Social media bring people together, but not in person. Instead, people meet via the intermediary of an electronic device.
At work, we send emails instead of calling. We send interoffice IMs instead of talking, even to the person the cubicle next door. At home, there is no time for neighbors to chat on front porches, or for kids to run amok in the yard, when a virtual world, ready to endow us with super powers and devastating weapons, needs us to save it from monsters. Even defensive driving goes out the window when a post, tweet, text, or email demands our attention.
Meanwhile, the wind whistles through abandoned yards and playgrounds. Our ultimate connector is also our ultimate disconnector.
What this means for marketers (especially us old farts)
We all know that newspapers and magazines are at risk in a world where people go online and cherry-pick content for free. Broadcast media face challenges from cable, satellite and the likes of Hulu. Direct mail struggles in a world where email and the Internet make personal mail and even bills by mail obsolescent.
Old farts like me, who are less adept at social media than the average 14-year-old, are worried sick. The rising generation with money to spend are hooked on social media. Older people are fast defaulting to the new media and, either way, are destined to die out.
A seeming obvious solution is for agencies to marshall selling via the social media. Expect: social media are easily blocked; there is little consistent, reliable information on how to sell via social media; and, as I have blogged before, there is danger in mistaking hits for marketing.
Low-tech secret weapon
Not to worry. I didn’t show up to write this morning’s blog without a solution.
The very success of the social media provides smart advertisers a powerful secret weapon. And in a classic case of zigging while everyone else zags, it happens to be about as low-tech as you can get.
Drum roll, please. I’m talking about direct mail.
I know, I know. I just said that personal letters and bills by mail are obsolescent. Social media have all but reduced your mailbox to a receptacle for irrelevant junk mail.
But your mailbox is also salted with the occasional Important Thing. You are the junk filter. You dare not chuck your mailbox contents without looking over each item.
Therein lies your opportunity. Because good stuff in the mail has become a rarity, it necessarily commands attention. That is why good direct mail still consistently outsells the electronic media delivering the same content. Good direct mail stillgenerates measurable, trackable profits, and provides the ultimate personal touch.
Note that word “good.” Any fool can crank out inept mail, and most fools do. These are the folks who say, “We tried direct mail, and it didn’t work.” Ignore them. A direct response mail expert puts together a personal, compelling effort, backed by knowledge of what works, and a plan for tracking and improving results.
The key component in smart direct mail is and has always been the well-composed sales letter.
It is now more important than ever. Personal letters are all but extinct—which is exactly what makes a classic direct mail package tremendously powerful. Today, an addressed envelope with a personalized letter inside is unique. Here at the RESPONSE Agency, we find that our direct mail does even better in the social media world than it did in the old days.
I might add that it didn’t do too badly in the old days, either.