The death of the mail piece is greatly exaggerated

Julian Gilbert, Managing Director at Nationwide Franking Sense explains why direct mail still has a place in Marketing departments.

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Words: Julian Gilbert, Nationwide Franking Sense

Are Marketing departments missing a trick? For sure there is value and a place for all methods of communication – Modern explainers, e-mail (although getting old now) and social. E-mail might have replaced fax but it’s not fully replaced direct mail yet.

To create a quality mail piece takes time and thought; it hits the spot in different ways. It’s a simpler process than sitting in a room full of creatives arguing about styling, genres and which decade to choose for the backing audio; then trying to explain your company’s ethos for 3 hours to strangers so they can come back with a 45 second explainer video that bears no resemblance to the starting brief. “I just felt it this way,” comes the reply “I hope you don’t mind?” at the same time blowing thousands of pounds for the privilege. All this time just so everyone can go, “Ooooh! We’ll get a lot of likes on LinkedIn with that beauty.” I don’t know if anyone else has been there but I have?

Look – this is all good fun and exciting but surely the name of the game is results. For me, the object of Marketing should be more focused on lead gen, direct customer engagement, driving traffic to web, generating an email enquiry or inbound phone call so the BDM’s can have their day. Not trying to be ‘discovered’ on LinkedIn as the next Spielberg? Not all Marketing is about brand building, particularly the personal brand. Don’t worry, I understand the irony in this piece.

I believe in all Marketing so I’m not biased but I want to put the case for all channels, in particular the much overlooked mail piece. The letter is a blunt instrument in the modern world; it’s direct, forceful and requires action. Positive or negative, either way it creates momentum. It’s different (completely) to all the razzmatazz of explainers, personal video blogs and self-indulgent promotions. That it’s simpler could also be considered dangerous, as you put something in writing to a recipient, personally delivered, that requires thought about the consequences of the action. Even if that action is putting the mail piece in the bin or shredding it – you are connected to the letter in a way unlike any digital media. My thoughts were triggered as I was admiring a professional mailer that got my attention revived in the office (it looked like it was completely hand written but was cleverly volume printed) and energised by some interesting data* recently released by Royal Mail that made me stop and think about the values of mail in a new post COVID light.

So, in conclusion I think there is much life left in physical communication as we yearn for something different. With the assistance of hardware to carry the load of preparing mid to high volume mailings (of which there is a vast array). Some fantastic creative, new stunning office digital printing capabilities combined with strong sales call to action methodology – all this can create powerful results as part of the overall Marketing mix.

In complex noisy Marketing environments, the power lies in the pure simplicity of the direct mail piece as its biggest USP.

Sometimes the tools at the bottom of your kit box, even if a little bunt, are just the thing you need to get the job done perfectly.

*Details in the news story ‘The death of the mail piece is greatly exaggerated’ at https://www.nationwidefrankingsense.co.uk/news/the-death-of-the-mail-piece-is-greatly-exaggerated

This article first appeared in DQ Issue 18

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