Anne Holland

Generational Marketing Terminology Shift: What does DM mean to you?

August 15th, 2005

What does the term “Direct Mail” mean to you? Increasingly I’ve found that if I’m talking to a marketer aged under 35, they assume it means a campaign delivered via email.

This redefinition of a very old term is so prevalent, that I’ve learned to add the word “postal” or “snail” when discussing direct mail in our research interviews.

So, if I ask, “How is your direct mail program performing these days?” chances are the marketer will start talking about email. Instead I have to say, “How is your direct postal mail program performing?” And often I have to predicate that with, “Do you do any postal mail campaigns?” Sadly many marketers reply, “Oh no, only email.”

Why is it sad? Because endless reams of research show relying on a single media to reach your prospects and customers is bad marketing. The Internet and email are wonderful, grand, fine. But, I’m increasingly having to remind folks, they are not the only ball game out there.

Some prospects and customers won’t respond to email or Web campaigns. Either they’re too hard to reach that way (think email filters and rising PPC costs), or it’s just not their preferred method of receiving and/or responding to offers.

The old question in DM 101 camp used to be “How many response channels should I put on my reply cards?” (Answer: Every single one you can so you include all prospects’ fave methods of communication – mail, fax, phone, etc.)

The new question in DM 101 camp should be, “How many channels should I get my message out in?”

If you can only afford email alone for part of your list, then rely on it only for your least profitable names (plus perhaps those names that are proven repeated email responders). If a name on your house files has high potential ROI, invest in multiple media to reach them.

What should DM stand for? Direct Marketing of course, in as media agnostic a manner as possible.

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