Leveraging direct mail in a digital world.

Small businesses cannot afford to ignore the value of online marketing. From Pay Per Click ad campaigns to social media, it can be a highly effective tool for generating leads and revenue at a minimal cost. That does NOT mean, however, that you can ignore print marketing.

Quality publications, highly targeted direct mail campaigns and even door hangers still provide a high ROI. Print also offers something digital marketing cannot – long term visibility.

Marketers often talk about impressions – how many views an ad receives – and about how many impressions are necessary before someone chooses to act. Before digital marketing it was the “Rule of 7”.  Consumers needed seven impressions, 7 times seeing or hearing your brand, your offer, your message before they act. We are so inundated with online ads and impressions that the value of each is diluted. It’s been diluted so much, that my personal belief is the Rule of 7 is now the Rule of 30. We now need 30 or more impressions to create the desired response.


Print is unique.

When tied into a cohesive marketing strategy, print can reduce that number significantly. Unlike social media posts, print ads do not disappear and are not forgotten after a few minutes. A single piece of direct mail will get multiple impressions – when it gets pulled from the mailbox, when you put it down as you walk in the door, when you pick it up to throw it out.

Well done printed ads and high quality publications like the Community Shopper Magazine  in Tacoma and Gig Harbor tend to hang around. They are saved. They get pinned to memo boards and get hung on the fridge…even if the offer will expire. Short of someone printing your post or online ad (and that never happens) there is little to no chance of an old digital ad generating business months later.


Print can support your online efforts.

Several publications back, Lind Pest Control ran two ads in the Community Shopper Magazine. The first was a larger ad placed near the front of the publication. The ad included a trivia question with a note that the answer could be found in a second ad later in the publication. I love the idea. They knew the second one would be seen since most people cannot resist finding the answer to see if they were correct. Perfect for leveraging the readership.


Several publications back, Lind Pest Control ran two print ads in the Community Shopper Magazine.


What if Lind Pest Control changed that ad? What if rather than looking for the answer in a second ad, they had readers to guess the answer and post it as a comment on a post on their Facebook page? Or tweet it to them with a specific hashtag?


Maybe change the trivia question included: 

Post your answer to our Facebook page (or on Twitter tagging us at with the hashtag #SpiderService) as a comment and save…even if the answer is wrong! Guess right and we’ll send you a coupon worth 10% off. Guess wrong and you’ll STILL save 5%


A well written post pinned it to the top of their Facebook page would make it easy for potential clients to comment. Not only could they see good engagement but they’d have a way to reach out to potential clients. They would have had their names and a way to message them. Twitter? They would also have names and a private messaging option. At a minimum, they could personally thank them for playing.


I have run similar campaigns for clients in the past with incredible results. Clients have seen a greater ROI for the print ad and an increased following on their profiles. The bonus for most – engagement wasn’t restricted to just the specific post tied to the campaign.

A funny thing happens when you drive profile views. People see your other posts. Think about it. When you go to a Facebook page or Twitter profile, you rarely read only the first post. You’ll scroll down to see several. Guess what? Others do the same!


How much more powerful is that print ad now?

Not only do you get the interaction for a discount, you get the potential for web traffic and new, loyal fans (assuming you’re posting quality content).

Print is more powerful when tied to online marketing efforts. It drives additional branding, additional sales, additional lead generation, web traffic and it provides an incredible opportunity to connect with your audience to build relationships.

A single print ad can provide a great deal of visibility and momentum for your online and social media marketing efforts… and your bottom line.


The reverse is true too.

Social media and your online marketing can drive the ROI of your print or more traditional marketing. Once you have built a core, engaged following (some of your base will come from creating exposure and interaction through print), you have the ability to create ‘teaser’ posts. These posts are written to tell your audience and ad will be coming out shortly and where they can find it. Your audience will find those ads and undoubtedly share the posts, further increasing impressions.

Heck, even the social media post in the example above could be crafted in a way to drive people to the print ad referencing it.

Then there’s my scavenger hunt campaign… sorry, you’ll have to contact me privately for how that one works.


Print is alive and well.

Rather than see print as dead and social media marketing as an isolated part of your marketing efforts, consider how to leverage each to drive the other. A little extra effort will improve your ROI, not just in terms of dollars and cents (direct sales and lead generation), but also in terms of relationship currency.

Will you (do you) take advantage of what print offers?

Are you leveraging print to drive your social media marketing efforts? Social media to drive your print ROI?

Why not?


Robert Nissenbaum is a social media marketing consultant, educator and speaker and the owner of Tactical Social Media.

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