Direct-Mail Advertising Direct-Mail Advertising Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it. Stephen Leacock Philosopher extraordinaire Really good direct mail works like picking your prospect up by the ankles and shaking him until all the money falls out of his pockets. Matthew Samp Direct Mail Copy & Graphic Design As consumers, we are often bombarded by different types of advertisements each day. Whether it’s by television, newspaper, or billboards, advertising has reached us one way or another. Yet, a majority of the ads that we encounter are often meaningless and uninteresting mainly because of the fact that these ads are meant to reach a certain target audience. This perception seems to change, however, when we look inside our mailboxes, pick-up our telephone, and even check our e-mail. We often ponder how marketers know that we have a pet snake, own a certain kind of computer, or even wear 70’s clothing.
That is because every time we purchase products such as: electronics, computer software, and other products, direct-mail advertising is in the air. Every time we send those warranties and registration forms back to the manufacturer; as consumers we are often unaware that we are sending information about ourselves that will be used as; statistical, personal, and informative data for future marketing purposes. Thus, marketers and advertisers know what kinds of products to target us with. Although direct-mail, or as we call it “junk-mail”, somehow finds its way to our homes and businesses, it can be considered as a convenient way for us to shop without having to leave the house, since as consumers, we are often pressed for time. In order to understand direct-mail advertising, we will be discussing this unique medium in a broad spectrum of subjects and then give an example of a company that successfully used direct mail advertising.
Among the subjects we will be discussing are: what direct-mail advertising is, the historical development of the medium, different methods and types of mail, the future of direct-mail advertising, and the internet’s use of the medium for visual communication. Direct Mail Direct-mail advertising is a form of medium used by direct marketers; it is the most personal and selective of all media. This highly specialized mail can be purchased (among the thousands available are lists of various level students, business professionals, college professors, pregnant women, and even vintage car owners), but they can be expensive. Printing and postage fees make the cost of direct mail per person reached quite high compared with other forms of media. However, if direct mail goes only to the people the advertiser wishes to contact, there is no wasted coverage. Reaching the prospect does not, however, ensure that the message is received.
Direct mail is pure advertising. Therefore, a direct-mail ad must attract its own readers. This is critical when you consider that the average American home receives more than 10 direct mail pieces a week and that the recipient of such ads decide in few seconds whether to discard or open it. Historical Development During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, computers emerged to be common business tools. Marketers were able to collect, store, and manipulate larger amounts of data to aid marketing decision makers. Out of this capability developed the marketing information system (MkIS)- an ongoing, organized procedure to generate, analyze, disseminate, store, and retrieve information for use in making marketing decisions.
Another useful tool that developed for marketers is the decision support system (DSS). This particular system is a computerized procedure that permits the marketing manager to interact with data and use various methods of analysis to incorporate, examine, and characterize information. This computer-based procedure adds acceleration and versatility to the MkIS. These useful computer-based systems are then organized, stored, and updated in what is known as a database. This is perhaps the nucleus for all direct-marketers, because it has allowed them to narrow their specific target market by identifying the market’s special interests, buying behavior, and purchasing power.
With the developments of these three interrelated computer-strategically systems, direct mail then emerged to be one of the many tools that direct-marketers conveniently use to target their markets. Growth of Direct Mail Direct mail is successful because it matches today’s lifestyles; families have less time, so shopping by mail is more convenient. It is the most effective way to generate immediate results, since it is addressed directly to the prospect. Today’s leading mail-order products include insurance and financial services, department store merchandise, and many other services. Another reason for the global success of direct-mail advertising is the fact that this type of medium can increase the effectiveness of ads in other media. For instance, advertisers do not send un-solicited mail.
They will tend to use other direct-response media to reach their target market, and then use direct mail to respond to inquires. Thus, making direct-mail advertising to be the most effective method for closing a sale or generating attention of products, services, or ideas. Direct-mail advertising is also the fastest-growing medium today. Since many large companies have down-sized during the past, many people are working more and more hours. Furthermore, people also have busy schedules and involved in many activities such as: continuing education, personal fitness, and other professional or civic activities. Thus, having less time to go out and shop for themselves. Direct-mail advertising then came into the picture by providing consumers with convenience by having the product, service, or idea come to them. Throughout the history of advertising, newspapers and television have been the most widely used medium, based on total advertising dollars spent. However, their share has declined, as the amount of dollars spent for direct-mail advertising has increased.
The Direct Marketing Association estimates that national advertisers spent more than $27 billion on direct mail in 1994, that’s nearly 20 percent of all the ad dollars spent in the United States. Thus, making direct-mail advertising the third ranked advertising medium used today, surpassed only by television and newspapers. The Development of Direct Mail in the Internet The future of direct-mail advertising has developed side by side with the technology development of the World Wide Web. Through the Internet, conventional ways of direct-mail advertising is transformed in many ways through the advances of the developments of computer technology. Direct-mail advertising now uses the World Wide Web extensively to target their specified markets.
One meaningful contribution of the Internet to direct-mail advertising is the process of selective binding. This innovative technique enables the advertiser to build unique versions of each type of direct-mail ad to reach their intended target audience more efficiently through the Internet. Another innovative use of direct-mail advertising through the Internet is again, the database. This form of technology is widely used by direct marketers, who maintain lists of their specific consumers and web-surfers. Through the use of the database, marketers can now maintain an informative list of their consumers. However, marketers are often reluctant to maintain their databases in the Internet, because they claim that it is too complicated and time consuming. Types of Direct-Mail Lists The nucleus of any direct-mail program is the mailing list. Marketers and advertisers use 3 unique lists that will assist them to promote their products, services, or ideas.
1) House Lists: This is the marketers or company’s relational database of current, recent, and long-passed customers as well as future prospects for direct-mail programs. This list is the primary source used by the company. 2) Mail-in Response Lists: This is the people who respond direct-mail pieces from other companies, especially those with complementary products or services. These types of lists are the house lists of other direct-mail advertisers, and they can be rented with a wide variety of demographic breakdowns 3) Compiled Lists: This particular list can be described as “available lists”. Also, these readily available lists generate the lowest response rate.
Therefore, marketers use them along with house lists, combining them with mail-in responses, and then eliminating the duplicate names. Types of Direct-Mail Advertising Direct methods of advertising and selling grew astronomically in the last decade. Direct-mail advertising comes in various formats from handwritten postcards to dimensional mailings. The message can be one sentence or dozens of pages. And within each of the following formats, the creative and marketing options are infinite. 1) Sales letters: These are the most common direct-mail format and are often mailed with brochures, price lists, or reply cards and even envelopes.
2) Postcards: are used to announce sales, offer discounts, or generate customer traffic. 3) Business reply mail: enables the recipient to respond without paying postage. On receiving a response, the advertiser pays postage plus a handling fee of a few cents. Postage-free incentives usually increase response rates. 4) Folders and brochures: are usually printed in multiple colors on good paper stock that reproduces photos or other illustrations well.
5) Broadsides: are larger than folders and are sometimes used as window displays or wall posters in stores. They also fold to fit in a mailbag. 6) Self-mailers: are any form of direct mail that can travel without an envelope. Usually folded and secured by a …