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Direct Mail: Alive and Kicking
By Steve Olenski, Forbes.com
Media that consumers can touch and feel
resonate and touch more emotions than those of the digital variety.
Why do I get the feeling that many marketers today look
at direct mail the way people look at the Jurassic Period?
Sure it’s nice to imagine what life was like all those millions of years
ago, and hey, maybe a movie about it would be nice, too, they would say.
But does it have any relevance in today’s digital world? Not really.
Well, to those marketers I would simply say beware of the dinosaur,
because T-Rex is not only not dead, he is still very relevant and very
important. Last year I wrote an article in this very space, In This Land
Of Digital, Let’s Not Forget The Physical, which touched on a survey
conducted by Millward Brown, a leading global research agency.
Their survey revealed that ”physical media–AKA direct mail–left a ‘deeper
footprint’ in the brain.” In other words media that consumers can touch
and feel resonated and touched more emotions than those of the digital
And those consumers that are affected by “physical media” are not just the
older demo, as many marketers believe.
“Direct mail surprisingly transcends the age demographic, with younger
consumers (the 18- to 34-year-old demographic) preferring to learn about
marketing offers via postal mail rather than online sources, according to
national survey research from ICOM,” said Lisa Formica, president of FMI,
a direct mail marketing and advertising firm.
Yeah but then there’s the whole USPS nightmare to deal with, right?
Will they raise rates again?
Will they file for bankruptcy?
Maybe direct mail isn’t worth it because of having to deal with the United
States Postal Service?
“The USPS has may many advances over the years that has made direct mail
more measurable and an even better value for marketers,” added Erik
Formica, also of FMI and an executive member of the Greater Philadelphia
Postal Custom Council. “For example, the introduction of the Intelligent
Mail Barcode (IMB) has opened a range of new services and cost savings for
Ok, so people like to touch and feel and presumably open direct mail, and
it’s not just for the older demos, either. And even the USPS is doing
So why aren’t more marketers using it?
According to The Kern Organization, it comes down to a matter of training
and experience, or lack thereof–as explained in their blog post, Is There
Still A Place For Direct Mail in This Digital Age?
* Few marketers these days have had the training required to produce
winning packages time after time.
* Many marketers lack the experience and confidence needed to design an
effective testing strategy.
I can tell you as one who cut his marketing teeth in the world of direct
mail marketing, training and education play a huge role in producing
successful direct mail campaigns.
And as anyone who has ever initiated a direct mail strategy, testing is
What About ROI?
According to a recent survey conducted by Target Marketing magazine, the
channel that delivered the strongest ROI for customer acquisition for B2C
marketers was direct mail. Direct mail also scored the highest among B2C
marketers for customer contact and retention.
For the record, among B2B marketers, email scored the highest for ROI and
customer contact and retention.
Now, truth be told, part of the reason direct mail scored the highest
among all channels, such as social media, may due in large part to the
ongoing dilemma that is how to measure the ROI of social media.
But that still does not take away from the fact that direct mail can be a
very effective medium if used as part of an overall integrated campaign.
And don’t even get me started on integration. To say I’m a proponent of
integration would be a major understatement. Heck I even wrote an article
showing the correlation between two of my favorite things: marketing
integration and Schoolhouse Rock.
Ok, your thoughts please.
Do you use direct mail in your advertising and marketing campaigns and
How about as a consumer yourself, do you like getting packages in the
And as for integration, if you do get a direct mail piece do you expect to
see the same message across other media?
Reveals Details of Summer’s Mobile Barcode Promotion
This year’s big summer promotion from the US Postal
Service will offer a 2% discount for mail that sports a mobile barcode
that sends consumers to e-commerce or personalized websites.
For the second year in a row, the USPS will be “giving
money away” in July and August to demonstrate the value of physical mail
in an increasingly digital world, and encourage its customers to try out
technology linking physical mail to online content via mobile phone
But while last year’s campaign had little quality stipulations for the
online content consumers accessed via their QR codes, this year will
require the codes to link through to either a mobile-optimized e-commerce
website or a personalized webpage.
Postal Service executives said that this year’s campaign aimed
to demonstrate the powerful marketing that the physical mail can offer e-commerce
merchants, and also the ability for mail to be personalized to individual
recipients to build brand loyalty.
USPS outlined the details of the campaign to major customers at the
latest quarterly Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee meeting in
Machinable letters, cards and flats in both First Class Mail and Standard
Class Mail using Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb) will be eligible for the
2% discount, with the intention for metered mail to be eligible as well,
although the details of how to apply the discounts are still to be ironed
Non-profit mailers will be eligible for the promotion, but periodicals
Eligibility for the discount will extend beyond the use of Quick Response
(QR) codes to any code on a mailpiece that a consumer can scan with their
smartphone to take them to the required online content.
This could things like snap tags and even invisible digital watermarks,
but there will be the stipulation for mailpieces to bear “directional
content” in the form of text instructing a consumer how to access the
online content through their phone.
Gary Reblin, the USPS vice president of domestic products, told
Post&Parcel: “We’re really pushing the promotion of mail, and
particularly new uses for the mail.”
Reblin said last year’s campaign, based on a 3% discount, had been “very
successful” with around a third of eligible standard mailers taking part
and about 5% of First Class mailers.
Only around 1% of the mail had included QR codes before the promotion, he
This year, Reblin said hopes were for mailers to add mobile barcodes to
as much as 25% of the eligible mailstream during July and August.
Reblin explained that the campaign was all about showing how the
mail could evolve in the light of new technology and the rise of digital
“I expect the Postal Service to be here in five, 10, 20 years from now,
but we also have to evolve,” he said. “We can’t look at the mail and we
can’t look at our business and say it’s not going to evolve. We either
evolve or we can’t survive.”
New technologies offered new opportunities for the Postal Service and its
customers, he said.
Explaining the decision to require mobile e-commerce websites or
personalized webpages in this year’s promotion, he said it was about the
best way to show the value of the barcode technology.
For mobile commerce, he pointed out that mobile phones were the source of
about 5-11% of e-commerce sales in the US over the winter already, with
high growth rates.
Reblin said: “E-commerce tends to happen through a search by people with
an idea what they want to buy. The great thing about hard copy is it is a
good way to present people with ideas. Now, if they can purchase direct
from that hard copy, that’s even better.”
The idea behind the personalized webpage option in the promotion is about
demonstrating the benefits of personalized direct mail, Reblin explained,
adding the claim that personalization meant an average 5% purchasing rate
for direct mail.
However, to get the discount a “personalised” webpage will need little
more than a unique page per consumer bearing an individual name or
Reblin said ultimately for the Postal Service, the promotion was about
building mail volumes. He said last year’s campaign had seen a jump in
volumes from those mailers taking part in the promotion, and he claimed
around half of those mailers had continued using QR codes after the
promotional period had ended according to mail samples.
“We look at ourselves as not just being here to deliver the mail, but we
also want to work to promote the value of the mail,” he said.
Secrets to an Effective Mail Piece
Here are 10 Tips to increase your response rates and grow your business.
Don’t waste money or get lost in the shuffle.
Direct mail pieces need to catch your customers’ attention immediately and
invite them to contact you for more details. Here are 10 easy ways to get
noticed in the crowd and avoid the junk mail bin.
address the envelope (or at least give the appearance of a hand written
envelope). The personal touch encourages people to open the envelope and
see what’s inside.
Write a fast, catchy headline that draws them in. Don’t try to say
everything all at once. That’s what the copy and the follow up are for;
the headline’s purpose is only to grab attention.
Include teasers on envelopes to peak interest.
bright, eye-catching graphics. Warm colors like burgundy or burnt orange
create a sense of warmth and comfort. Hot colors like bright red and
yellow stimulate excitement and encourage people to eat more. Cool colors
like green or blue make people feel relaxed, and color theory studies in
advertising have cautioned they could slow heart rate and reduce appetite.
Yet, certain shades of blue are thought to trigger thoughts of
dependability and authority.
postcards or self-mailers for an immediate connection.
Create campaigns. The more someone sees your logo, contact information, or
company information, the more likely they are to respond.
consistent messaging. More than just including your brand, consider
sending the same graphics and wording to stay fresh in prospects’ minds
and trigger a memory recall.
Include a call to action and a sense of immediacy. This could be a deal
expiration date, a challenge, or a teaser for more information.
customers multiple ways to contact you. Some people prefer to call and
others would rather check out a Website.
Keep it short and sweet. If they can’t get what your message is about in
15-30 seconds, customers/prospects will most likely throw away the piece.
Win Yankee Tickets!
Enjoy a great day at Yankee Stadium!
We are giving away two tickets to see the New York Yankees.
you have to do to win is be the first telephone caller (please don’t hit reply or send an email). Voice
mail messages count so it's fine to leave a message. Call Michael Borkan at
(631) 667-5500 x 11. These tickets are great seats and close to the field!
Monday April 30th, 2012. Yankees vs.
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Direct Mail: Alive and Kicking
USPS Reveals Details of Summer's Mobile Barcode Promotion
10 Secrets to an Effective Mail Piece
Mike Borkan's Links - Web sites you probably
View Samples of Our Work
Direct Mail Humor!
Talon welcomes the following new clients this month to our growing roster
Mike's Favorite Links:
Some interesting links...
waze.com - When you download Waze, you not
only get free navigation, but also become part of the local driving
community in your area, joining forces with other drivers nearby to
outsmart traffic, save time and improve everyone's daily commute.
Time's Best iPhone Apps of 2012 - Whether you're looking to load up a
new iPhone or simply expand your collection, here is Time Magazine's 2012 list of download-deserving apps.
online-convert.com - Convert
media and all types of files online from one format into another. Very
powerful and easy to use!
thisiscolossal.com - A blog
that explores the intersection of art, design, and physical craft.
drippler.com - Get in sync with your
gadgets. Updates and news about the electronic gadgets you already own.
koikoikoi.com - Dedicated to featuring
the world’s most amazing art, graphic design, advertising, photography,
web, tattoo art and videos.
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