Junk sells

Written by Allan Britnell

In less polite company, it’s called junk mail. But direct marketing can be a solid part of your business strategy. PROFIT investigated the pros, cons and costs of popular and emerging direct-marketing options:

Flyers and coupon envelopes

The deal: You can put your mini-billboards into the hands of customers for as little as 3.7ÀšÃ‚¢ apiece.
What’s real: Unfortunately, one-quarter ends up in blue boxes, unopened.

Addressed admail

The deal: Incurs higher postal and printing costs than regular junk mail, for an average of 34ÀšÃ‚¢ apiece.
What’s real: The personalization and ability to target specific demographics (e.g., age, education, salary) contribute to higher response rates compared with anonymous bulk mail.

Broadcast fax

The deal: Send your message to thousands of fax machines for as little as a penny a page, plus long distance, if any.
What’s real: Good for time-sensitive offers; bad because you’re stealing the recipient’s toner and paper.

Voicemail messaging

The deal: “Ringless” technology leaves a 30-second voicemail message for your audience, at prices of 8ÀšÃ‚¢ to 12ÀšÃ‚¢ per call.
What’s real: Novelty and the appeal of celebrity callers (“Hi, I’m Leeza Gibbons!”) mean decent returns.

Instant Messaging

The deal: All-text ads can be delivered to PC desktops via instant-messaging services at dirt-cheap rates: one U.S. supplier sends them for a fraction of a cent each.
What’s real: If anything is more annoying than spam, this could be it.

Preference-based e-mail

The deal: These e-mails are sent to targeted lists of people who’ve given permission to be contacted. Cost: less than a nickel per e-mail, plus a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to develop or rent a mailing list.
What’s real: It’s targeted, sure, but recipients who forget they asked for it see it as spam.

Cellphone ads

The deal: Send text ads and other info to cellphones for 5ÀšÃ‚¢ to 10ÀšÃ‚¢ per message, plus the cost of publicizing a number that cellphone users must key in to register.
What’s real: It’s bleeding edge, which could make it right for hooking 14- to 24-year-old consumers.

© 2003 Allan Britnell

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