Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing September 2021 Newsletter.
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First Direct Marketing Campaign 800 Years Ago
By Denny Hatch,
Here are the details of the very first
instance of direct mail marketing. It occurred in 1194.
On June 15, 1194, in Chartres France, lightning struck and
kindled a massive fire. Chartres Cathedral burned to the ground. The
only elements intact were the façade, west towers and the crypt.
For the community of Chartres this was a catastrophe. The very symbol of
the city was in ruins. Worse, lost for all time was one of
Christianity’s holiest relics—the robe believed to have been worn by
Mary when she gave birth to Jesus Christ.
The Bishop of Chartres, Regnault de Mouçon, wanted to start rebuilding
immediately. But the townspeople, devastated by the huge loss, had no
stomach for such an undertaking.
Mary’s robe was not only holy, but also had the mystical aura of being
the city’s amulet—or good luck charm. It kept everybody safe. To the
residents of Chartres, rebuilding was a non-starter.
A couple of days after the fire, Bishop de Mouçon was at the smoking
ruins delivering a passionate plea for rebuilding to a small collection
of villagers. Suddenly a procession of monks, nuns and priests appeared,
slowly marching up through the smoke from the crypt bearing the
reliquary with Mary’s robe intact. It was saved!
To Regnault de Mouçon and the God-fearing folk of Chartres this was a
sign from the Almighty the cathedral must be rebuilt. The bishop
launched a furious letter-writing campaign to French nobility and rich
people all over Europe.
In addition, Regnault cut a deal with Richard the Lion Hearted (with
whom France was at war) enabling him to send fund raising mailings into
The rich noble families of France and England responded with cash and
gifts. So did the many guilds of workers, the equivalent of unions back
then—shoemakers, wheelwrights, bankers, vintners, coopers, furriers,
Chartres was rebuilt bigger and better than before. As an eternal “thank
you,” the donors’ portraits and coats of arms were included in the
magnificent 2600 square meters (172 bays) of stained glass windows of
the new Chartres, where you can see them today.
This was the very first instance of direct mail marketing.
Takeaways to Consider
• Direct Mail/Direct Marketing is a discipline going back more than 800
• No other advertising medium can claim 800+ years of testing what works
and what does not.
• Direct mail is “intimate advertising.”
—Stan Rapp, Rapp & Collins
• Direct mail is "theater in print.”
— George Duncan, freelancer
• "Always say Thank You! It's the polite thing to do." —Roger Craver,
Direct Mail to Engage Multiple Senses
Electronic communications fall short of well-designed printed direct
mail in terms of tactile impact.
Electronic messaging now substantially outnumbers
printed communications and direct mail is clearly the less
cluttered channel. Direct mail is a tactile form of communication that
can appeal to multiple senses, including touch, sight, and even smell.
Despite their popularity, electronic communications fall short of
well-designed printed direct mail in terms of tactile impact.
Marketers of printed communications can and should
incorporate the sensory elements of direct mail to create messages that
stand out and prompt engagement even in today’s digital world.
Cutting Through the Clutter
Savvy marketers understand that targeted and relevant direct mail can
stand out and attract attention. When used correctly, direct mail
communications can also be more impactful than electronic messaging. The
statistics tell the story:
According to a report from Data & Marketing Association (DMA), up to
90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20% to 30% of emails.
Data from Canada Post suggests that direct mail requires 21% less
cognitive effort to process than email.
Based on direct mail statistics from Marketing Profs, three-quarters
of consumers can recall a brand after viewing a piece of direct mail.
Meanwhile, only 44% can do the same after seeing a digital ad.
Because many consumers have become overwhelmed with digital
communications, printed direct mail is considered a trustworthy
marketing channel. When consumer respondents to Keypoint Intelligence’s
most recent marketing communications research were asked to specify
their reasons for reading direct mail rather than digital marketing
communications, 15% believed that providers who sent printed
communications were more serious about winning and keeping their
Appealing to the Senses
Whereas most digital communications primarily appeal to the sense of
sight, printed direct mail offers a tactile experience that electronic
messaging simply can’t match. Thanks to ongoing technological
innovations, today’s digital inkjet devices can now produce printed
communications that deliver eye-catching special effects and
embellishments. Images as well as text can be enhanced with
attention-grabbing neon colors, an embossed finish for a 3D effect,
metallic inks, or glitter effects that will really shine when exposed to
light, or foil stamping for an elegant appearance. Because of the way it
changes in certain lighting conditions, a direct mail piece with
metallic ink, glitter, or foil stamping delivers a more interactive
visual experience than an email.
Unlike electronic communications, printed direct mail pieces literally
land in the consumer’s hands and therefore engage the sense of touch.
Direct mail that is treated with a velvety coating will feature a highly
appealing soft touch, but these communications can also be produced with
a rougher coating for a different effect. Printed communications can
also incorporate special textures to make certain elements stand out.
Some examples might include a furry coating on an image of an animal or
a dimpled rubber feel to enhance a picture of a basketball. Coatings or
textures can create a unique look and feel that the recipient can’t help
Direct mail can also engage the sense of smell. Although many of us
print geeks might say that we simply like the smell of paper itself,
there’s really no reason to stop there as direct mail can be infused
with all sorts of scents. For a personal example, I’ll admit to having a
minor obsession with shower gels. I often wonder why the large bath care
chains don’t send more direct mail pieces that highlight their newest
scents. Think about it… emailing me about new fragrance has undertones
of cinnamon and vanilla is a start, but even with that description, I
still won’t know if I’ll truly enjoy the scent. If you send me a
postcard that smells like the real thing, I’ll be able to tell in about
five seconds if it’s something I’m interested in purchasing…and all the
better if I can order said product online and have it delivered to my
The Bottom Line
With so many improvements to digital print technology over the past few
years, marketers of printed communications are limited only by their
imaginations as they seek ways to make their direct mail stand out. In
today’s electronic age, we’re overloaded with images from computer
screens and smartphones. This level of distraction means that we’re not
always paying attention to what’s in front of us, but special effects in
print can capture our attention. Tactile elements like textures,
foiling, or scents are different and unexpected, and this can make
people more likely to engage with the messaging. Competition is fierce,
but the good news is that brand owners can create printed pieces that
surprise recipients with unexpected elements and truly stand out as a
Direct Mail Works. But Should You Write
Despite the lingering perception that direct
mail is on its deathbed, the medium still moves more people into action
than other forms of marketing, including digital.
According to the CMO Council, the average response rate for both B2B and
B2C mailings in 2012 was 4.4 percent, compared with sub-one-percent
response rates for email, Internet display ads, and paid search.Five Elements for Direct Mail Success
Biggest eyebrow-raiser? The lowly letter-size mailer. When sent to an
in-house list, envelope-sized direct-mail letters garnered a respectable
3.4 percent response.
Regardless of format, better results start with better sales copy, says
direct mail expert, Craig Simpson, in the book he co-authored titled,
“The Direct Mail Solution.” Writing for Entrepreneur.com, Simpson
identifies five elements as essential for sales copy success. Though
easy to dismiss as obvious and rudimentary, it’s surprising how often
these items are overlooked:
1. The message.
Be clear about your product or service and why your audience might want
to buy it; what does it do and how do users benefit? Why should they
choose yours over someone else’s?
2. The audience.
Who are you mailing to and why? What are their pain points and most
sought after benefits? Convenience? Savings? Efficiency? Know their
problems and clearly explain your solution.
3. The offer.
Entice readers with something irresistible, Simpson says, and put a time
limit on the offer to encourage a quicker response. Include a strong
call to action (CTA) and step-by-step instructions on how you want them
4. The voice.
The “voice” or tone of your sales copy refers to the personality or
attitude that comes through. It may be lighthearted, personal or
humorous or even urgent, serious, and scary. If you really know your
customers, you’ll know which is most appropriate. Not so sure? Try using
personas to make your messaging relevant and razor-sharp.
5. The lingo.
Speaking your audience’s language helps establish rapport and trust. But
don’t go overboard with buzzwords and trendy phrases, author Simpson
cautions. A few familiar, judiciously placed phrases may be all you
That’s How. Now Who?
No one understands, loves, or knows your product or service better than
you do, Simpson asserts. Therefore, you should author your own sales
“You’re the best resource…,” he says. “If you can talk about your
products to other people, there’s no reason you can’t jot down your
ideas and turn them into a written sales piece.”
Most integrated marketers would agree that owners and execs DO know
their businesses best. The rub is that most are not professional
writers. Nor can these leaders comfortably carve out quiet blocks of
time required to draft truly thoughtful, effective sales copy.
One potential response-raising solution is having an in-house subject
matter expert write the first draft and then enlist a professional
copywriter or creative services provider to nip, tuck and polish the
verbiage, as needed.
As we’ve reported before, print is not dead, and direct mail still
matters. So if response rates and ROI still matter to you, make sure
your sales copy resonates with readers. Prove you understand their needs
and offer a unique and credible solution. Need to reactivate lapsed
customers? Restart the dialogue with these integrated marketing tips.
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If you do not wish to receive the Talon Mailing & Marketing Newsletter
The First Direct Marketing Campaign 800 Years Ago
Leveraging Direct mail to Engage Multiple Senses
Direct Mail Works. But Should You Write Your Own?
Mike Borkan's Apps & Links - Apps & 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 Apps & Links:
Some interesting things to check out...
Packwire.com - Create your own Custom Box for your products. Bring
your ideas to life and make your brand stand out.
- The easiest way to design, produce, and broadcast a beautiful
livestream straight from your browser.
Post-It App: -
Stop spending hours transcribing notes after a brainstorm. When you
download the free Post-it® App, you can instantly capture and share
notes with the team without recaps or delays.
Audio and video calls with AI-based translator.
Rogervoice.com/en- Caption your phone calls instantly! Hearing
difficulties should not prevent you from enjoying phone calls. Simply
read the live transcriptions and you'll never miss out again.
Howmanyplants.com - Comprehensive guides for all your favorite
houseplants - covering the basics of watering and lighting needs, more
advanced topics like how to propagate, and diagnosing common problems.
Did you know Talon offers the following services?
Click on the links below to see samples.
Direct Mail Humor!
Click on image below to enlarge.
Do you need help marketing to your clients?
Talon can help! Call Michael Borkan at 631-667-5500 x 11 to learn
how to increase revenue.
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