March 5, 2002 Volume 1 Issue 39
E-Mail & Direct Mail
About a month ago the Direct Marketing Association did a major policy shift when it comes to E-mail marketing.
The old guidelines followed the same path as with other media ... it is AOK to prospect unless the owner has requested otherwise. Those of you who have read me know I think something along that same path should apply to E-mail - yet, that thought does not work today. With reason.
Bottom line is the new DMA guidelines say you can prospect only to permission based lists - period! And they're making a strong case, taking an aggressive stand, too.
Members who do not comply may be expelled.
Jerry Cerasale is the DMA spokesman on the subject. He says "We view spam as sending commercial e-mail to someone with whom a marketer has not had any prior business relationship and as being sent to someone who has not asked for the e-mail." Fair enough.
Still, there is a hole. Not the fault of the DMA ... it's the horrid word "permission". What does permission mean? How do you get permission ... by what method, what process? Is there a "standard"? There is not!
Like it or not, something about permission is mandatory before you send prospecting E-mail. Or your missile will be considered spam. The kick is, although the concept has generally been accepted, there is big-time debate between marketers and the anti-spam groups about what is acceptable. This entire discussion sounds like a Ralph Nader project - all the problems and none of the answers.
Still, forward steps are being taken. And a lot of the hollering and screaming has stopped. The "cause" groups and the marketing community do seem to be coming together.
Sometimes I wonder why all this E-mail "stuff" is so important. And then I read an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about direct mail. And how it is slowly becoming less important to marketers. The anthrax scare last fall didn't help. A recent survey by Opinion Research found that 24% of households open mail only from those advertisers with whom they are familiar. International Communications Research found 2% of their survey audience don't open ANY mail!
Part of that message is to make certain you have clear ID on your mailing envelope ... something I think you should have been doing all along anyway.
Then there is money. The USPS wants to raise rates. The rates are just about the lowest in the world now - certainly for the service - yet, many mailers get all hot and bothered about a rate increase. In my opinion, if you're so tight that another penny or two for postage is going to put you out of business - you should be out of business now.
Still, that begs the point; E-mail is down right dirt cheap. Much less than direct mail, no matter how you cut it. So, conventional direct mail as we have known it since WWII, is going through a number of big time changes.
i.e., post cards are being used more and more. I've always liked post cards as a support piece in a campaign. Now there are post card campaigns. They are less expensive - require tight copy, a clear offer, sharp graphics. And may get away with a handwritten address or note ... because it is a post card.
Those wonderful 3-D mailings most of us like to get are fewer and fewer. I did receive one recently from a company I know - Wikki Stix. Their product is not understood unless you can hold and play with it. Since I know who these kind folks are, I opened immediately. What if you did not know what was inside?
There is a story of a pen/pencil manufacturer who, in the recent past, always included a sample of the product with each piece of mail. They are now using graphics - no more 3-D - no more samples. Would be nice to learn what this does to their response.
Well, I changed horses for a couple of minutes. Because one of the key reasons for the E-mail marketing explosion is what has happened to direct mail. Many people still prefer to get their "news" via mail. The Atlanta Constitution article included a small survey which indicated more people wanted their advertising via the post than electronically with E-mail. Direct mail is not dead - even as E-mail grows and grows.
Not sure "why" people like mail. One reason is it "has always been there". In my case, if I'm interested in something, I want to hold some paper and read and learn more. It's easier to do with mail than E-mail and the WWW ... even with the printed pages.
There is also something interesting about mail. Each of us look for it daily. And miss it when we - for any reason - don't get our mail. Mail is almost it's own institution. Yes, it needs to be profitable for marketers ... or you will look for another way. Yet, I don't think it's going away. Change, yes - disappear, no.
Hopefully we will always be able to prospect for new business. Using direct mail and E-mail and print and broadcast and whatever other means come down the pike. Because if prospecting goes away a piece of the American west - in fact, the entire western world - goes away. One of the reasons the west has grown and much of the rest of the world has not is because we have talked to our marketplace. We tell them of new things and new ideas. If that opportunity fades as technology expands, then we as marketers loose.
Back to the DMA E-mail guidelines. Because they have been printed in countless places already, and are available from the DMA-New York with a simple phone call, I will not repeat them here. If you do not have a copy - you should get one.
"See" you next time.
One of these times this entire E-zine is going to be nothing but Anonymous quotes. Just for fun. Because they certainly are.
This issue of The Works of Marketing with Ray includes 2 such quotes ... just because. EnJoy!
#1. "You can multiply happiness by dividing it."
"Quotes with Direction" has been a part of my web site collection from day one. If you like quotes visit the archives ... www.rayjutkins.com/quotes/. There's a new batch up every 4 weeks.
Richard Brandt wrote a piece in early December of 2000 that deserves a second look. 15-16 months later.
It was part of an UpsideToday techy E-zine. Not sure how I got it - do know I printed and saved it. Brandt said he was writing an opinion column, vs. not. His style was to make a Fiction statement, followed by a Reality answer.
There's not time for all he shared - I'll pick and choose. And remember the time - early December 2000. When in the States we were taking 36 days to select a president. This was penned a week-10 days before that final decision was made.
Fiction; The PC Business is in great shape
Reality; "PC sales growth is flatter than Al Gore's speech delivery". And interesting, with rare exception, that has not changed a whole lot in 15-16 months. PC's or Gore.
Fiction; PC's will be displaced by Internet appliances.
Reality; "Internet appliances will be stifled by better PC's." Those appliances and variables (some announced in 2002) are not going to make my laptop go away. Wireless is here and will make some differences - like a more efficient PC!
Fiction; The DSL and cable modem business sucks.
Reality; Well, if that was so, they had a good run. I know holiday sales in 2001 were above projections. And the death of broadband is exaggerated, too. Tough market - not a dead market. Ditto today.
Fiction; People are happy with their experience online
Reality; Who is kidding who? Few are "happy". They put up with the way it is ... or they don't. When they get DSL or cable, these same people may be happy. Yet, it is the web sites, not speed alone, that makes the difference. The same applies today.
Well, you get the idea. Evolution is a process. In the techy and WWW world, too.
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Time is a great teacher.
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Programs on the strategy and tactics of planning. On direct mail. The whole creative process. Database marketing. Customer relations. And more. All available at special 21st century pricing.
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