Online Taking over Direct Mail

Traditional media still rule in most companies’ budgets. But the day is coming when that may no longer be true.

For example, Jeff Brooks makes the point in his fundraising blog “Direct mail: news of its death may be premature” that direct mail is changing, but that it is far from dead. He says:

“Online is coming up behind it. Fast. Nearly every nonprofit fundraiser is now raising meaningful amounts of money online. Even if they aren't trying very hard.

So you need to be thinking ahead. As a response medium, direct mail is losing ground to online. That change is likely to accelerate in the coming years. If you aren't getting good at raising money online now, you may find yourself suddenly in a world of hurt in the not-too-distant future.”

I believe that most of us in the direct marketing field concede that online is here, it’s growing fast, and we need to inculcate our deep knowledge of what makes people respond into this emerging medium.

The rise and fall of various media normally causes no alarm to direct marketers. Direct marketing strategists are media agnostic. We routinely test in and out of media.

But here’s the rub. Do you think companies really care that you know how to make traditional media work? I contend that most companies do not see the intimate relationship between the direct marketing strategy and their desire to leverage the online medium.

Highly experienced direct marketing strategists, however, believe that online was made to order for direct marketers. Online represents the ultimate opportunity for CRM and one-to-one marketing. It embodies the ideal interactive medium direct marketers have dreamed about for years.

So what’s the problem? Here’s part of what I wrote to Jeff Brooks in response to his blog (with a few edits).

The productive copywriters in direct marketing and fundraising cut their teeth on direct mail and other traditional media.

Does their hard earned knowledge in traditional media make them obsolete now that online has become the media with tremendous expansion opportunity? Are these proven and experienced direct response copywriters really in the best position to help nonprofits or companies as a whole maximize the power of online marketing?

I think most organizations would say that they would prefer to hire someone with 3-5 years of pure online marketing experience rather than the proven direct response copywriter with 15+ years of experience who has little hands on experience with online marketing.

That seems to represent hiring managers’ typical mindset not only for copywriters, but at one degree or another, they also apply this philosophy to all direct marketing functional areas.

Your take on this?

Posted on January 25, 2008 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy, Direct Response Creative, Fundraising.