Super Bowl XLVII isn’t the only big event this weekend. Tomorrow is Groundhog Day, an annual holiday that revolves around the resident groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Each year, the town (located approximately four to five hours from our Hamburg and Warminster facilities) celebrates with a four-day festival full of shopping, food and a variety of entertainment including the main event: Punxsutawney Phil’s emergence from his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob to predict the weather for the rest of winter using his shadow. If he sees it, there will be six more weeks of winter weather, and if not, there will be an early spring.
You might be wondering how this relates to direct marketing. Let me explain: Most believe the lore surrounding Groundhog Day is purely a myth, and for good reason. Despite Punxsutawney Phil’s celebrity status, he has only accurately predicted the weather for the rest of winter 39% of the time.
So Groundhog Day got us thinking about common myths surrounding direct mail. We’ve done our best to junk the term “junk mail” over the years, but there are still a number of false beliefs that paint an inaccurate picture of direct mail. Let’s debunk three right now:
Myth 1: Direct mail is bad. This misconception usually centers on the environment and how electronic communication is more sustainable than direct mail. We’ve touched on this topic in response to the latest greenwashing campaigns from Toshiba and Google, but the bottom line is electronic communication isn’t harmless. E-waste is a rapidly growing waste component, and it takes large amounts of energy to maintain data centers where the data is stored. The idea that direct mail is somehow worse for the environment than creating, transmitting and storing digital communication needs to be reconsidered before spring.
Myth 2: Direct mail is dead. This isn’t the first or last time an established communication channel has been proclaimed dead through this “doom and gloom” tactic. There have been countless articles on the death of everything from TV and broadcasting to advertising and traditional marketing. Direct mail is no different. It’s a popular myth that so-called experts have used to generate significant buzz both inside and out of the industry, but it too must disappear into the shadows. Direct mail is not only a very measurable and well-rounded direct marketing tool, it’s also more effective and preferred over email. What’s more, the majority of consumers actually “enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail.”
Myth 3: Direct mail doesn’t resonate. The argument here is younger, digitally-driven audiences don’t respond to direct mail. It’s no secret that traditional direct marketing vehicles have been influenced by the rise of digital communication. This digital revolution has largely been driven by Millennials who have grown up with technology capable of staying connected 24/7. But a common side effect of the online era is email overload. Young people are growing tired of cutting through online clutter, which is driving them toward physical mail. In fact, 57% of 25-34-year-olds have made a purchase as a result of a direct mail offer.
We don’t mean to be too hard on the Groundhog Day legend. We certainly hope Punxsutawney Phil accurately forecasts an early spring, but we won’t bank on it, nor should marketers bank on any of these common myths surrounding direct mail.
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