Direct Marketing, a lost marketing art

By August 31, 2009Uncategorized

People could easily debate that subject line — in many ways, the Internet is a prime example of the awesome power of direct marketing. And that is true. But it's true like my daughter looking at me as I tried to have an explicit 'teaching moment' about recycling and never littering, and she looked at me and said, "No one thinks about that. It's just what you do."

So Direct Marketing online is just what is done. But perhaps increased awareness of some of the core tenets and some tricks of the trade would help us all.

Real direct marketing is, at its core, making sure every communications requests a response on the part of the recipient.  Does anyone know the some of the first real direct marketing? It was by Lester Wundeman for Columbia House; he put a loose penny in the envelope. The whole theme was around what you got for a penny. The open rates were astronomical.

Letter writing is definitely a lost art. And what is lost could easily be applied to email. Have any of you ever seen a three-page subscription letter? I once read one for a small obscure fishing magazine and despite NOT caring anything about fishing, when I was done with that letter, I wanted to fish and I wanted that magazine to teach me how — it was that compelling, personal and moving. 

Call-to-action. Ok,many Web sites do a good job, and of course, transactional sites have to or else. But every site Web page should not engender a discussion about the nav bar, but also about what is the natural and needed call-to-action you want the visitor to take. And how many young designers have I seen take the call-to-action on a home page and design it to death. Design it so it blends so well into the page that it no longer has the prominence it needs.

Even before the Web, we would speak of a direct mail package "sequence", the order of events you want the reader to take. So many pharma companies cram stuff in the mail — as if poundage equals effectiveness. But in the same way people get lost in a crowd, well, they get lost in a fulfillment package that has too much stuff. Or on a Web site that has too much navigation, or too many tabs. (Example: i recently received a free pink backpack full of six small brochures and a MOA DVD. From one of the world's top breast cancer drugs; well, it was without a doubt the least engaging, unfocused group of brochures I ever read. No focus. What a waste.)

I am going to invite a friend who is a truly amazing creative direct marketer to write a blog entry next week. She knows this stuff better than anyone. Clients who read will learn a lot.

So, let's see what great gems of Direct Marketing we can share so clients get more effective work.