Direct Mail – No Direct Benefits?

Tom Kane of the Legal Marketing Blog posits today that direct mail could work, in the right campaign and directed at the right targets – but why would you bother, when there are faster and more (pardon the pun) direct methods of garnering more clients?

I have to say that I agree with Tom. I’ve heard all the arguments about direct mail, even bought the KoolAid (though I never drank it) from some colleagues who claimed direct mail was all that and a bag of extra-tasty kettle chips (sea salt and cracked pepper, of course). But through it all, in the back of my mind, there’s this still, small voice saying something like “Now, really. Would you buy a lawyer’s services from a direct marketing piece? Would you even send in for the free report?”

The answer: maybe. Maybe. But … then again, maybe not.

The truth is, there’s still something off-putting about direct marketing from the consumer’s perspective – be it a consumer of those kettle chips or of legal services. It’s a stigma that perhaps ought not to be there. But arguing that it shouldn’t be there is like arguing that the sun ought to rise in the west, because those Californians have been cheated all these years. Sure, it might make sense (though as an Atlantic Ocean beach resident I’d argue otherwise), but it just isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

But Tom’s point is even stronger than my little voice’s – and that’s this: you have just so many hours in the day to do your job, even fewer to market. Make wise use of the time you’ve got to maximize your benefits. And setting up and executing a direct mail campaign, even one that’s automated, takes a lot of time and effort. First, you have to design the plan. You have to draft the copy (or hire someone to do it for you). You have to create whatever freebie you’re offering. You have to figure out how you’re going to acquire the addresses for your targets, assuming you already can define your targets to begin with (if not, that’s more time), and you have to either outsource the mail merge or do it yourself. Then you have to track results. Lather, rinse, make changes, repeat as needed.

Could it work? I think I agree with Tom. Maybe. But frankly, I choose to spend my marketing time elsewhere, and in other ways. As an adherent of the Inspired Solo philosophy (that I totally am making up as I go along but I secretly think most good philosophies are created in exactly the same way – I digress, though), I want a rich practice, not a high volume one. I want a practice that rests on solid relationships, not only with my clients but also with the sources of my referrals. I want to spend my time reaching out and making connections, as well as helping people in deep and, yes, maybe even profound ways.

I might be asking a lot, but in my experience, that’s the only way one ever achieves “a lot.”

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