People have been predicting the demise of direct mail for the better part of a decade now. And it’s true that the current economic situation has hurt both mailers and the postal service. But as individual sectors of the economy are beginning to emerge from recession, advertising trends show that direct mail is far from obsolescense.
For example, political parties are gearing up for a year of intense contests in 2010, with spending on political ads projected to reach $3.3 billion, just shy of 2006’s record of $3.4 billion. And while television will account for the largest cut of that action, at about two-thirds, the second largest player in the field will be direct mail, with an estimated $650 million in revenue from election season. This puts direct mail far ahead of newspaper, radio, online and outdoor advertising.
Credit card issuers were hit hard by our latest recession. As an industry that relies heavily on direct mail, their advertising cutbacks alone had a huge impact on postal revenue. Many voiced the opinion that once economic situations improved advertisers would shift focus from direct mail to other media, such as online advertising. But Bank of America and Chase are both ramping up their direct-mail campaigns, with increases of 77 percent and 65 percent respectively in the volume of mail they’ve sent out from the beginning of the year to the end of the third quarter.
UPS is eager to get into direct mail as well. The shipping company has launched a pilot program called UPS Direct to Door that will deliver unsolicited coupon packets to its customers. The idea is similar to a Valpak mailer, but will feature more upscale and nationally available retailers. While using its own network of drivers cuts the postal service out of the transaction, UPS’s experiment with Direct to Door shows that the company recognizes the value of putting something tangible in a potential consumer’s hands.
Indeed, approximately one-third of all the world’s mail is direct mail sent and received within the United States. Though the numbers are down, and other media are in the spotlight, the day of the advertising mailer is not yet over. Direct mail is still a relevant, cost-effective way of getting a message to your customers. The mailers mentioned here understand that.