Oh, Direct Mail, How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the (6) ways!


I confess, I love getting mail. Obviously, everyone but the coldest Grinch-hearts among us like getting personal letters, cards, and party invitations. But, I am an old-school mail junkie. Growing up, I ran to the mailbox every afternoon, excited about what might be waiting. Each year, I counted the days until the Toys R Us big book arrived (my love of Toys R Us is another story). I claimed the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes as my own. Opening that mailbox was like opening a present. What’s more, I still feel that way.

You know who else likes to get mail? Educators. Especially if you’re offering them beautiful new products, or a great deal on something they want or need. Educators love to have something tangible in their hands that they can review and save for later. If you send them something they can use in their classrooms, all the better.

Here are the 6 reasons why direct mail is still recommended as a viable marketing tool for educational marketers.

1. You can reach ALL of your school and district prospects.

While not every educator has an email address or is active on social media, all active educators have a mailbox in a school. A direct mailing offers virtually 100% coverage of the education market.

2. It’s one-to-one communication to your select audience.

Direct mail offers unbeatable selectivity. You can drill down to those folks who have the highest propensity to buy from you based on their demographics and past behavior: job title, age, gender, years of experience, years at a school, household income, buying activity, and so much more. The better you match your offer to your audience, the better your response rates will be.

3. Less clutter in the channel means less competition for your message.

The Great Recession had a big impact on advertising mailings. In 2015, advertising mailings had dropped to 1990s levels.* While that may be a challenge for the USPS, it is good news for today’s mailers. Less clutter translates to less competition in the channel, allowing your offer to stand out.

4. You can be really creative.

Did you know you can slap a label on a coconut and mail it? Or a pinata?** In the early days of the postal service, people even mailed children.*** Unlike digital, direct mail is limited only by your imagination and your budget. Think in terms of letters or brochures or posters in eye-catching formats that might fit your promotion. Don’t be afraid to test different ideas. When someone opens their mailbox and finds your “coconut,” you have their attention.

5. Educators like to keep files.

Oh, the stories I’ve heard of teachers placing orders from year-old emails. Wait, that never happened. You know why? Because email – by design – has a short lifespan. I have heard many stories about educators placing orders using catalogs that could be 5 or more years old. If they like your catalog, they will save it. This is a great reminder that mailings really do work.

6. Direct mail complements your digital campaigns.

Direct mail is a powerful component of any integrated campaign. Unified campaigns using direct mail, email, digital, and social/content marketing will impression educators in every channel in which they’re active, boosting your campaign response rate.

There are a lot more than 6 reasons that direct mail deserves a place in your marketing plan this school year, but this is a good start. I hope some of my passion for direct mail will inspire you to revisit this channel for your promotions in the year ahead. Just think, what will be your coconut?

* Source: US Postal Service chart.

** Source: 21 Things You’d Be Surprised You Can Actually Mail

*** Source: A Brief History of Children Sent Through the Mail