Extra, extra, read all about it! New device permits users to put ink directly on paper without an electronic or computer interface. Press a key and voila, there it is! It’s called a…wait for it…typewriter. What’s old is new again!

Okay, this may not happen with the typewriter—but’s it’s already occurring with direct mail. Once pronounced “near death” as part of the declining print realm, direct mail is coming back strong. What’s old is new again. Its relative “novelty” contrasts with email—which gluts our inboxes as direct mail used to fill our mailboxes.

A December 2013 forbes.com article points out, “If Direct Mail Is Dying, It’s Sure Taking Its Time About It…record year for catalogs jamming my mailbox…It’s great that I get them, at least 100 so far this season, and it’s even greater that so many companies continue to produce them…Why do they do it in this era of ecommerce? Lots of reasons, but the short version is that direct mail, catalogs in particular, work. They’re profitable and they bring in revenue the companies can’t touch with electronic marketing alone.”

The article identifies two drivers of the “enduring power” of direct mail: It’s often the only reliable way to reach somewhat affluent males; and the growing 50+ crowd, possessing much more money than younger people, will deal in print as readily as the cyberworld.

The author goes on to say what we’ve been trumpeting: that it’s a combination of print and digital that gets the job done. “But, as often as not, most people who order from print catalogs do it online,” the article New invention enables transmitting ink directly to paper claims. Other items in the Forbes piece meriting special attention include:

  • “The catalogers adhere to the basic rules of direct mail, one of the most important of which is ALWAYS HAVE A UNIQUE OFFER and make it clear.”
  • Basically, everything in a marketing communication media including direct mail has to answer one question right away: What’s In It For Me?
  • “The great catalogers test all the time…They test and track the results and use the information to get more profitable every time out.”

The article concludes, “But direct mail is not going away… The industry is still selling millions of dollars’ worth of products and services. It’s not hip and happening, not ‘now’ but it is highly effective and very profitable.”

Supporting this position is an article in marketingprofs.com headlined, “Print’s Not Dead: Print Marketing Will Thrive in 2014 and Beyond.” It states in part, “As technology continues to develop and change the way we do business – many have considered print a dead medium and online marketing the wave of the future. Nevertheless, the print industry is far from dead; in fact, print marketing has only continued to grow and evolve alongside the upsurge of new technology…Direct mail continues to be used heavily, with a 43% share of total local retail advertising. And, according to a Pitney Bowes survey, 76% of small businesses say their ideal marketing strategy encompasses a combination of both print and digital communication.”

So, think about direct mail the next time you’re perusing your inbox for the latest and greatest.