Is Soft Copy DM Becoming Too Much of a Hard Sell?

There’s a flyer stuck to my fridge with a magnet that must have been there for weeks. It has details of a local handyman and when I needed someone to fix my broken fence this week, there it was, waiting for me to pick up the phone and dial the number. It’s a nice reminder of how small local tradesmen are still in touch with something that big business seems to have largely forgotten: your market might not be ready to buy from you at the point when you first approach them to sell, so you to need help them recall you at a time that’s right for them.

Direct mail is the perfect tool for generating sales over time but, in their rush to make everything digital, many companies have lost sight of just how effective hard copy communications can be, both in terms of impact and in terms of longevity.  After all, digital is often more instant, flexible, targeted and, let’s admit it, cheaper than hard copy.  What’s more, it demonstrates that a company has moved with the times and an e-shot can be linked to other digital channels and downloaded online. That’s all great, it’s transformed the way that companies communicate and the amount of communication they can afford to do. But therein lies part of the problem – e-communication has become so cheap, simple and ubiquitous that many of us have developed clickthough fatigue and simply begun to ignore it.

If my handyman flyer had arrived in my inbox rather than through my letterbox, would I have clicked on it?  Would I have saved it? Would I have been bothered to search through my emails to find it when I needed to hire his services? Probably not. It was the fact that it was hard copy that made me look at it, stick it to the fridge and return to it when I was ready to buy.

Digital direct mail has sparked a revolution in communication that’s been invaluable for all kinds of businesses for generating sales, raising brand awareness and just keeping a dialogue open.  However, the birth of a new marketing tactic doesn’t need to sound the death knell of a tried and tested communication tool. Perhaps there is still hard value in something that arrives on a desk, whispers ‘open me’ from your pile of post and floats to the top of your briefcase?