In this digitally crazed world we live in, it’s very easy to forget the old tried and true standby marketing medium of direct mail. It would be wise, however, for B2B marketers and B2C marketers and ALL marketers for that matter to never lose sight of this old, trusted friend.

The USPS is a mess. The cost to mail is too high. The cost of paper is too high. The cost to print is too high. No one cares about direct mai anymore. Digital is taking over.

Any or all of these sound familiar? Well before you go writing the eulogy for direct mail, consider the findings of a research project and subsequent study done by leading global research agency Millward Brown called “Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail.” Truth be told, the results of the study were released in October, 2010 but I still firmly believe they very much still hold true today.

The research project used fMRI brain scans to show that our brains process paper-based and digital marketing in different ways, and in particular that paper ads caused more emotional processing and some of the key findings of the study were:

  • Tangible materials leave a deeper footprint in the brain Note: This is not just because the physical materials stimulate both sight and touch; the subtraction of brain signals from the scrambled materials accounts for this.
  • Material shown on cards generated more activity within  the area of the brain associated with the integration
    of visual and spatial information (the left and right parietal).
  • This suggests that physical material is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks.
  • Physical materials produced more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of the ads
  • The brain’s “default network” appeared to remain more active when viewing direct mail. Activity in this brain network has been associated with a greater focus on a person’s internal emotional response to outside stimuli. This suggests that the individuals were relating information to their own thoughts and feelings.

Now I am surely not one to say direct mail is ALL we need in terms of marketing and advertising. Not a chance… I see the future, which is already here by the way, and its streets are paved with digital gold for those marketers and agencies who know how to navigate them. But… BUT, and maybe this is because I got my start in the world of marketing via direct mail marketing many moons ago, I am steadfast in my belief that direct mail, when used as part of an overall integrated campaign, can prove to be a very valuable player on the marketing team.

I happen to believe that people – young, old, middle of the road, will always enjoy the feeling of holding a direct mail piece in their hands.

Ok, what do you think?

Do you think it best to mix things up, to use multiple mediums to reach your target audience INCLUDING direct mail?

Do you think direct mail is dead? It’s ok if you do, you’re not alone.

Do you think it best to ONLY use direct mail? It’s ok if you do, you’re not alone.

I’ll leave you with two examples of what I think are very cool uses of direct mail marketing…

The first one is for the company ADT. The idea behind the direct mail piece was to promote and highlight the fact that Santiago, Chile condo and apartment owners were not as safe as they perhaps thought. Click on the image to enlarge.







The other example is for new product offering from Phillips. The video is self-explanatory…

Sources:,, Marketers: Don’t Forget About Direct Mail