Quick! Send a bl**dy letter!

Anyone who knows me will know that one of my most frequent laments, as I clamber a’ top my soapbox, and teeter to and fro – is my passion for the letter box and the doormat.

How many times have I given my million-dollar secret away to young pups that want to know the secret of gaining cut through and getting the attention they crave. I don’t charge a penny for this secret – it’s free, given with love and passion for the art of the hand-written letter. In a hand-written envelope. And a stamp.

You see, I am a result of a career in Direct Marketing. You know, the stuff we threw out with our www.bathwater.com. I was weaned on Mailsort 1 and 2, and cut my teeth on data capture forms.  The art of the attitudinal questionnaire is scored into my soul, and I cannot bear to see anything without a ‘call to action’.

And yet in 2017, I live a life of conflict, because I'm told Direct Marketing is dead. And of course, I know the shiny new thing – the internet – can make magic. I really do see that. But I also see the daily social media ‘rugby scrum’ that most of us lock into to gain attention. And my stealth strategy for any brand, when trying to seek the attention of a scrumptious new client, is to hit the doormat with something amazing! In fact, I’m not sure it even has to be that amazing anymore because whilst your handwritten letter – or direct mail pack- comes into the prospects life via their desk, alone, and ready to tell them a story – 30 other 'lead generation' emails are queuing up in the inbox, waiting for someone to log on and delete them.

What gets read first? The 33rd unsolicited email, or the handwritten letter?

I attended a conference in Cardiff this week - #OIConf Cardiff. And it was good. Really good – I learned lots. But I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the number of presentations, workshops and Masterclasses I sat through, where the wheel was being re-invented. At the end of the day (quite literally) the subject we were all gathered around – be it via a Chatbot, video content or some super-cool AI – was ‘direct marketing’ and trying to sell stuff. I know this is hugely simplified, but I really am not one for jargon or tosh.

According to Wikipedia, Direct Marketing is

“a form of advertising which allows businesses and non-profit organizations to communicate directly to customers through a variety of media including cell phone text messaging, email, websites, online adverts, database marketing, fliers, catalog distribution, promotional letters and targeted…”

Now, when you put it like that – I get that your average google-weaned marketing practitioner, in the cut and thrust of his or her early career will want to disassociate from this description completely. It’s absolutely not iclever enough is it?

But I argue that it does us all no harm to remember the customer experience in our quest to gain attention because it ain't all about Facebook Ad spend. We rush to social media sometimes, because it’s shiny and fun, cheap (relatively), quick and instantly gratifying. But beware. The backlash will come – and it’s already started as I read again last week that ‘direct marketing is making a comeback’ This is a good read on the subject http://www.fiercecmo.com/tech/direct-mail-could-be-making-a-comeback

Our customers are craving ‘experience’ and we oft forget the charm and wit of a beautifully creative, tangible piece of direct mail from your favorite booze brand, for example. With exquisite attention to detail, usually with a sumptuous product sample and a delicious long-copy letter that tells you the most captivating story. All cradled in a textured velvety card, and sealed with a cheeky ‘cheers’.

I’m so sad that I no longer get this kind of experience delivered to my via my letter box and door mat because the alternative, from my phone, is this:

“Say hello to the Easter Basket – full of delicious Easter eggs! RT for a chance to #WIN a £100 voucher this #Easter#AldiEverydayAmazing

My work here is done. Long live Direct Marketing.