The Parallels of “Print” Advertising and Direct Mail

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Here at MediaBids, when we talk about “print advertising” we talk primarily about print ads in newspapers and magazines, since that’s what buy and sell all day long. However, a large part of the marketing world thinks about “print advertising” in terms of direct-mail and other printed marketing collateral. While the delivery vehicles may differ, both forms of print advertising share quite a bit in common.

On Tuesday, NEDMA (The New England Direct Marketing* Association) held their annual conference at Bentley University. I went as an attendee to get some insight into the organization and also learn more about the state of the industry.

The event was very educational, featuring lots of discussions on a variety of topics in the direct marketing world – from copywriting to new trends in direct-mail printing. Attendees at this conference included client-side marketers, direct marketing agencies, printers and list brokers.

The educational sessions I attended focused heavily on direct mail.  There were a few things that stood out to me about the industry, that I think parallel the newspaper and magazine advertising space. Here’s my key takeaways –

1.) Personalization – One of the biggest changes in direct mail over the past decade is the ability to customize each mail piece to the recipient. So much personal data is available out there about everyone – you can virtually tailor each mail piece to a person based on their credit history, interests, buying history, and family details (and the savvy companies are customizing heavily!). Experts in the space were sure to emphasize that with great customization must come great data accuracy. There’s nothing worse than a consumer getting a mailing that is completey off the mark.

Printers are developing technology and techniques to make this dynamic, personalized, digital printing more widely available and more affordable to businesses of all sizes. Hopefully, newspapers and magazines will take advantage of their robust subscriber lists and this new printing technology to create more customized content in their print editions (as well as more customized ads!).

2.) Digital Disruption – Digital advertising disrupted the direct mail industry in a very similar way to how it impacted newspaper and magazine advertising. By providing advertisers with cheaper, more measurable and instantaneous ways to get their message to prospective consumers, many companies moved their advertising budgets  away from direct mail and towards digital. Both direct mail and print advertising providers have had to adapt in major ways to keep up with advertiser demands.

3.) High CLV – Marketers throughout the conference reiterated what we at MediaBids been saying all along about print in all forms – PRINT DRIVES HIGH-VALUE CUSTOMERS. Reps from a wide variety of industries shared their testimonies of the ROI and high CLV of their direct mail advertising, and emphasized that customers who respond to their print pieces stick around a lot longer than customers they drive from digital.

Print advertising compliments any great marketing plan, and thankfully,  printing technologies are evolving to help make it easier than ever before for marketers to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right customers.

Post by Jess Greiner

*Direct marketing refers to the method a businesses uses to market their product/service. When a business employs “Direct Marketing”, it means they market their product or service directly to the consumer, without a middle-man or retail distributor.




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