“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet fans will recognize the original language, which is now often shortened to, “a rose by any other name smells as sweet.” This expression crossed my mind as I read überflip’s ebook, “10 B2B Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019” and saw the seventh trend was listed as “Tactile Marketing.”
Marrying Data and Direct Mail for the Ultimate Consumer Experience
For those of you thinking, “Huh?”: Tactile marketing is the rose species we’ve always called direct mail. I can’t help but think that Lester Wunderman, the father of direct marketing who passed away in January at age 98, is smiling from his final resting place as a new generation is adopting his baby and giving it a new name.
Wunderman’s obituary in the New York Times includes this statement from a 1967 speech:
“A computer can know and remember as much marketing detail about 200 million consumers as did the owner of a crossroads general store about his handful of customers. It can know and select such personal details as who prefers strong coffee, imported beans, new fashions and bright colors. Who just bought a home, freezer, camera, automobile. Who had a new baby, is overweight, got married, owns a pet, likes romantic novels, serious reading, listens to Bach or the Beatles.”
To leverage such details about customers, Lester Wunderman predicted direct marketing would evolve to a point where absorbing a sales pitch and making a purchase would be almost instantaneous—or, as he put it, “where advertising and buying become a single action.” Remember, that prediction was made 52 years ago, long before the invention of the internet and the digital age that followed.
The Importance of Tactile Marketing in a Digital World
The überflip ebook highlights what we know to be true about direct mail and why its key attributes matter so much in the digital age. According to the report, “As it becomes increasingly more difficult to stand out from the crowd (and crowded inboxes), marketers search for new ways to capture their prospects’ and customers’ attention and engage them to a meaningful degree. Direct or tactile marketing—so long as it’s personalized—is the route they’re taking.”
My colleagues on ANA’s Print in the Digital Age Committee, Adrian White Slagle and Lois Brayfield, describe the importance of tactile and tangible marketing for touching consumers in their great case study, “How Two Brands Used Print to Increase Results and ROI.” I can’t say it better than they did, so I’ll just quote them: “. . . consumers still engage with brands through tangible experiences. In some ways, print-based materials (even if part of a digital campaign) can create an experience in a way that digital just can’t, as transformative as digital can be.”
The tactile experience of print and direct mail can be enhanced by touch and smell, something that just isn’t possible (yet? ever?) with digital/online marketing. This is especially important for brands that do not have a physical presence. Tactile marketing gives consumers something to touch and hold and experience when there’s no store to visit. As my colleague Mike Dietz often describes this attribute of direct mail, a brand’s promise can be conveyed by the choice of paper in a way that will never be felt when looking at or touching a screen. As Chris Barr, Director of Marketing for Taradel, says in the überflip report, “In a digital world, physical interactions are seen as more meaningful and trustworthy.”
This post started with a reference to Romeo and Juliet, which was my introduction to Shakespeare in high school English, so let’s step back to the classroom for a moment to investigate the etymology of “tactile.” “Tactile” and “tangible” both come from the Latin verb tangere, which means “to touch.” In a way, that’s the goal of direct mail: to reach consumers in a way they can’t be reached by any other channel; to get them to literally feel the messages we send.
If you need to add meaningful and trustworthy attributes to your omnichannel marketing plans, contact me here to talk about how to include tactile marketing in your next campaign. I promise you’ll have tangible results.
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