Score a direct hit with direct mail


For years I’ve felt that old fashioned print advertisements are more powerful that digital ones, but I could never prove it. I once wrote a blog trying to explain my point, but didn’t really have any evidence.

Something came across my desk the other day, though, and it finally proved the hunch wasn’t just a symptom of my nostalgia for the 1980s glory days, when I wore starched collars, smoked Marlborough reds, had a massive car phone and ran an advertising agency.

A Canadian neuromarketing firm has used eye-tracking and brain wave measurement to see how ads are understood, grab attention and persuade people, and the results show paper ads can be more memorable and have more impact than digital ones. The research by True Impact also found that direct mail was easier to process mentally and tested better for brand recall.

It explains, in part, why many marketers are bucking the digital trend and investing in ways that customers can touch and experience their products. Another reason is that with print advertising you remain in control of your message without fear of negative reviews. It’s a space some of your most affluent clients, the over-50s, are very reassured by, and it adds credibility to your brand in their eyes.

To repeat what I wrote in 2014, I suggest you buy the Telegraph tomorrow morning and count how many advertisements there are targeting the worried well. They will all be, without exception, copy heavy and bursting with amazing information and promises to make your knee perform better or to help you hear your grandchildren singing joyously in the back garden, or make your back much less painful, or combat hair loss, or sight loss…

This is the kind of well-defined and receptive market segment your newspaper ad or direct mail could reach, and evidence from other industries shows it works: for every £1 spent on door drops by adult-only hotel chain Warner Leisure Hotels (whose customers are mostly over 55) it gets £3.49 in bookings; property business Loyalty Street, which matches sellers with agents, also says old fashioned physical mail – particularly handwritten and with a real stamp – beats online marketing for its ability to build trust with clients over what is a major life event. Trust. Major life event.

Now where else do those things crop up? If you’d like to create a direct mail campaign, get in touch – I’d be happy to help.


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