Direct Marketing Evolving, But Print Isn’t Dead

David H. Martin
January 15, 2008
COLUMN : Integrated Marketing | Sales & Marketing

Direct marketing expenditures continue to grow. The Direct Marketing Association estimates direct marketing spending increased 4.4 percent in 2007 to $173 billion, despite negative developments in the housing and automobile markets and rising energy costs.

As direct marketing spending grows, it is also evolving. Traditional print efforts are seen giving way to multiple forms of interactive advertising for lead generation. The main reason is cost. With mailing costs continuing to increase, Web-oriented techniques are seen as more affordable. 

The DMA’s annual convention and trade show, held last fall in Chicago, provided evidence that evolution is continuing. There were more options in the interactive and electronic arenas. Google and Yahoo, the pioneers of “pay per click” advertising, for example, were promoting “pay per post” for companies that want to promote products and services on blogs. Whether this will work for window and door dealers, it bears watching as the word-of-mouth influence of the blogosphere continues to blossom.

The 500-plus exhibitors at DMA 2007 included specialists in database marketing, e-commerce, email services, search marketing, lead generation, mailing lists, performance marketing and print services. In addition to Web-oriented offerings, many suppliers presented new twists on traditional print strategies. In fact, the show presented evidence that print direct mail is anything but dead.

Talking to a number of these exhibitors revealed, for example, that a growing number of marketers are rediscovering shared mailings as a cost-effective way to get around rising mailing costs. Shared envelopes and coupon magazine campaigns typically carry about one-third to one-fifth the cost of an individual direct mailing—and this business continues to grow. Clipper Magazine is a coupon magazine for local advertisers now operating in 490 local markets in 30 states. Mailed seven times annually (more in selected markets), it now reaches about 235 million American homes with full-color ads—typically providing money-saving offers.

Shared mailing programs are also evolving, with Web-based organizations trying to bring their resources to the field. Getko Direct is a division of and sister company to the famous Welcome Wagon shared-mail program for new move-ins. Getko reports that it now adds more than 300,000 new move-in names to its database each month, more than 100,000 of them with phone numbers. Files are said to be updated weekly with highly qualified names and addresses gathered immediately after the real estate close, with data collected daily from over 1,100 counties.

Forty-four million Americans move every year. This group traditionally represents a prime target for window and door companies, as many recent move-ins are recent homebuyers looking to improve the comfort and energy efficiency of their new homes. Another DMA exhibitor,, is an online “consumer destination” that provides movers with “bill lowering services,” including information about choices in basic utility and internet services, as well as research on neighborhoods. It mines its database of site visitor customers to offer marketer’s a “new mover ride-along program,” said to reach thousands of new move-ins with a colorful shared-mail program.

For window and door dealers, the most cost-effective strategy might be to combine selective mailings with follow-up email. Many DMA exhibitors exemplified the fact that electronic and print marketing is increasingly integrated. Modern Postcard allows color postcards to be created online, as well as reproduction and distribution across print, Web and email media. AccuList USA is a mailing list broker that has expanded to provide email and telemarketing lists. Print isn’t going away. Rather it is destined to be joined by newer interactive approaches to generate leads and sales. 

This year’s DMA show demonstrated the growing interest of marketers to reach an increasingly diverse population. Exhibitors included Ethnic Technologies LLC, a self-described “global leader in multicultural marketing.” It compiles and sells database mailing lists, tailored to specific demographic “selects,” enabling companies to target a growing number of affluent Asian, Hispanic and African-American homeowners. Another, Latin-Pak, is a multiservice direct marketing provider focusing on the Latino market. Not only does it provide mailing lists, it offers targeted mailings to Spanish-speaking computer homes, opening up the potential for follow-up email marketing. Advertisers may also purchase space in freestanding inserts it places in regional Spanish-language newspapers.

It’s finally worth noting that the U.S. Postal Service is a key member of the DMA, and remains one of the window and door dealer’s best resources for direct mail information and tips ( Even in this era of integrated marketing, it provides valuable information about how to combine Web marketing with mailings for new sales synergy. 

David H. Martin is president of Lenzi Martin Marketing of Oak Park, Ill., an integrated marketing services firm, blending old media with new. He was previously director of marketing for two window manufacturers and can be reached at 708/848-8404 or