When discussing the pros and cons of direct mail and online marketing, the terms push marketing and pull marketing have gone out of fashion. But the distinction remains. By and large, even if you have the greatest ecommerce site in the world, you pretty much have to wait for prospects to come to you. Sure, you can advertise, hone your SEO and SEM, engage in affiliate marketing, and the like, but none of these enable you to push yourself into the prospect’s field of vision the way that a mail piece delivered to a consumer’s home or workplace can.
Of course catalogs, the direct mail counterpart of the ecommerce site, have their own drawbacks: They’re expensive to produce and mail, they can quickly become outdated, real estate is limited. That’s why I was so delighted to receive the Untours Recipes mail piece from vacations provider Untours.
The slim-jim brochure devotes the bulk of its 28 pages to, as the title suggests, recipes from the countries in which Untours operates. The inside front cover invites readers to share their own recipes and overseas food experiences on Untours' private social network, Untours Café, or its Facebook page; there’s also a full-page president’s letter, and three more pages (one in the front and two in the back) explaining how Untours differs from other travel providers. The spreads in between are devoted to recipes, brief intros to the culinary heritage of each country, and a map showing the cities in each country where Untours is based, along with a brief blurb along the lines of “Explore the festivals of Buenos Aires, starting at just $749 per person.”
Based on my not-nearly-as-extensive-as-I-wish-they-were travel experiences, the recipes seem authentic enough (though the photo of goulash looks much fresher and tastier than any so-called goulash I came across while in Budapest). By offering a recipe for the lesser-known salmorejo over, say, gazpacho; by casually dropping the names of smaller towns such as L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue; and by sharing such gems as the fact that baklava was once a treat only for the wealthy, Untours deftly uses content to support its sense of authority.
This sense of authority is especially critical for a travel company. You probably don’t care if the seller of a $49 pillow cover knows the history of ikat fabric, but the company you book a $2,500 German vacation with should be able to tell you how potato salad in northern Germany differs from that of southern Germany. (According to Untours, mayo is a key ingredient in the north, while the south favors broth, oil, and vinegar. See, direct mail is educational!)
Just as important, this recipe books is a keeper. My daughter and I have already earmarked the kaiserschmarrn to make later this week and a few other recipes after that, which means the Untours Recipes booklet will remain on my kitchen shelf along with my cookbooks. And that, in turns, means I am more likely to pull out the brochure and head to www.untours.com when planning my next vacation than I would have been had I not received the booklet.
As I am not a customer and did not opt in to receive Untours literature, the booklet was apparently sent to me as a prospecting tool. Given its diminutive dimensions and page count, it’s certainly much cheaper to produce and send than a full-size catalog, yet it achieved the same push-marketing objective as a catalog.
Although I’ve subscribed to multiple travel newsletters and I regularly visit several travel websites, Untours was not on my radar, so I’m guessing that the company rented my name from TripAdvisor or the like. Which points to another benefit of direct mail: Acquiring somewhat targeted names isn’t onerous.
Using editorial to boost sales is really coming into its own among online-only marketers, some of which are spending big bucks to lure well-known writers and editors. But while all that editorial content can help boost search engine rankings and garner some nice PR, if the content remains available only online, a significant amount of pull is still required to get prospective customers to see it. So why not create a print brochure or flyer with some of that credibility-boosting content, then mail it to targeted prospects or insert it into a relevant magazine? It seems a shame not to take advantage of the unique benefits of the print medium simply because the online medium has other benefits. The more media, the more advantages.
(The above is a photo of my daughter and me in Spain a few years ago, where we did not sample salmorejo but did enjoy some fabulous paella and seafood.)