Direct Mail Could Save Society!

From time to time, I wonder “What if?” We all do it. What if JFK had not been assassinated? What if someone had anticipated the attack on Pearl Harbor? Or 9/11?

But I also wonder “What if” from a marketing standpoint. What would we do if …? So, from time to time, I’m going to pass along some thoughts on various aspects of marketing and what might happen if …

We all get so-called “junk” mail and sometimes wish it would all just go away. But, what if Congress were to pass a law establishing a “no direct mail list,” similar to the “no call list” that changed the face of telemarketing?

Direct mail has been, is today, and likely will continue to be a mainstay of direct response marketing. Why? Because it works. But, suppose it all went away tomorrow. What would happen then?

First, many non-profit organizations would face a financial crisis of unimaginable proportions. Despite their attempts to move away from both event and mail-generated fundraising, they simply cannot survive without it. Johnson Direct is proud to work with one local non-profit client to raise approximately $1 million per year through direct mail. Without direct mail, many of their programs could cease to exist.

Companies that rely on catalogues would scramble to find new ways – not necessarily better ways – to reach their customers and potential customers. Do any of these names sound familiar? Drs. Foster and Smith. Breck’s. The Literary Guild. Omaha Steaks. Victoria’s Secret.

Magazines would no longer be able to use direct mail to solicit subscriptions. They might be forced to go door-to-door, harkening back to the days of the Fuller Brush Man!

I recall a story from early in my career about a guy who absolutely, positively despised all the “junk” mail he received. So, they had him collect all of his mail for a month and started going through it. He said “It’s almost all junk mail!” So they took away his Lands’ End catalog and he said “No, you can’t take that, that’s MY Lands’ End catalog!” Then they took away his grand opening event piece and told him he could not attend. Then, on to the Harry & David catalog and he became increasingly frustrated.

He really did like, and even purchased from the “junk” mail he was receiving.

Mail gives us a sense of self-worth. Have you recently gone to the mailbox only to find that you had not received any mail that day? Your first question is usually “Is today a holiday? Why didn’t I get my mail?” You’re surprised that no one noticed you or tried to sell or inform you. Admit it.

Take away direct mail, and jobs would be lost. Top flight marketers could end up fighting teens for desirable jobs in the fast food industry. Family lives could be damaged. Social service agencies, already straining to fulfill their missions, might find themselves swamped with a suddenly gigantic caseload as everything from jobless-related mental depression and economic depression set in.

Still want to get rid of that “junk” mail?

Grant Johnson

Johnson Direct LLC