With the success of Internet media and the recent downsizing of many print-oriented publications many observers are beginning to openly question what the implications of this trend will be on Direct Mail. Direct Mail and Fulfillment have been steady and stable keys to successful advertising for some time. But, can Direct Mail keep up with the new high-tech competition? Will pop-up advertisements and automated-telemarketing threaten to make Direct Mail obsolete?
The answer is no and the reasons are rooted in the history of communications and advertising. We must remember that with every successive technological innovation skeptics are quick to pronounce older and more traditional methods dead. Yet generally this has not been true. To illustrate this point I will describe several cases in other industries and relate their significance with Direct Mail.
In recent years the golfing industry has taken a giant leap forward in terms of the technology used in golf clubs. Older materials such as wood and steel have been replaced by space-aged titanium and graphite. Yet, Tiger Woods still plays with irons that could have been made in the 18th century. The reason for Tiger’s decision is that he knows that there are some things that technology cannot add to his golf game. For the best golfer in the world, it is impossible to improve on a classic.
There has been a technological revolution in the world of music as well. Analog effects now must compete with the newer Digital effects. Digital effects are easy to manipulate, record and are typically less expensive than their Analog counterparts. However, Analog effects will always be around because their sound is of a higher quality that is appealing to serious musicians.
When radio was invented skeptics quickly predicted the death of newspapers. Then, television was invented and was supposed to be the end of radio and cinema as well. The Internet was predicted to be the end of radio, television, movies and- for some people – life as we know it. Yet after all of these new advances in technology all of the previous modes are still standing. We must ask ourselves why.
The answer is that every one of these devices has a unique and important niche in the world. It is hard to watch T.V. while driving, people don’t curl up on the couch and listen to radio news and dating will never mean dinner and surfing the Net. The same will be true of Direct Mail and Fulfillment.
One of the advantages of Direct Mail is the ability to put together sample packages. No matter how nice a computer is it will be unable to print out a sample tube of toothpaste to demonstrate the toothpaste’s great, new taste. Only Direct Mail can fill that niche. Telemarketers, however persuasive, will be unable to describe a product comparably to letting the customer hold that product in his/her hands.
Another advantage of mail is that it is a classy form of advertising relative to the other methods. It is far more tasteful than an abrasive telemarketing call or a tacky pop-up advertisement. Although not everyone may read mail advertisements, the odds are that they will not be annoyed or turned off from the company that sent them.
In short, Direct Mail will continue to thrive as one of the most effective means of communication available. There is nothing to worry about in terms of its longevity. As long as the posts office exists, so will Direct Mail- and it will continue to be successful.