Direct Mail vs. Internet Marketing Part 1: Defining Internet Marketing
By Rama Beerfas
June 1, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – There are many marketers out there who believe that direct mail is not the effective form of advertising that it once was, at least in comparison to the less expensive outlets available through the internet. The truth is that different advertising media can all be made effective if the message, positioning and targeting are done correctly.
First of all, let's start this exploration by defining what direct mail is. In short, any type of marketing that is done by delivering a physical item (letter or package) using the United States Postal Service, a carrier such as UPS or FedEx, or a courier service can be defined as direct mail.
Yes, you read that correctly; direct mail does not necessarily have to go through the postal service. In theory, any delivery method of an item that is "dropped off" can be defined as direct mail. You can have a pizza place deliver a pizza with your advertising message, if you'd like. (Please note that, if you do it yourself with the intention of getting in to see someone on the spot, that is a sales cal!.)
Although most people think of direct mail as those mailings that go to hundreds, if not thousands of addresses at once, that does not have to be the case. In fact, it is far more effective to establish a campaign that is targeted (just mailing to certain zip codes is almost never targeting) and is small enough to allow for personal follow-up within one week of the mailing going out. Your overall list may be large, but you will get better results if you break your list into waves of mailings to allow for prompt follow-up via phone call, e-mail, personal visit or some combination of these three actions.
That being said, there are certain instances when a large bulk mailing, which takes advantage of lower postage rates is fine because little to no follow-up is necessary (e.g. catalogs, sales flyers, basic information being sent to existing customers). Also remember that you must have the ability to fulfill the demand if you do a large bulk mailing which generates a large percentage in response rate. If, however, you are courting prospects, not current customers, then the smaller mailings with the follow-up will be more fruitful.
Also, don't be afraid to think outside the box. Yes, direct mail can be a postcard or #10 envelope with a flyer or letter inside; but, the most effective direct mail pieces are "lumpy mail." Want to know the most creative and effective direct mail pieces I've heard about? A watermelon! Want the details - give me a call or send me an e-mail!
Next column, we'll define the various aspects of internet marketing.
Rama Beerfas is Chief Solutions Specialist for San Diego-based Lev Promotions, offering marketing consulting, promotional products and more. Rama also offers seminars and training in marketing and customer service related topics. She can be reached at (619) 697-2045 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.levpromotions.com. Column requests and comments are welcome.