End the debate. Snail mail is here to stay.

Marketers are now realizing that abandoning direct mail for digital media may have negative consequences for return on investment (ROI), and the impact may be worse than expected. When budgets are tight, it’s harder to see the forest from the trees, and it’s easier to make cuts with less regard for lifetime value (LTV). Fortunately, information spreads fast nowadays so we get to hear pretty quickly what others have learned from their mistakes. Conversely, there are a few mailers that kept quiet about their success with direct mail in 2009 due to the positive implications of fewer competitors’ offers in the box.

DM Rebound 2010 Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article, Firms Hold Fast to Snail Mail Marketing provides empirical evidence for why cutting back on direct mail could be detrimental for your business. It’s a great article, and it provides practical insights for all marketers. It’s encouraging to see some real world examples being published that confirm what so many traditional direct marketing services providers have been saying all along – that direct mail is an essential component of an effective multi-channel marketing strategy.

There are countless ways to mail smarter, but in the end it’s about acquiring new customers at an acceptable cost — I learned that from Donn Rappaport. You can go out of business trying to just save money, and your competitors will eat your lunch.

So far the expectations are for direct mail spending in 2010 to be consistent with last year. That’s not so bad when you compare that with its 16.7% decline in 2009. Total spending on direct mail is still projected to exceed $43 billion in 2010, making it the second largest slice of the pie for total advertising expenditures (behind television advertising). Let’s keep working together to make the process more efficient. Remember, it’s not just cost that matters — marketing services providers need to simplify the process and make direct mail marketing easier to do. Suppliers — let’s streamline the process together and grab the rebound from attrition.

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