This past January, the Wall Street Journal Online published an article titled “Firms Hold Onto Snail Mail Marketing” about companies whose sales went down when they switched to purely electronic communications.
When I read the article, I was struck immediately by the following observation:
The idea is to send something that’s more appealing than “junk” mail and potentially more noticeable than an email message, says Eric Anderson, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. That allows business owners “to offer a personal touch the larger firms may not be able to have,” he says.
About 15 years ago when I attended the first ASMP Strictly Business conference, the late (and much missed) Elyse Weissberg, a former rep turned marketing consultant for photographers, gave essentially the same advice. As my Mom always used to say “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)
Now, in 1995 when Elyse was pushing this point, e-mail wasn’t widely adopted. The photographers who engaged in direct marketing were usually sending random postcards out and there were so few of those that even doing something as simple as sending a cohesive postcard campaign to a well targeted list was enough to get you new clients.
Today, the competition’s much fiercer. Buyers are inundated with direct marketing from photographers. Most of it goes straight into the recycle bin. Most, but not all.
The bottom line is that e-mail and snail mail are just vehicles. What really matters is the time you put into identifying prospects who want what you have to sell and developing a promotional campaign that has real relevance to their working lives. Pieces that are well designed, well written, show a clear vision, demonstrate attention to detail and, most importantly, demonstrate that you really do get what the recipient needs will still stand out.
As Anderson notes, it’s the personal touch that makes the difference. By that, I don’t necessarily mean a handwritten envelope and note (though those don’t hurt) but rather the efforts you make to ensure that the piece you send will resonate with the people you’re sending it to.