Should non-profits and businesses stop direct mail campaigns in tough times?

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It may be easier for businesses and non-profits to stop direct mail campaigns in tough economic times, but is it a wise long term decision to stop mailing to current and potential customers or donors all together?


It’s not a good idea to stop mailing. You need to keep telling your story, because things will eventually turn around, and those that have told their story correctly will benefit much more in better times than others that will be beginning all over again.

It is a good idea to target your mailing more scientifically by merging your house data files with other lists of people more inclined to give, or mine your data for similar information.

Bill Clinton touched on this during a recent CNN interview with Larry King when discussing his foundation. He sees the only real possibilities of success during this downturn coming not from the major donations he was getting before for his causes, but more smaller donations from a wider group of people: the Obama model. People who care should continue to give something, and there may be others that have not been targeted with the right message that can give $10 or $20 when previously they were put off by the $100 requests.

Now is not the time to pull back, but to get more intelligent and frugal about it.

Jonathan Blaine

I've always called myself a "Marketing Guy." If I had a brand and logo, perhaps that would be my slogan. Measuring ROI is huge. Just because you're now using "new media" does not mean marketing fundamentals should be discarded. Customers' desires do not change. I'm a "right-brained creative analytical" guy (if you can fathom such a thing) who looks at a project several different ways. My first instinct is usually the correct one. I'm a "doer," and often a "diplomatic fixer;" someone who gets things done and still gets a thrill out of customers actually buying something because of something I mailed to them, or an ad I placed. Most of my success has come from strategy, writing, how ideas are presented to the potential customer and the actual thoughts that somehow originate within the ether between my ears. As a fan of DM guru Denny Hatch, I believe that the brand should never outweigh the message, and that art should never win over copy. The mix has to be “just right.” And continually tested. I have solid ryttan, err, written and verbal communication skills, and a reputation for consistently producing cost-effective quality work.

One Reply to “Should non-profits and businesses stop direct mail campaigns in tough times?”

  1. Jonathan:

    Well said! You hit the nail on the head. The worst thing you can do is to stop mailing your Housefile donors or current customers. The number one reason a donor stops giving to an organization is that they no longer feel connected. In terms of acquisition, we are finding success with higher impact pieces (freemiums) mailed to those more likely to respond (done through modeling). Less clutter to compete with in the mailbox helps to make sure it gets noticed. Keep up the great info in support of DM!

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