Direct marketers struggle for viability
The recession, postal rate hikes, targeted mailings and increased use of the Internet have cut into direct-mail advertising, and some marketers say they're bracing for another hit when the Postal Service increases rates again on Sunday.
“Many direct marketers have a fixed budget … and as postage goes up, they can mail fewer pieces, and that means they won't mail as far down their mailings lists,” said Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs with the Direct Marketing Association.
He said increased costs of printing and paper also have spurred advertisers to cut back.
For some people, less direct-mail advertising is a good thing.
“I'm always excited about the idea of less junk in my mail,” said Dawn Meling, 28, of Ross.
The Postal Service posted a $15.9 billion loss in fiscal 2013.
The latest increase will be its third in three years. Prices for all types and classes of mail will increase overall by 4 percent; a first-class stamp will go up a penny to 46 cents, and bulk-mail rates will rise 2.6 percent.
Bulk mailers are among the best customers.
In 2012, advertising mail was the agency's largest industry segment in volume at 50 percent, accounting for 25 percent of revenue at $16.4 billion.
“I think the post office is making it difficult for themselves and for us, because direct marketing is actually very viable and is actually growing in my company,” said Dave Jones, owner of Crafton-based Allegra Pittsburgh, which provides direct mail, marketing and other services for mostly business clients.
Direct mail generates revenue for businesses, and the consumer response rate for direct mail exceeds that of email marketing, according to the Direct Marketing Association, a New York City-based trade organization.
Yet some customers consider catalogues and brochures in their mailboxes an intrusion.
Catalog Choice, one of the largest mail preference companies in the United States, since 2007 has processed 26 million “opt out” requests for consumers who want to be removed from mailing lists.
“I don't think we're in favor or not in favor of direct mail. What we're in favor of is giving consumers a choice of whether they want to receive that mail,” said spokeswoman Lyn Chitow Oakes.
Between 2007 and 2012, annual advertising mail volume declined 23 percent from 103.5 billion to 79.5 billion pieces.
The Postal Service attributes some of the decline to companies using more targeted mailings based on data about customers, rather than casting a wide net with generalized advertising.
Some companies that frequently use mail advertising said they aren't ready to scale back but will watch how they spend money.
Mt. Lebanon-based Rollier's Hardware mails about 20,000 newsletters to customers four times a year and includes fliers in mailed publications, said Derek Satterfield, floor manager.
“We still look at advertising on the basis of how much we're getting back in return,” he said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- State lawmaker proposes increasing cost of fishing licenses
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto: Public has stake in Penguins
- Pittsburgh schools chief Lane stepping down next summer
- Asking price for Penguins franchise said to be at a record $750M
- Newsmaker: Pete DiNardo
- Belle Vernon woman visits ship like lander she helped build as WWII welder
- Embezzled $14.8M could cause woes for North Side firm Matthews International
- West Jefferson Hills schools close because of gun threat
- Construction to close roads in O’Hara, Baldwin Borough
- Western Pennsylvania schools’ denial of access to roofers prompts suit
- Saudi King Salman assured on Iran nuclear deal in U.S. trip