Remember that old saying about dark clouds and silver linings? Sometimes I think a businessman must’ve coined it, because it seems that opportunity presents itself even in unfavorable economic circumstances.
Near the end of fiscal year 2008, the United States Postal Service projected a decline in mail volume of about 9 billion pieces from the year before. That loss of volume continued through the first half of FY2009, with estimated an estimated year to date net loss of $1.1 billion being reported in late February.
While nobody would consider these economic conditions good news, the decline in mail volume does present an opportunity for direct-mail marketing campaigns: The decreased mail volume has effectively cut some of the advertising clutter from the medium.
This presents a unique opportunity for direct mail marketing. Though advertising in all media has taken a big hit in the last year, the difference is most notable in your mailbox. The reason is that while advertising revenues are down, the volume of advertising in other media has not decreased. For example, a half-hour television show still has eight minutes worth of commercials. The variety of television commercials may be smaller, but not the amount of time devoted to them. It’s the same story with radio, with listeners getting the same volume of advertisements for a given period of listening. Nobody’s tearing down billboards, either.
But with mail, the actual volume of advertising has been reduced. You don’t get twice as many credit card offers to make up for all the direct mail you’re not getting. That reduction in the number of mail pieces the average addressee receives has cut a significant amount of clutter from the medium, making the remaining mail campaigns more effective.
Mail has certain advantages over other media as well. It’s not going straight to a spam filter or overlooked as one goes through hundreds of emails in an inbox. It puts your words on something tangible that, even if not looked at right away, is likely to be seen when the mail is looked at later. It can then be tucked into a purse, briefcase, pocket or backpack for redemption or as a reference or reminder. This is easy for the recipient, as it requires no extra effort to print a copy or write a note to oneself.
When times are hard, it is essential to use every advantage available. The post office’s bad news is something you can turn to your advantage when you use direct mail as a part of your next campaign.