Mark Twain’s response when learning that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal is the now-famous quote “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” According to The Phrase Finder, “Mistaken publications of obituaries aren’t as rare as you might expect.” So it is for direct mail marketing.
Conducting a search on Google using the phrase “direct mail is dead” turns up 2,970,000 hits. Of course, not all of the articles agree that direct mail is dead, but many of them clearly make this claim.
Thank heaven for Hallie Mummert, editor in chief of Target Marketing. Her Editor’s Note in the September 2009 issue says exactly what I’ve wanted to say for a long time. Not only does she share details on the current and projected use of direct mail, but she puts a little reality into the discussion by recalling that “Television did not kill radio. Direct mail did not kill newspapers. TiVo did not kill television ads. Paid search did not kill e-mail. And e-mail will not kill direct mail. New marketing avenues might fragment marketing budgets, but so far only regulation and obsolete technology like the Federal Communications Commission’s Do Not Fax law and the fax machine itself have had the power to essentially shut down a medium.”
Why should we B2B marketers care about a medium largely perceived as a consumer marketing channel? Because direct mail works very well in the B2B world for many reasons. Here are just a few:
- The best e-mail lists reach only 20% to 30% of the business marketplace. With direct mail you can reach more than 90%.
- Direct mail lists allow you to target your prospects more accurately by industry, business size and title.
- Not only do direct mail lists provide more data, but the data is often more accurate. For instance, lists of subscribers to specific vertical publications are more accurate and up-to-date.
- Known B2B marketers still use direct mail in their marketing mix because it is a cost-effective lead generation tool. In fact, the Who’s Mailing What service, compiled by Inside Direct Mail, shows thousands of B2B marketers using the mail. Here is a small sampling of names you might recognize: SAP, Citrix, VeriSign, Novell, Sage, Epicor, Cisco Systems, Adobe, PeopleSoft, Avaya, Proxima, McAfee, Corel, Broderbund, BEA, Symantec and hundreds of others.
- With everyone thinking the medium is dead and not using the channel, your message will truly stand out.
- Because the monetary value of each new B2B customer is typically in the five- to six-figure range, the initial cost necessary to generate that lead is well worth it.
Once a lead is generated, it is effective to use e-mail for nurturing. But for profitable, productive lead generation, it may be time to resurrect the dead.
Addition on January 29, 2010
More stories about the importance and value of B2B direct mail appear daily. Here’s a link to the Multichannel Marketing for B2B Marketers blog and their article Direct Mail: The Comeback Kid. Read it now and learn how “Per Annum, a small firm specializing in corporate gifts, eliminated its annual direct mailing last year, and suffered a 25% drop in orders.”