You hear it all the time: Direct mail fundraising is dying: HOORAY!
Read a recent example at the Sea Change Strategies blog: Direct Mail Isn't Dying -- But Sometimes I Wish It Would.
Starting with the belief that direct mail is "inauthentic," the post goes on to throw out some strong accusations about the way direct mail is, including:
- Direct mail fundraisers spend much more time thinking about the color or size of the envelope than they do the content.
- A huge proportion of direct mail includes mailing labels or other crap to make you feel guilty.
- It's a little bit cheesy and dishonest.
- The patois of direct mail is loaded with hyperbole and stilted language.
Every one of these is true. Sometimes.
There's amazing, empowering, authentic stuff happening in snail-mail every day. Millions of pieces of it. And it's working. It's working a lot better than the crappy stuff.
It's a near-fatal error in your thinking when your starting point is direct mail is crappy and I wish it would go away. Think that way, and you'll make dumb decisions right and left.
If you want to make smart decisions, you must be medium-agnostic and look at facts, not your opinions, about the media. Like these ...
- Direct mail response rates have been slowly and steadily dropping for several years now. Until last year, a general increase in average gift more than made up for the lower volume, leading to net growth every year. In 2008, many mailers got hit be dropping response and average gift.
- Email fundraising has been growing by double digits every year for several years.
- Still, direct-mail revenue dwarfs online revenue, and it will for years to come.
- Direct mail by nature is cheesy.
- Online marketing by nature is noble.
For sure, the facts tell us things are changing. And we'd better get on board with that change.
There are no facts telling us that any medium should be rejected or embraced because of its moral standards or its style.
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