Thought Leadership

Is Direct Mail Dead?

I was part of a marketing panel at a Business Summit recently, when this question was posed from a business owner in the audience. I wasn’t surprised. Over the course of the day-long event, I was asked versions of this question multiple times – “Hey Annette, is broadcast TV advertising dead? Is Twitter dead? Is newspaper dead?”

What was most interesting to me was not the question, but how it was framed. So black and white. The only conclusion I could draw was that if I said “yes, it was dead” they didn’t have to think about it anymore. They didn’t have to consider it as part of their selection set when choosing where to invest limited and valuable dollars. Unfortunately, and I’m sure much to their frustration, my answer was “I don’t think anything is dead, why do you ask?” I wasn’t trying to be evasive. I was hoping, in how I framed my question back to them, that we would get to their real pain.

What followed was a not so black and white conversation and the real questions plaguing them. “How do I know who to believe? How do I keep up with all of it? Which one has the smallest risk of failure? How do I increase sales with the least amount of expense?”

The number of marketing/communication channels and platforms are growing exponentially every year and beginning each new year, the experts try to help us sort it all out. Some of the top marketing recommendations in January 2017 were Facebook Live, Twitter Moments, Snapchat Geofilters, Instagram Stories, livestreaming, influencer marketing, and bots. In 2018, the experts are telling us to focus on mobile video, growth hacking, artificial intelligence, geofencing, micro-influencers, brand blogs, virtual reality, and, conversational commerce. And don’t forget to start wrapping your heads around blockchain.

Keeping up with all of it is a daunting task for any business owner, VP of Sales, or Marketing Director. So, one of three things usually happen – we chase the shiny thing, we commit random acts of marketing hoping something will stick, or we keep the status quo. None of which is a strategic solution to moving your business forward.

With all the clutter and complexity of communicating in today’s marketplace, the answer to where and how to invest for any business lies in sociology, not technology. It lies in truly understanding the relationship your customer has with your brand and how you can deliver on the expectations of that relationship. Your investment strategy should begin with why and how. Those answers will make the where you invest much clearer.

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