Got Junk?

With the advent of the internet, society has shifted to a digital world. It is where we go now to see and be seen. It is how we communicate, shop, read, watch, etc. Things like public libraries have suffered from the lack of needing to read anything in print on paper. Now we have digital books. And if reading is too much effort, we have audio books to remove that mundane task. I don’t dislike audio books, as being read to rather than reading for yourself I find to be akin to washing your hair or having someone else wash your hair for you. It seems quite luxurious and relaxing to be tended to in this way.

And the idea of physically mailing a hand-written letter now seems archaic. The younger generation has lost the ability to write communication in anything other than emojis, acronyms, and common slang. This loss of a tried and true tradition of communication will have to wait for another post to be given any depth of topic. I only bring it up now as it was well perceived as the harbinger of death for the U.S. postal system. We just don’t send letters anymore. Even holiday cards and occasion cards can be easily accomplished online with little cost or effort. Although I do believe that a card in the mail still holds much more impact than the few clicks it takes to send a digital card, we make very little effort as we await Facebook to remind us of the birthdays of friends and family and then post our salutations on their page.

But both public libraries and the postal system have adapted to this new age. Libraries have found ways to remain relevant by offering books in audio, providing learning services, offering a wide selection of programs, and becoming internet hot spots for those without convenient access. Post offices, likewise, have retooled to compete with the larger package delivery services and better highlighted their unique abilities and services available to the public. As with any venture, to stagnate is to die. Businesses must always be evolving, or risk being left behind.

I do not begrudge this advancement and adoption of technology into our lives. Wouldn’t matter if I did. It is happening and will continue to become our chosen mainstay no matter how we feel or what we do. It is, most accurately, inevitable. I have drug myself, sometimes kicking and screaming, into this digital age and share in the convenience and accommodations it offers with much delight.

My only disappointment is that this digital age has had little or no impact on one of my greatest banes, junk mail. I had hoped that with the relatively inexpensive use of online marketing, geared specifically to reach the audiences most likely to buy your product or use your service, that junk mail would have gone the way of the dinosaur. Rarely do I have a need or want that is only addressed after I have received some tempting offer in the mail. If I need it or want it, I go online to do a little window shopping, and then either purchase directly or go to a brick and mortar store to make my purchase. No advertisement has ever created a need or want for me. But, sadly, it has not. I still seem to get as much junk mail as I always have. I could be unique in this perception, as I believe my mailman has a personal grudge and gives me any junk mail that is incorrectly addressed and, sometimes, correctly addressed to the unnamed resident of another address. But I can’t prove any of those allegations. It is just a gut feeling.

With response rates that vary between 1% to 5%, with most industries being at the lower end of that scale, it does not seem to be the best return on investment. Granted, the cost is very low, but the shotgun method of marketing is also very ineffective. I do recognize that very specific direct mailing campaigns with recipient lists that are accurate, prequalified, and “warm” sales opportunities may have a cost-effective response and grow a business. Especially if your target market are people over a certain age, where the adoption of technology just hasn’t, and likely will not, happen. This older generation still get their newspaper delivered and clip coupons from the direct mail circulars. But that generation is becoming smaller all the time.

I am still hopeful that, one day, I will not have to deal with junk mail when I go out to the mailbox. And, before you think I am not also accosted by the junk email and spam that hoards space in all our inboxes, in that arena it is much easier to deal with. A great spam filter does the bulk of the work, and a simple click takes care of the rest of the nuisances. At least they would stop killing trees in an unsuccessful attempt to sell me something I don’t want or need. And don’t get me started on robocalls!

One Response to “Got Junk?”
  1. I still get catalogs from businesses I ordered from – ONCE! – many years ago. I admit I’m a sucker for looking through all the pretty pictures of things I don’t really want or need, so I have learned that catalogs go in the paper-recycling bag without a second glance. Spam mail gets purged without a second glance. The majority of us, like you, look and peruse online, often ending up making a decision and purchase in this easy form. Like you, I can’t believe how many companies still use direct mail catalogs as a considered viable option!

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