Designing Direct

, Designing Direct

Sarah Roberts

With every new and exciting electronic gadget that comes along, our culture seems to be shifting away from pen and paper to be in front of a screen. We use them at work, in our vehicles and for social interaction. We even bring these gadgets into our bedrooms at night to quickly glance through our emails or watch one more cute puppy video before we turn out our bedroom lamp. But even in a digital world, there is still something to be said about receiving a tangible piece of direct mail.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a designer and with that comes my love of paper. It’s the excitement of a brand new swatch book, the feel of the grain, the smell of the ink when samples come fresh off the press. Although not everyone shares my sometimes-exaggerated appreciation of paper, I found a few people who do. I recently had the opportunity to attend the HOW Design Conference in San Francisco and learned that many advertisers and businesses still see the value in the printed piece.

Direct mail. It’s versatile, reliable and user-friendly, and it can be as low-tech or tech-savvy as you want it to be. Recent surveys show that consumers of all ages still prefer paper-based advertising to electronic formats and consider printed pieces to be more reliable than offers they receive through email. According to United States Postal Service research, 79 percent of all households read or scan direct mail they receive. Unlike email, which can be quickly deleted from the inbox, direct mail has a greater chance to grab the attention of your prospects and it remains in the home or office for a longer period of time.

Your prospects don’t need to have a smartphone or even the Internet. Don’t get me wrong, digital media can be a cost-efficient and effective tool, but consider integrating it with a powerful direct mail campaign and see the increased results of your message and corporate image. The key is to understand your audience members and the appropriate message and tools to make a well-informed decision about your product or service. After all, you’re not going to send a postcard on steaks to a group of vegetarians and expect them to take interest. You need to concentrate on the meat eaters, show them your finest steak and let them know why it has the most flavor or is the best on the grill.

Direct mail provides one of the highest response rates. According to a study by the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail produces a 4.4 percent response rate compared to other methods like email (0.12 percent), paid search (0.22 percent) and display ads (0.04 percent). The average attention span is 5 seconds; make the most of it.  Give your prospects something tangible. In an increasingly digital world where inboxes are bulging and pop-up ads get ignored, don’t you still get a little excited when you see that postcard or envelope peaking out of your mail box?