Direct mail professionals are getting a larger share of prospects’ and customers’ attention and, therefore, more than their share of business, because they recognize a little-known fact that should be as plain as the nose on any advertiser’s face: most people receive only a fraction of the mail everybody thinks they do. Smart advertisers are using this fact to great advantage when budgeting their media mix for campaigns to consumers or businesses.
Most advertising people believe, by the flood of mail they receive, that the world is flooded with junk mail. In fact, the exact opposite is true. A definitive United States Postal Service study shows that the average household receives less than three pieces of advertising mail a day. Much less mail is received than is generally thought.
Category and Pieces per Week:
- First Class 7.6
- Second Class 2.1
- Third Class, Advertising 3.3
- Third Class, Non-Profit 1.1
One reason for the misconception is that people in advertising receive much more mail than people in any other industry.
My own checkered career is a good example. When I first worked in advertising agencies, my mountain of mail was almost insurmountable. After a switch to a client position in advertising, it dropped at least 50%. A further switch, to president of a line operation, dropped it another 50%.
There may be a glut among those people who donate or purchase by mail. Why? These people are on more mailing lists as customers and donors. As we have said before, there is a higher response rate from mail responsive names, so their names get mailed more often. They simply work better.
Even if a good mail respondent gets as many as 10 or 20 pieces of mail a day, that doesn’t mean a mail glut to that person. That person is responding enough to make mailing to him or her profitable. Heavy responders must be used to receiving lots of mail or they wouldn’t be heavy responders.
So, you see, glut doesn’t really happen. The glut level varies by person. Glut seeks its own level, because if a person who responds well receives a great deal of mail, then their response rate per mailer will drop, and over a period of time less mail will be directed to that person.
A better definition of glut would be too much mail for a particular person to respond to-so, that person responds less and becomes an unprofitable name for mailers. You don’t have glut until response rates drop.
For a person who never buys or donates by mail, one piece of mail is a glut. For a heavy mail order buyer and contributor, 10 pieces a day may not even be a glut.
Another glut situation appears when a person gets too much mail in categories for which there is absolutely no interest. For example, let’s take a relatively high income zip code. Assume that there is a very small low-income segment in that zip code-not enough to drag down its overall high income rating. Mailers with high income products and services would mail that zip code frequently. The low income segment would be glutted with mail because the high income products would not be appealing to them, or affordable.
Glut is reduced by the mail order industry continually developing better ways to target mail to likely prospects. Glut occurs when mail misses its target.