The value of 'junk' mail

17 May 2016 2:58 PMFirst Print

First Print Digital - Gold Coast printers blog post. The value of 'junk' mail.


Junk mail, or home delivered printed advertising, has been hotly debated over the years. Reports from Roy Morgan research indicate that not only do Australians still enjoy receiving letterbox drops, 70% of them actively read them. Still, there are a percentage of consumers who use ‘No Junk Mail’ stickers and actively discourage letterbox drops. Consumer annoyance is firmly directed at the large corporations for filling letterboxes with multiple brochures per week, in spite of readers unsubscribing. However, enforcing a blanket ban on all letterbox drops is in fact hitting small and medium business at the heart.

What are the benefits of printed advertising to the consumer and the advertiser?

A higher percentage of consumers recall receiving letterbox communication, compared to TV or radio advertising. Printed advertising is a tactile media, which helps to make it memorable. Just think about the catalogues that are distributed during the holiday seasons, it is the primary advertising time for any business and the vast majority will deliver some form of communication.

Pensioners, often less technologically inclined, enjoy browsing the weekly catalogues to compare prices and deals and see what their local store has to offer. Children (especially mine) still come home with the monthly book club catalogue, begging me to purchase them a treat, and teenagers will often browse the latest letterbox deliveries to see what latest trends are on offer. Parents and at-home spouses regularly grab a coffee and the newest printed advertising and have a quiet moment window shopping for themselves, planning meals for the week or preparing for the season ahead. In fact, a large portion of catalogue readers will then go online and compare deals and offers.

Apart from the consumers who enjoy reading their ‘junk’ mail, what are the other benefits to this type of advertising?

Your local take-away, corner store, gardener, dog walker, cleaner and countless other small businesses use this medium to communicate with you. Often, these businesses are priced out of advertising in large publications and the noticeboard at the community centre is so often overlooked as people rush about in their day. Those small businesses, the ones who count on you for their livelihood, use the letterbox drop as a quick way of reaching the people in their immediate area. When we ban all letterbox communication because large distributers refuse to listen to our opt-out, we miss out on learning about our local community.

Small and medium business is important to a community on many levels. Teenage children working in their first jobs are often employed by local shops, department stores, fast food restaurants and family businesses. Those are the very companies that rely on delivered printed advertising.  While some of the larger companies will also invest in digital communication, the budget of smaller operations is often too small to compete. These small local businesses may one day be the first/part time job that YOUR child, or someone who is important to you is looking for. That seemingly harmless, helpful “no junk mail” sticker on your mailbox may be narrowing opportunity for that employment?

Many businesses will offer special promotions through their printed advertising. Years ago, consumers were filled with excitement at the latest catalogue arrival with seasonal vouchers and special deals and while digital media has moved in, printed vouchers and promotional deals are still very much alive.

What’s in it for the advertiser?

Printed media is the opportunity to include something that cannot be delivered digitally – a sample, tester or small gift for the consumer. If you want to stand out from the crowd you have to be different; if you want consumers to realise how great your product is you have to show them. The optimal way to do this is to get your product in their hands. Perfume and cosmetic companies still include samples in magazine advertising.

Real estates and politicians often deliver a magnetic calendar at the start of the year. Including a useful bonus to printed advertising is a great way to ensure that not only does your flyer get through the front door; your business will be viewed every time a consumer opens the fridge.

With more and more people opting to replace their computers with smart phones and tablets, digital advertising can often look less than impressive. Have you ever tried to view a digital catalogue on a phone screen? And what about emails with digital vouchers that fail to scan or never make it through the customer’s spam filter?

Another benefit to printed media is how it keeps the readers’ attention. In digital advertising the reader is surrounded by competing ads, social media chat bubbles and a dozen other open tabs. Print media is direct, focused and all about the advertiser. The web is becoming more cluttered and keeping your customer’s attention is becoming harder.

Print advertising can express things about a business that digital cannot. Digital advertising cannot convey the feel of textured paper, the appeal of gold foil highlights or the luxury of embossed text. If your company is special, you want your advertising to convey that as well. Anyone can post an image to a website but the businesses that wow and impress are the ones that stand out.

So perhaps we need to look at the bigger picture, is it really that inconvenient to receive unaddressed correspondence? Are you closing the door on opportunity? Perhaps a rethink on that sticker you are considering for your mailbox is in order.