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Christmas and holiday cards show the real value of direct mail

As someone who works in direct mail I’m used to making a solid business case for using print as part of comprehensive multi-channel marketing campaigns.

And while I can cite all sorts of stats on the effectiveness and perceived value of sending a real tangible thing through the post it can be difficult to quantify the actual “feeling” someone gets when a personal postcard or letter arrives at the door.

At this time of year many of us find pleasant surprises when we check the mail.  Christmas and holiday cards from friends and relatives we rarely hear from — even on Facebook — begin to arrive daily, bringing news and updates that aren’t always shared on social media.

In an age when anyone can write an email and BCC a hundred different people, handwritten recaps of the year are special. These letters re-inforce connections by providing a tangible link to the real people in our lives.

Ask yourself if you would actually take the time to read a two-page email re-cap of someone’s year? You might skim it. But it wouldn’t have the same impact as a note that you know someone took time and effort to write out by hand.

And you certainly wouldn’t save it.

How many people keep cards and letters year after year from friends and relatives? Finding missives from people who are no longer around can make you feel like they are still there. That’s because you know that what you are holding in your hand came directly from theirs.

In the digital world mail is still the great connector.

Like an email recap, the digital form is temporary, even disposable. We all delete more emails a day than we ever read. But how many of us ignore what comes through the mail?

There is something intrinsically compelling when you receive a piece of mail with your name on it. It gets your attention and makes you take notice. If you’re trying to make a connection with a prospect or client and they’re not engaging digitally, the post gives you a rare opportunity to reach out to them quickly and with so much more personalization than was possible even a few years ago.

I don’t know of any digital marketing that is able to break through the clutter with anywhere near the same impact. And clutter is what email is becoming in many cases.  A recent DMAC (Direct Mail Assoc. Of Canada) blog titled, “How do you treat your customers”, described the writers anguish in receiving nearly 300 emails in October from 15 online businesses he uses.  His point is that it’s become clutter and you can’t distinguish between meaningful and banal.

So whether you’re opening this year’s batch of cards, or re-reading old cards and letters, consider the power of print and its effect on how you feel. Now, imagine how powerful that feeling could be if you were to make it a part of your next campaign.

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