ideas, Printing and Fulfilment, Direct Mail

How direct mail fits with modern marketing

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
May 18 2016,
July 13 2020

There’s some that think direct mail is old-hat, passé and that it’s had its day. But today’s direct mail is all grow’ed up and more than ready to take its rightful place at the modern marketers’ table. Don’t take our word for it though. Check out what some of today’s “Mad Men” have to say about it and just how effective mail can be when it’s married with creative design and digital wizardry.

Harris Diamond is the CEO of McCann and a man “who watches over a $10 billion a year in marketing spend”. At a recent conference in the US he was upbeat and positively bullish about the medium confirming,

“From what we're seeing at McCann, marketers are recognizing and taking advantage of how multifaceted mail really is.”

and going on to say,

“In a world in which people are endlessly bombarded with electronic messages, direct mail is now the most welcome house guest.”

He’s not alone. D&AD is a non-profit advertising association and its CEO, Tim Lindsay, appears to also be a fan,

“With mail you get to touch, feel, see the quality and smell. That is evocative, and it can’t be achieved by pixels.”

So, what’s prompted them and others to air their views on the old marketing stalwart DM? It could well be the new, exciting flavours that we’re seeing brands incorporate into their campaigns. There’s a raft of examples and case studies here but this is a selection of features you might want to consider incorporating into yours;

  1. QR Codes - considered by many to be a bit clunky, QR codes are increasingly to be found on mail and other printed materials. As consumers become more familiar with them, they’re widely recognised as a quick way to join up offline and online channels.
  2. Augmented Reality (AR) – its ability to make static images pop and come to life using only a smartphone and an app means AR is also gaining ground in direct mail.
  3. Near Field Communication (NFC) – we’re BIG fans of NFC and have used it extensively for our own campaigns. You can read about it in detail here but, essentially a chip (often a sticker) is incorporated so that, through radio waves, print can “talk to” a compatible smartphone.
  4. Video-enablement – adding a screen and operating buttons is not only possible but actually quite simple and, with video adoption rocketing, it is a sure-fire way to engage recipients.
  5. Mobile-in-Print - mobile capabilities such as call or text features can be added making mailers “calling cards”!
  6. Conductive inks – while it’s still early days for this, mixing ink with metals such carbon, copper or silver creates a wire for an electronic device to be added to a mailing piece.
  7. Specialist inks – reacting to temperature, moisture, pressure or specific chemicals/substances these can be used for a whole range of “special effects” which almost guarantee interaction from the recipient.
  8. 3d Mail – a take on, and a development of, shaped mail these “flat packed” mailers spring into life to form three-dimensional and tactile objects.

Though he was talking about print generally, rather than DM specifically, Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP hit the nail on the head when he said,

“There’s really strong evidence that engagement with traditional print is greater than engagement with so-called new media.”

And we’re not going to argue with that!

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