Friday, September 6, 2013

BIG’s Blog: Integrated Marketing is a Bridge to . . .

Mass-marketing communications, of which direct mail is a part, is in decline. Direct mail is not dead anymore than network television or local broadcast radio are dead. But, direct mail’s best days are in the past.

We all know that.

Today’s buzzword is “Integrated Marketing.”

Integrated marketing as a concept predates the Internet, but it has taken on new meaning and significance as all the new digital tools and social media have arrived on the scene.

For fundraisers today, it is unthinkable to just send out their direct mail appeal by itself . . . so to speak. Today you create a campaign around the direct mail effort. You precede (or follow or both) your direct mail drop with an email to your prospects (if you have their email address). You also create a graphic banner on your Website that features the creative form of your mailing package. And, of course, you hype your campaign graphics and theme in social media.  

Results from all this effort?

Some are reporting that these integrated efforts give a bump when compared to mailing just the direct mail by itself. That’s good.

But for all the effort, are you really moving the needle or changing the game? Are you getting younger donors? And what does Website traffic have to do with all this?

More and more fundraisers are coming to the conclusion that, for all their efforts at integrating their direct mail fundraising package theme across multiple digital tools and media, there isn’t a measurable difference in their donor base. And though online donations coming in through their Website are going up, it probably has more to do with convenience (as people quit using written checks) than a dramatic shift in the demographic composition of their audience or donors.

So is there value to integrated marketing?

My answer is yes.


Integrated marketing was always going to be the natural and logical “next step” for direct mail marketers. Professional direct mail marketers look at the new digital tools and technologies as merely “digital” forms of their current analogue media. And, insofar as these new digital tools don’t add dramatically to their fundraising organization’s cost structure or, in the case of social media, are free, why not cross-utilize to potentially lift a direct mail campaign?

But if the direct mail efficacy is in decline and direct mail is the heart of your fundraising media, then how is integrating other Internet-based digital tools and media really going to change the direction of your fundraising future?

The answer . . . its’ not.

The Internet is a different thing.

Integrated marketing was just the natural next step that your organization had to pass through to figure out that coupling digital tools to your long-term workhorse of direct mail wasn’t the answer to the digital disruption caused by the Internet.

The Internet is a different thing. The Internet operates by new rules; not your old direct marketing rules.

Join us.
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