If you look at the history of social media, you'll see that by 2007, when Facebook began to outperform MySpace, some marketing gurus and media mavens were predicting the demise of direct mail as a viable channel for direct marketing. In today's difficult economy, theprice, they opined, could not be justified when compared to the low cost and broad reach of viral media. Yet direct mail has not gone away, and an increasing chorus of voices are singing the praises of direct mail to do what it's always done so well: target key consumers and achieve the sales levels that other media cannot.
One of the most interesting studies of direct mail preference comes from none other than Epsilon, the world's largest permission-based email marketing company, which sends more than 40 billion emails annually on behalf of its global client base. In it's 2011 Channel Preference Study, released on December 1, 2011, Epsilon Targeting reports that "through economic turmoil, technology advances and channel proliferation, direct mail continues to deliver as consumers' preferred means of receiving marketing messages from brands."
The report goes on to say that "despite direct mail's reputation for being ‘old school' or expensive, it is the top choice of U.S. and Canadian consumers for the receipt of brand communications in almost every category, ranging from health to household products, to household services, insurance and financial services, including credit card offers. The preference for direct mail also extends to the 18-34 year old demographic."
A post by the Kern Organization further supports the notion that younger consumers are attracted to direct mail and why: "According to Experian, despite common preconceptions, 15-24 year olds are highly receptive to direct mail. Younger demographics respond to direct mail so well, because it's new. You know: ‘Hey I want to feel important!
When grandma sends me a birthday card, I can't wait to open the envelope. It's my birthday and I open it and it says Happy Birthday—everybody loves that!' Well if someone says ‘Hey congratulations, you've qualified for a credit card!' and you're 21 years old and you've never been qualified for a credit card before, its new, its novel, and exciting. So the youth still has the opportunity to be impressed by the new and the freshness of what happens in their life. Those solicitations that come in the mail, that help them see that they're moving on their path—a credit card, auto club membership, special promotions, sale announcements, appeal to their personal interests and the freshness of messaging that says ‘Hey I'm important.'
So is direct mail THE way to attract a demographic such as high school seniors? One thing that hasn't changed in a digital universe is the opinion of successful studio owners who stress the importance of relying on the proverbial "marketing mix," the many advertising channels that are open to photographers in pursuit of clients: Their best advice is to employ multiple channels working together to produce the best results, and that each part of the mix must be appropriate for the target market.
It's comforting to know that direct mail, which gives you the option of structuring your marketing message in a truly compelling fashion, and delivering it directly to your targeted consumer, is still alive and well. Furthermore, when social media comes together with direct mail, it's a match made in marketing mix heaven!