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Project Peacock direct mail

Print Customer Confidential: Direct Mail

By Deborah Corn on March 21, 2022

After the online event, Project Peacock: Postal, I sent a survey to the buyers that were in attendance to find out what was most important to them regarding direct mail. 

Here is the response from the 18 print buyer respondents from brands, agencies, and publishers:

  1. Targeted messaging is critical to our overall direct mail campaign strategy 
  2. We need to incorporate QR codes into our direct mail marketing
  3. We must be able to track, measure, and report results
  4. We need our print and paper vendors to bring us new ideas 

Overall, it’s good news if you have digital printing equipment and can provide some digital media support yourselves, or with partners. If you can’t do either of those, now is the time to gear up and get in the game. Here are a few tips:

  • Direct Mail Targeted Messaging: Target messaging is about customization. Brands want to communicate to in a personal way to hyper-targeted groups, but they don’t necessarily want to personalize. “Dear Deborah” on my mailing isn’t driving this. Knowing about my interests, beliefs, location, habits, etc., is. The further they can drill down, the more targeted the messaging is. Targeted messaging will manifest as more, smaller runs. A print customer may currently order 10,000 postcards, all the same. If they start hyper- or micro-targeting their messaging, that could manifest as 18 runs comprising the 10,000 qty – or more if they can expand their audience with their new messaging strategy. They need the mailing to have impact, and that starts with sending the right message at the right time to the right person. Another reason why digital printing wins here. 
  • Incorporate QR/AR/NFC and Direct Mail: AR and NFC aren’t having their moment yet; however, QR codes are having a resurgence and brands are into it. Now that mobile phone cameras can read them without requiring an app, scanning instructions are no longer required since enough people know what they are, and you can incorporate logos and art into the QR code or make art out of them, so they are much more appealing to design-sensitive customers. That means the QR door is open! Brands think this way: QR codes are bridges from print to digital media which allows for an extended user experience, extended campaign shelf-life and deeper engagement. More important, scanning data can be collected and shared. This is crucial. It is not difficult to start a QR service and there are companies out there who sell white-label solutions. Before you make the investment, test the waters with your customers and your new potential QR provider partners. When the time is right, bring QR creation, tracking, and reporting in-house – or keep it easy and let your QR partner do what they do best, and you focus on selling it. 
  • Tracking Direct Mail Results: Print customers need a LOT of help here. They do not know what can be tracked and reported on. They think this is where digital media has the advantage, and they aren’t wrong... but they aren’t right, either. If you know what is possible, start communicating with your customers. If you don’t know what is possible, I will start you off by telling you about a company on the Project Peacock Platform called DirectMail2.0. Reach Dynamics is another company I found online, but I don’t know them personally. Go to either of these sites and absorb the future of ALL direct mail marketing. While you are investigating tracking and reporting options, do a little deep dive into retargeting and remarketing. With a little help from digital media, you can generate follow-up print! Think about items left in online shopping carts that can be remarketed to shoppers with incentives to complete the purchase. Think about how schools can follow up with potential students who clicked on financial aid information multiple times. The options are powerful, having access to the data is critical. Find partners! 
  • Collaboration with PSPs: Print customers are looking for NEW, NOW, and NEXT... always. They want trustworthy partners who will share information and supply inspiration without strings attached. If you can do that, start ASAP. If you can’t, then leave the brands and agencies alone. Print customers have been jaded by years of irrelevant pitches and some BADDDDDDDD marketing from PSPs. It is hard for them to picture working with you when they don’t respect your marketing materials. It is even harder if you want to talk about QR codes and you aren’t using them in your own marketing. When you formulate your collaboration strategy make sure you understand what your customers need from you and what they don’t. Stay in your lane and you can truly become an irreplaceable partner. 

Takeaways: Direct Mail Prospecting 

• Develop a menu of Direct Mail services

• Create your own DM campaign as case study/proof 

• Collect and create WOW DM samples

• Provide ‘data for decisions’ every step of the way

• Print Media + Digital Media = Relevance

• Experienced partners add VALUE to your pitch

• Get creative and PUSH boundaries 

Now is the perfect time to create a targeted customer list and strategically plan your conversations around direct mail. Take it slow and have patience. The ‘win’ should be worth the wait. 

Until next time... PRINT LONG AND PROSPER! 


Deborah Corn is the Founder of Project Peacock and the Intergalactic Ambassador to the Printerverse, providing printspiration and resources to print and marketing professionals through her website, She has 25+ years of experience working in advertising as a Print Producer and now works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers, industry organizations and events to help them create meaningful relationships with their customers and achieve success with their social media, content marketing, event marketing and sales campaigns. 

About Project Peacock: Project Peacock began in 2017 with a mission to share all the new and cool opportunities and applications available for printing and print marketing with buyers, creative and marketers from brands and agencies. After meeting with more than 2200 attendees between 2017 and 2019, which grew to include students and printers and expanded to event spaces as Project Peacock Print Fair, the pandemic shut us down in 2020. With uncertainly about gatherings at the start of 2021, I morphed Project Peacock into an online, global resource platform where attendees could get intel, get samples, and get partners 24/7, from wherever they were. The platform also incorporated on-demand webinars and interviews, networking, and live events. Take my thINK Academy course, “Print Buyer Confidential” to get exclusive intel from agency and brand print buyers and practical advice on how to connect with them to create meaningful relationships and generate sales.