I recently read a printed newsletter that stated that postcard marketing is more permanent and tangible than email. I have to heartily disagree with my respected colleague.
I may be an anomaly, but most postcards that I receive wind up in the trash within 30 seconds of walking in my door from a trip to the mailbox.
Emails, however, are something I hang onto for quite a while before I “trash” them. I might not be in the mood to read an email advertisement – so I simply ignore it (as opposed to tossing in my tangible garbage can – after whence it gets covered with more garbage). I can go back to it when I am ready to read it and if it interests me, but I am not yet ready to act, I’ll save it. I won’t save a postcard, because if I’m not ready to act, I don’t want it cluttering up my counter or desk and I think, “Forget it, I’ll toss it and find it later on the web if I want it”.
And “tangibility” is a word that I think needs to be redefined in todays more virutal age. Just because I cannot “touch” an email doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact me in other ways. I do not have to “touch” something to be moved or affected by it. Email is as tangible to me as the memory of a warm summer day on the beach. I can see email. I can react to it. I can do something with it. It is certainly tangible.
Email is also much cheaper “per piece” than a postcard ever will. In addition, email is “by choice” where getting a postcard in the mail often is not. I have to give my permission for you to email me; but often companies assume by virute of a past purchase that they can mail me anything they wish atany time, even if I don’t really want it. And getting mail in my mailbox for things I didn’t ask for, as opposed to getting an email that I did ask for, impacts my loyalty to a company far more.
I am also an advocate for saving a tree when we can. Trees are wasted when they are cut down so companies can send essentially what is junk mail to people who never asked for it. Post cards are not “green”.
I think that print mail marketers need to be very careful about criticizing online forms of advertising and making, really, what I feel are ridiculous claims ; stated because they compete for those dollars.
Post cards, as the printed piece stated, can be used to deliver very specific and niche messages to existing customers; for it’s only in the extreme specificity that the cost pays for itself. Email, on the other hand, can go to existing and non-existing customers who have chosen to receive it, thereby increasing conversions at a much lower cost.
I would challenge the marketing community, in general, to get off the rickety, old hobby horse of “tangibility” and focus more on efficacy and efficiency of dollar spend to determine what method of marketing it will use.
Post cards, catalogs, print ads in glossy color magazines, and printed newsletters are, in my opinion, on the demise. They may never go away completely. Diehards will cling to the methods they are used to – but print media is more costly, reaches smaller audiences, and is not remotely as viral as online media forms of advertising are; especially when that online advertising is managed critically with an eye to ROI, cost per conversion, and targeted markets.
But, I have to admit, print material does have one markedly added benefit that email and other online marketing media will never have: I can use the printed material I get and burn them in my patio fire pit. Thanks for the free fuel!