Direct Mail is the ultimate vehicle to tell your story.
Before babies can understand words, stories captivate them. The pictures on the pages, a parent’s tone of voice, and the animation of the storyteller bring characters to life as they turn the pages. These early experiences create a deep-rooted emotional connection for children and adults alike. Storytelling is ubiquitous around the world. Throughout history, stories formed part of the fabric of societies, bringing communities together. Before the written word, stories recorded history through tales, creating a foundation for emotional and social connections to our ancestry.
Our connection to stories is so strong that research has demonstrated that brain activity in the sensory cortex generated by a story lasts for several days. Research has also proven that memory and comprehension are stronger when something is read on paper, rather than viewed on a screen.
Marketers have long known that creating a brand story can captivate an audience, sell more products, and build brand loyalty. Brand stories connect with the audience on a human level to demonstrate, in a creative way, how a brand shares its values and can fulfill its needs. For a brand story to be compelling, it must create an authentic emotional response from your audience while selling something they need or want. When organizations get this right, it can be lucrative because captivating brand stories create a strong connection between your brand and your audience, making them want to buy from you or donate to your cause. When brands fail to provide a meaningful relationship to the consumer’s life, they can not only fail to sell a product but also create a negative emotional experience with that brand because it is perceived as inauthentic.
Digital media, including social media, has been at the forefront of marketing storytelling efforts over the last few years. However, marketers have realized they have lost control of their messaging in their attempts to create digital viral content. Online content is fraught with a lack of moderation, leading to a breeding ground for trolls that can damage a brand’s reputation. Malicious comments, inappropriate use and alteration of brand content are common problems. But it’s not just trolling that can damage a brand. Often strategic miscalculations made by marketing teams in their attempt to be funny or viral receive critical backlash from consumer audiences. These miscalculations are now in the cybersphere for all to share, comment on, and magnify.
This inability of marketers to control the narrative has led them back to non-digital channels that are far more effective at telling a story. Direct mail, for example, enables marketers to control a one-to-one story with little opportunity for outside influence on messaging. Direct mail also offers something that digital doesn’t – a tactile experience coupled with the ability to read messaging – which improves cognitive processing and memory.
How to tell your story with direct mail
- Focus the message on your consumer: Your customer is the protagonist in your story, not the product. Your brand should play a supporting role that offers the consumer a vehicle to achieve a desired outcome.
- Craft the story that will impact the consumer’s life in a meaningful way: Now that we have established that the consumer is your protagonist, there needs to be a compelling story with emotional impact. What is your brand personality? What are your brand values? How does the story evolve to provide a better life for the consumer? What is the plot of your story? Who is the villain? Who is the hero? What is the ultimate benefit to the client when they use your product? What is the problem you are trying to solve? For example, A conditioner that prevents uncontrollable frizzes is not selling conditioner; it’s selling the opportunity for the consumer to look and feel their best when it’s most meaningful.
- Make it entertaining: Dare to do something different. Your story should utilize creative forms of direct mail to communicate a unique and meaningful narrative. A dimensional mailer is unique and often used for brands with high price points, such as automobiles, homes, and long-term subscriptions. But if dimensional mailers are beyond your budget, you can get creative with a letter or postcard. Use imaginative images and language along with different paper, colour, and other forms of creative to make your story interesting and interactive.
- Give it legs with personalization: Your story should inspire word of mouth and allow consumers to share it with others. It should also enable them to act on the story with coupons, limited-time offers and QR codes that link to your website. The best way to give your direct mail legs is to ensure you connect with one-to-one messaging unique to each consumer. This is easy to achieve with data processing that utilizes your consumer research paired with variable printing that creates genuinely individual pieces. The more connected the consumer feels to the story, the more connected they will feel with your brand.
“Brand stories have changed since I started in the direct mail business. At one time, businesses wanted to tell brand stories focused on the product. Today, marketers realize that selling shared values and beliefs is more important to consumers”, says John Leonard, V.P. Sales and Marketing, Cover-All Business Communication Management. If your brand story is compelling and authentic, your brand is well on its way to building brand loyalty.
John Leonard is V.P., Sales & Marketing for Cover-All Business Communication Management. He works with his team and clients to develop relevant and effective communications by using data and technology. Contact Cover-All Business Communication Management to find out more at (416)752-8100.