The Economic Challenge: Direct mail success in a tough economy

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While many companies consider e-mail or digital marketing as a cheaper way to reach consumers, experts say they shouldn't eschew traditional direct marketing at its expense, because smart companies who continue a dialogue with their customers through a recession – using the tactile, personal direct mail channel -- usually come out the better for it.   

That's because smart companies continue a dialogue with their customers through a recession, and usually come out the better for it, some experts say.

The following are four ways experts suggest you tackle the tough economy using direct mail:

Keep communicating

Businesses in all sectors should communicate with customers through direct mail during these uncertain economic times, says Katie Yeakle, co-founder and executive director of American Writers & Artists Inc. “The biggest piece of advice I can give any business is to keep sending direct mail,” she says. “A lot of people [have the] instinct is to pull back, but I truly believe that the companies that are succeeding are the ones that have more and better copy out there.” She adds that many consumers are looking to be reassured and businesses -- such as financial services companies, for example -- should continue to communicate with them.

Invest in creative

Marketing copy is the one thing you should never cut back on, Yeakle says. “The need for good creative in direct mail pieces is more important now than ever,” she says. “You really need to stand out.” Yeakle says smart companies will always be looking to recruit talented copywriters, as investing in quality creative will yield positive results. Good copywriters are “the one thing you should never cut back on,” she advises.

Make sure to integrate

Direct mail provides a means of a measurable, quantifiable marketing during this slow economy, says Steven Gray, COO of Money Mailer. But they work best when integrated with other channels. “There is a need to integrate online and offline channels and improve how we target with the channels available to us,” Gray says. “Direct mail works best when combined with other channels.”

Don't forget to self-edit

April Williams of North Star Marketing believes that concise and straightforward direct mail pieces will be the most successful with consumers. “We owe it to the people we're marketing to that we will understand and respect their time,” she says. “We don't have a lot of time in this world, we're a multitasking society. If I can get a minute of their time, that's great.” For example, Williams says she is “not a fan of large newsletters” from companies, preferring pieces that can be read in a timely fashion. “It's a time starved world, and marketers should be able to cut through the clutter,” she explains.  

Most importantly, according to Williams, companies should not cut back on their overall marketing messages. “Don't stop communicating with your customers,” she says. “Companies that come through recessions, studies show, are the ones that market through a recession.”

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