Podcast — Storytelling and Data: The Secret Ingredients for Direct Marketing Success


Larry and Allen talk about why storytelling is a vital element in your direct marketing strategy, which could be the difference between successfully engaging your consumers or not.

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(Podcast Transcript)

Allen: Well, hi there. Welcome to the eleventh installment of the 2 Guys and Some Data podcast. This is the podcast where we show you how to use data to actually make more money. I'm Allen Abbott.

Larry: I'm Larry Kavanagh.

Allen: Our topic today is everyone's favorite thing to discuss, Millennials, specifically Millennials and their relationship with direct mail.

Larry: Hold it, Allen. What relationship with direct mail? I thought Millennials were a digital only generation.

Allen: Fair point, and we'll get to that in a little bit, but Larry why don't you tell us what you know about the millennial demographic group.

Larry: I should have probably known more before I did the research for this podcast since I have two millennial kids. I started with what is the definition? What's the age range of Millennials? Believe it or not, I looked at a lot of different sources, and I saw about the same answer, but they all shifted, so I decided to go with the U.S. census definition, which is people who are born between 1981 and 1997. That means Millennials today are anywhere from about 20 to 36 years old.

Now you may have heard back in 2016, Millennials made big news because their generation actually passed Boomers in terms of the size in the U.S. Both populations are about 75 million people. My poor Gen-X generation is only 66 million, so you don't hear a lot about us. More importantly over the next five years, the millennial generation is really going to open up a gap between them and the baby Boomers, in part because baby Boomers are going to, frankly, die off. Millennial generation will actually grow because of immigration. You know five years from now, the gap's going to be five million plus people. 10 years from now it's going to be 10 million plus people.

Allen: I'll tell you that as a Boomer, I intend to be around for a while.

Larry: Well good. I hope so.

Over the years Millennials have gotten kind of a bad rap. There's a lot of myths, stereotypes, and half truths that I think make us as marketers not pay them as much attention as we really should. Take the myth that Millennials all live at home with their parents, and they're in the basement on couches watching TV or on social media or playing games. Well, there is a little truth in that more than eight million Millennials do actually live at home. The majority of them, the vast majority of them, are working or going to school.

I know a couple of Millennials who are living with their parents so that they can save up money to buy houses. It's a pretty good thing to do. Another myth is that Millennials are lazy, that they don't work as hard as previous generations. I found a study that was done recently where this firm surveyed five thousand American workers. They asked them to respond to four different statements and say how much they felt like these four statements resembled them. The statements were, no one else in my company can do the work while I'm away; I want to show complete dedication to my company and job; I don't want others to think I'm replaceable; I feel guilty for using my paid time off. Now the purpose of these questions was to figure out who's a workaholic. I mean who's really got that work ethic. 43% of Millennials agreed with those four statements, whereas only 29% of folks in other generations agreed.

Because of these negative myths, marketers are out of touch with just how important this generation already is. In fact if you eliminate what they spend on transportation and housing, where they are well under what other generations spend, Millennials are already close to baby Boomers in total spending. Within 10 years, they will significantly outspend baby Boomers in total. They will become the dominant economic force in this country. Their use of technology is already reshaping entire industries.

Allen: Wow, so there's a huge influence there. I had my ah-ha moment about Millennials, and I have two of them as well, a bit older than yours, when I was in New York City with my wife and my older son, Doug, and my sister and her family. We had a reservation at a little French bistro down in the east 20s, and we got there and Robin had made the reservation on OpenTable, and we got there and they didn't have our reservation. In the time it took me to find the manager and tell the manager what I thought about the situation, Doug had, on his phone, located another little French bistro about three blocks away that had the same ratings on Yelp and some of the other rating sites, and could seat us immediately. He came over, he grabbed my shoulder and said, "Come on. Let's go."

Larry: I could see exactly where that was heading. I might have had that experience myself.

Allen: You know they're obviously going to be very influential in the next several years and so marketers have to find a way to market to them. What else do we know about them?

Larry: We know quite a bit about them, because it's a big generation there's a lot of research about them. I think the first thing that marketers have to be aware of is it's the most diverse generation ever, which opens up a lot of opportunities. There's a lot of opportunities for personalization, for really being able to speak to a group of them, but you can't think of them as like this one monolithic generation like people might have done with the Boomers or generations before. These are really all different kinds of folks.

They do spend 50% more time on social media than Boomers. Although interestingly Gen-X actually spends more time on social media than Millennials. Must be my brothers and sisters because it isn't me. Millennials like to take, and presumably share, photos. The average millennial, it's estimated, will take 25,000 selfies in their life. Now keep in mind we only live about 27,000 days, so do the math. One study showed that 69% of Millennials take pictures of their food before eating. What does that mean?

Well, it's just a guess, but I would say that my interpretation of that is they're more conscious than other generations about being seen in places. Being seen with food, being seen with clothing, that expresses who they are. They really want to connect with their surroundings. In other words, brands that fit their self-image are very important to them. It's absolutely imperative for modern marketers to appeal to Millennials on their terms, and those terms might not be entirely digital as many marketers automatically assume.

We'll get into the ways of how offline marketing works with Millennials in just a minute, but before we talk about that, let's stick with the theme of Millennials and technology for our trivia question. Allen, are you ready?

Allen: I'm ready.

Larry: We all know that Millennials are glued to their phone and to be fair they're far from the only ones, myself included. This week's trivia question is, how many times does the average person check their phones each day?

Allen: That's a tough one. Can I use my phone to look up the answer?

Larry: That's up to you man.

Allen: Okay, let me think on that.

Larry: All right, so Allen, why does direct mail marketing work for Millennials?

Allen: We can recite all the things that we've talked about here about digital and digital display and what's going on there, so 5000 advertising images a day online or on mobile and how do you even break through that clutter? It's just almost impossible. A lot of this advertising it's still the one size fits all stuff that we've been preaching “that is not going to work and doesn't work today” and really not understanding why people still take that approach. A well-crafted, well-designed direct mail piece really enhances the relationship between Millennials and the brands that they support.

Number one, it proves that the brands understand their customers because if you use direct mail in a way where you vary the content based on the behavior of the visitors to your site, it's going to be very effective.

Second, it provides a real value. If done right, you're going to send people things that they can actually use and products and services that they're actually interested in. We can also tell, as businesses, when Millennials actually take some action and take that relationship even further in the right direction. Then we can go and sort of take the next step.

Larry: I tell you one of the things that surprised me when we did some research, is that 90% of Millennials use coupons. Now I should have recognized this from my daughter. She is a huge coupon-hunter. Millennials frequently rely on coupon apps, coupon sites, Google searches for promo codes, but it's not just the coupons and promo codes that they use on e-commerce websites, they're also very likely to use the coupons they receive in the mail. Those coupons stand out a lot more than yet another email offering X percent off this or another banner ad offering this kind of discount. Millennials frankly are tuning that stuff out and the stuff that comes in the mail, the coupons that come in the mail, really do stand out.

Allen, what are some other reasons for advertisers to target Millennials with direct mail?

Allen: You mentioned tuning out. Another example of tuning out is the rate at which ad blocking technology is becoming more and more prevalent all the time. The numbers vary, but probably 30% or so increase over the last year in ad blocker usage. That in itself is a big reason to try some other medium. Direct mail works very well with modern technology. The concept of programmatic postcards, where you can vary the content based on what people are actually interested in instead of sending them a vanilla one size fits all message. Then get them to a landing page on the website that further enhances the experience and helps them understand the product and service that they're looking to buy.

There's also, of course, the response rates. Direct mail, as a medium, has much, much higher response rates than any digital marketing program. The direct marketing association estimates 5.3% for house files, which you don't get that anywhere else. It combines everything that Millennials value in one package. They're getting something of value. The platform stands out because they're not getting overwhelmed with mail because of the myth that Millennials are not interested in mail. It furthers the relationship and grows the relationship between the customer and that business. It really gives the company what Millennials want, which is one-on-one interaction with companies. They want it in a way that demonstrates the company understands them and understands what they want.

Larry: As you point out, online advertising, there's so much of it, it can just be distraction and noise. Speaking of distraction and noise, let's get back to our trivia question. Allen, how many times during the day does the average person check their phone?

Allen: I'm sure you didn't see me do this, but I actually snuck a peek at my phone to find the answer. The answer's a whopping 150 times per day, so that's a little more, if you stayed up all day, that would be at least six times an hour. It's a lot.

Larry: I think I'm on the high side of that one personally. Six times an hour does not sound like a lot to me at all. I'm pretty sure my wife would agree. Technology does bring a great deal of usefulness and it's because of technology that we're able to bring you this podcast. Don't forget to subscribe to 2 Guys and Some Data on iTunes. While you're at it, give us a five star rating and review. This will help us reach more people and provide the insights you need to make more money.

That's it for this episode. We hope you've enjoyed this discussion about Millennials and why direct mail may be the ultimate solution for reaching this critically important segment of your audience. If you found this topic interesting, you may find our infographic, Your Direct Mail Strategy Starts Online, also pretty valuable. You can find it and more resources at Navistone.com/blog. Again, that's Navistone.com/blog. We'll be back in a few weeks to talk about data and marketing and how you can use the two of them together to make more money.

Thanks for listening. I'm Larry Kavanagh.

Allen: I'm Allen Abbott, and thanks for tuning in.