The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Direct Mail

There are some conspiracy buffs who hypothesize that the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) has an underlying purpose. Normally we would not give any credence to conspiracy theories, but in this instance it makes sense.

The theory is that while on the surface, CASL purports to be aimed at cleaning up mass emails that clutter up everyone’s inbox, it’s a subtle attempt to move business back into something we’ve always known as direct marketing.

In the days before emails and SPAM, direct marketing (as opposed to unaddressed direct mail) was considered to be one of the more effective means of both business to consumer and business to business communications. Imagine a package addressed to a real person being placed right on their desk or in their home mail box.

The creativity that powered these pieces was, in many cases, both innovative and alluring. The depth of sale that these pieces where capable of generating was prodigious to say the least. The recipient was told a whole story. Not just a tantalizing lead in with all the added effort of clicking a read more or clicking through to a landing page or download.

When well done, it was beautiful. It was elegant. And considering the response that could be generated from a well designed and well written direct mail piece, it was an excellent value from a cost perspective as well.

The SPAM Revolution

As email marketing took hold, and the SPAM revolution began, digital marketers did quite a job in convincing advertisers that this was the new way to go. While it saved clients a considerable amount of printing and postage, it permanently altered the advertising/marketing landscape, putting printers, list brokers and fulfillment houses, not to mention Canada Post in a great deal of financial pain.

The adverse effect this had on many sectors of Canadian Business, coupled with the incredible onslaught of unwanted emails from an email marketing industry that was still trying to develop into something measurable, were, as the conspiracy purports, the principle ingredients in the decision to launch an all encompassing anti-spam legislation.

Conspiracy theory or not, effective July 1, 2014 Canadian business has been propelled back in time to the ‘pre-email’ environment. If you think hard for a moment or two about the risks of being reported for non-compliant mass emailing – by a disenamoured client, disgruntled employee or disreputable competitor – all of a sudden, tools with measurable results quotients start to look very appealing.

This Is Where We Come In.

People who create digital communications, by and large, have little experience with, nor any in-depth knowledge of how to put a great direct mail program together.

At Ink Tank, our experience in the area of direct mail is both deep and broad. We are experienced strategists and award-winning creative thinkers and doers in all media, both on and off line. But our grounding and the media we have the most experience in is in direct marketing, advertising and corporate communications, of which direct mail has always played an important part.

Email databases in every sector of Canadian business have been decimated by CASL. They will be rebuilt again, but no one knows how long that will really take. In the interim, tools like direct mail and conventional media advertising are quickly taking on a renewed importance.

And companies like ours are suddenly finding that our depth of experience in offline media is experiencing a re-birth of interest. Our online experience is just icing on the cake.

If your company is currently grappling with the issues of marketing outside the mass email realm, we should talk. Our expertise in the direct marketing area will help you keep your business alive and kicking through this crisis and far beyond.

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