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When I Grow Up


The Queen B recently had the honor of writing a cover story for the DMAW's wonderful newsletter AdVents. Here's what she had to say ...

As a child, no one thinks, "When I grow up, I want to be a direct mail marketer." But, those of us who make a living at it, are actually very fortunate. We get to reach millions of people with messages that can make their lives better.

Before you disagree or use the words "junk mail," allow me to point out that innovations in data science and print technology now allow us to send extremely targeted, extremely relevant offers to just the people who care about them. Decades ago, direct mail marketing earned the description "spray and pray," send out lots and lots of mail to lots and lots of people and ... well ... hope for the best. Marketers who do that today aren't just lazy; they're wasting money and resources.

Now, smart marketers send less mail that's more relevant. They reach less people who are more interested. And, they achieve better returns on investment for doing so.When my team and I sit down to develop creative concepts for direct mail, we start with the target audience, the product or solution, and the offer. Then, we think about what we can send that will make someone smile, or laugh, or simply stop and think. We have the opportunity to surprise and delight someone, to move them emotionally and — even more important — to move them to take action.

In terms of formats and creative, the possibilities are endless (grounded, of course, by budget). Whether it's a postcard from your vet with a picture of a dog that looks just like yours (easy to do with variable data printing), to a simple brochure that offers tips for successful Zoom meetings (very relevant right now), to a box that contains virtual reality goggles that work with your smart phone (worth sending when you're marketing high-ticket medical equipment). 

Besides giving us opportunities to be clever and creative, there’s another — even better — reason to embrace direct mail. It works. In fact, I’d argue that with all of our email inboxes overflowing, direct mail works harder than ever! But don’t take my word for it …

  • 70% of consumers say direct mail is more personal than online interactions. 
  • 54% of consumers say they want direct mail from brands that interest them. 
  • 42% of recipients read or scan the direct mail they receive. 
  • 62% of consumers who responded to direct mail in the past three months made a purchase. 
  • 39% of consumers try a business for the first time because of direct mail.

And, finally, direct mail response rates are five to nine times higher than any other advertising channel. In fact, with so many people working from and staying at home this past year, direct mail has probably brightened even more people’s days than usual.

Being a direct mail marketer may not be as cool as being an astronaut or a pro basketball player. But, it’s getting closer.

For information about the DMAW, visit their website here:

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