Direct mail marketing has seen a resurgence recently as businesses and nonprofits look for effective ways to reach their target audience in a more personalized and tangible manner. With the saturation of digital channels, direct mail offers a unique opportunity to stand out and capture the attention of customers. Direct mail marketing gives local small businesses and nonprofits an advantage because they don’t have access to emails, but can easily get mailing addresses.

For a long time, direct mail marketing got a tarnished reputation for being wasteful and killing trees. When doing mass mailings in the millions (I did many of these in my corporate years) this was true. As marketing has evolved, however, so have the suppliers in the industry. Minimums are now smaller (especially if you use your house file), there’s a higher prevalence of using recycled paper, and when compared to how taxed and vulnerable our electric grids have become, for me, that’s a wash.

What’s different now is how it’s executed. For example:

  • Using smaller, more targeted lists
  • Using recycled (or mostly recycled) paper products that are now readily available
  • Longer shelf life – for example, I recently received a piece from a local arts organization that listed events and happenings through the end of the year

Here are some reasons why you should consider using direct mail as part of your marketing mix:

  1. Tangibility – Physical mail has a tactile quality that can leave a lasting impression on recipients. In a digital world, receiving a piece of direct mail can feel more personal and memorable.
  2. Less Competition – With many companies focusing their marketing efforts online, direct mail allows businesses to cut through the noise and reach customers in a less crowded space. Think of it as a Blue Ocean Strategy to stand out.
  3. Personalization – Advanced technology now allows for more personalized and targeted direct mail campaigns, making them more relevant to individual recipients. In cases where names are not available (or are irrelevant), personalization such as “Dear Neighbor” is just as effective.
  4. Trust and Credibility – Direct mail can help build trust and credibility with customers as it is perceived as a more legitimate and trustworthy form of communication compared to digital ads.
  5. Integration with Digital – Direct mail can be integrated with digital marketing strategies to create a multi-channel approach, providing a seamless and cohesive experience for customers. This can be done using a QR code for example that directs the recipient to your website, a special landing page (this is a great way to test offers too), social media, etc.

It’s a good DIY marketing tool as well. Letterhead, envelopes, and stamps are all you need to start small (I recommend 100) and test the waters to see if it produces for you. The odds are that if you have a well-written letter with a compelling call to action, it will.

While direct mail may not be suitable for every business or nonprofit, its revival indicates that it still holds relevance and value in today’s marketing landscape. By combining the strengths of direct mail with digital marketing tactics, businesses can create more comprehensive and effective marketing campaigns to engage with their target audience.