McCann CEO: Direct Mail's Moment Has Come Again

The opening of McCann CEO Harris Diamond's remarks to members of the mailing industry at the National Postal Forum seemed to presage a downer of a talk. He put up a slide of a quote that read, “It's a regrettable fact there is today a great waste in this brand of advertising which, when well done, is so effective.” The quote, referring to catalogs, was pulled from a McCann brochure—from 1915. 

There exists an “expanded territory” for direct mail, Diamond said, “something we haven't seen in years.” But the point he wished to make with the quote was that demands for more effectiveness from direct mail—hardly the cheapest way to engage with customers—was not something new, just something more complicated.

“Today's media events are more complex than they were 100 years ago. There are many more hurdles due to fragmentation,” he told the Nashville gathering. “But in a world in which people are endlessly bombarded with electronic messages, direct mail is now the most welcome house guest.”

As head of the Postal Service's agency of record, Diamond gets paid to push the positives of mail. But he came armed with research attesting to direct mail's enduring marketing value. A McCann study, he said, found that the average American spends 25 minutes a day with mail, something he has dubbed “The Mail Moment.”

“You come home from work, the mail in one hand, the cell phone in your pocket, and you sit down to go through the mail. It's an important moment in people's lives and one that presents great marketing opportunities,” Diamond said. “McCann has identified a balance between high-tech and high-touch. Vinyl record sales are up, postcards are popular again, companies are marketing portable printers to hook to your cell phones. There's hardly a trend that doesn't work to mail's advantage.”

The man who watches over a $10 billion a year in marketing spend then shared five creative principles McCann follows for effective marketing campaigns:

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