Strategy & Marketing

Don’t Forget Direct Mail: It Still Works

In an age of email blasts, banner ads, and social networking we often forget the power of snail mail for donor development and sales.  Sometimes we think that in a email and online driven world, nobody’s using regular mail anymore.  However, direct mail is still a larger industry than all online advertising and marketing put together.  But today, make sure your direct mail is driving people to the web as well.  Get more bang for the buck and
focus on developing both marketing avenues together.  Direct mail is now.  Online is the future.  To leave out either one is a mistake.

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  1. Yikes.  Jim, I have no idea who you work with, but man, you need to get out more.  Look at Mary’s advice down below.  Apparently you’re doing it WAY wrong.  Guess how the only billion dollar humanitarian organizations are funded?  Yep, through direct mail.  Guess how all the major non-profits and ministries are funded?  Yep, once again – direct mail.  Don’t think that niches you may have been exposed to can be extrapolated to all non-profit funding.  The stats are convincing – all the online strategies put together are still smaller than the income generated through direct mail.

  2. Hm, until today I had considered you a guru.  You may have slipped a notch or two from Guru to “Really cool guy that I follow on Twitter etc”.

    The few instances where I’ve seen snail mail compaigns look even remotely successful were when they executed with some other type of marketing/event or promotion.  Even then, the percentage of return borders on fruitless effort when you look at the amount of man hours spent on execution.

    Universities and health care markets still do a good deal of development through mail; however, that is found to be most successful when segmenting databases into loyalist groups.  Naturally, the higher the affinity level the better the return on the dollar.

    One area that I do like to utilize the mail is for special invitations.  High end affairs when the recipiant knows the invitations are limited and they will be in a select group (or perceived to be).  A much more personal touch than typical mail campaigns. 

  3. You’re still the Guru, Phil! We are still very dependent on monthly donor letters as part of our overall donor development. The critical issue is a good blend of “old” and “new.” Snail mail still works very well when used in conjunction with web, e-blasts, phone calls, etc. In the current economy, we all must do everything we can to increase the number of “touch points” our ministries have with our donors, and donor mail is still working very well for us.

  4. Phil,

    You’re dead-on here. I manage the communication for a few non-profits and have seen, and continue to see, direct mail (particularly for fundraising) play a huge role in our efforts.

    I think what you could dig into a little more would be the difference between direct mail fundraising and direct mail advertising/marketing.

    Good Thoughts!

  5. Not related to media, but I have been “on support” since 1978…and I have done it all wrong according to the experts. I have never had a face-to-face meeting asking for support. If I feel someone may be interested I snail mail them an explanation of the ministry and how I am funded (totally “on support”, and 100 percent of donations/investments go to me ( no admin costs, etc), and include a response device. I do not follow it up with a phone call or another letter (unless and until they respond).

    I’ve not had to worry about what to do with excess income, but the Lord has blessed us incredibly over the years. I also utilize the web; with a blog, facebook, twitter etc. I try to acknowledge with gratitude every gift within 24 hours, usually with email, sometimes with snail mail (obviously snail mail for those who don’t use internet). I use facebook group and email to send out praise/prayer reports.

    When I’m “on the road” speaking I try to send postcards to my support team…I am convinced snail mail remains an vital link in the chain of “success” in support that God has granted.

    I am passionate about being “on support,” as it elliminates the proverbial middle man and gathers prayer cover. I teach seminars on the subject, an sort of writing a book on it, and stand ready to assist any Christian in such an endeavor.

  6. Jim, dear boy, if you have never seen direct mail be successful then you did some major things wrong! 75% of all support from those born before 1945 comes via the mail. 55% of all support from the boomer come from mail. Guess who provides more than 80% of all gifts to all but a few ministries and non profits –you guessed it–those two segments. They have the money to give and that is how they are most comfortable. At the risk of sounding like an ole lady — “Sonnie, the trouble with you young folks is that you think if you like it that is all that matters. What matters is not what you like or for that matter what I like. It is what the donors like. They are king here.”

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