Confessions of a Direct Mail Junkie

Junk-MailYes, I confess.  I have become a DMJ – a Direct Mail Junkie.  This has not been an easy confession to make, since for most of my 30 years in printing I thought the only “good” job was one that was printed on one of our 40″ presses, that had folding, stitching, or some other snarky post-press finishing, and just boxed and delivered.  But, I have changed.  I have reformed.  And now, I am a Direct Mail Junkie

What caused this reformation?

Honestly, for me, it’s seeing what the future of print is going to be, specifically where it comes to marketing.  Even though naysayers shout from the top of the LA Times building “PRINT IS DEAD”, they then go back down to pick up their copies of Outside magazine from any remaining Barnes & Noble.  Print is NOT dead, and is in fact, having a resurgence.  However, that resurgence is not taking place in the old forms of print, namely publications and catalogs.  Much of that now is available online, and as the millennial generation continues to purchase devices like tablets, iPads and iPhones, or smartphones, much of what we used to read in print is now online, and readily accessible.  Where the resurgence in print is coming from, then, is in the very refined and targeted area of direct mail.  And now, through gaining insight from my print friends from across the country and even across the Atlantic, it is becoming quite apparent that direct mail, in all its forms, is becoming the shift in how print is purchased.  And I willingly and with great excitement, I EMBRACE that!

Why Direct Mail? 

Direct mail, properly planned, and using other methods of cross media, can become a verypostcardoverview3 powerful tool.  It isn’t just about printing a mail piece and having the recipient’s address on the card.  It now is about knowing what that recipient ordered or purchased the last time they visited an establishment, what car they have, when were they last in for an oil change, what kind of wine they like or even did they request a particular server the last few times they’ve been there.  The power of data collection, and it’s ability to drive marketing, can be very compelling.  For example, we like to eat at BJ’s Restaurants, and we like a particular location, and we do request a server who has been very nice to us and engaged us in conversation (much more than the “how’s everything going?”).  We also go more frequently when they offer their “2 for $20” promotion.  BJ’s marketing team can capture that data, with the power of digital and variable data printing, create and mail us a postcard that has a special offer at our location for that 2 for $20 promotion, and may even included a “personal” message from our frequently requested server.  If I get THAT in the mail, I am more likely to say to my wife, “let’s go there tonight!”.  In other words, IT WORKED!

And finally, the ultimate value – Every Door Direct Mail

mailmanEDDM or Every Door Direct Mail, is just as highly targeted, but you don’t need to have the complex data as you may have on the above example.  With EDDM, you can have a more generic message with little or no personalization, but that message STILL has a tremendous impact, because you use a mail list that is guaranteed for its accuracy.  You KNOW that the recipient is still at that specific address.  And, it allows for you to select targeted demographics of your preferred customer.  Say, for example, you’re a single-location service, such as nursery or gardening service.  You can select parameters of your mailing, targeting single family residences, incomes over a certain amount, and in a specific geographic area or a radius from your location.  The mail list is generated by the USPS (or some other mail data service), giving you a quantity of pieces to print and mail out.  If you’re under budgetary constraints, you can further refine the list until you are within your print and mail budget.

Are you a convert?

What surprises me is how so many people do NOT think of targeted direct mail, or EDDMdirect-mail-marketing as viable solutions to getting their message out.  And furthermore, with the flexibility of targeted marketing, you can alter your message time and time again, keeping it fresh and vibrant, and always “new” to the recipient.  So, join me, and become a direct mail junkie!

For more detailed information on EDDM, check out the USPS site.

Connect with John on Google+Twitter and LinkedIn.


About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at
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