NickSo here’s a quick rundown of what we’re going to be discussing
Simon The fact is, the majority of our personal interactions and communications these days are now online through email and social and professional networking utilities like facebook, linkedin and twitter. We will (for the most part) happily share intimate details and photos of our lives with friends, colleagues, friends of friends, stalkers and of course people we went to school with who we thought we’d only have to see at the obligatory 10 and 20 year reunions. And a by-product of this shift is that mail has gone from being a very personal channel into a very functional one.But think about this – how much noise is there now in our digital lives?
SimonCould I ask everyone to stand up and calculate how many email addresses you have – home/work/web-based email/facebook mail/linkedinMail etc. Start with 1 and get people to progressively sit down.<Give gauge of where bulk of audience sits> Prize for top male/female – can of Spam each <Mount?>I realised – when we started thinking about this – that I have 8 – Hotmail as my “mobile” email/Bigpond at home/my hyro address/the .me address that comes with my mobileme account and the yahoo one I had to get to open a flickr account. Then there’s linkedinmail, mail via facebook and Twitter DM. That’s 8 separate electronic mail accounts – and even if aggregate them all into a couple of streams, you as marketers have no idea which of those I take the most notice of. In fact, I have 1792 unopened emails in my hotmail account, 292 unopened in my Bigpond account AND 226 in my work account – yet I read all of my Twitter DMsAnd I only have 1 letterbox.
Nick – we think this sums the current situation for our digital lives up pretty well.
NickKnowing we’d be speaking at this event around the subject of the channel of direct mail both Simon and I started to collect examples of direct mail both at home and at workYou might be surprised to see some of the companies using direct mailWhy here is a piece of direct mail from GoogleAnd another from ebayArguably two of the largest digital corporations in the world with some of the fastest growing technology platforms Yet they still understand how to use the right medium to target new customersHere is an imposing mailing we received at work. It boasts a very big promise, but it actually doesn’t really deliverSimon’s review …Nick – summationOne of the biggest revelations was that actually we don’t receive that much direct mail.Not compared to the UK or USA where people will receive probably 3 times the mail volumes in Australia. We receive a lot of bank statements and bills and council notifications etc.<Simon - I received 2> And its also probably not much of a surprise to anyone here but we received virtually no social mail – if it hadn’t been for half of Simon’s family getting married this year there would have been none. So are we simply two losers with lazy friends? Or are we all? What this all adds up to from our point of view, is that mail should be playing an even greater role in the multi-channel marketing mix. But it’s not. And here’s a pretty good indicator.
SimonNow we’re going to come back to these pieces when we get into the case studies a little later, because all 4 are consistent with our hypothesis on the strengths of mail, and how to use it.
SimonWell we think there are number of issues that are affecting the mail channel.And in many respects, it’s of our own doing. I believe we’re trying too hard to emulate digital, and are forgetting what makes mail unique. In essence, we’re losing the personal touch. And here’s how…
Nick Many companies are not taking the time to properly interrogate the data surrounding the audience they are writing toThere is a tendency to simply rely on the surface level data that sits on the database, rather than trying to dig deeper and build a picture about the person you are trying to sell a product or a service too. Examples – Whiskas (Simon)
SimonThis is a mistake digital often makes – focusing on the technology used to deliver the message rather than what we’re trying to say.Direct Mail is in danger of doing the same. Sometimes creatives are at fault – developing work that fits to a format, rather than finding an idea first and then deciding on the most appropriate delivery mechanism. Rework [But I think we’re also guilty of it when we look at multi-segment matrix based mailings, that are essentially, written by computer. Sure a writer has hand in there at some point, but when you’re writing in fragments, you have no idea what the whole will be. It ticks all of the boxes, except for the one about feeling natural. It all feels too clinical.]
SimonWe all know that our own name is one of the most powerful words in the world. If we see our name, our attention is certainly switched on; so using personalisation is one of the most powerful direct marketing tools we have available.But it must be used judiciously and it must be relevant, as a mail pack that uses my first name five times across a handful of paragraphs for no apparent reason is just plain irritating. And if you’re sending me a Christmas gift, no, I don’t want a calendar with my name written in clouds or hedges for every month of the year.But when used well – Sydney Swans example/recipient had framed the mail pack. (Simon)(Nick) – Fuji Xerox
NickThere’s a difference between providing information about a product and selling one. It’s the old features vs benefits argument. There’s a place for pithy feature-led copy – but it shouldn’t the focus of your piece.We see two problems here:One is the argument that everyone is time poor now and doesn’t have time to read – so just give them the facts. It’s true, I am time poor, which means I’ll only spend time on something where I know someone has spent some time thinking about me. SimonThe other problem is that everyone is now a writer – or at least thinks they are. And it’s not surprising – we can publish and be published like never before. As a result, copy is being judged under an increasingly critical microscope. Combine that with the lens of everyone being too busy to read anything, and we’re ending up with direct mail that is only trying to provide information as opposed to actually persuade or sell a product or service.Great and successful mail relies on the ability to capture your attention, tell you a story and break your inertia to act. And before we get into how you can bring the personal touch back to your direct mail, we’re going to show you a few examples which we think do it pretty well.
NickAll of the work we are going to show you has won awards – so not just work we like but work that has been recognised as some of the best
NickWe’ve shown you some great examples of work that uses the personal touch. They’re greatSo what else should you be doing to keeping your mail fresh
NickGain a greater understanding about the person you are about to communicate to – think about the environment of the person you are trying to interruptIf you are trying to convince a member of your organisation to purchase a new set of xxxx then if he or she has already received 20 emails from you that month – chances are you wont convince that person in an email to part with $2000
SimonWhen planning your channel communications identify the tasks that mail is best used for – and that can be whether it’s better for retention than acquisition, or up-selling rather than cross-selling. It can also be about identifying some of the inherent strengths of direct mail and using them to your advantage.Mail is a tangible medium. There is definitely something to be said for the value of touching something. I have always said direct mail is akin to holding the brand in your hands, so if your letter’s printed on the next grade up from toilet paper, what do you think that’s saying?There’s no doubting it can be as simple as paper stock and print quality – the right selection can exude quality and reinforce brand values in a way that emails never can – but it can’t just be about being tangible, it has to be relevant to the brand, what you’re saying and who you’re talking to.Nick - Prius seeded paper example
NickIf there is one thing I have noticed as a consultant is the saying ‘ well of course we’d use email because its cheaper and quicker’ but isnt that the wrong question?Surely a smart marketer would be asking the question ‘from which channel will I get the best return’So do your homework, work out your response and conversion models and understand what your required investment is to get the return you need.
SimonBusy people don’t want you wasting your time, but if it’s an insightful, well thought out argument you’re presenting, then you won’t be wasting anyone’s time. Don’t be afraid to take your time and tell a story that your audience will relate to. You can’t bore someone into buying your product.
NickAs you’ve seen from some of the work we’ve just shown you – when the letter is written with a personal touch the message is so much more powerfulDon’t forget you may be mailing 50,000 dm packs but in essence you are writing to 50,000 individuals. There’s a reason why DM is also called 1 to 1.Don’t simply provide information or facts or figures – to sell a product or service you need to tell a story……….. Plus of course you need to have all the basics of dm included as well
SimonIf you don’t agree with everything we’ve just said – that’s fine, that’s what makes DM great: test and learn; control pack vs challenger. We’ve seen the power of control packs in the American Express and TWSJ letters. Rather than reinventing the wheel, make it better.
NickThe direct mail channel is still very much an invaluable communication tool for marketersWhen you get it right as you’ve seen from some of the examples we’ve shown it can be hugely successfulSimonIn a digital world mail still has an important role to playIn fact the fastest area of growth within the digital world for marketers is the ability to transpose direct marketing principles in digital channelsNickBut like anything you need to keep working at it to keep it successfulA big part of keeping it fresh is to get back to the basics What ever you do – please don’t forget the personal touch
The Personal Touch Why Direct Mail needs to get back to basics to stay fresh in a digital world. Nick Mercer, Managing Director – MercerBell @nickmercer Simon Bloomfield, National Creative Director – Hyro @dekkard42
(Or why there’s nothing personal about a poke.)
1. What’s in our letterboxes? 2. With mail budgets shifting online, what are the mistakes we are making? 3. The Personal Touch in action – case studies from the past and present. 4. Keeping the mail channel fresh.
“The problem is that consumers’s shift towards digital media has been equalled, if not surpassed by a shift in volume of online advertising. Add to this the now well-documented phenomenon of consumers creating and sharing their own content online and the outcome is a digital landscape that has become even more saturated with brand communications.” Mobashara Nazir, MRM Worldwide in Campaign Magazine’s ‘Digital Essays’
The Personal Touch in action – Direct Mail case studies
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL LETTER BBDO, Martin Conroy
“It’s the ‘Hamlet,’ the ‘Iliad,’ the ‘Divine Comedy’ of direct-mail letters. It’s had a longer life, to my knowledge, than any other direct mail in history.” James R. Rosenfield, describing Conroy’s letter in the copywriter’s obituary published in the New York Times.
QUITE FRANKLY, AMERICAN EXPRESS OGILVY & MATHER DIRECT, New York
“Mail is unique. It’s the only medium that can be personal and exploit all the virtues of 3D-ness. A direct mail pack can be a sensory feast. A delight to hold and unfold, read and see, even hear and smell. Even in the Facebook age, a letter is still one of the most warmly welcomed of communications." Simon Kershaw, Executive Creative Director, TDA (UK)