What Can Direct Mail Do For Marketers?

Despite the advent of email marketing, marketers should look at direct mail as a way to enhance their multichannel efforts, according to U.S. Postmaster General and CEO of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) John Potter, in his keynote at the Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) 40th annual DM Days, in New York on Wednesday. "The advertising agencies that use mail will have a competitive advantage over those that don't," Potter said. "Mail works better than it ever has, because your customers welcome mail into their homes." He cited a study that revealed 98 percent of households collect and assess what's in the mailbox every day. This includes the coveted gen-Y demographic. That audience--and, increasingly, people of all generations--uses the Internet daily, but people hesitate to open emails from unknown sources and often choose to delete them rather than risk being exposed to viruses or fraud. Potential shoppers are 88 percent more likely to buy online, and spend 16 percent more money if they receive a mailed catalog first, than if they had not received one, according to Potter. "Mail needs to be [a piece] of every media proposal and should play a key role in the advertising plan. Mail enlightens without being interruptive. Mail gets consumers' attention and it gets results." Americans' confidence in the mail, Potter said, remains high: "In the late nineties people thought snail mail would fade away, but Americans know what they put in the mail will be delivered and it will be delivered safely. They know it's a bargain and mail that works. It works for big and small companies nationwide." The USPS business model has changed as a result of the agency's having moved into a customer-driven environment. For 30 years mail grew as the population grew, but today that formula no longer works, according to Potter. This year is the first time first-class mail was overtaken by standard mail, also known as advertising mail. "We still have a monopoly protection on first-class mail, but it's not the same, because people are using wireless technology," he said. "It impacted the postal service and it impacted you." John Greco, president and CEO of the DMA, said the USPS has been an essential partner to direct marketers: Last year they generated $750 billion by means of 95 billion pieces of mail. "Marketers benefit from the affordable, reliable service the post office provides." Related articles: DM Days: On Marketers and Politicians
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