In today’s business climate, where everything is instantaneous and many times success is measured by how rapidly we get our message out, is there a place for snail mail in the current business market? The common wisdom would be to say “no”…email is faster, far more cost effective, and I think it is safe to say that most of us are far more diligent about keeping up with what is in our email inbox as opposed to what is waiting at our physical mail box.
Unfortunately, many business people and marketers have forgotten that there is still considerable value in a well written (yes, hand written,) letter or card, something that cannot be as effectively duplicated through electronic means. In fact, hand written pieces are far more likely to attract fans, and subsequently clients, than the mass email approach that is so commonly offered up. So how can email and snail mail co exist, and even more, how can your company benefit the most from that coexistence.
Firstly, you have to understand… email is simply another medium that has become a tool in your marketing arsenal. It was never designed to replace the traditional forms of media, but rather accentuate them. Depending upon your market, perhaps email is all you need to launch successfully. For many in the business world, however, success comes from a balanced approach to marketing that includes email, website, and snail mail use.
Now granted, it is far easier to design and implement an email marketing campaign, as this allows you to respond to rapidly changing market conditions or other opportunities. Due to its low cost, you can lead highly targeted clients to your website. You can also track your results more effectively than you can with e-mail.
Email is a lot cheaper than direct mail, with no printing or postage costs to consider. Once you have a client’s email address, all you need is their permission to continue correspondence with them. Email campaigns typically generate more immediate results. I’ve announced the release of a new product and received orders for it on the very same day, something that I could never accomplish with direct mail. You can also automate your e-mail responses, designing them to send messages and promotions to clients based on their chopping and purchasing habits.
Direct mail is preferable since the lists that are available tend to be far more targeted and of much better quality than many of the e-mail lists that are out there. A good list broker can really help you narrow down and refine your search considerably, something almost impossible with an email list. Direct mail is also a better venue, believe it or not, for getting people to visit your website. You can use postcards or letters to announce your presence, generating better quality leads than many email campaigns.
Print is not dead by any means. Much like many folks thought the advent of radio would kill off publishing, so have similar predictions been made with regard to what email would do to direct mail campaigns. The fact remains however that a letter or card, something that can be put into somebody’s hand, will carry far more weight than an e-mail message. We still like to be able to put our hands on something tangible. The cost per sale may be higher, but the actual dollar volume per sale will be higher as well.
Even the much maligned communication process known as junk mail has its place. This author may throw out ads from home improvement outlets, but put an arts or crafts flyer in my hand and I am out the door, wallet at the ready. It depends on the audience.
So both avenues of communication have their place. Learn how to make the most effective use of both of them, and watch your business soar to the next level as a result of your efforts.