Let's Get Physical | The Blogfather | ...Gasp!

Let’s Get Physical

All I want for 2022 is…a decent Direct Mail campaign.

The Blogfather tears into all things digital and virtual this week but talks up his love and respect for Drayton Bird and Malcolm Auld before leaving you with a great suggestion for your 2022 marketing mix.

It is questionable if we are really advancing anything when my laptop cannot even recognise a printer.

Welcome to 2022. As we all stumble back into view on Zoom calls, all bleary-eyed and bloated, the memory of excitedly unwrapping presents or watching our loved ones unwrap theirs has long faded (which may be a good thing, if you witnessed their faces turn from joyous expectation to utter disgust as they discover you’ve bought the entirely wrong pair of trainers. Idiot).

And it’s been a period of nigh-on two years where we have had to deal with LinkedIn posts all with the very samey spiel on the acceleration in digital transformation. Has much really, truly transformed?

I can’t help but think to paraphrase Alan Partridge on the subject of AI, facial recognition, and the prospect of driverless cars; it is questionable if we are really advancing anything when my laptop cannot even recognise a printer.

And with us now living in a world where an NFT depicting a bored ape can sell for $300,000 (NFT being a non-fungible token – basically a piece of digital, non-physical art), there is clearly a lot of bollocks and shiny new fads around, as ever.

But what is undeniable is that most people have been ping-ponging between working in an office and working from home and are settling into a new hybrid working middle ground, where the balance between what is done physically and what is done virtually has changed.

So, with most of us having had enough of being distracted by objects of dubious provenance on clients’ shelves as we deliver a key elevator pitch on Zoom and just wanting to give people a bloody big hug, here’s a New Year’s resolution for you. How about a digital detox? I don’t mean giving up your iPad for a month, I am talking more from a business/marketing point of view.

The impact of receiving or of experiencing something physical, has only got stronger across the last two years, as we have spent months and months unable to have it.

To expand, this piece of advice was inspired by a recent Drayton Bird newsletter I received, where he opened by asking: Have you ever thought of ignoring the joys of digital?

Here is a choice cut from it:

Lots of firms say they are "digital agencies".
Because the medium is free - or so they think = clients love it too.
But of course it isn’t.
It costs a lot of money, time and effort to produce good digital stuff. And not many know how.
I think when you pay to reach people, via direct mail or advertising for instance, it often pays better than “free” digital marketing.
You see, when something physical reaches people it has a greater impact than something that is not.

The impact of receiving or of experiencing something physical, has only got stronger across the last two years, as we have spent months and months unable to have it. And that prolonged absence of experiencing something physical no doubt means the opportunity for direct mail is even bigger than before.

And there is science behind why you prefer to open up a nice new jumper rather than an email containing an e-voucher for Robert Dyers. Drayton Bird’s long-time partner Malcolm Auld elaborates:

“All the recent neural research demonstrates clearly that humans get more emotionally engaged with a physical item than they do with an image of that same item on a screen.
I’ve always believed one of the reasons mail is so powerful is because it is tactile. It can be explored, particularly 3D mail. And most people will at least look at the mail (or inserts) before discarding.”

Auld references some research carried out by Millward Brown a few years ago. It studied the way the brain reacts to physical messages versus the same messages displayed on a computer screen, with the brain measurements being taken by putting people into an MRI scanner.

Here is an overview of the findings for direct mail-based materials:

  • They are more concrete and ‘real’ for the brain
  • They are internalised more
  • They facilitate emotional processing
  • They result in more fluent decision making

So, the tangibility of direct mail-based materials leaves a much deeper ‘footprint’ on the brain than digital images.

This interesting physical Vs digital debate can be taken into the realm of ads too, more specifically in how well they are remembered.

Research from Ariyh concluded that people remember print ads better. Why? Because print ads are better absorbed by our memory, something this study’s researchers discovered by using MRI brain scans, eye tracking, and biometric body measurements. One week after seeing them, we remember the print ads better than we would digital ads.

It’s not chance that print ads and direct mail are still the choice of experienced marketers as part of an effective marketing mix - even if they cost is often higher than digital.

So, you’re now convinced to try some direct mail this year, what do you send? Well, how about:

Hang on, hear me out a bit, or rather go and read more, as these are all items we have sent out as very successful past DM campaigns.

We’d love to hear from you if you fancy a chat on that, or anything else you fancy. You can even come and check out our new digs; we’ve got a new physical office in Reading. 

Happy hour is Thursdays, 3 pm. There is a very good, chilled German-brewed beer waiting for you in the fridge.

Stay connected to the blogfather, if you know what we mean

(We just mean you’ll get an email when a new blog is published)

End of content

No more pages to load