying.” For instance, pure-play internet marketers cast a shadow of impending doom on the direct mail industry. Why? Simple: They don’t benefit from the competition.
In recent years, direct mail, and for the most part direct marketing, has been positioned as old-school, obsolete, “doesn’t work” and just plain bad. When queried, direct and nondirect mailers will tell you direct mail is dead. It's when nonmailers get into the act that I get worried.
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? Actually, no. Every time I turn around, there's a new name and/or affront to direct mail. First it was 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!
So I'd like to take this opportunity to set the record straight for those who put forth the garbage that direct mail intrudes. 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 and the multitude of tools online, direct marketers’ response rates will increase.
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.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.