5 Ways Direct Mail Can Transform Your Brand-Building
Direct mail as a brand-building tool? What can direct mail do that digital media can’t do a thousand times better and more efficiently?
Everything, as it turns out.
Consider this quote from a recent story on MediaPost: “Privacy strategies from Apple to Google to Facebook have caused marketers to reallocate advertising budgets from one platform to another, as each brand tries to determine what works for them and what doesn’t.”
Well, in an uncertain online world, many smart marketers already know what works to build brand: Direct mail.
If a website is the digital embodiment of your brand for marketing purposes, a well-conceived direct-mail piece can be the physical embodiment of your brand, conveying all the most important visual and textual cues.
In fact, many of the most effective direct-mail pieces take their design cues from the website and messaging cues from advertising and other marketing efforts, add features unique to direct mail like special textures or folds, perhaps throw in a special offer, QR code, or some other method of tracking opens or reads, and create something unique, compelling, and 100% on brand.
Think of it as taking your brand and placing it in your best customers’ hands, saying and showing everything you want – and nothing you don’t.
That’s direct mail as a brand-building tool.
However, that’s really just a superficial look at how direct mail functions as a brand-building tool. More specifically, direct mail can build brand in all of these ways:
- By targeting and personalizing messaging and offers
- By giving a physical element to brands that may lack one
- By encouraging brand interaction
- By providing the brand interactions customers want
- By providing a safe place for the brand to live
By targeting and personalizing messaging and offers
It would be so much easier if brands were people, because customers want brands to act like people and treat customers like people, too.
While brands are not people, they can treat their customers in a more humanlike manner by providing them with personalized messages and offers.
This is generally thought of as being the place where digital marketing shines, but direct mail has been doing this successfully long before there was such a thing as digital marketing.
The MediaPost quote points up the value of first-party data. You are the first party; your mailing list has never been more valuable.
If you haven’t put your customer list in the hands of a direct-mail specialist lately, you might be surprised at what they can do with it – not only how they can break it apart into those highly personalizable “buckets” everyone is looking for, but how they can clean it up, too.
You can use direct mail to deliver on-brand messages that reflect the special needs of a particular segment of your customer base.
That’s the sort of brand-building any brand can use to its advantage.
By giving a physical element to brands that may lack one
It used to be that insurance was just about the only type of product that was largely “vaporware” – that is, lacking tangible form. These days, however, there are a whole range of “vaporware” products, from cable to home-monitoring software to – yep, insurance.
These brands really need a physical embodiment; that’s why you have Flo and the GEICO Gecko and Jake from State Farm. That’s also why so many direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands are obsessed with brick-and-mortar, as RetailDive chronicles.
And ultimately that’s why these brands need direct mail.
A textured, multi-fold piece can convey a sense of elegance that an upscale brand can’t engender as quickly or successfully through any other medium. Similarly, a larger piece can provide substance to a brand otherwise lacking heft.
Not only do we want brands to act like people, we want brands to have a physical presence like people. Direct mail can do that.
By encouraging brand interaction
Brands are so obsessed with interaction you’d think they were playing Catch Phrase. However, most brands go about it all wrong.
One of the most common ways brands try to encourage interaction is through social media, but for the brand social media is frequently a slog and a time suck – and often the moments of interaction occur far from the brand’s purpose and further still from a conversion or sale.
Direct mail simply provides a better brand-interaction experience. People take your brand in their hands and see it and read about it and save it and show it to others important to them.
Isn’t that a better way of doing brand interaction? It sure seems like it.
By providing the brand interactions customers want
Now, think about it from the consumer’s point of view. What do they want out of an interaction with a brand? A special, a deal, something free, some personal attention, a chance to win a prize?
Well, nothing delivers those moments like direct mail.
If one of your marketing goals is to build interactions with customers, consumers, and prospects, whether that means just ramping up overall sales or putting a B2B prospect on a conversion path, direct mail simply does a better job providing those high-value interactions at scale.
As Branding Strategy Insider noted, “At a time when everyone is struggling to find ways to stand out, value-adding interactions offer opportunities to elevate brand interest.” Direct mail offers some of the best value-adding brand interactions more directly than any other medium.
By providing a safe place for the brand to live
We hear a lot about brand interaction, but we also hear a lot about brand safety. In fact, Digital Information World calls brand safety “perhaps the single biggest issue that a lot of companies tend to end up facing.”
Brand managers want their brands to live in safe places where the conversation can be controlled and the interactions are almost guaranteed to be positive.
By placing on-brand messages directly in customers’ hands, direct mail provides maximum brand safety, with little to no risk of an influencer going awry, a bad review going viral, or an incidental social-media message being misinterpreted.
It’s so easy for a brand to get canceled or greenwashed or worse in today’s volatile online world, Google and Apple’s privacy initiatives may have made building your brand a lot harder. Direct mail offers a respite.
If your brand is trying to figure out what’s next, contact us. We can work with your marketing team to help you come up with a direct-mail program that can build your brand safely and effectively.
June 21, 2021 by Jim Felhofer