Has the Internet Killed Off the Direct Mail Baron?
Over the past 30 years, direct mail has been responsible for generating vast amounts of money for businesses and individuals alike, but is it still an effective means of marketing?
The short answer, in the short term, is yes. But the Internet has without doubt diluted the power of pen on paper and will continue to do so, until only a few die-hard individuals and the glossy brochure brigade, are left to pick the bones of an industry once plump and ripe for plucking and plundering.
Today, the Internet offers the consumer a pure, unadulterated and convenient environment for buying goods, services, bill paying and browsing. And with more people logging on every day, it's where businesses need to focus.
Compared to direct mail, marketing a business or service on the internet is simple, very cost-effective and can be just as profitable. If it's the 'right' kind of business, offering the 'right' kind of product or service, it can prove to be overwhelmingly prosperous. And there's many an Internet millionaire that will testify to that.
The big advantage, in terms of doing business on the Internet, falls right at the feet of the little guy. The one-man outfit, who has virtually no overheads and no employees. Better off still, is the little guy with no overheads, employees, products or services. He can make a phenomenal amount of money by selling other people's products for commissions.
That's quite difficult to do with direct mail and would likely prove prohibitively expensive to operate. And that's another reason why direct mail is in decline. The overall expense of the operation.
When you add up the cost of stationery, printing, postage, mailing lists and the labor involved in the whole process, it's clear to see that the 'end is nigh', for what was once a very lucrative marketing venture. That's not to say that there isn't still a place for some forms of direct mail. Some online businesses, especially the bigger companies, would do well to incorporate a direct mail strategy in promoting their online activities.
But generally, the opportunity of making a killing with direct mail is fading fast. So it's goodbye to the direct mail baron and welcome to the Internet marketing guru. It's the same animal but with different spots.
Bill Knight is an International freelance copywriter, based in the UK. He specializes in creating web page sales letters and content.