Still Relevant: Direct Mail Marketing to K-12 Education
Direct mail is very old. Like 150 years old. But sometimes, erroneously, old is viewed as irrelevant, especially in our hyper-speed, Mountain Dew fueled digital world.
For outbound, digital tactics have all but eclipsed direct mail marketing. And in many, many ways, that’s a great thing. Digital offers some enormous benefits, like speed to market, quick testing opportunities, and lower costs.
But the success of any outbound marketing program is based heavily on list quality and responsiveness. This is where outbound digital-only marketing plans suffer. Email lists are difficult to keep clean and relevant. We typically have at most two physical addresses, home and work. We have change-of-address forms to make sure our addressing information is up-to-date. But most of us have many email addresses. Old work addresses, unused email accounts (like gmail, yahoo) that are needed to take advantage of proprietary software. If someone is prospecting to those addresses we don’t actively monitor, the emails are getting through but aren’t getting read.
Another issue is that — and this is based on my own experience — most companies don’t work very hard at or know how to keep their email lists clean. Many times lists are scattered, reside far and wide within the organization, and are filled with questionable email addresses.
Outside of some retail catalogers, most companies are doing less direct mail, if any at all. The overall perception is that mail costs more; it’s more labor intensive; it takes too long to get out into the marketplace; and a very real issue….no one on staff really knows how to do it.
All are valid concerns. But I believe adding mail as part of an overall integrated outbound strategy when marketing to K-12 offers an opportunity to stand out, be noticed, and drive revenue. Here’s why:
Educators are a mail market.
Educators like mail. It’s a high visibility, low-interruption tactic. I’ve been sending mail to K-12 educators for 20 years. Many have specifically told me that this is what they do: they initially scan an offering and if there’s potential, they file the mail in their drawer. When budget time rolls around, they revisit their mail file and see what might fit their upcoming needs.
In-boxes are jammed. Mailboxes aren’t.
Since we’re heavily reliant on email marketing, educator’s in-boxes are overstuffed with offers. Since there’s less direct mail than there once was, mailboxes offer an opportunity to stand out.
Works well within the K-12 purchasing cycle.
If your product or service taps school budgets and is purchased on a school cycle, you’re sending lead generation messages in the fall, and move to order generation messages from January until May. But ordering typically doesn’t happen until the summer. When the purchasing season rolls around, an educator can put a sticky-note on a direct mail piece that says “order this for me please” and forward it to their business office for purchasing. Because of that, mail survives the rigid timing cycle much better than email.
In conclusion, direct mail shouldn’t replace your outbound email marketing strategies, but rather augment them. As part of an overall integrated outbound program, don’t dismiss mail until you test its merit.
If you’d like more information specifically on how to structure your own direct marketing program to K-12 education, download the free e-book on the subject from Insight29.
For more about direct mail in our digital world, read the Forbes piece.