Ted Grigg posted some interesting thoughts recently about the impact of direct mail vs. online advertising.
Due to its escalating cost, more demanding execution and relative rarity, direct mail appeals garner more attention from recipients than the same messages found in their crowded email inboxes. With the explosive growth of email, printed direct mail has now gained more respect among consumers.
In addition, direct mail is more intrusive than the Internet that relies 100% on the consumer to access the advertiser’s web site.
There are two important points I’d like to make about this.
First, I agree that direct mail carries a powerful punch. And I have no doubt that it will become more effective as time goes on, despite any new technologies that may arise, perhaps because of new technologies.
As online opportunities multiply and consumers turn their ire away from “junk mail” and toward “spam,” we’ll see consumer attitudes about mail become more and more favorable. People have short memories and can only hate so many things at one time. As they hate spam more, they’ll love direct mail more.
Second, there’s that word, “intrusive.” I love online advertising and agree with the idea of opt-in as a necessary strategy, but a pernicious misconception is evolving out of the online community that this idea should apply to all forms of advertising, that no one should ever be exposed to sales messages that they don’t ask for.
Advertising MUST be intrusive. Marketing demands it. Our industry, indeed our entire economy, relies on it. Advertising cannot be passive. It must push messages as aggressively as possible. How could you introduce new products and services otherwise? There’s a reason companies hire sales people — because they push. Advertising is simply salesmanship in print (or sounds or images).
Can you imagine being forbidden to mail anything unless someone specifically asked for it? How many businesses would survive if they were prevented from running ads, putting up billboards, broadcasting radio or TV spots, distributing literature, or otherwise pushing messages without express permission from potential customers?
No one wants to waste money on unresponsive prospects. But we must be careful about misapplying the opt-in idea. Better targeting is what we need, not the mindless and idealistic idea to eradicate intrusiveness.