Post Office's Rescue Plan: Direct Mail

So I changed one word of the headline the Wall Street Journal (Marketplace, Oct. 6) to "Direct" from "Junk". The USPS plan of offering discounts to businesses is admirable. But if you read the online comments at on this article, it's pretty clear that advertising mail isn't today, and never has been, something consumers like.

But direct mail often works to build business and make money for marketers.

So really, can the USPS promote direct mail as an effective business marketing strategy? On the surface, I'd say yes, but....

A huge problem that I see in my daily disappointment of mail delivery is that in fact so much of it is JUNK (with all due respect to my direct mail associates). Having been in this business for over 30 years, I think the overall quality of direct mail is about as bad as it has ever been. The overuse of postcards, I think, are the worst.

If businesses would actually hire experienced direct mail copywriters and designers who know what they're doing to generate good direct mail response rates, along with professional mailing list brokers who can recommend targeted lists, and lettershops that will run a list through an NCOA, maybe it wouldn't seem quite so much like junk to consumers.

And while it would be nice if direct mail weren't so badly viewed by consumers, the image of direct mail / junk mail isn't likely to change.

It certainly isn't the job of the USPS to help businesses with their creative and mailing list selection. But if businesses are going to use direct mail marketing, and haven't done so (or have in the past with poor results), then they need to hire someone who knows how to create direct mail. Not just use someone with a well-intentioned opinion that is going to muck it up for the rest of us.


Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.