Q&A: Darryl Walter, director of membership & conferences, The Wildlife Society
Darryl Walter, The Wildlife Society
Darryl Walter, director of membership marketing and conferences at The Wildlife Society, uses direct mail to promote the nonprofit's annual conference. Founded in 1937, The Wildlife Society and its members seek to conserve and study wildlife populations and their habitats.
Q: How have your direct mail strategies changed?
A: We've shifted from sending a 28- or 32-page catalog to 10,000 members to sending a series of 6x9[-inch] postcards to 40,000 people. The postcards feature highlights from the conference and links to download a digital version of the catalog. It is a rethinking of our marketing.
Q: How does this alter your reach?
A: We're able to reach three to four times as many people, and it costs less to produce. This allows us to reach our members, previous conference attendees, and prospects. And we can hit them two to three times in the eight to 10 weeks leading up to the event, rather than just once. There's no reason to print what you have on your website into a catalog.
Q: How do you generate interest in the conference with just a postcard?
A: The postcards use graphics, photographs, and a few bullet points to encourage prospects to go online and check out the event and register. The postcards feature unique URLs so that we can track the results. It's more of an integrated campaign using direct mail as the first step to the online experience. Mail is part of the toolkit, but it's just one of the tools in the kit.
We took away the ability to register through the mail by ripping out a catalog page and sending it in, though [people] can still download a PDF and mail that in. We get more than 90% of registrants online and 5% mail via the PDF. But for our renewals, people still like the paperwork and some people still mail it in.
Q: How can direct mail promote membership and renewals?
A: We still use direct mail for membership communications, but we're not using it as much in 2013, because of budget concerns. We're not planning to send acquisition direct mail, but we'll keep up normal member mailings because direct mail renewals are still much more effective than email; 80% of members still respond to direct mail versus email. Even though they're more likely to go online to renew, they're still responding much better to the direct mail.
Q: What should you keep in mind with direct mail campaigns?
A: The list. To promote our conference were trying to mail smart by looking at different [member] segments that would be interested and really targeting our list.