Direct Mail that Works!

direct mail

I’ve been meaning to write about this since before the New Year but I had to get the ‘ol scanner out to pull together these images of some direct mail I’ve received recently. The bottom line is that some direct mail still works. Here are 3 examples:

  • Jack Hayhow sent me his book, The Wisdom of the Flying Pig. I think this is my actual first ‘gift’ as a blogger! I’ve got a couple books on my nightstand right now to finish – but I’m looking forward to digging into this one. It was really neat to get a handwritten note from Jack along with the book. That Jack took the time to write me and send the book means a lot already!
  • CVS Pharmacy sent me a card for the holidays thanking me for my patronage. It was even personally signed by each of the staff! My CVS is fantastic. It really reminds me a lot of the corner store we used to visit growing up in the boonies out in Newtown Connecticut (That store was named Crossroads… they used to let the kids pick up beer and walk it home to our parents with a phone call… man am I old!). If CVS had fruit, I probably wouldn’t go grocery shopping at all! CVS proves that you can be a huge chain and still treat people like your neighbor.
  • Wikimedia sent me a card with a note thanking me for my donation to Wikipedia last year. I often take my Paypal funds and give them back to plugin developers and websites that ask for donations – if their software or service is useful. I use Wikipedia a lot on this blog so you’ll be happy to know that part of the advertising proceeds of the site are rolled back to other sites. (The remainder is needed to pay for my son’s college education!).

It’s interesting in this day and age that folks still recognize what the ‘human’ touch means. Jack could have sent me his book through Amazon, and CVS and Wikimedia could have just as easily sent me an email thanking me. I’m a huge advocate of email… I love the fact that it can be personalized and automated. This took a little bit more effort and definitely cost a little more. That tells me that these folks thought I was important enough to their business that it was worth investing in me. That’s a strong message, isn’t it?

That’s the type of direct mail that works. The other thousands of pieces of direct mail I get here aren’t worth mentioning. I’ve told clients before that the amount of time you have to get someone’s attention with direct mail is the time it takes for them to walk from their mailbox to their garbage can. I’ve not changed my mind on that at all. Sending a handwritten package or thank-you card definitely gets my attention!


  1. 1

    Definately. We want the human touch – isn’t that also one of the reasons why blogs have become so big?

    Our grand parents used to communicate by handwritten love letters. Today it is a quick SMS. Not quite the same, eh?

  2. 2

    >The Wisdom of the Flying Pig. I think this is my actual first ?gift? as a blogger!

    Careful Douglas – didn’t you know accepting gifts could lead to your ethics being questioned 🙂 LOL

    >I often take my Paypal funds and give them back to plugin developers and websites that ask for donations – if their software or service is useful.

    I’ve started doing this as well near the end of last year. It’s a good feeling to be able to contribute back to those giving of their time to make stuff we use every day.

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    Here’s a notice to all advertisers, I’m cheap, easy and honest. You can buy me, but I’m going to let everybody know that I’ve been bought. 🙂

    I agree with you on the Paypal. I hope that it’s a trend that continues. Open source has been good for all of us!


  5. 5


    As a database marketer, it’s tough to quantify this type of expense, isn’t it? Because you can’t measure something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, though. Companies that ‘do the right thing’ are starting to really progress. I truly believe some day we’ll have a ‘societal benefit’ index for companies some day so that people will work with companies that do more good for the country rather than bad.

    At least I hope so!

  6. 6

    Without a doubt, doing the right thing is good. And I would be the first person to get behind companies that do nice things. Spending time doing these activities drives a better ROI than spending money on a television commercial.

    Many years ago, I sat in a room with folks from Hallmark. They wanted to create an automated thank you program for my company, tied in to a CRM system. To me, that was opposite of what you are advocating. There’s such a fine line between doing good, doing something that looks good, and trying to drive profit. To your point, if you do good, the sales and profits will follow.

    Good post!

  7. 7

    Hi Doug,

    I think your comment regarding the “human touch” is extremely valid.

    We’ve noticed that mailing hard copy marketing and media kits to promote
    our company has paid off exponentially. Email is okay, but it’s becoming
    less and less reliable. Too much spam and junk. It’s becoming annoying.
    Direct mail; however, continues to close sales, and as you mentioned “the human
    touch” does appear to help get noticed.

    We’ve found that combining online web presence with an integrated direct mail campaign
    works best for the catalog companies we represent. There is great value
    in multi-channelled marketing. No longer can one company rely soley on one marketing vehicle.

    I’ve really enjoyed your article … you have a new avid reader in me!

    call it and real “postal mail” continues to prove

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